Cubs

Garza goes for first win vs. Rockies on CSN

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Garza goes for first win vs. Rockies on CSN

Monday, April 25, 2011
Posted: 10:49 a.m.

Associated Press

(AP) -- Troy Tulowitzki didn't have much trouble at the plate against the Chicago Cubs last weekend at Coors Field.

It could be a different story when the Colorado Rockies visit Wrigley Field.

Tulowitzki hopes to shake his struggles on Chicago's North Side in Monday night's series opener against the Cubs.

The Rockies (14-7) took two of three from Chicago in Denver from April 15-17, as catcher Chris Iannetta led Colorado's offense with five RBIs.

Tulowitzki didn't drive in any runs in that series, but went 4 for 11 with a triple and scored twice. The All-Star shortstop was 1 for 3 on April 15 against Matt Garza (0-2, 4.74 ERA), Chicago's scheduled starter Monday.

Tulowitzki, who drove in his team-leading 16th run in Sunday's 6-3 loss to Florida, hasn't had much luck at Wrigley, batting .162 with a homer and 13 strikeouts in nine games there. It's his lowest batting average at any current NL park.

Unsurprisingly given Tulowitzki's struggles, the Rockies haven't enjoyed much success lately at Wrigley, losing 11 of their last 12 games there.

The Cubs (10-11) have dropped three of their last four at home, though, including a 7-3 defeat to Los Angeles on Sunday. Batting third, shortstop Starlin Castro went hitless for just the third time in 15 games.

Castro, who went 7 for 13 with a homer and four RBIs in Colorado earlier this month, is 2 for 12 as the No. 3 hitter, compared to a .500 average when batting out of the leadoff spot.

"If I mix and match the first three guys, I don't care where (they hit)," manager Mike Quade told the Cubs' official website.

Quade now hopes Garza can finally earn his first victory as a Cub.

The offseason acquisition from Tampa Bay allowed six hits and struck out nine over six shutout innings of a 2-1, 11-inning win over San Diego on Wednesday in the second game of a doubleheader. The Cubs had lost Garza's first three starts.

"(Personal) wins don't matter," said Garza, who won a career-best 15 games last season with the Rays. "If I don't win a game all year, but we win my games it doesn't bother me one bit."

Garza didn't give the Cubs a good chance to win in his last start at Coors Field, yielding five runs and seven hits in six innings of a 5-0 loss. The right-hander, who leads the majors with an average of 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings, struck out five Rockies.

Garza posted a similar line in his other career start versus the Rockies - a 4-3 Rays loss at Coors on June 18, 2009, in which he yielded four runs over five innings.

Iannetta, who had a three-run triple off Garza at Coors Field, has sat out the last two games for the Rockies but may return to the starting lineup Monday to catch Esmil Rogers (2-1, 6.75).

After winning his first two starts of the season on the road, Rogers was tagged for eight runs and six hits - including three homers - in three innings of an 8-1 home loss to San Francisco on Monday. The right-hander had not yielded a home run in his previous nine starts.

Rogers has never faced the Cubs.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Marcell Ozuna signing with Braves rules out potential suitor for Kris Bryant

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USA TODAY

Marcell Ozuna signing with Braves rules out potential suitor for Kris Bryant

When former Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson signed with the Twins last week, one thought was Atlanta could pivot and try to acquire Kris Bryant to fill the void in their lineup.

That possibility looks less likely now, as the Braves announced Tuesday they’ve signed former Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna to a one-year, $18 million deal.

The Braves didn’t have a dire need for a third baseman — 22-year-old Austin Riley, a former top prospect, is waiting in the wings — so much as they needed a bat to replace Donaldson. Bryant would have checked both those boxes, but the path to acquiring him is more difficult.

Bryant has been fixated in trade rumors this winter, but any extensive negotiations won’t occur until his service time grievance case is resolved. NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan reported last week Bryant trade rumors this winter have been “greatly exaggerated” because the lingering grievance.

The Braves have been named a potential Bryant suitor as they hold the top prospects the Cubs would seek in return for Bryant. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman threw cold water on that notion recently.

There’s also the possibility the Cubs don’t move at all Bryant this offseason.

"No, we're not in a position where we *have* to do anything,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said Friday at Cubs Convention. “I think you want to always avoid being put in a corner where you have to make a deal and your back's against the wall and you're gonna take any deal that's out there.

“We’re not at all in that position but looking at the longer time horizon of the next two years, I think you would be wise at some point to do something that looks out a little bit more for the long-term and a little bit less for the short-term, but that doesn't have to happen now. We're not in a position where we have to move anybody."

Ozuna joining the Braves means the Cardinals lost one of their most productive bats from the 2019 division championship club. Like the Cubs, St. Louis' offseason has been marked by low-key moves, outside of the Cardinals acquiring pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore from the Rays, a deal which sent Cardinals slugger Jose Martinez to Tampa Bay.

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Cubs acquire righty reliever Travis Lakins from Red Sox as bullpen stockpiling continues

Cubs acquire righty reliever Travis Lakins from Red Sox as bullpen stockpiling continues

The Cubs continued their stockpiling of relievers on Tuesday, acquiring right-hander Travis Lakins from the Red Sox. The North Siders will send a player to be named later or cash considerations to Boston in return.

Lakins is a former sixth-round pick by the Red Sox who made his big-league debut last season. The 25-year-old sported a 3.86 ERA in 16 appearances, three of which he started the game as an "opener." He pitched 23 1/3 innings in the big leagues season, striking out 18 while walking 10. He holds a 4.45 ERA in parts of five minor-league seasons.

Lakins' fastball ranks in the 70th percentile for spin rate, averaging 93.7 mph with his four-seamer last season with Boston. 

The Cubs have acquired a plethora of low-key relievers this winter, including Dan Winkler, Ryan Tepera, Jason Adam and now Lakins. The club lost stalwart Steve Cishek to the White Sox and haven't been connected to the reliable Brandon Kintzler this offseason.  Pedro Strop is also a free agent, and the Cubs are reportedly interested in a reunion.

As of now, the only locks for the 2020 bullpen are closer Craig Kimbrel, Rowan Wick, Kyle Ryan and Brad Wieck. Thus, the Cubs have been gathering as many relief options as possible with the hope some will emerge as viable relief candidates this season. At the least, they'll have plenty of depth in case any injuries occur or if any arms underperform.

"You realize to get through a season, it's not a matter of going up on a whiteboard and writing up your eight relievers," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said at Cubs Convention Saturday. "It's a matter of [needing] 15, 20, 25 good relievers over the course of the summer to really get through it.

"When you guys see a lot of these transactions of relievers, often times they're going to be coming off down years. For the most part, I bet you when we acquire a guy, you can look back and you can see a year in the not-too-distant past when they had a really good year.

"That's the kind of shot we have to take, and that's the kind of shot every team has to take on capturing that lightning in a bottle. Buying really high on relievers and signing them after they have a breakout year is really expensive and really difficult and doesn't have a great success rate. We try to find those guys that we can catch lightning in a bottle, and that's been a big part of our strategy."

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