Cubs

Quades audition was a smashing success

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Quades audition was a smashing success

Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010
4:50 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

HOUSTON Mike Quade still remembers the nights they sold beer for a quarter at an old stadium in Charleston, S.C., to lure in students from The Citadel. The rowdy fans would be hanging over the railings.

Quade cant forget the 14-hour bus rides, and a back wheel falling off somewhere between Jacksonville, Fla., and Memphis, leaving his players stranded. He couldnt read the newspapers in the Dominican Republic, but knew they were ripping him when his winter ball team got off to a slow start.

It took Quade 17 years and 2,378 games as a manager in the minors to get to this point. He won a Caribbean World Series in between and had to wait until almost the end of his seventh season as a major-league coach before receiving the phone call from Jim Hendry.

Quade had no idea why he was summoned to the general managers office on Aug. 21. He wasnt aware of how deep Lou Piniellas family issues ran in Tampa, Fla.

Two days later, a man who had only 215 career at-bats above the Class-A level would be replacing a potential Hall of Fame manager (Piniella) and bypassing a bench coach with borderline Cooperstown credentials (Alan Trammell).

On Sunday night, Quade flew back to Chicago after a 4-0 loss to the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. By any measure, his 37-game audition was a smashing success. The 53-year-old baseball lifer returns as the leading candidate to be the Cubs manager in 2011.

The Mount Prospect native will spend a few days packing up and visiting with his family in the suburbs. By the end of the week, he plans to be waist-deep in saltwater fishing off the Gulf coast of Florida. He likes his chances with Hendry and the Ricketts family.

I believed that I was capable and ready to get an opportunity to do this at this level. But believing it and proving it to yourself are two different things, Quade said. Its no different from (the players). They have great minor-league careers (but) now (youve) got to do it here.

I still wanted to find out myself if (the) way I do things (was) going to resonate with this group of guys.

Quade gave the players a clearer sense of when they would be playing and how they would be used. No longer would they keep circling back to that empty space on the clubhouse wall, waiting for the lineup to be posted. The rookies in the bullpen could relax a little bit and trust their stuff.

I dont think its a secret that everybody in the clubhouse (would) really like to see Quade get the job, catcher Koyie Hill said. Hes been through it all. (He) related to everybody.

Ive never seen a manager or a coach get everything out of every single player. Veteran guys, rookie guys, bench players, starters, relievers he brought it out of everybody.

Hendry appreciates that Quade didnt manage every night like it was Game 7 of the World Series. And the results were still there. The 75-87 Cubs finished with a strong 24-13 push, winning eight of 12 series. They had won 11 of their 40 series under Piniella.

We always knew what type of baseball guy Mike was, Hendry said. A lot of people were surprised when we named him the manager for the rest of the season and hes certainly done nothing but enhance his situation.

Weve won probably more games than any of us would have expected. The young players certainly developed at the rate that we needed them to going forward. (The) clubhouse responded extremely well to Mike, so for me to sit here and be critical in any way would be wrong.

On purpose Hendry never labeled Quade as an interim manager. Quade says he wont change if he gets the job next season. These past six weeks hes thought often about where hes been and at the end he quoted the Grateful Dead.

I dont get real nostalgic, Quade said. How does that song go? What a strange trip its been? For my year to end this way whod have thunk it?

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

Why what Mike Montgomery did against LA could go a long way toward keeping him in the Cubs' rotation

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USA Today

Why what Mike Montgomery did against LA could go a long way toward keeping him in the Cubs' rotation

Joe Maddon needed Mike Montgomery to get through at least six innings given the circumstances presenting the Cubs' manager before Game 2 of Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader against the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Not only were the Cubs short a man in the bullpen (thanks to Brandon Morrow’s pants-related back injury), but Maddon had to use four relievers — including Pedro Strop for two innings — after Tyler Chatwood managed only five innings in Game 1 earlier in the afternoon. 

So when Montgomery — who had only thrown over 100 pitches once in the last two and a half seasons before Tuesday — saw his pitch count sit at 40 after two innings, and then 63 after three, he knew he needed to regroup to avoid creating a mess for the Cubs’ bullpen. 

What followed was a start that, statistically, wasn’t the most impressive of the five Montgomery’s made since re-joining the Cubs’ rotation earlier this year. But it was an important start in that the 28-year-old left-hander didn’t have his best stuff, yet didn’t give in to a good Dodgers lineup. And holding that bunch to one run over six innings was exactly what the Cubs needed in what turned out to be a 2-1 extra-inning win. 

“Especially when you don’t have have your best stuff, you always gotta — that’s when you really learn how to pitch,” Montgomery said. 

It’s also the kind of start that could be a major point in Montgomery’s favor when Maddon is presented with a decision to make on his starting rotation whenever Yu Darvish comes off the disabled list. Knowing that Montgomery can grind his way through six innings when his team needs it the most without his best stuff only can add to the confidence the Cubs have in him. 

Montgomery didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday, issuing more walks (four) than he had in his previous four starts (three). He threw 48 pitches between the second and third innings, and only 25 of those pitches were strikes. Of the nine times the Dodgers reached base against Montgomery, six were the result of fastballs either leading to a walk or a hit. 

Even though the Dodgers were able to bother Montgomery a bit on his fastball, Maddon said that’s the pitch of his that’s impressed him the most over the last few weeks. 

“He never got rushed,” Maddon said. “In the past he would seem to get rushed when things weren’t going well, when he spot-started. Overall, fastball command is better — even though he was off a little bit tonight, the fastball command still exceeds what I’ve seen in the past couple of years on a more consistent basis. The changeup, really, good pitch. He got out of some jams but I think the fact that he knows where his fastball is going now is the difference-maker for him.”

Darvish will throw a simulated game on Wednesday after throwing two bullpen sessions last week. Maddon still doesn’t have a timetable for the $126 million right-hander’s return, and said he’s not entertaining what to do with his rotation until Darvish comes off the disabled list. But Maddon did mention Montgomery’s relative lack of an innings load — the most he’s thrown in a season in 130 2/3, which he did in 2017 — as a reason to perhaps not rush him into a permanent starting role the rest of the season. Going to a six-man rotation is a possibility, too, Maddon said. 

But the over-arching point is this: Montgomery will remain in the Cubs’ rotation as long as he keeps earning it. That can be the product of strong outings in which he has good stuff, or games like Tuesday in which he shows the Cubs the kind of resiliency most starters need to get through a full season. 

“I pitch well, good things happen,” Montgomery said. “I’ve always thought that. Opportunities, you just gotta make the most of them.”

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 28th + 29th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 28th + 29th 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.

For the second time in 1998, Sosa went back-to-back games with multiple home runs. After going yard twice on June 19 of that season, Slammin' Sammy again sent two balls into the bleachers on June 20.

He singlehandedly beat the Phillies that night, driving in 5 runs in a 9-4 Cubs victory.

But that wasn't the most impressive feat of the day from Sosa. His second homer was actually measured at a whopping 500 feet! It was the longest of the season, but not the longest of his career. On June 24, 2003, Sosa hit a homer at Wrigley measured at 511 feet.

The back-to-back big games raised Sosa's season OPS to 1.083 with a ridiculous .685 slugging percentage. He began June 1998 with a .608 slugging percentage.

Fun fact: Kerry Wood struck out 11 batters in 7.1 innings on June 20, 1998 to pick up his 7th big-league victory. As Wood marched to the National League Rookie of the Year that season, he finished with a 13-6 record and 233 strikeouts in only 166.2 innings for a career-high 12.6 K/9 rate.