Cubs promote Wilken to special assistant, hire new director of scouting

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Cubs promote Wilken to special assistant, hire new director of scouting

As the Chicago Cubs promote some of their top prospects to the major leagues, they also have begun to do so within their management positions. The team announced today the promotions of Tim Wilken to Special Assistant to the PresidentGeneral Manager and the hiring of Jaron Madison as the director of amateur scouting.
Wilken, a 30-year veteran in baseball, including seven years with the Cubs, will continue to scout high school and college prospects in addition to his scouting major league and international talent. The 2006 East Coast Scout of the Year, as named by the Scout of the Year Foundation, will also evaluate talent throughout the Cubs' minor league and major league system.
And he is certainly familiar with the team, having drafted and signed a handful of current Cubs players, including Darwin Barney, Brett Jackson, James Russell, Jeff Samardzija and Josh Vitters.
Jackson and Vitters made their major league debuts earlier this week in Los Angeles, and their Wrigley Field debuts this afternoon against Cincinnati.
Madison spent the last three seasons as the Director of Amateur Scouting in San Diego with the Padres, where he originally began his career as an associate area scout in 2002. He worked for the Pittsburgh Pirates as an area scout from 2002-2005 and for the St. Louis Cardinals as the assistant scouting director in 2008 and 2009. In between those two stints, he returned to San Diego as an assistant to the director of player development.

Cubs drop fifth game in last six with loss to Marlins

Cubs drop fifth game in last six with loss to Marlins

MIAMI (AP) — Ichiro Suzuki slapped a ground ball toward the left side of the infield, then hustled down the line to first just in case the throw didn't get there in time.

It didn't, and the Miami Marlins were in business.

That play by Suzuki kick-started what became a four-run fifth as the Marlins took the lead for good, and they went on to beat the Chicago Cubs 9-6 on Saturday.

"Just a good team," said Justin Bour, who hit his 14th home run and finished with three RBIs. "Good vibe right now, and just got to keep it rolling."

Giancarlo Stanton had his first three-RBI game since April 26 for Miami, which got to 40 wins in 75 games - or 20 games faster than they did a year ago. Paul Clemens (1-0) allowed four runs in five innings for his first big league win since June 12, 2013, and A.J. Ramos got the last two outs for his 24th save in as many chances this season.

Going back to 2015, Ramos has saved 33 straight, tying a Marlins franchise record.

"He's been solid," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Any team that has a guy at the end that's closing `em down and not giving `em up, if you can get to him with a lead you're in good shape."

Addison Russell hit a three-run homer and Miguel Montero added a solo homer for the Cubs, who still have the best record in the majors even after losing five of their last six games. They ended a four-game skid Friday night despite giving up Bour's grand slam.

"That's a tremendous lineup," Clemens said.

Cubs starter John Lackey (7-4) gave up a season-high seven runs in 4 1-3 innings, and it's almost like he knew Suzuki's infield single would be trouble - smacking his glove and shouting in frustration after he reached.

It only got worse over the next few minutes for Lackey, who had a 2.78 ERA when the game started and a 3.29 ERA when it ended.

"To start off with an infield hit ... I have to do better than that," Lackey said. "Four runs should be enough to win that game."

Suzuki took second when Russell's throw squirted away from Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, and scored two pitches later on Martin Prado's double.

Stanton drove in Prado with a single that chased Lackey and put Miami up 5-4, Bour greeted reliever Gerardo Concepcion with an RBI double, and Derek Dietrich's sacrifice fly made it 7-4.

It was a rare sort of loss for the Cubs, who were 33-0 this season when scoring six runs and 44-3 when scoring at least four.

"When we score that many runs we're going to win a baseball game," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "It was one of those nights and we move on."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Cubs: Rizzo (back stiffness) and Montero (right knee) returned to the lineup after missing the last two games. ... 2B Ben Zobrist, who was forced out of Friday's game after getting hit in the left ankle by a pitch, didn't start but pinch-hit in the eighth.

Marlins: CF Marcell Ozuna, who played in all but one of Miami's first 74 games, wasn't in the lineup because of left wrist pain. Suzuki started in center for the sixth time this season.

CUBS LINEUP

Willson Contreras, who had an RBI double in the ninth for the Cubs, got the start in left field. That became the third position (joining catcher and first base) that he's played in a very hectic opening eight games of his MLB career. And Lackey batted eighth, the second straight day that Maddon put a starting pitcher in that slot after doing the same with Kyle Hendricks in Friday's win.

ICHIRO WATCH

Suzuki went 1 for 4, moving him within 16 hits of 3,000 for his MLB career.

UP NEXT

The series ends Sunday when Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez (9-3, 2.36) faces Cubs RHP Jason Hammel (7-3, 2.55). Fernandez is 23-1 all-time at home and has never faced the Cubs, who have lost each of Hammel's last three starts. Fernandez briefly left the Marlins' dugout in the first inning Saturday after a foul ball bounced off his right hand, but returned not long afterward - and even asked Mattingly if he could pinch-hit in the late innings.

Contreras helps Cubs end 4-game skid by beating Marlins

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USA Today Sports Images

Contreras helps Cubs end 4-game skid by beating Marlins

MIAMI - One week into his major league career, Chicago Cubs super-sub Willson Contreras says he's simply trying to contribute and enjoy himself.

So how much fun is he having?

"A lot," Contreras said, practically shouting the words. "A lot."

No wonder - he's batting .412 with three homers, and the latest helped the Cubs break their longest losing streak of the season at four games by beating the Miami Marlins 5-4 Friday night.

Contreras hit a two-run homer in a four-run first inning, and his RBI single in the seventh put the team with the best record in the majors ahead to stay.

Manager Joe Maddon said Contreras' contribution as a reinforcement for the injury-hampered Cubs has been indispensable.

"It's like oxygen - it's absolutely necessary," Maddon said. "The life he has brought to the group is absolutely necessary. He's different in all the best ways."

While Contreras again excelled as a reinforcement, the NL Central leaders endured another setback when second baseman Ben Zobrist left the game after he was hit by a pitch that bruised his left ankle. X-rays were negative, but Zobrist said he'll likely miss at least one game.

Four pitchers held the Marlins to two hits, including Justin Bour's grand slam.

Each team scored four runs in the first inning, when Kris Bryant and Contreras homered for the Cubs. It was the first time in the majors this year that both teams scored at least four runs in the first, according to ESPN.

Despite the early onslaught, both starters settled down before departing with the score still 4-all.

The Cubs' Kyle Hendricks pitched five innings and allowed only one hit - Bour's slam. All four runs were unearned because of an error by shortstop Addison Russell.

"That was the most grinding of a one-hitter," Hendricks said. "It was a weird game."

Miami's Tom Koehler gave up six consecutive hits in the first but still pitched six innings.

Trevor Cahill (1-2) threw a scoreless sixth. Hector Rondon retired all four batters he faced for his second four-out save in a row, and his 13th overall.

Mike Dunn (0-1) retired only one of the five hitters he faced in the seventh, walking two and hitting Zobrist.

"I can't remember the last time I went out there and couldn't throw anything over the plate," Dunn said. "I didn't give the team a chance."

Dunn also allowed a one-out run-scoring single by Contreras, who has eight RBIs after seven games in the big leagues.

"He looks like an established big league hitter," Hendricks said. "He just hits balls hard. It's really fun to watch. To be that young and come up and do it, it's unbelievable. And we need it right now."

Contreras started at catcher and moved to first base late in the game. He's expected to be in the lineup again Saturday, although he's unsure where.

"I don't know if I'm going to play left field or first base; I caught a few flyballs in right field today," he said. "So I'll be ready, man."

Chris Coghlan understands his role with Cubs is different this time around

Chris Coghlan understands his role with Cubs is different this time around

At one point in the middle of last season, the Cubs were on a 12-game winning streak with Chris Coghlan hitting third in the lineup...while playing second base.

It's hard to see that scenario playing out again in 2016 for a lot of reasons.

After getting traded back to Chicago earlier this month, the 31-year-old outfielder came to a different Cubs team than the one he played a major contributing role with in 2015.

Coghlan was penciled in at fifth in Friday's Cubs lineup and has generally been playing against right-handed pitchers since he was acquired, akin to his role last season.

But what about when Jorge Soler returns? And when Dexter Fowler gets off the disabled list, the Cubs will still want to find time for Albert Almora Jr. and Matt Szczur and have $184 million man Jason Heyward patrolling right field.

Plus, Kris Bryant has played a lot of corner outfield already this season and his presence out there allows Javier Baez and Tommy La Stella (who is also currently on the DL) to man third base.

Simply put: Coghlan will be hard-pressed to reach 500 plate appearances again this season.

"I think my role is different. I've accepted that," Coghlan said. "Last year, I felt like if it was a righty, I'd start every day and do the platoon thing. Here, there's just so much talent and different roles that I don't think mine's maybe as definitive as last year's was. 

"I would probably say I'm even more accepting of that. 'Cause I feel to go from where I went and then to come here and get another opportunity. When you're on a team that plans on winning the World Series vs. a team that hopes you go to the playoffs, it's two totally different things.

"To get back on that and be around it, you're like, 'Man, I have a chance legitimately to win a World Series. I'll do whatever I can to win a World Series.' And that's kinda the attitude that I have. 

"I think it's different for people if you're not trying to win a World Series and you're not one of those teams, then you probably want a bigger role. But when you have a legitimate shot, there's a reason why there's only 25 that are allowed and there are only certain roles. I'm excited for this opportunity, however big or small it may be."

Coghlan only got 12 plate appearances in the postseason with the Cubs last year, collecting a lone single in the process.

It's understandable the former National League Rookie of the Year (2009) would want to play more after overcoming a lot of adversity in his career with injuries and posting a .793 OPS with 25 homers in 273 games with the Cubs from 2014-15.

But he also got his first taste of the playoffs last year and just moved from a last-place Oakland A's team to a squad that has a World Series or bust mentality.

Coghlan sees a different Cubs team than the one that got hot in the final two months of 2015 and wound up winning 97 games and two playoff series.

"When I came over here, I just realized, man, you've seen guys have more time," Coghlan said. "You see some growth and you see so much depth that you just feel like it's a matter of — this isn't an arrogant comment — playing within ourselves. 

"When you're on that level of talent and then you have everybody as close as they are, you feel like you're only competing for one thing and that's to win the World Series.

"...To watch it and to be a part of it, you're just like, 'Man, if we stay within ourselves and execute and stay healthy, we're gonna be fine.' And I think that's kinda more the attitude vs. maybe last year, it wasn't until the end where we kinda found our identity and our belief.

"Early on [last season], it was like, 'Man, we're fighting mano y mano and we need to have something break through.' Now, I think it's just about us executing. We execute and we got a shot to beat anybody in baseball."