Garza vows Cubs will keep fighting

743370.png

Garza vows Cubs will keep fighting

Matt Garza tries to vent his frustrations behind closed doors and away from the cameras. He directs the anger toward himself and never shows up teammates.

If this is getting old, Garza wont say it out loud. He wants the responsibility on his shoulders, and believes he should finish whatever he starts. That fire is one reason why the Cubs think he could be a building block.

This one definitely appeared headed toward It is what it is, man territory, with Garza shrugging off another hard-luck decision in the interview room. The story changed late Monday night in the bottom of the ninth at Wrigley Field.

Pinch-hitter Bryan LaHair worked a 12-pitch walk against Cardinals closer Jason Motte. Geovany Soto didnt swing and walked on four pitches.

An ex-Cardinal, Joe Mather, came through with the clutch hit, a two-out, two-run single up the middle that lifted the Cubs to a 3-2 walk-off victory they hope will be a jumpstart.

Just like that, Mather was getting the Gatorade bucket poured over his head and a shaving-cream pie pushed into his face. And Garza, who loves stuff like that, had to smile: That was one hell of a game.

Even with Albert Pujols out of the picture, the gap between the Cubs (5-12) and Cardinals (11-6) seems to be growing. No one else in the National League Central is above .500, and the last-place Cubs are six games out already.

If the Cubs are going to hang around this summer, it will be with their starting pitching. Garza went seven innings and allowed two runs, keeping them within striking distance.

My job is to go out there and take my team as deep (as) I can, Garza said. But enough about me. These guys played hard for nine. We didnt quit. And down to the last out, we just kept fighting and fighting.

Thats just a little more growth right there for our young club. Thats a huge step forward for us.

When Theo Epstein was asked earlier this month if the teams performance would impact what the Cubs might do with Garza, the team president simply said: No.

You can see someone who likes the big stage and clearly feels at home. In Garzas last 14 starts at Wrigley Field dating back to June 27 of last season he has a 1.84 ERA and has allowed three runs or less in each of those outings.

Garza only got into trouble in the fourth, which began with Skip Schumakers infield single and Matt Holliday lining a double to left. The Cardinals manufactured their two runs with a groundout and a sacrifice fly and Garza got a little wild (hit batter, wild pitch, two walks). But it didnt become the big inning.

Hes a big-time, big-game pitcher, manager Dale Sveum said. He put himself in that situation, but it was more pitching to the lineup. He didnt let some guys hurt him. He knew the pitcher (Jaime Garcia) was coming up and thats just having a good head on your shoulders.

Seven times last season Garza left with the lead and didnt factor in the decision. This one looked like a loss until the final at-bat. The Cubs hope its a sign of things to come.

You sure hope so, Sveum said. Obviously, things havent gone that well at home. To do that off one of the best closers and the world champions is always a big springboard.

Cubs will have Ian Happ one phone call away at Triple-A Iowa

Cubs will have Ian Happ one phone call away at Triple-A Iowa

MESA, Ariz. – After an impressive camp where he looked like the next homegrown Cubs hitter to roll off the assembly line, Ian Happ will go to Triple-A Iowa and get ready to make his big-league debut, or perhaps build his value for a trade-deadline deal.

Along with Happ, the Cubs assigned outfielder John Andreoli and catcher Taylor Davis to minor-league camp on Monday while optioning pitchers Eddie Butler and Rob Zastryzny to Iowa, cutting their roster to 31 as the Opening Night picture comes into focus.

Happ – the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft out of the University of Cincinnati – batted .417 with five homers, four doubles and 17 RBI in 24 Cactus League games.

"Offensively, what was there not to like?" general manager Jed Hoyer said. "I feel like he hit the ball hard every at-bat for six weeks. It's always fun to see a young guy like that come in and open a lot of eyes."

Happ, 22, is a switch-hitter who can play second base and the outfield, skills that could help him escape from Des Moines once the need arises on the major-league level.

[MORE CUBS: How Cubs came to fully believe in the legend of Kyle Schwarber]

Though there are questions about Happ's defense, Theo Epstein's front office and Joe Maddon's coaching staff clearly value versatility and trust young talent, moving Addison Russell to shortstop in 2015 and elevating rookie catcher Willson Contreras last season.

Stay tuned to see when/if the Cubs will have a spot at Wrigley Field, but Happ looks like he will be on a fast track.

"Whenever you're in Triple-A, you're always a call away," Hoyer said. "Sometimes it happens quicker than you think. We never expected Addie would be up in April of that year, and he was. I feel like with Willson last year, if you had asked me in spring training – would he be up in June? – I probably would have thought it would be more like a September call-up or something like that.

"You never know. Things happen. When you have good players in the minor leagues, sometimes it speeds up on you a little bit."

Derek Holland ends spring on strong note as White Sox down Dodgers

Derek Holland ends spring on strong note as White Sox down Dodgers

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Derek Holland ended a productive spring with his best outing to date on Monday afternoon.

Healthy and excited to officially kick off his White Sox career, Holland delivered six strong innings in a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday. The left-hander allowed two earned runs and five hits in six innings pitched, walking two and striking out one. Holland is expected to pitch once more in Milwaukee on Saturday before pitching in the third game of the regular season.

“Definitely feel good,” Holland said. “Feel very confident with everything, very happy with how the spring went. I worked on what we needed to work on to get myself ready for the season and stay healthy and I’m very happy with that. But most of all when you get out there and pitch, the defense, you have to keep them on their toes, and I thought the last out was the perfect example of that.”

Holland was referring to a nice diving catch by Jacob May that prevented at least one run from scoring. The longtime Texas Rangers pitcher was pleased to have established his fastball early and mixed in his offspeed pitches and changeup.

“I wanted to make sure we were going the distance,” Holland said. “I didn’t want to have a setback, and I thought we did a great job.”

The White Sox appear to have narrowly avoided one setback on Monday and are awaiting word on another. An X-ray on the left wrist of infielder Tyler Saladino was negative after he was hit by a pitch while getting in work in a pair of minor-league games. Saladino has been diagnosed with a bruised wrist.

The team is still awaiting word on pitcher Jake Petricka, who took a comebacker off his pitching hand in the seventh inning. Petricka exited the game, got his hand wrapped in ice and left to take an X-ray.

The White Sox are also waiting to learn the results of Carlos Rodon’s second opinion. Rodon was scratched from Friday’s start with a tight bicep tendon and had a physical exam and took an MRI, both of which showed he had no structural damage. Rodon traveled to Los Angeles early Monday for the second opinion with Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Even if he receives the all clear, the White Sox will remain cautious, manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s almost like you have to re-start the process a little bit,” Renteria said. “It would be foolish to try to anticipate or push him into any direction without first of all ultimately having whatever the diagnosis is or the validation or whatever it might be of the second opinion. Once we get that, we’ll know hopefully tomorrow how we can ultimately proceed. I wouldn’t think we’d try to ramp him up quickly.”

The club also expects to have more clarity on the status of right-handed pitcher Juan Minaya on Tuesday. Minaya, who has been out since March 15 with an abdominal tear, was re-evaluated on Monday. Minaya had a 3.18 ERA and nine strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings this spring.

Matt Davidson also had two hits in the White Sox victory and drove in a run. Melky Cabrera hit a solo homer, his first of the spring. Yolmer Sanchez blasted his third homer of the spring, a two-run shot.

Zach Putnam struck out two in a scoreless inning.