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The year in Cubs quotes: 'We stinks'

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The year in Cubs quotes: 'We stinks'

Everyone showed up at spring training in great shape, brimming with confidence and enjoying the Arizona sunshine. The Cubs were banking on a carryover effect from their strong finish to the 2010 season. What could possibly go wrong?

Some seven months later, Jim Hendry spends his time on golf courses, while Mike Quade is ready to go fishing, waiting for the next general manager to decide his fate.

No one would admit that they saw a 71-91 season coming. Heres how they watched it all unfold.
We fully expect to be in contention in the National League Central. (I) dont have any doubt we can do that. Hendry on the first day of camp, Feb. 13.

I want to talk about the good team that we have. I want to focus on this year and be a better player, a better pitcher. Thats what everybodys looking forward to. Carlos Zambrano, Feb. 14.

You have to understand how supplements work. They dont make you Superman. Steroids make you Superman. Marlon Byrd responding to his relationship with BALCO founder Victor Conte, detailed again on HBOs Real Sports, Feb. 16.
Im cured. I got approval from the psychologist that I can be by myself. Zambrano, Feb. 22.

Even in Little League I never got involved with a teammate like that. Im not a troublemaker. Put it that way. Aramis Ramirez on his dugout altercation with Carlos Silva, after the first inning of the fourth spring-training game, March 2.

No storybook ending, but I dont believe in those things anyway. Quade after an Opening Day loss to the Pirates, April 1.

Were going to see what were made of. Randy Wells after the Cubs announce Wells and Andrew Cashner will be going on the disabled list, April 6.

Believe me, the last thing that I want to do this year is disrespect the manager. Zambrano after storming off the mound before Quade could get there to take the ball from him, April 13.
I cant win. Hendry, knowing the media would run wild with speculation after he hugged Albert Pujols, May 10.

That was embarrassing and that (expletive) got to stop. Quade, minutes after holding a closed-door meeting with his team following a loss in Cincinnati, May 16.

If we havent reached rock bottom with this, were pretty damn close. Quade after another loss to the Reds, May 17.

It was good to kind of blow some steam off and have some fun and watch that guy run around naked. Koyie Hill after a streaker ran onto the field during a win in Miami, May 18.

Im blessed. Byrd, thankful that the fastball that smashed into his face the night before at Fenway Park didnt leave any permanent damage, May 22.

Whatever heat comes, bring it on. Quade, June 3.

We played like a Triple-A team. This is embarrassing. Embarrassing for the team, for the owners, embarrassing for the fans. Embarrassing. Thats the word here for this team. We should know better than this. We should know that Ryan Theriot is not a a good fastball hitter. We stinks. Zambrano after Carlos Marmol blew the save in a 3-2 loss to the Cardinals, June 5.

(Bleep) the goat. Message on the back of T-shirts, June 14. (At least one player who regularly wore the shirt had no idea what the curse was all about, or how long it had been since the Cubs won the World Series.)

I have 100 percent confidence in Jim. Tom Ricketts, a little more than a month before the chairman fired Hendry, June 15.
Ive never bought into the (idea that) I should have a baseball guy to watch my baseball guy and his baseball guys. And then what do you get? A baseball guy to watch the baseball guy whos watching your baseball guy? Ricketts, defending team president Crane Kenney, June 15.

Sometimes the doctor is talking to you like when your wife is talking to you, youre like, Yeahyeahyeah but your mind is elsewhere. Zambrano, unable to explain the details of a back injury that landed him on the disabled list, July 1.

Hes better than me. Hall of Famer Ernie Banks after Starlin Castro was named to the All-Star team, July 3.

Were right where we need to be. Matt Garza after a comeback win in Washington left the Cubs 17 games under .500, July 7.

I was just mad because of my sore back I didnt get a tee time at Oakmont. Ryan Dempster, trying to brush off the shouting match he got into with Quade after the manager pulled him from the game, July 9.

When daddy tells you to do something, you do it. Hes the manager. You dont have to like it, but thats the decision. Hill, smoothing over the Dempster-Quade dugout argument in Pittsburgh, July 9.

Newsflash: Sometimes guys need a day here and there. Kerry Wood, insisting nothings wrong with him physically, July 24.

Im not a lunatic. Quade, believing his team can get back in the playoff race, even though they were 18 games under .500, July 26.

Change. Change. Change. A lot of change, a lot of changes to win. Zambrano, refusing to explain the changes he said he wants to see around this team, July 27.
Nobody has come forward to me from the team and said: We want to trade you. Jim hasnt talked to me about it. Whats the other guy? Kenney? Or the Ricketts nobody has talked to me about (this). Its only in the media. Its speculation that this team wants Ramirez. Ramirez during one of his many State of Ramirez updates, July 28.

(Its not like) if you didnt get something done by 3 p.m. today, this is a disaster. I dont put too much stock into that. The guys we kept for the most part are guys that still have a chance to be involved next year. Hendry, hours after the trade deadline, and nine days after Ricketts told him hed be fired, July 31.

Its going to be one of three things: Either Ronnie batting, Ronnie fielding or Ronnie with his hairpiece on fire. WGN Radios Pat Hughes before the unveiling of Ron Santos statue, Aug. 10.

His lockers empty. I dont know where hes at. He walked out on 24 guys that are battling their ass off for him. I dont know where hes gone, what hes doing. I heard he might retire. Quade on Zambrano after his meltdown in Atlanta, Aug. 12.
We will respect his wishes and honor them and move forward. Hendry on Zambrano, Aug. 12.

Hes a big man, but I think mentally hes weak. Alfonso Soriano on Zambrano, Aug. 13.
You cant fight change. Its big business. Were here to win games and the last couple years we didnt win enough of them. Hendry, at the news conference announcing his firing, Aug. 19.

The sabermetric stuff is important. But its just a piece and were not running the baseball organization by a computer model. Ricketts, Aug. 19.

You cant release 25 guys. Somebody had to pay the price. Ramirez, Aug. 19.

You want somebody else? Marmol, laughing off speculation that there could be a new closer next season, Sept. 5.
This organization has an extreme desire to actually bring a championship here. As far as it may look at times, I see it coming. Carlos Pena, eternal optimist, Sept. 7.

Im not going to wax nostalgic. I plan to be back. And I plan to do a good job next year. Quade, stubborn optimist, before the seasons final home game, Sept. 21.

You can bring here whoever you think the best manager in the big leagues is I dont think its going to be any different. The bottom line is as players we didnt get it done. Ramirez, Sept. 27.

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

As Craig Kimbrel takes another step forward, Cubs know he won't be their savior

As Craig Kimbrel takes another step forward, Cubs know he won't be their savior

Before Pedro Strop served up the game-winning homer to former top prospect Eloy Jimenez in the ninth inning of Tuesday night's 3-1 loss at Wrigley Field, the Cubs got some good news on their bullpen as Craig Kimbrel took another step forward.

Kimbrel threw a perfect seventh inning in relief for Triple-A Iowa Tuesday, needing only 8 pitches to get his job done.

As he continues along the path to join the big-league bullpen, the Cubs also know they can't put too much stock in him to be the savior. After all, he can't help the offense and even had he been available Tuesday night, there's no guarantee he would've pitched in the ballgame and affected anything in that regard.

"We want him to come in and join us and help us win," said Cole Hamels, who was once again brilliant for the Cubs Tuesday as he also notched his 2,500th career strikeout. "If we're not winning right now, then it's just one little small piece. I think we all want to be a large piece and have him just fit right in and make it easier on him.

"I don't think we all the sudden want to turn to him hoping that he'll save us at the end of the day. We know who he is, what talent he is and what he's going to provide, but I think we all want to be a part of this team and helping win."

The Cubs have not been winning lately, as they are now 10-15 in their last 25 games. That has dropped them to 39-33 on the season and in second place behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.

Who knows how many save opportunities Kimbrel will have once he arrives in Chicago, but there's no doubt he will give the team a shot in the arm whenever he does walk in the clubhouse. The Cubs aren't saying exactly when that will be, as they haven't set forth an exact plan on what his next steps are, instead deferring to see how he feels after Tuesday's outing.

He will probably throw another outing in Iowa Thursday or Friday.

"He's trending in the right direction," GM Jed Hoyer said Tuesday evening at Wrigley Field. "Obviously he's feeling good, but we're not gonna rush him or make judgment on any one outing. We're just gonna take this process as we planned it out and try to get him ready for the remainder of the season."

This was the first game action of any kind for Kimbrel since Oct. 27 when he appeared in Game 4 of the World Series for the Boston Red Sox. He signed with the Cubs nearly two weeks ago now and threw his first bullpen at Wrigley Field on June 8 before going to Arizona to throw another bullpen and face hitters in live batting practice.

As dominant as Kimbrel was in the one inning — Hoyer joked Kimbrel may have to purposely walk a guy next time out just to get more extended time in the rehab game — don't expect the Cubs to get aggressive and push him now. It's still hard to see any scenario in which he's in the big-league bullpen on this current homestand (that runs through June 27).

The Cubs didn't sign Kimbrel to rush him and risk injury when they want him to lock down the back end of the bullpen down the stretch in September and then in what they hope is a long playoff run in October. The original plan called for Kimbrel to throw in back-to-back outings in the minor leagues, and the Cubs haven't indicated any change to that.

"[I'm just looking for] good health," Joe Maddon said. "He felt good, velocity was there, the break on the breaking ball was good, the velocity on the breaking ball was very good. It's just about health. If the guy's healthy and ready to rock and roll, you put him in the ninth inning. That's pretty much what we're looking forward to."

Elsewhere in Cubs bullpen news, Brandon Morrow is still throwing as he works his way along the comeback trail that is approach the one-year mark.

Morrow — the former Cubs closer — has been out since last July, going on the shelf at that point with what was originally described as biceps tendinitis. It was later revealed to be a bone bruise and he actually had to undergo a minor surgery on his right elbow over the offseason. 

The Cubs knew they'd be without Morrow for at least the first month of 2019, but the veteran then experienced a setback and still hasn't gotten back in a game. But he's been throwing from about 135 feet, Hoyer said, and feeling OK at the moment.

"With Brandon, we've been down this road a few times where he feels good and he has a setback, so I don't want to be overly optimistic," Hoyer said. "I don't want to be pessimistic. This is where he is. Obviously getting him back would be such an incredible bonus for us at this point. 

"We just want him to be healthy. I feel awful for him. No one is more disappointed or more frustrated than he is. Hopefully this time through, it works for him.

"...It's hard — you have to build your way back up. You don't really get a true sense of what it's gonna be like until you throw in games or throw in live bullpens because that's when the real stress pitches come in."

Hendricks, Chatwood, Alzolay and where the Cubs rotation goes from here

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AP

Hendricks, Chatwood, Alzolay and where the Cubs rotation goes from here

Kyle Hendricks' shoulder injury isn't opening the door for Adbert Alzolay to make his way into the Cubs rotation.

Not initially, at least.

The Cubs will hand Tyler Chatwood the ball in Hendricks' normal spot Thursday evening against the Mets at Wrigley Field, keeping Alzolay in the minors for the time being. 

When Hendricks hit the injured list over the weekend, many speculated it could be the Cubs' top pitching prospect who gets the call, as Alzolay has been on fire in Triple-A (1.93 ERA, 40 K in 28 innings over his last 5 starts). But the Cubs have two veteran starting pitching options hanging out in their bullpen in Chatwood and Mike Montgomery and it would send a bad message inside the clubhouse to pass over those guys and call up a starter from the minors to take a turn in the rotation.

The Cubs also felt like Chatwood has earned the chance to start after dealing with last year's struggles and having a resurgent season out of the bullpen and in his one previous spot start.

"He's been pitching a lot better," Joe Maddon said of Chatwood. "We believe he's earned this opportunity to pitch in the situation. ... It's an earned situation."

The Cubs made sure Chatwood was stretched out, as they held him back in case of extra innings Sunday night in Los Angeles and then had him throw in the bullpen after the game to help build his stamina back up to join the rotation.

But even if Alzolay won't be joining the rotation this week, that doesn't mean his opportunity isn't right around the corner. The Cubs have been discussing the potential for a six-man rotation in the near future, as they just began a stretch of 17 games in 17 days before their next break on July 5. 

"That's been something we've talked about a lot," GM Jed Hoyer said. "This is really the third time we've had 2-3 weeks in a row [of games]. No doubt, the starters wear down after 2-3 times through the rotation on four days rest and we're aware of their age and mileage on some of these guys. We want to make sure we take care of them. In general, getting extra rest is something we've talked about going into the break."

The Cubs have gone to a six-man rotation before and after the All-Star Break in past seasons and it makes sense to do so again this year, even with Hendricks on the shelf. Montgomery and Alzolay are both options and then Chatwood, of course, though Maddon insisted the Cubs have not come up with a concrete plan for the rotation beyond Thursday's outing.

The big question looming over the rotation is how long Hendricks will be out. He was in some kind of groove before experiencing shoulder issues in his last start against the Dodgers.

"All the test confirmed what we thought — he's kinda dealing with an impingement," Hoyer said. "I feel like we got ahead of it. We're not sure how much time he'll miss. We'll try to take it slowly and take the length of the season into account."

It's still only mid-June and the Cubs are hoping they're going to be playing baseball for another four-plus months, so they know how important Hendricks is to the overall goal of a second championship. 

They'll practice patience with him in his recovery, but right now, they can't say whether or not Cubs fans will be able to see him pitch again before the All-Star Game.