Cubs

Trammell has no regrets about time with Cubs

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Trammell has no regrets about time with Cubs

Monday, April 4, 2011
Posted: 3:06 p.m. Updated: 3:52 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Alan Trammell sat next to Lou Piniella for almost four seasons. The bench coach appeared to be next in line when the manager abruptly retired last August. Mike Quade got the 37-game audition and the rest is Cubs history.

Around the game, Trammell is known as a class act. The Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach was bypassed but holds no bitterness toward the Cubs, and he maintains a solid friendship with Quade.

Im certainly pulling for Q, Trammell said Monday. He was the right man for the job.

The Cubs ended last season on Oct. 3 and it took 16 days to complete the interview process and finalize an agreement with Quade. Trammell would have been welcomed back onto Quades staff, but took the offer from Kirk Gibson.

Everybody was upfront, Trammell said. If Q had been named before the season was over or maybe even just a few days (after) most likely I would have stayed. But the longer it went, (you) start getting some phone calls and it was tough to turn my old buddy down.

Trammell and Gibson will always be identified with the Detroit Tigers, where they won the 1984 World Series and later coached together. But the old shortstop is still appreciated on the North Side Starlin Castro approached him on Monday to thank him for all his help and guidance.

Trammell was the calm, soothing voice that balanced out Piniella. They teamed up in the Cubs dugout and clubhouse, a baseball version of good cop and bad cop, and won two division titles here.

Trammell has spoken with Piniella a few times and like most was surprised that he took a consulting job with the San Francisco Giants, and not the New York Yankees. Trammell doubts Piniella will manage again but

Ive been around long enough to say: Never say never, Trammell said. I dont think (he has any intention), but who knows if somebody comes calling. As long as hes in baseball in some capacity, I think thats really what he wants.

Fast-tracking Castro

If things had worked out differently, Trammell would have been breaking down Sundays ninth-inning play with Castro. Quade watched it several times and admitted that Castro probably should have held onto the ball after he charged a soft grounder. The throw was offline and two runs scored to help give the Pittsburgh Pirates a 5-4 win.

All I think you want to do (is) just make him aware of the importance of the decision in that situation, Quade said. Even though you might have a shot at the guy, maybe the bigger situation is the potential winning run at third. But man oh man, if thats the biggest lesson that we have to teach him this year, were going to be just fine.

Castro showcased his offensive potential by hitting .615 (8-for-13) over the weekend, which earned him the National Leagues player of the week award along with St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia.

Trammell worked daily with Castro last season and projects the 21-year-old shortstop as a perennial .300 hitter who just needs more experience defensively.

The skys the limit, Trammell said. Hell be somebody Im following for the rest of his career. Thats how much he means to me. Hes a solid kid, but theres going to be some growing pains.

Etc.

The Cubs have assigned pitcher Hayden Simpson (2010 first-round pick) and outfielder Matt Szczur (two-sport star at Villanova University) to Class-A Peoria.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

A stellar Jon Lester outing gives the Cubs more than just a win

A stellar Jon Lester outing gives the Cubs more than just a win

It's been a tale of two halves for the Cubs veteran Jon Lester, who after a sparkling first half of baseball that saw him win 12 games with a 2.58 ERA, has looked nothing like a 2018 All-Star. Prior to Thursday's start, Lester had posted a 10.32 ERA, allowed 4 or more runs in 4 of his 5 most recent starts, and had yet to win a game in the second of the season. 

The 34-year-old veteran flipped the script Thursday night, throwing 6-shutout innings while striking out 8 Pirate batters in the Cubs 1-0 win in Pittsburgh. Lester surrendered only 5 hits and baffled the Pirates all-night, finally busting out of his slump and giving the Cubs his 2nd quality start since the All-Star break. 

Lester attacked the bottom portion of the strike zone all night with his fastball, which topped out at 93 mph, generating 4 whiffs with his heater. Over the last month, Lester has said he's felt he can't quite execute his "out" pitches, explaining that when he has a hitter set up for a strikeout he hasn't been able to throw the ball effectively in those moments. 

And while Lester walked off the mound after the 6th inning amassing 8 punch outs, the veteran starter never looked like he was trying to strike out batters. He just continued to dot the corners, occasionally raise the eye-level of the batter with an elevated heater, and threw his secondary pitches just enough to keep the Pittsburgh batters uncomfortable at the plate. 

The Cubs offense once again struggled, facing Ivan Nova who has won four his last five starts against the Cubs, but Ian Happ's solo shot in the 4th inning was enough run support for Lester to push the Cubs to 20 games over .500. But the biggest takeaway from Thursday night's win isn't that the Cubs came out on top, it's that Jon Lester returning to form gives this Chicago rotation something they've lacked seemingly this entire season. 

Stability at the front of the rotation. 

With Cole Hamels impressive three starts in a Cub uniform and Kyle Hendricks finally figuring out his issues on the mound, if Jon Lester can replicate Thursday's performance throughout the rest of the season, the Cubs rotation may finally turn into the strength many thought it could be before the season started. At the very least, Lester showed that whatever he's been working through over the last month of baseball is fixable. 

It's only one start in a string of poor outings for Lester, and while The Athletic's Sahadev Sharma did find some positives in his starts prior to Thursday's big win, Lester will have to show he can maintain this level of pitching through the remainder of this season. But I think our own Tony Andracki put it best tonight on Twitter. 

With the Cubs pitchers finally starting to perform to their expected level, and the return of Yu Darvish looking closer each day, it could be the Cubs starting pitching that carries through the rest of the season. 

Joe Maddon speaks out on Wednesday night's Marlins-Braves brawl

Joe Maddon speaks out on Wednesday night's Marlins-Braves brawl

Much has been made about Wednesday night's brawl between the Marlins and Braves, which started when Braves young star Ronald Acuna was nailed in the elbow with a 99 mph fastball from Jose Urena. The strangest part of the whole situation was that it seemed like Urena was unprovoked by Acuna or any of the Braves players prior to plunking the former No. 1 prospect in all of baseball.  

The ever wise Cubs skipper Joe Maddon was asked about the incident prior to Thursday's game, making it clear he felt plays like these needed to leave the game entirely. 

It was announced Thursday afternoon that Urena would be suspended just 6 games for intentionally throwing Acuna, which means the Marlins starter will likely only miss one game for trying to hurt Acuna. The good news is that Acuna did not sustain any serious injuries, but Joe Maddon is right there is no reason for people to be hurling nearly triple-digit fastballs at players. Whether provoked or not, intentionally throwing at players is something that needs to be phased out of the game, and its safe to assume Maddon would agree.