Cubs

Stewart looking for rebound

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Stewart looking for rebound

The Rockies made Ian Stewart the 10th overall pick of the 2003 draft. They believed in the power shown by the kid fresh out of high school.

Eight years later, the Rockies had had enough and sent Stewart on a one-way ticket to Chicago, taking the Cubs disappointing first-round pick Tyler Colvin in return.

It made sense for Colorado. After hitting 43 homers from 2009-10, Stewart struggled mightily in 2011, hitting just .156 with zero home runs.

Stewart is still just 26 (he will be 27 shortly after Opening Day) and the Cubs are counting on a rebound. Stewart isnt only counting on it, hes expecting it.

"I'm coming in here kinda feeling like I have a fresh start with a new organization, a great organization that I'm excited about, he said. I'm just looking forward to going out and trying to be the player that I was a few years back in Colorado.

"I want to show the team that they made a good choice in trading for me. They gave up a good player to get me in Colvin. It's nice to be wanted by such a great organization."

As for why he struggled in 2011, Stewart doesnt have a definitive answer.

"It's really hard for me to pinpoint anything from last year, he said. It was just such a rough year for me. I lost confidence. It was hard mentally for me. It was one of the hardest things I've ever gone through in baseball.

I've already gotten with Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo here a few times this offseason and I really feel like I'm in a good place with him and I'm really looking forward to get going."

A big reason for the struggles last season was Stewart did not get a chance to get going. He got just 136 at-bats, appearing in only 48 games as he was shuttled to and from Triple-A multiple times.

That could change in Chicago.

"I talked to Theo and Jed after the trade, Stewart said. They were both excited to have me here. From my understanding, I'm going to get every opportunity here to play everyday and to get those 400, 500, 600 at-bats that I feel that I need to be the player that I can be.

The couple years that I did well in Colorado, I was getting 400 or 500 at-bats. Theo and Jed have been vocal about me getting that opportunity to do that. Obviously, it's on my shoulders, in my hands whether I end up getting those at-bats. If I play well, I'll get them. Just to hear from them how they feel about me is nice to know.

If Stewart is able to get going with the bat, he will be a big addition the Cubs lineup. But he also brings a solid glove and valuable experience and knowledge in rebuilding efforts.

"I'm excited to come in and be a part of a team that looks like it's headed in the right direction, starting from Theo all the way down, he said. We went through a similar situation in Colorado when I was there. We went in the right direction and ended up getting to the playoffs a few times. I'm just looking forward to doing the same thing here.

"The great years that we had in Colorado, I think we were leading the league in defense. That's really where it starts. If you can field, throw, help out the pitching staff and keep the runs down, then you don't need to score a ton of runs. The pressure is off the offense at that point. If we can field our positions and the pitchers can do their job, then I think we'll do fine over here."

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

The Cubs and their fans may want to invent and use one of those Men In Black neuralyzers because the four-game series in Cincinnati was one to forget.

The Reds finished off a four-game sweep of the Cubs on Sunday with an 8-6 win. The way the Reds won the finale will be especially painful for the Cubs considering they led 6-1 after six innings. Mike Montgomery appeared to tire in the seventh inning and Pedro Strop got rocked out of the bullpen to lead to a seven-run seventh for the hosts.

The Reds have now won seven in a row and 10 of 12, but still sit 13 games under .500. Bizarrely, the Reds also swept the Dodgers, the Cubs’ next opponent, in a four-game series in May. Duane Underwood will start for the Cubs Monday against the Dodgers and make his major league debut.

Here are some other wild facts and figures from the series:

  • The last time the Reds swept the Cubs in a four-game series was back in 1983. That was the first week of the season and three weeks before the infamous Lee Elia rant.
  • One positive for the Cubs from the game was Montgomery’s start. Through six innings he allowed one run on three hits and two walks. However, he gave up a single, a double and a single in the seventh before Strop relieved him. Montgomery had gone six innings and allowed one run in each of his last four outings.
  • Strop was definitely a negative. On his first pitch, Strop gave up a home run to pinch-hitter Jesse Winker, the second home run for a Reds pinch-hitter in the game. Then Strop allowed a single, a walk, a single and a double before getting an out. Strop’s final line: 2/3 inning pitched, four runs, one strikeout, three walks, four hits.
  • The Cubs led in three of the four games this series, including two leads after five innings.
  • The Cubs were 5-for-23 (.217) with runners in scoring position in the series. On the season the Cubs are hitting .233 with RISP, which is 22nd in the majors and fourth-worst in the National League (but ahead of the division-rival Brewers and Cardinals).
  • The Reds outscored the Cubs 31-13 and scored at least six runs in every game. The Reds are now 6-3 against the Cubs this year after going a combined 17-40 against the Cubs from 2015-2017.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 32nd homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 32nd homer 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.

Sosa victimized the Tigers pitching staff again on the next night, taking Brian Moehler deep in the 7th inning for a 400-foot solo blast.

The homer tied the game at 3, but the Cubs blew the lead in the bottom of the 7th when the Terrys (Adams and Mulholland) gave up 3 runs. The Cubs wound up losing 6-4.

The Cubs were putting together a really nice season in 1998 that ended with a trip to October. They entered the series with the Tigers with a 42-34 record, yet lost both games to a Detroit team that entered the series with a 28-45 record. The Tigers finished the season 65-94; the Cubs finished 90-73.

Fun fact: Luis Gonzalez was the Tigers left fielder and No. 5 hitter for both games of the series. He spent part of the 1995 season and all of '96 on Chicago's North Side. 1998 was his only year in Detroit before he moved on to Arizona, where he hit 57 homers in 2001 and helped the Diamondbacks to a World Series championship with that famous broken-bat single in Game 7.

Fun fact  No. 2: Remember Pedro Valdes? He only had a cup of coffee with the Cubs (9 games in 1996 and 14 in '98), but started in left field on June 25, 1998. He walked and went 0-for-1 before being removed from the game for a pinch-hitter (Jose Hernandez).