Greinke shows Cubs must prepare for the worst

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Greinke shows Cubs must prepare for the worst

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Posted 7:10 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. As satisfying as it might be for some fans to see the Cubs release Carlos Silva, they dont have that luxury.

Will Colvin accept Quade's challenge?

Between this seasons salary and next years buyout, Silva is guaranteed 13.5 million. He performed like an All-Star during the first half of last season and has accounted for more than 1,200 innings in his major-league career. Those factors cannot be ignored.

And as Silva always likes to point out, no one says anything about his weight when hes pitching well.

In the rush to run Silva out of camp after he nearly fought Aramis Ramirez in the dugout, Mike Quade projected a sense of calm. The manager looked beyond Silvas 29.70 ERA and insisted that everyone needed to let the rotation competition play out.

Quade didnt know many of the details surrounding Zack Greinkes injury. The unofficial medical term Dr. Lou Piniella might use is Cubby occurrence.

Sources described Greinke as a loner and an eccentric. He hurt his ribs playing pickup hoops after he reported to spring training. The initial reports out of Brewers camp had Greinke opening the season on the disabled list and missing a few starts.

Quade agreed that it essentially proved his point: A lot can happen between now and Opening Day.

Basketball, motorcycles, is there a list? Quade said Wednesday. Thats part of the reason (the front office) assembled the kind of depth that we think we have here and why you keep everyone going. (You) give them a chance to compete for jobs so you can evaluate. (Its) great insurance if something doesnt go according to plan.

The Cardinals have already lost Adam Wainwright to season-ending Tommy John surgery. The Cubs are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

The Cubs have as many as seven pitchers competing for the final two spots in the rotation (though some are real long shots). But to contend in the National League Central, they need to stay healthy, and receive big seasons from their three front-line starters.

The Cubs didnt get Matt Garza as a direct response to the Brewers trading for Greinke. But those two offseason deals will be compared for the next several years.

Garza made his third start in a Cubs uniform on Wednesday and struggled during a 13-4 loss to the Royals at HoHoKam Park.

Garza tried to establish his fastball early and labored through a five-run first inning. He started mixing in changeups, sliders and curveballs. He was pulled in the third inning and charged with six runs and four walks.

Im not concerned at all, Quade said, because what I saw from him in the last 10 hitters is what I completely expect to see when the lights go on in April.

Hes throwing the daylights out of the ball. (It) just seemed like he took a breath after not having great fastball command, committed to using his soft game and then brought his whole game where it needed to be.

Garzas spring ERA is now 14.85. Physically, he says he feels great, even though a line drive bruised his back and cut short his last start. Unlike Silva, he does not need to show results, and can just work on his craft.

However the rest of the pitching staff shakes out, Garza will need to be one of its leaders. He will be adjusting to a new team, a new league and a new city. The Cubs have a lot riding on the idea that he can handle it.

Its baseball, Garza said. Youre comfortable inside the diamond no matter what (uniform) youre wearing. I like this team. I like being here. I cant wait to get to Chicago.

Right now Im just trying to get ready for it. When that bell dings in April, Im going to be ready to go. You better believe that.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Brian Matusz will be spot starter in Cubs' series finale vs. Mariners

Brian Matusz will be spot starter in Cubs' series finale vs. Mariners

Joe Maddon is giving his five starting pitchers an extra day's rest.

Brian Matusz will be a spot starter in the Cubs' series finale against the Seattle Mariners on Sunday night at Wrigley Field. The Cubs optioned reliever Justin Grimm to Triple-A as a corresponding move.

"We'll use that day however we need to to the best of our abilities," said Jake Arrieta. "We'll find a way to use that day to get some work done and get better and move forward. At this time of year, every one of us might need to refine something.

"It actally might not be a bad idea. Hopefully Matusz is ready to come out and compete and be effective, and we'll move on."

Prior to Saturday's game, Maddon indicated that the club is looking to give his starters more days off.

"As we’ve talked about all along, attempting to try to give our regular five a rest in a particular moment, so we’re considering doing something right now," Maddon said. "We’re not ready to announce it yet just to be honest, but we are considering."

Matusz signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs last month.

The 29-year-old southpaw has spent the majority of his career with the Baltimore Orioles. In eight MLB seasons, he is 27-41 with a 4.85 ERA and 460 strikeouts.

As Matusz makes his Cubs debut Sunday, having a familiar face in the clubhouse might help ease any nerves.

"Matusz and I played together for quite a while," said Arrieta, who spent time with Matusz in Baltimore. "I've seen him pitch extremely well his rookie year. He can pitch, he's a smart guy. He's got some really good pitches that he knows how to use effectively. I look forward to watching him pitch and catching up with him."

 

Cubs offense mostly quiet as bullpen blows late lead

Cubs offense mostly quiet as bullpen blows late lead

The Cubs offense had a quiet Saturday afternoon just 24 hours after putting 12 runs on the board against the Seattle Mariners in Game 1.

The Cubs only recorded three hits in their 4-1 loss to the Mariners on Saturday at Wrigley Field. 

The story for most of the game was Mariners pitcher Wade Miley, who carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning before it was broken up by Kris Bryant.

“He was painting that outside edge pretty well," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. "Honestly from the first batter when Dexter (Fowler) takes two fastballs for a strike and then swings at a slider, something’s going on for me. That told me the guy was on. He was.”

Bryant added, "He was throwing right where he wanted to I thought. He was just hitting the catcher’s glove. Working quick, that kind of goes unnoticed sometimes, but as hitters, it kind of keeps you out of your rhythm.”

It was the second time this week the Cubs allowed a no-hitter through at least five innings — and second time Bryant broke it up.

White Sox pitcher Anthony Ranaudo took a no-hitter into the sixth inning on Wednesday before the Cubs poured it on and finished the game with eight runs.

Lost in the no-hitter was Arrieta, who had one of his best outings of the season. But the Cubs had nothing to show for it, losing their fifth straight game when the NL Cy Young Award winner takes the mound.

Arrieta finished the game allowing two runs on two hits and three walks, striking out four in seven innings.

After a scoreless six innings of play, the Cubs drew first blood in the seventh. Fowler opened with a leadoff walk. Bryant broke up the no-hitter with a single. Following a Ben Zobrist bunt that advanced the runners, Javier Baez hit a grounder to third. Fowler tried to score and was thrown out at the plate. But after a second look, Joe Maddon challenged the call and it was reversed, giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead.

A couple batters later, Miley attempted to pick off Baez — who reached on a fielder’s choice — but Bryant stole home in the process. First baseman Adam Lind quickly relayed the throw over to catcher Mike Zunino, and Bryant appeared to slide under the tag. After being ruled safe, the Mariners won a challenge of their own and the call was overturned.

"That stunk," Bryant said. "I thought I had a good slide in there. Obviously looking back on it, I could have slid head first but that's one way to really get hurt. I thought I had my foot in there, but obviously (after) the replay, they overturned it."

In the eighth, the Mariners responded. Arrieta walked the first two batters and was relieved by Hector Rondon, who retired both batters he faced. Aroldis Chapman entered the game to try to get the final out of the inning. That happened, but not before the Mariners added three runs. A double by Leonys Martin scored two. Martin later stole third and scored on a wild pitch, making it 3-1.

"Didn’t see that one coming," Maddon said of Seattle's three-run eighth. "Just didn’t see that one coming."

The Mariners added another run in the ninth.

Slugger Anthony Rizzo didn't start, getting a day off to rest, but he came in to pinch hit for Chapman in the eighth, striking out. Willson Contreras started at first in Rizzo's place.

Joe Maddon hints Cubs could have spot starter soon

Joe Maddon hints Cubs could have spot starter soon

Joe Maddon hinted that the Cubs could have a spot starter soon to give his regular five some rest.

The Cubs manager said it's "possible" the player could start as early as Sunday in the Cubs' series finale against the Seattle Mariners.

Maddon would not confirm who the pitcher would be, but he said the move will happen within the organization and not via trade.

"As we’ve talked about all along, attempting to try to give our regular five a rest in a particular moment, so we’re considering doing something right now," said Maddon on Saturday. "We’re not ready to announce it yet just to be honest, but we are considering."

Prior to the All-Star break, Maddon gave Adam Warren — who has since been traded to the New York Yankees as part of the Aroldis Chapman trade — a spot start to give his starters an extra day's rest.

As the second half of the season slowly winds down, Maddon knows how important rest will be moving forward, especially with the Cubs bound to be playing in October.

"When you get the opportunities, take advantage of it," he said.

Cubs starters hold a 3.24 ERA on the season, which is tied with the Washington Nationals for the league's best.

Kyle Hendricks leads the team and also has the third-best ERA in the MLB with 2.39.