Feeling good again, Colvin will keep his maple bats

Feeling good again, Colvin will keep his maple bats

Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010
9:45 PM

By Patrick MooneyCSNChicago.com

HOUSTON There are still restrictions on Tyler Colvin, who couldnt fly to Houston to visit his teammates this weekend. The Cubs outfielder wont lift weights for another six weeks, but hes been cleared to begin running, and he has no trouble breathing.

Colvins outlook could have been much different if the shattered piece of a maple bat pierced his heart or neck instead of his chest. That freak accident on Sept. 19 in Miami opened a national debate. But he isnt about to make it his cause.

I cant say much about it because I use maple bats, Colvin said Saturday on a teleconference from his fiances home in West Virginia. It happens and Major League Baseball is doing a good job of reducing the number of broken bats. I think theyll keep working on it and get it better.

It drew the attention of commissioner Bud Selig, who contacted Colvin as he recovered from a collapsed lung at a Miami hospital. Colvin, the teams assistant union representative, hasnt seriously considered not using maple bats anymore.

If somebody really made me, I guess Id have to, Colvin said. But (bats are) going to break and Ive seen ash bats break like that before. As long as they keep trying to improve them and make them better, I dont see whats wrong with them.

Two weeks ago, the 25-year-old turned his head and moved down the third-base line as Welington Castillos double soared toward the left-field wall at Sun Life Stadium. At first it didnt register that the sharp edge of Castillos bat stabbed him.

Colvin thought he was out of breath as he walked back to the dugout until Jeff Samardzija told him he was bleeding. Colvin would have a tube in his chest for a few days, ending a promising rookie season in which he lived up to the potential the Cubs saw when they made him the 13th overall pick in the 2006 draft.

Its been kind of tough just (because) the season wasnt over and Im sitting at home right now with all my teammates playing the season out, Colvin said. Were playing so well right now and I wish I could be a part of that. But I know I need to get better and be ready for next year.

Colvin will presumably handle this like he has everything else this year without getting caught up in all they hype. No one expected him to make the team out of spring training, but he absolutely crushed the pitching in Arizona and eventually became more of an every-day player.

In 358 at-bats, Colvin hit .254 with 20 homers, 56 RBI and a .316 on-base percentage. He finished with 100 strikeouts and 30 walks. There are no immediate plans to have him start working again at first base.

Theres nothing to (be concerned) about playing at this level defensively, manager Mike Quade said. He can fool around at first. Thats always in the back of your mind somewhere if need be. But hes a solid corner guy in the outfield. (Hes) just got to continue to get better identifying pitches and being a good, disciplined power-type guy.

Colvin has already spoken with Castillo, who was also his teammate coming up through the minor-league system. The message to Castillo was simple: Dont worry about it. Theres nothing you could have done about it. Keep playing. That will be Colvins mindset as well.

I'm still going (to) play the same way I always did, he said. It's not going to scare me to go out there on the field again, if that's what you're implying.

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

Kyle Hendricks is back, but Cubs will likely have to wait for their next shot at Yu Darvish

Kyle Hendricks is back, but Cubs will likely have to wait for their next shot at Yu Darvish

Within the first several weeks of the Theo Epstein administration, the Cubs finished second in the Yu Darvish sweepstakes, though nowhere close to the $51.7 million the Texas Rangers bid for the exclusive rights to negotiate a six-year, $60 million deal with the Japanese superstar.

The Cubs will probably have to wait a few more months for their next shot at Darvish, who is “unlikely to move” before the July 31 trade deadline, a source monitoring the situation said Monday. Darvish means enough to the franchise’s bottom line as a box-office draw and magnet for corporate sponsors that the Rangers would be reluctant to trade a player with global appeal and potentially jeopardize that relationship heading into free agency this winter.

Beyond the possible impact on re-signing Darvish, that would also mean foreclosing on a season where Texas is only 2.5 games out of an American League wild-card spot, making this final week critical to the buy-or-sell decision.

The Cubs would obviously prefer to stay out of the rental market after shipping two top prospects to the White Sox in the Jose Quintana deal. Quintana’s reasonable contract – almost $31 million between next season and 2020 once two team options are picked up – creates financial flexibility for a free-agent megadeal (Darvish?) or the next big-time international player.

But the cost of doing business with the White Sox probably means the Cubs wouldn’t have the super-elite prospect to anchor a trade for Darvish, anyway. That would be another obstacle in any possible deal for Sonny Gray, with an AL source saying the New York Yankees are going hard after the Oakland A’s right-hander (and have a deeper farm system and a greater sense of urgency after missing on Quintana).

All that means Kyle Hendricks could function as the trade-deadline addition for the rotation, with the Cubs instead trying to shorten games and deepen their bullpen by July 31.

After spending more than six weeks on the disabled list, the Cubs activated Hendricks for the start of this week’s crosstown series, watching him pitch into the fifth inning of Monday’s 3-1 loss to a White Sox team that had lost nine straight games.

[Willson Contreras may be ‘the f------ Energizer Bunny,’ but Cubs still need to get another catcher before trade deadline]

Hendricks is a rhythm/feel pitcher who blossomed from an overlooked prospect in the Texas system into a piece in the buzzer-beater Ryan Dempster deal at the 2012 deadline into last year’s major-league ERA leader.

Hendricks clearly isn’t locked in yet. He gave up eight hits, but minimized the damage against the White Sox, allowing only one run while putting up five strikeouts against zero walks.

“He wasn’t as normal,” manager Joe Maddon said. “The velocity was still down a little bit. There was not a whole lot of difference between his pitches. He was not what you would call ‘on.’ He would be the first one to tell you that. He looked fine delivery-wise, but the ball just wasn’t coming out as normal.”

Hendricks described his fastball command as “terrible,” called his secondary pitches “OK” and ultimately came to this conclusion: “Health-wise, everything felt great, so we’ll take that. Just got to get back (to my routine).”

The biggest takeaway is Hendricks didn’t feel any lingering effects from the right hand tendinitis that was initially classified as a minor injury in early June. Meaning the Cubs (51-47) are just about at full strength and have another week left to upgrade the defending World Series champs.

Are You Smarter than a Cubs/White Sox Fan?

Are You Smarter than a Cubs/White Sox Fan?

The crosstown rivalry doesn't end on the diamond.

Both Cubs and White Sox fans are highly competitive when it comes to trivia, too. 

We found that out when we bounced around Wrigley Field to quiz North and South Siders in a special edition of "Are You Smarter than a Cubs/White Sox Fan?" 

Watch the video above as we pitted fans against eachother for the chance to win a killer shirt.