The Cubs made a minor move before Saturday’s game against the Cardinals, claiming outfielder Cole Gillespie off waivers from the San Francisco Giants.
Gillespie, 29, is expected to arrive in Chicago late Saturday night and should be activated Sunday. He was third-round pick by Milwaukee in the 2006 draft before making his major-league debut with Arizona in 2010.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Gillespie would be used against left-handed pitchers. Sveum was managing the Brewers when Gillespie attended their big-league spring training camp.
“He’s a sound, fundamental baseball guy,” Sveum said. “Runs well, plays all the outfield positions, can hit the ball out of the ballpark. He’ll give you a good at-bat all of the time.”
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Gillespie has spent most of the past three seasons in Triple-A as part of the Arizona and San Francisco minor leagues. He hit .277 with nine home runs and 31 RBI in 74 games with Triple-A Fresno this year. The Giants selected his contract July 5 but he was designated for assignment Tuesday after going 0-for-9 with them.
Gillespie was teammates with Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney at Oregon State when they won the 2006 College World Series.
“He gave me the thumbs-up,” Sveum said, joking about Darwin’s input into the deal.
HIGHS, LOWS DURING FIRST HALF
Sunday marks the end of the season’s first half, one that has been both disappointing and encouraging for the Cubs.
Their 41-50 record entering Saturday lends itself to the negative ledger. Sveum said it hasn’t been as bad as that mark indicates, pointing to the Cubs’ run-differential. After Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Cardinals, they’ve been outscored 380-372, a respectable minus-8.
“To be in this many ballgames, the guys battle every night. We just come up short a lot,” Sveum said. “A lot of that is not being able to hold guys down in the later innings.”
Sveum said the bullpen’s problems began in April when Kyuji Fujikawa went down with an arm injury that required season-ending Tommy John surgery.
While the bullpen has struggled, the Cubs starting rotation has been a bright spot, especially the effort turned in by Travis Wood, who is headed to his first All-Star Game as the Cubs’ lone representative
“You’d be lying if you said he’d have 17 quality starts and a (2.69) earned-run average and that he has that kind of consistency,” Sveum said.
The Gillespie signing gives the Cubs some outfield depth after injuries had decimated the positions.
Nate Schierholtz is the latest to be unavailable due to injuries, though Sveum said it was nothing more than being banged up in “a lot of body parts.” Sveum added that Schierholtz, who is out of Saturday’s lineup, likely won’t play Sunday either but could be available for pinch-hit duties.
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Meanwhile David DeJesus, who has been on the disabled list since June 15, heads to Arizona on Monday so he can get some coaches’ pitch batting practice and eventually some game action. He is recovering from a right shoulder sprain.
Right-hand pitcher Scott Baker, who has yet to pitch for the Cubs, will make a rehab appearance Sunday for Class-A Kane County Cougars. Sveum said Baker will be on a 65-pitch count.