Colvin has handled everything thrown his way

Colvin has handled everything thrown his way

Friday, Sept. 17, 2010
Updated 11:30 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MIAMI Tyler Colvin is left-handed, 6-foot-3 and 25 years old, three reasons why he continues to work out at first base. During batting practice late Friday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium, Starlin Castro threw a ball over his head.

The Cubs like Castros defensive range, but want him to concentrate hard on the territory six feet to his left and six feet to his right, so that he consistently makes the routine plays and cuts down on his errors (26).

It appears that Colvin would make a good target at first base, though he hasnt played there since early in his career at Clemson University, and even then it was in a backup role. The Cubs dont have an immediate long-term answer at the position Xavier Nady is approaching free agency.

If youre envisioning an infield anchored by Colvin and Castro, then youll have to wait.

Before becoming manager, Mike Quades responsibilities as third-base coach included working with the outfielders. Quades seen Colvins arm and athleticism in the outfield, which has allowed the rookie to play in right, center and left.

Quade doesnt plan to play Colvin at first base this weekend in Miami, and refuses to experiment against a contender. So the only window would be the seasons final series if we wanted to have fun some fun in Houston. (It) would almost be on a whim at this point.

Its not like hes taking balls at short, Quade said. This could be a valuable thing for him someday. I just dont know if its going to be a valuable thing for him in the next two weeks.

And so the education continues for Colvin, who woke up Friday with 20 home runs, tied for the lead among all major-league rookies with Florida Marlins outfielder Mike Stanton.

Colvin generated only 15 homers last year while splitting his time between Class-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee. He still does not view himself as a home-run hitter. He accounted for 56 in 442 career minor-league games.

Until his promotion from Double-A Jacksonville on June 8, Stanton had hit 89 homers across 323 games in the minors. When asked what it would mean to finish the season with the rookie lead in home runs, Colvin replied, Not much.

That answer basically sums up Colvin, who is friendly and accommodating and makes sure not to say anything controversial in a big media market. He hasnt complained about playing time or a potential position switch. He managed to stay out of the Steve Stone controversy when the White Sox broadcaster criticized Lou Piniella for not giving him enough at-bats.

Hes an intelligent kid, Quade said. He listens, he learns, he tries to do the right thing. (This) kid also has a lot of the intangibles that should allow him to get the most out of his ability.

Hes been through a lot and Ill be damned hes handled everything really well.

Part of it is seeing how the National League attacks your swing, making adjustments and identifying pitches. Colvin was 2-for-10 this season against Chris Carpenter when he stepped in against the former Cy Young Award winner Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.

Colvin launched a 3-2 curveball 383 feet into the right-field seats for a three-run homer that was a finishing touch on a three-game sweep of the Cardinals that had analyst Jack Clark calling them quitters the next day on St. Louis radio.

Colvin had been stuck on 19 homers since Aug. 24. And his batting averageon-base percentage numbers have gone through the ups and downs: .289.365 in April; .333.367 in May; .250.280 in June; .253.330 in July; .215.271 in August; and .243.282 in September.

He processed another piece of firsthand information against Carpenter, which should help him wherever he plays in the future, and whenever he gets 500-plus plate appearances in a season.

You can go off what everybodys telling you, Colvin said, but until you get up there and experience it for yourself, thats what you got to go (with).

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

John Lackey struggles as Cubs drop series finale to Reds

John Lackey struggles as Cubs drop series finale to Reds

CINCINNATI — With his high leg kick and below-the-radar breaking balls, Bronson Arroyo showed the Cubs a little old-style pitching. Who needs to throw 90 mph to beat the World Series champions?

The 40-year-old righty gave his best performance yet in his long comeback from elbow problems, pitching three-hit ball over six innings on Sunday, and the Cincinnati Reds salvaged a 7-5 victory . Arroyo worked fast, varied the angles of his deliveries, and kept `em guessing with his minimalist pitches.

"I'm happy for him, to see him back up," Chicago catcher Miguel Montero said. "He's a tough pitcher to face. Obviously he's throwing below hitting speed right now."

Arroyo (2-2) needed more than two years to recover from Tommy John surgery. The Reds gave him what amounted to a final chance this spring, and he's back to fooling `em with his unusual repertoire. Jon Jay saw pitches of 67, 74, 83, 75 and 70 mph during one at-bat.

"I don't want to say I had pinpoint control, but I was throwing the breaking ball down and out where it was almost impossible to hit," Arroyo said. "They knew where I was going, but I still had enough late movement to surprise them."

Arroyo allowed Anthony Rizzo's two-run homer - his third of the series - and struck out seven batters for the first time since May 13, 2014.

"This was the first time he looked like the Bronson of his first time through here," manager Bryan Price said, referring to Arroyo's 2006-13 stay in Cincinnati.

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Raisesl Iglesias gave up a pair of runs in the ninth before finishing off the Reds' 3-7 homestand.

Patrick Kivlehan's bases-loaded double highlighted a four-run sixth inning off John Lackey (1-3) and decided a matchup of up-in-years starters. The 38-year-old Lackey and Arroyo have combined for 793 starts in the majors.

Despite the loss, the defending champs took two of three in the series and moved back into first place in the NL Central. No surprise that it happened in Cincinnati - the Cubs have won 17 of their last 22 at Great American Ball Park. They've taken 20 of their last 25 overall against the Reds.

"I have nothing to complain about," manager Joe Maddon said.

Rizzo extended his hitting streak to 12 games - matching his career high - with his two-run homer in the fourth inning. His three-run shot with two outs in the ninth helped the Cubs rally for a 6-5, 11-inning victory in the series opener. He had another three-run homer during a 12-8 win on Saturday.

The Cubs have homered in their last 15 games at Great American. They hit seven in all during the series.

Cubs offense explodes with three home runs in victory over Reds

Cubs offense explodes with three home runs in victory over Reds

CINCINNATI — After a sputtering start, the Cubs' offense is finally rolling. And it's no surprise that they're breaking out at Great American Ball Park, a place that's just their style.

Wilson Contreras hit his first career grand slam and Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward added three-run shots on Saturday, powering Chicago to a 12-8 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Jake Arrieta (3-0) returned to the mound where he threw his second career no-hitter last April 21 and struggled mightily at the outset, giving up two homers in the first inning. Chicago's offense pulled him through with another homer-filled game at Great American Ball Park. Arrieta helped with an RBI triple.

"We've been making the most of them the last few games," Heyward said of the big hits.

The Cubs have won 20 of their last 24 games against the Reds, including 17 of 21 at Great American. The Cubs have homered in each of their last 14 games in Cincinnati, which suits their power-laden lineup.

"We've had some hiccups, but we've been picked up by our offense," said Arrieta, who gave up five runs in six innings. "As starting pitchers, we have to take advantage of our offense."

In the series opener, Rizzo's three-run homer tied it with two outs in the ninth and set up a 6-5 win in 11 innings. He connected in the first inning on Saturday against left-hander Cody Reed (1-1), who was moved into the Reds' injury-depleted rotation. Contreras hit his grand slam in the second, which was Reed's final inning.

"We score, what, nine runs and we lose? That's tough," Reed said.

Heyward's second homer in two days made it 11-5 in the sixth. The Cubs hit 42 homers against Cincinnati last season, the most by any Reds' opponent in their history. Chicago has six homers in the first two games of the series.

Arrieta was pitching on six days' rest. He needed 53 pitches to get through the first two innings. Joey Votto hit a three-run homer in the first - he drove in five runs overall - and Eugenio Suarez followed with a solo shot.

"I feel like I did my job after that first inning or so," said Arrieta, who struck out eight and didn't walk a batter. "After that, you want to protect the lead and get as deep into the game as you can."

Arrieta knocked in a run with his fourth career triple , a drive to right field that Scooter Gennett misplayed and missed as he tried to make a diving catch on the warning track.