Chicago Cubs

Cubs won't give Sandberg a September call-up

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Cubs won't give Sandberg a September call-up

Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010
9:17 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

The legend of Ryne Sandberg seems to grow every time another player is promoted from Triple-A Iowa. Everyone wants to know about the Hall of Famer who throws batting practice and rides buses from one city to the next.

Finally, Jeff Samardzija just had to laugh at a reporters line of questioning on Tuesday afternoon inside the Cubs clubhouse.

No, we carried all his bags for him every time, Samardzija said. He big-leagued us the whole time.

Samardzija was joking and in a pretty good mood after being brought up from Iowa along with reliever Justin Berg, infielder Bobby Scales, and outfielders Sam Fuld and Brad Snyder. To make room for Scales and Snyder on the 40-man roster, the Cubs transferred pitchers John Grabow and Esmailin Caridad to the 60-day disabled list.

Barring injuries, general manager Jim Hendry does not plan to make any more September call-ups. And he gave no thoughts to adding Sandberg to the major-league coaching staff for the final 27 days of the season.

No, no, no, never considered that, Hendry said. Thats not something that would be conducive.

Hendry visited with Sandberg last week during a scouting trip to Albuquerque, N.M., but wouldnt classify their meeting as a formal interview during his search for the next Cubs manager.

Sandberg suddenly showing up for work this week at Wrigley Field where the fans adore him and the Ricketts family used to root for him would be a massive distraction to the team.

And it would be unfair to Mike Quade, the other candidate Hendry publicly identified. Quade, who used to manage in Iowa, learned a great deal during his Septembers in Chicago with Dusty Baker. But he also doesnt want to give this up.

Iowas season ended abruptly on Monday with a 7-6 loss to the Memphis Redbirds in Des Moines. At 82-62, Iowa finished tied for first in its division, but Memphis won the tiebreaker and advanced to the playoffs.

Even if the Cubs dont hire Sandberg the Pacific Coast League's Manager of the Year in 2010 his work wont go unnoticed by other organizations.

He never aired us out or (anything) like that, Scales said. I dont think he really had to. We played so well all year long that he just had a steady hand on the team (and) a good pulse on the clubhouse.

For his part, Quade hasnt been paralyzed by decisions, or overwhelmed by the public nature of his job. On the same day Iowa was eliminated from playoff contention, Quade benched Starlin Castro (and did so again Tuesday night).

The manager said he might challenge a veteran, and wont necessarily confront young players the same way.

Some of (Castros) lapses of concentration, Quade said, just (have) youth written all over it. You discipline your six-year-old different than you discipline your 17-year-old. Its case-by-case.

In sitting the 20-year-old shortstop for at least two games, it didnt sound like Quade was acting alone, though he wont be on the phone constantly asking permission.

(Jims) given me leeway to do what I want, Quade said. But I think any time you do something like thisits just not in my nature to do it and not talk to Jim or (assistant general manager Randy Bush) or my staff and say, Look, this is what Im thinking.

I get feedback from all over the place. But Ive been real happy because Jims given me the opportunity and said, Just do it. So in these situations Im kind of doing what I want.

Building consensus will be the responsibility of whoever manages the Cubs in 2011. Its not like hell enjoy the autonomy Bill Belichick does with the New England Patriots, or even the level of influence Lou Piniella used to wield earlier in his career.

Itll be about teaching, reading moods and developing relationships, or what worked for Sandberg during the fourth season of his apprenticeship.

It wasnt anything crazy, Scales said. He knew his team. He knew his guys. And its managing it doesnt matter what it is. Whether youre managing a team or a business, you got to know your personnel, and he did. (He) had a great handle on us all year.

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

Kris Bryant knocks out Brewers and knows what big-game experience means for Cubs

Kris Bryant knocks out Brewers and knows what big-game experience means for Cubs

MILWAUKEE – Teammates swarmed Kris Bryant in Miller Park’s visiting dugout late Thursday night, flinging sunflower seeds and forming a mosh pit around the National League’s reigning MVP.

Are you not entertained? The Cubs haven’t always played with this urgency or made it easy while nursing a World Series hangover. But they can feel it now, how close they are to October and how much they learned last year while making history.

It’s too early to pop champagne bottles, but the Cubs won a huge swing game in the NL Central race, beating the Milwaukee Brewers in the 10th inning when Bryant blasted Oliver Drake’s 92-mph fastball off a beam underneath the gigantic video board.

The Cubs watched it ricochet back onto the right-center field grass for a go-ahead two-run homer, bumping up the division lead to 4.5 games while cutting the magic number to clinch the division down to six.

After a head-spinning 5-3 victory that lasted 3 hours and 57 minutes and ended at 11:08 p.m., Bryant didn’t sound surprised or overexcited, the same way he didn’t overreact when the Cubs struggled to gain traction before the All-Star break and the Brewers swept the defending World Series champs two weekends ago at Wrigley Field.       

“We’ve done that so many times,” Bryant said. “We’ve had a nice run with that. I guess it is experience. The heartbeats aren’t going too fast when the game’s on the line there. It kind of plays to our advantage.”

So did the Brewers pushing their bullpen so hard this week trying to catch up that Cubs manager Joe Maddon would have to admit “their A-listers were not available,” meaning Corey Knebel, Anthony Swarzak and Josh Hader. Classic response from Bryant, who has 28 homers and likes to think of pitchers as nameless, faceless opponents: “I didn’t find out their top three guys were down until after the game was over.”

Maybe that changes the ninth-inning rally against Jeremy Jeffress where Ian Happ sprinted for a “Respect 90” single and scored the game-tying run when Javier Baez delivered a two-out, two-strike single up the middle. But the Cubs are in their element now, playing games that matter, not what-if.

“I just think we like loud,” Maddon said. “I think we’re a little bit like adrenaline junkies with the fact we’re used to 40,000 people a night.”

Just look at the stone face Wade Davis made in the ninth inning, escaping a bases-loaded jam by striking out Domingo Santana swinging at an elevated 95-mph fastball and forcing Orlando Arcia to chop a 3-2 pitch back to the mound. The All-Star closer who’s 32-for-32 in save chances went back out for the 10th inning and struck out the side to notch the win. That is a five-out playbook Maddon can use in October.

“You definitely feel it,” Davis said of the playoff atmosphere in a road stadium filled with Cubs fans. “It’s a lot easier to get up for the moment itself instead of having to create it yourself. You feel that.”

As Cubs move closer to division title, Jake Arrieta looks ready for October

As Cubs move closer to division title, Jake Arrieta looks ready for October

MILWAUKEE – This was the type of game Jake Arrieta visualizes, a loud atmosphere with 35,114 fans on their feet and an opponent that really doesn’t like the Cubs at all.

This one would ultimately be out of his hands, lasting 10 innings and almost 4 hours on Thursday night at Miller Park, but Arrieta looked like a Game 1 starter as the Cubs roared back for a 5-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Those playoff plans are coming into focus, the magic number to win the National League Central title down to six and Arrieta managing the Grade 1 right hamstring strain that has been one of the biggest question marks hanging over the defending World Series champs.

“It’s just good to be back out there,” Arrieta said. “These are big games, and I want to be a part of as many as I can, especially to try and clinch the division as quick as possible and then kind of line things up for us in October. But we got to get there first.”

Arrieta threw his first real pitch in 18 days at 7:16 p.m., firing a 92-mph fastball toward Brewers leadoff guy Eric Sogard and giving the Cubs a shot of adrenaline. That always wears off, but the Cubs are a different team when Arrieta sticks his chest out and triggers his perfect posture into a crossfire delivery.

Arrieta looked sharp in his first real action since Labor Day, even as his five-inning, 71-pitch limit exposed how fragile this pitching staff might be right now. If it’s not Jon Lester laboring at the top of the rotation, it’s the softer spots in the middle of the bullpen, or questions about how much wear and tear the Cubs can take after a deep playoff run in 2015 and last year’s World Series madness stretched into early November. 

But Arrieta basically picked up where he left off as the NL pitcher of the month for August, realigning his unique mechanics and generating enough power from his right leg, restarting the momentum in a second half where he’s shown the flashes of dominance you saw during his 2015 Cy Young Award season. 

Arrieta exited this game with a 2-1 lead – before it spun out of control – and passed one test by hustling to cover first base to complete an inning-ending 3-6-1 double play in the fifth. He walked just one of the 20 hitters he faced and could really only regret one pitch in the fourth inning, the 92-mph fastball Domingo Santana drilled off the batter’s eye in center field.

“I felt OK,” Arrieta said. “I can tell that something happened. I think it’s just the residual feeling of something like a hamstring strain. But no pain, really no discomfort. That’s a good sign.

“Tomorrow is the biggest indicator moving forward of how we’ll be able to approach this. I don’t see any reason that I won’t feel good tomorrow.”

Arrieta is scheduled to make two more regular-season starts, but this dramatic comeback means the Cubs might be able to treat those as controlled experiments instead of must-win situations.

“Just an incredible baseball game,” Arrieta said. “This is a really awesome time to be in an organization like this, in a division like the NL Central, where there’s a couple teams that have playoff aspirations in mind. If we take care of business here over the next few days, we get a couple steps closer.”