Cubs

Game slips out of Starlin Castros hands

Game slips out of Starlin Castros hands

Monday, April 25, 2011
Posted: 9:55 p.m. Updated: 11:50 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

The Cubs watch Starlin Castro and see their shortstop get to balls they havent touched in years. His range and instincts are supposed to be that good.

And Castros offensive production has been so blinding that youve missed some of his defensive flaws this month. But it was impossible to ignore during the second inning of Monday nights 5-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

It began when Castro bobbled a ground ball that didnt seem like a big deal. The Cubs were already out to a 3-0 lead and had Matt Garza on the mound.

The conditions were perfect for a Big Ten football game. It was 43 degrees at first pitch and at certain points it was raining sideways. With runners on first and third and one out, Castro charged another ball and fumbled it on the handoff from his glove.

The ball was kind of wet, Castro said through an interpreter. I was trying to make the play. It was one of those things.

The next batter, Chris Iannetta, chopped one toward short and Castro tried to get the out at second base. His throw sailed wide to Darwin Barneys left, bouncing all the way into the bullpen in right-field foul territory, allowing two more unearned runs to score to tie the game.

Hes going to learn to play on tougher fields like this in these kinds of conditions, manager Mike Quade said. If youre in a hurry with a wet pig, youre in trouble.

You take a minute maybe you dont get to turn a double play. You make sure you get one. They dont have weather like this in the Dominican very often, so (its) another learning experience, but we got to get better (and) its got to happen pretty soon.

On the next play, Castro drew mock cheers from the crowd at Wrigley Field by making a routine throw to get the second out. His three errors marked the most for a Cub in a single inning since Jamie Navarro in 1996.

The Cubs grade on a curve because Castro is 21 years old, the youngest player in the majors.

But it didnt take long for the fans to turn on Castro, who got booed last May during his Wrigley Field debut. He committed three errors that night, but the breaking point was when he casually walked after a ball that skipped past him into shallow left field.

That got Castro called into Lou Piniellas office. Quade benched Castro for a few games last September as a response to some mental lapses, but has repeatedly praised his young shortstops maturity.

The Cubs didnt want to overwhelm Castro with leadoff responsibilities, but he excelled there so quickly (23-for-46) that hes getting more and more at-bats as the No. 3 hitter in the lineup.

Castro woke up on Monday tied for the major-league lead in hits with 35 and soon enough the All-Star buzz will start building.

This didnt seem to be as careless. It was just another reminder that at times Castro will have to slow the game down, even when everything else in his life is moving so fast.

Barney grew up as a shortstop in Oregon playing in the rain all the time. If Castro is who the Cubs project him to be, then he will have to get used to April in Chicago for years to come.

He did the best he could. (Thats) just how it goes, Barney said. He made the plays after that (and) showed some maturity there.

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

Cubs bolster pitching staff with minor trade, foreshadow more moves coming

Cubs bolster pitching staff with minor trade, foreshadow more moves coming

The Cubs didn't wait long to make Joe Maddon's words come true.

Roughly 5 hours after Maddon said the Cubs are definitely in the market for more pitching, the front office went out and acquired Jesse Chavez, a journeyman jack-of-all-trades type.

It's a minor move, not in the realm of Zach Britton or any of the other top relievers on the market.

But the Cubs only had to part with pitcher Class-A pitcher Tyler Thomas, their 7th-round draft pick from last summer who was pitching out of the South Bend rotation as a 22-year-old.

Chavez — who turns 35 in a month — brings over a vast array of big-league experience, with 799 innings under his belt. He's made 70 starts, 313 appearances as a reliever and even has 3 saves, including one this season for the Texas Rangers.

Chavez is currently 3-1 with a 3.51 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 50 strikeouts in 56.1 innings. He has a career 4.61 ERA and 1.38 WHIP while pitching for the Pirates, Braves, Royals, Blue Jays, A's, Dodgers, Angels and Rangers before coming to Chicago.

Of his 30 appearances this season, Chavez has worked multiple innings 18 times and can serve as a perfect right-handed swingman in the Cubs bullpen, filling the role previously occupied by Luke Farrell and Eddie Butler earlier in the season.

Chavez had a pretty solid run as a swingman in Oakland from 2013-15, making 47 starts and 50 appearances as a reliever, pitching to a 3.85 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 8.2 K/9 across 360.1 innings.

"Good arm, versatile, could start and relieve," Joe Maddon said Thursday after the trade. "I've watched him. I know he had some great runs with different teams. 

"The word that comes to mind is verstaility. You could either start him or put him in the bullpen and he's very good in both arenas."

It's not a flasy move, but a valuable piece to give the Cubs depth down the stretch.

There's no way the Cubs are done after this one trade with nearly two weeks left until the deadline. There are more moves coming from this front office, right?

"Oh yeah," Maddon said. "I don't think that's gonna be the end of it. They enjoy it too much."

Cubs first round pick Nico Hoerner makes unexpected visit to Wrigley Field

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USA TODAY

Cubs first round pick Nico Hoerner makes unexpected visit to Wrigley Field

There is nothing quite like visiting Wrigley Field for the first time, and for Cubs 2018 first round draft pick Nico Hoerner, his first visit to his future home park was special despite the circumstances being less than ideal. 

The 21-year-old shortstop drafted out of Stanford will miss the rest of the season due to a left elbow injury, which was examined by Cubs team doctors Thursday morning. It was concluded Hoerner suffered an injury to a ligament in his left elbow, but would not require surgery. 

But after finding out his season was likely done, he figured he'd at least stick around for the Thursday night Cubs game against the Cardinals. 

"I had no idea this was going to happen today," Said Hoerner. "I flew in from the Quad Cities this morning, saw the doctor and said [to the Cubs] 'Hey can I come to the field?" 

Hoerner was able to spend time with the Cubs during batting practice this afternoon, mentioning the conversations he had with the players, in particular, Anthony Rizzo who made a lasting mark on the young Cub prospect. 

"Rizzo pulled me over and introduced me to the group. He actually clumped everyone into guys who were drafted in the first round and guys who weren't." 

Hoerner also got the chance to speak with Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis, who seemed to have struck a chord with the shortstop. Hoerner said the conversation was 'refreshing' and focused less about what he needed to do with his swing and more about competing with the pitcher. 

As for the future for Hoerner, he'll start rehabbing in Arizona and focus on getting right for the start of next season. It wasn't clear if the Cubs planned on trying to get their top pick back on the field in 2018, but Hoerner looked impressive during his short time in the Cubs minor leagues. 

Slashing 327/.450/.571 in 60 professional at-bats, Hoerner was showing he belonged in this league, having just recently being promoted to the Cubs Low-A South Bend Cubs.

But he only managed four games before injuring his left elbow making a diving stop to his left. But Hoerner seemed in good spirits, showing a resiliency that exemplifies his future ballclub. 

"It's always a work in progress. Just like everybody, I'm working to get better."