Cubs

Cubs notes: Castro's back, enough said?

Cubs notes: Castro's back, enough said?

Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010
9:45 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Starlin Castro found his name back in Wednesdays lineup, roughly 72 hours after he forgot how many outs there were, the kind of lapse in concentration that has bothered his new manager.

By benching Castro for two games even as that .317 average ranked third in the National League and lent credibility to a Rookie of the Year campaign Mike Quade felt he proved a point and used it as a teaching moment for his 20-year-old shortstop.

Enough said, Quade said. Hes doing what he needs to do.

It wont be a straight line of development for Castro, who committed his 23rd error during the first inning of Wednesdays 4-0 loss to the Houston Astros. Castro let a groundball pop out of his glove and didnt have time to flip to second for the third out. Carlos Lee whos listed at 265 pounds beat the throw to first.

Castros diving catch later robbed Lee of a base hit with two runners on in the fifth, and the shortstop made a nice spin play behind second base an inning later. In between he sprinted into Astros first baseman Brett Wallace and was knocked to the ground trying to hustle for an infield single.

The Cubs decided months ago to let Castro learn on the job and live with his mistakes, hoping for a bigger payoff in the future.

He understands where Im coming from, Quade said. Weve talked at length about his youth. (Its) just a step in the process of growing. Thats the way I look at it. And Im as anxious as anybody to see him play well.

It took Jeff Samardzija 136 days to get back to the big leagues. Between his demotion on April 24 and this weeks round of September call-ups, the Cubs made 19 additions to their pitching staff, almost constant roster shuffling that until Tuesday did not involve their 10 million prospect.

When Samardzija was sent down to Triple-A, the organization took its share of the blame, saying it was unfair to a player whos been pulled between the rotation and the bullpen (though Sean Marshall has made himself an extremely valuable asset by showing that kind of versatility).

Samardzijas development was already slowed by his All-American football career at the University of Notre Dame, but he doesnt care how hes used this month.

Here we go again, Samardzija said. Lets jump on the wheel and spin around.

The Cubs havent finalized their pitching plans for the final 21 games of the season. Casey Coleman will have at least one more audition and start Sunday in Milwaukee. Tom Gorzelanny threw Wednesday, testing his bruised left hand, but its unclear when exactly hell return.

At some point, Samardzija (11-3, 4.37 ERA at Iowa) is expected to get a start with the Cubs before they scatter for the offseason.

It doesnt matter, Samardzija said. I want to pitch and show them what I can do. Its been a wild year-and-a-half, two years. All you can do is learn and improve. (Im) really comfortable with where Im at right now.

Aramis Ramirez, who hasnt played since Sunday, continues to receive treatment for his sore right quadriceps. Quades sense is that Ramirez isnt close to being ready to play third base for an entire game, but the manager hopes to have him available soon as a pinch-hitter.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Cubs honor sweet swingin’ Billy Williams on 80th birthday

billy_williams_story.jpg
AP

Cubs honor sweet swingin’ Billy Williams on 80th birthday

After Mother Nature washed out the Cubs and Dodgers Monday at Wrigley Field, the Cubs recognized one of their Hall of Famers.

In honor of outfielder Billy Williams’ 80th birthday on June 15, the Cubs painted Williams’ No. 26 behind home plate. Cubs players are also wearing shirts with his number featured on the front.

On the Cubs Twitter page, there is also a glass case of pictures and Williams’ old jersey with other memorabilia. 

In his illustrious 16-year career with the Cubs, Williams, known as sweet swingin’ Billy from Whistler, hit .290 with 392 home runs, 1353 RBIs, 2510 hits and 911 walks.

His best offensive season came in 1970 when he hit 42 home runs and 129 RBIs, both career bests.

Williams also played with the Oakland Athletics for two seasons after he was traded by the Cubs after the 1974 season.

Williams was a guy you’d see on the field a lot during his day, starting all 162 games four times. In 1970 he eclipsed 161 games.

He was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1987. Williams appeared in six All-Star Games, he was the 1961 Rookie of the Year and the 1972 NL MVP. He also won the NL batting title that year.

 

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 26th + 27th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 26th + 27th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Another day in June 1998, another multi-homer game for Sammy Sosa.

Slammin' Sammy connected twice off Carlton Loewer in the same game, a solo shot in the first inning and a 2-run shot int he fifth inning. Both were measured at 380 feet.

Still, the Cubs wound up losing the game 9-8 to the Phillies despite Sosa's effort and a total of 3 runs in the bottom of the eighth and ninth innings combined.

Fun fact: A big part of why the Cubs lost this game was Jose Hernandez's defense. He committed 3 errors at third base and shortstop that led to a pair of unearned runs.