Chicago White Sox

Cubs' losing streak reaches 11

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Cubs' losing streak reaches 11

PITTSBURGH (AP) Matt Hague was hit by a pitch from Rafael Dolis with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Pittsburgh Pirates sent the Chicago Cubs to their 11th straight loss with a 3-2 victory Saturday night.

Hague took a 96 mph fastball from Dolis (2-4) in the back near the shoulder blade, scoring Jose Tabata and eliciting an incredulous look to the sky by the Cubs reliever.

Dolis had hit Josh Harrison earlier in the inning after Tabata had singled to lead off the ninth. Dolis also walked Neil Walker with two outs.

The punchless Cubs offense continued to struggle, managing six hits against Kevin Correia and three relievers. Closer Joel Hanrahan (2-0) had two strikeouts in a perfect ninth.

Alfonso Soriano homered and Starlin Castro had an RBI triple for the Cubs, who have scored eight runs in their past six games.

The Cubs are enduring their longest losing streak in 15 years. This is the 11th time in their 137-year history that they have lost at least 11 games in a row.

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Minor league notes: Eloy Jimenez isn't 'going to throw' away his opportunity

Minor league notes: Eloy Jimenez isn't 'going to throw' away his opportunity

A strong work ethic is one reason the White Sox are very excited about the possibilities that Eloy Jimenez presents.

Not only is the Double-A Birmingham outfielder extremely talented, he accompanies it with nonstop work. Jimenez’s Winston-Salem teammates and coaches praised the youngster for the serious effort he puts forth in the batting cage. One White Sox staffer watched Jimenez in batting practice last Sunday — he slugged more than 850 feet worth of home runs the night before — and noted how the No. 7 prospect in baseball was working on hitting curveballs. Jimenez said cage work is a vital part of his everyday routine.

“The most important thing before the game for me is to get in the cage, do my work, do my thing,” Jimenez said. “That is the biggest thing for me. I think that has worked for me in the game. That’s why I’m working hard every day in the cages.

“It’s time to go to work. I joke outside the cage but inside the cage I’m just thinking what I’m going to do. What is the spot I do damage? What is the spot I need to work more? That is the time for that I feel.”

Jimenez said his parents — mother Adelaida Solano, father Luis Jimenez and “baseball dad” Amauris Nina — instilled in him a strong work ethic. Though he believes he’s talented, Jimenez thinks it would only take him so far and wants to do everything he can to become a major leaguer.

“My dad all the time says if you want to be the best you need to work like you want to be the best,” Jimenez said. “All the time my mom said if you’re going to do something, do what you love and work hard for that.

“(Amauris) says you need to work like you don’t have anything, like nobody knows you. Work like that. No matter what they tell you outside the field, you need to work every day.

“If God gave me the opportunity I’m not going to throw it away. I’m just going to work hard to be one of the best players in baseball.”

Clarkin keeps busy

Winston-Salem pitcher Ian Clarkin hopes to return sooner than later from a strained right oblique that has kept him sidelined since July 23. Acquired from the Yankees on July 18, Clarkin has been on the disabled list since Aug. 1.

Along with his rehab work, one way the right-hander — the No. 23 prospect in the organization — has kept busy by growing a mustache. Clarkin has also paired up with Dash outfielder Jameson Fisher, the No. 26 prospect, to receive tips on how to grow and maintain it. Fisher has an 80-grade mustache on the 20-80 scouting scale and the two have lockers next to one another. But Clarkin isn’t very satisfied with his soup strainer, which has been growing for three weeks.

“This is a weird phase I’m going through,” Clarkin said. “Nothing growing in the middle, I need to do something.

“I gotta figure out what we’re doing. I like it, but we’re in a weird phase.”

Say, that’s not …

Jake Peter has done his best Yoan Moncada impersonation since he was promoted last month, including wearing the White Sox second baseman’s No. 10 at Triple-A Charlotte. Peter entered Sunday hitting .306/.358/.495 with five home runs and 15 RBIs in 120 plate appearances at Charlotte. He was the organization’s co-minor league player of the month in July with Jimenez.

“He’s a great ballplayer,” Double-A manager Julio Vinas said of Peter. “He’s a grinder and he gives you everything he has got. He was having quality AB s and he’s got so many tools. What’s great about him is anywhere you put him he plays solid defense.”

Peter is in his fourth season with the organization after the White Sox drafted him in the seventh round in the 2014 draft out of Creighton. He’s excited by the influx of talent and said it should create good competition with the players who were already here.

“We’re seeing all the great players coming in, and all of the great players we’ve already had it’s just going to make us better because it will create more competition and make us push each other,” Peter said.

Polo on the mark

Don’t overlook Tito Polo because he was the third minor leaguer to come over in the Yankees deal and currently isn’t part of MLB.com’s top-30 organizational prospect list. That’s the advice of Double-A announcer Curt Bloom, who calls Polo a strong defender, and Clarkin, who played with the center fielder for part of the 2016 season at Single-A Tampa.

“Tito has an unbelievable amount of talent and people are going to be surprised what he has in store,” Clarkin said. “He’s a good hitter, he can hit for power, he runs really well, he has a great arm and he’s a good defensive player, which everyone saw in the WBC. He’s going to surprise a lot of people with his talent.” 

Thrown into the Fire: Christian Dean hoping fresh start will benefit his career

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USA TODAY

Thrown into the Fire: Christian Dean hoping fresh start will benefit his career

It didn’t take long after Christian Dean was traded to the Chicago Fire for him to see significant playing time.

Dean was acquired by the Fire in a trade from Vancouver on Aug. 9, the last day before trade deadline, and has already made two appearances totaling 175 minutes. He was thrown into the deep end in Montreal after Joao Meira went down with an injury five minutes into that game, which took place a week after the Fire traded for him.

On Saturday, Dean made his first start with the Fire. He played all 90 minutes in the 3-1 loss to Toronto FC, in which he had the assignment of defending national team striker Jozy Altidore.

Despite jumping straight into the mix in a playoff race and getting playing time right away, Dean said the transition hasn’t been difficult.

“It’s actually been very easy,” Dean said. “The guys are very welcoming. I think the coaches are welcoming, the staff is welcoming so I really enjoy it here.”

Dean was added to give the Fire extra depth at center back. Before he arrived the team had only three, Meira, Johan Kappelhof and Jonathan Campbell. Dean got the starting nod ahead of Campbell on Saturday.

“He’s a player that we have eyed and scouted for a long time,” general manager Nelson Rodriguez said on Tuesday. “Sometimes it just doesn’t work in a certain environment and we know Vancouver put a lot into Christian and had high hopes for him and worked hard with him, but he had a rash of injuries that probably hurt his time there, but he’s still very young. We still believe he has a lot of high level qualities. He’s very good on the ball, he’s a very good decision maker. He’s got great athleticism. He has a hunger for the game and he’s a good person. Time will tell. We didn’t acquire him with just six months in mind, but how long that extends will in large part be determined by how we interpret his performance.”

Dean, 24, was the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft. Playing time was limited in Vancouver, partially due to injuries. A broken bone in his foot cost him the entire 2016 season. Another foot injury, this time a stress reaction in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot suffered in training on April 25, kept him out of the rotation for the Whitecaps after he started three of the team’s first five games this season.

“I’m feeling really good right now,” Dean said. “This is the most healthy I’ve felt in the past two years. I’m just trying to take my opportunity.”

Soccer wasn’t always the focus for Dean. As he put it, he grew up in a basketball family. His half-brother, Josh Huestis, plays in the NBA for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

At 6-foot-3, Dean stands out on a soccer field due to his size. When asked if he can dunk, Dean responded with a laugh, “Oh yeah.”

Despite playing a lot of basketball growing up, Dean made the decision to focus on soccer.

“I think when I was like 16 I realized I really actually wanted to play soccer,” Dean said. “I went into college thinking I was just going to enjoy my time playing in college and I started playing well there and got opportunities.”

After three years at Cal, Dean got a Generation adidas contract, making him an early entry player into the draft.

Dean said he fits into coach Veljko Paunovic’s style, which, as he described it, is to play the ball out of the back and through midfield.

His move to the Fire has given him a fresh start and another chance to get regular MLS minutes.

“I’m very, very happy that the club wanted me,” Dean said. “It seems the players really want me.”