Chicago Cubs

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Renteria not thinking of batting pitcher eighth Sunday, 11 May 2014, 5:20 pm

ATLANTA -- Despite entering Sunday with a .227 team batting average, a .296 on-base percentage and six losses in their past seven games, the Cubs do not plan on making any radical changes like, say, batting the pitcher eighth.

"I don't know what it would take, but I'm not thinking about it right now at all," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, inspired in part by former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, has done it in six consecutive games, including all three contests in this weekend's series against the Cubs at Turner Field.

Atlanta is 3-2 since the change and averaging only 2.2 runs per game.

"It kind of works out," Renteria said. "There's chances where the numbers, I have to look at it more closely, but I know that the thinking is you get your best opportunity to do what he's got to do."

A shakeup could perhaps help out Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, who man the middle of Chicago's lineup. Nineteen first baseman had more at-bats with runners in scoring position entering Sunday than Anthony Rizzo's 29.

Castro, meanwhile, was batting .200 (7-for-35) with runners in scoring position and would likely see that clip improve with more chances to bring runners home.

Also, should Renteria eventually decide to try it, he has a couple of pitchers who swing the bat pretty well given the usual output from the position. Travis Wood is batting .213 (16-for-75) with four homers and 12 RBIs since the beginning of last season.

Edwin Jackson batted .241 (21-for-87) from 2011-12 before tailing off in recent years with an .075 (5-for-67) clip since joining the Cubs in '13.

Meanwhile, Jeff Samardzija has struck out 40 times in his past 80 at-bats, and Jason Hammel, who spent three seasons with the Rockies, has hit only .136 (11-for-81) in 50 career games at hitter-friendly Coors Field.


Schierholtz close to mom despite long distance

ATLANTA -- When Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz steps up to the plate carrying a pink bat this Mother's Day, he will think of his early days of batting practice when his mother, Karen, threw him pitches that helped him begin his path to the Majors.

"She'd be out in the yard throwing Wiffle balls and tennis balls," Schierholtz said. "One time I hit her with a line drive with a baseball, so I felt bad about that, but she was always there to work with us."

As Schierholtz learned baseball, so did his mother. Karen, originally from England, did not become familiar with the game until Schierholtz first took interest. Schierholtz appreciates not only his mother's support of his baseball career, but her commitment to giving her children a happy childhood.

"My mom raised four kids and worked her life for us, so I have a lot to be thankful for today," Schierholtz said.

Schierholtz Skyped with Karen, who now lives in Hong Kong with Schierholtz's stepfather, Saturday night to squeeze in some face time before Mother's Day ended in Asia. He plans to make his first trip to Hong Kong and visit her this offseason.

Until then, Karen keeps up with Schierholtz by watching her son play, even though the first pitch has a tendency to come at odd hours.

"They can watch games there even though the time difference, it's a bit rough," Schierholtz said. "It's 13 hours, so it's usually two or three in the morning when we play our games."

Karen will watch Schierholtz face Braves starter Aaron Harang on Mother's Day. Schierholtz entered Sunday batting .250 (3-for-12) with two RBIs in his career against Harang, but he claims to have an even better lifetime batting average against his mother.

When describing his mother's scouting report, Schierholtz laughed and said, "Batting practice pitcher."

Source: CHC Homepage News CHC Homepage News | Joe Morgan

Schierholtz close to mom despite long distance Sunday, 11 May 2014, 5:17 pm

ATLANTA -- When Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz steps up to the plate carrying a pink bat this Mother's Day, he will think of his early days of batting practice when his mother, Karen, threw him pitches that helped him begin his path to the Majors.

"She'd be out in the yard throwing Wiffle balls and tennis balls," Schierholtz said. "One time I hit her with a line drive with a baseball, so I felt bad about that, but she was always there to work with us."

As Schierholtz learned baseball, so did his mother. Karen, originally from England, did not become familiar with the game until Schierholtz first took interest. Schierholtz appreciates not only his mother's support of his baseball career, but her commitment to giving her children a happy childhood.

"My mom raised four kids and worked her life for us, so I have a lot to be thankful for today," Schierholtz said.

Schierholtz Skyped with Karen, who now lives in Hong Kong with Schierholtz's stepfather, Saturday night to squeeze in some face time before Mother's Day ended in Asia. He plans to make his first trip to Hong Kong and visit her this offseason.

Until then, Karen keeps up with Schierholtz by watching her son play, even though the first pitch has a tendency to come at odd hours.

"They can watch games there even though the time difference, it's a bit rough," Schierholtz said. "It's 13 hours, so it's usually two or three in the morning when we play our games."

Karen will watch Schierholtz face Braves starter Aaron Harang on Mother's Day. Schierholtz entered Sunday batting .250 (3-for-12) with two RBIs in his career against Harang, but he claims to have an even better lifetime batting average against his mother.

When describing his mother's scouting report, Schierholtz laughed and said, "Batting practice pitcher."


Renteria not thinking of batting pitcher eighth

ATLANTA -- Despite entering Sunday with a .227 team batting average, a .296 on-base percentage and six losses in their past seven games, the Cubs do not plan on making any radical changes like, say, batting the pitcher eighth.

"I don't know what it would take, but I'm not thinking about it right now at all," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, inspired in part by former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, has done it in six consecutive games, including all three contests in this weekend's series against the Cubs at Turner Field.

Atlanta is 3-2 since the change and averaging only 2.2 runs per game.

"It kind of works out," Renteria said. "There's chances where the numbers, I have to look at it more closely, but I know that the thinking is you get your best opportunity to do what he's got to do."

A shakeup could perhaps help out Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, who man the middle of Chicago's lineup. Nineteen first baseman had more at-bats with runners in scoring position entering Sunday than Anthony Rizzo's 29.

Castro, meanwhile, was batting .200 (7-for-35) with runners in scoring position and would likely see that clip improve with more chances to bring runners home.

Also, should Renteria eventually decide to try it, he has a couple of pitchers who swing the bat pretty well given the usual output from the position. Travis Wood is batting .213 (16-for-75) with four homers and 12 RBIs since the beginning of last season.

Edwin Jackson batted .241 (21-for-87) from 2011-12 before tailing off in recent years with an .075 (5-for-67) clip since joining the Cubs in '13.

Meanwhile, Jeff Samardzija has struck out 40 times in his past 80 at-bats, and Jason Hammel, who spent three seasons with the Rockies, has hit only .136 (11-for-81) in 50 career games at hitter-friendly Coors Field.

Source: CHC Homepage News CHC Homepage News | Joe Morgan

Kalish finding success at or near top of order Saturday, 10 May 2014, 11:12 pm

By Joe Morgan / MLB.com | 5/10/2014 7:32 P.M. ET

ATLANTA -- Whether it's coincidence or not, there's something about Cubs outfielder Ryan Kalish batting near the top of the order. Entering Saturday, he was batting .321 (9-for-28) with four runs scored, all four of his RBIs and three of his five walks in the first and second spots.

"It's a fun challenge, for sure," Kalish said. "My job is to score runs."

Kalish hit second Saturday night, making three consecutive starts hitting either first or second in the order. During the past two games, he has reached base four times in 10 plate appearances, including a run-scoring single on Friday night.

In three Major League seasons, Kalish is batting .286 (20-for-70) when batting first or second, a mark much better than his .245 (80-for-326) career clip.

Cubs manager Rick Renteria plans to keep Kalish near the top of the order since he believes the outfielder has enjoyed better games and at-bats as a result. But in addition to results, Renteria also loves the passion Kalish brings.

"He's actually been pretty comfortable and pretty calm at the plate," Renteria said. "He's high-energy both out on the field and in the dugout. He's going 100 miles an hour, so it's nice.

"You can always tone somebody down, but it's kind of tough to speed people up. It's nice to have somebody like that because he's got some energy and we can tone him down when we need to."

Kalish is paired with speedster Emilio Bonifacio, who was batting .297 (38-for-128) with a .348 on-base percentage entering Saturday, at the top of the order, and Renteria likes what that one-two punch offers to lead off the lineup.

"I like the two hole because if [Bonifacio] gets on, I can try to move him along the bases, however that may be," Kalish said. "It's just a fun spot to be in, obviously."

Renteria added: "It just gives us a couple of guys who can run at the top and guys that can get on base."

If Kalish continues his success in the second spot, Renteria likes the possibilities that creates for Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, who ranked first and third, respectively, among Cubs in RBIs of 18 and 16 entering Saturday.

"Rizzo and Starlin, I want to get them as many RBIs as I can," Kalish said. "My job is to get on base, make things happen and score runs."


Coghlan chipping in with key hits off bench

ATLANTA -- Down a run and needing a rally against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, the Cubs turned to Chris Coghlan in the top of the ninth inning Friday night. Coghlan delivered, notching a leadoff single and eventually scoring the game's tying run.

"Any time you can come off the bench and get a hit, it's huge," Coghlan said. "It's not easy to do, especially when you're facing one of the best closers in the game."

The Cubs signed Coghlan to a Minor League deal in January after the Marlins non-tendered the outfielder in December. Manager Rick Renteria said situations like Friday's are what Chicago envisioned when it signed Coghlan.

Following Friday night's hit, Coghlan is batting .282 (11-for-39) as a pinch-hitter during his career.

"We were hoping he'd be able to come off the bench and give us some good at-bats, and he has, actually," Renteria said. "We've pinch-hit him three times prior to using him [Friday] night, and he squared up the ball well all three."

Coghlan is 3-for-12 since Chicago selected his contract from Triple-A Iowa after Ryan Sweeney went on the 15-day disabled list with a moderate right hamstring strain suffered May 3. Renteria has enjoyed Coghlan's veteran approach this week.

"He stands in there, he's got a good feel," Renteria said. "He has a good idea of what he's doing, so it's been nice to have him here."

Coghlan broke into the big leagues with the Marlins and was named the National League Rookie of the Year after batting .321 with a .390 on-base percentage in 2009. However, injuries have hampered Coghlan since.

He played only 70 games last season while battling issues with his back and right calf, and described his assignment to Iowa out of Spring Training as "humbling." Now healthy, he hopes to become a reliable bench option and remain in the Majors.

"Anytime you're healthy, it's always fun because you can just go compete off your skill set," Coghlan said. "I feel grateful to be here. I'm just grateful for an opportunity."


Club taking it slow with Veras' rehab stint

ATLANTA -- Cubs manager Rick Renteria is unsure how many appearances reliever Jose Veras (left oblique strain) will make before concluding his rehab assignment with Double-A Tennessee that began Tuesday.

"I couldn't tell you how many I need to have him feel comfortable with," Renteria said. "It's more of how comfortable he starts to feel and then all us coming together and seeing where we're at."

Veras has made two appearances with the Smokies, pitching an inning each Tuesday and Thursday. He struck out a batter in each outing, earned a victory Thursday and has yet to allow a baserunner.

Veras was placed on the 15-day disabled list April 26 retroactive to April 25. Veras and the Cubs are hopeful his time away may help him mentally after he lost the closer role due to a 15.88 ERA and two blown saves in his first six games.

"I don't want to be in a position where I can't help the team win ballgames," Veras said April 26. "I want to help the team win ballgames. That's why they brought me here. Even though I'm struggling, it's just the start of the season, five or six outings, and I'm used to throwing 70 outings every year. Hopefully, I can come back, and when I come back, I can start over and healthy 100 percent."

Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Source: CHC Homepage News CHC Homepage News | Joe Morgan

Coghlan chipping in with key hits off bench Saturday, 10 May 2014, 11:12 pm

By Joe Morgan / MLB.com | 5/10/2014 7:32 P.M. ET

ATLANTA -- Down a run and needing a rally against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, the Cubs turned to Chris Coghlan in the top of the ninth inning Friday night. Coghlan delivered, notching a leadoff single and eventually scoring the game's tying run.

"Any time you can come off the bench and get a hit, it's huge," Coghlan said. "It's not easy to do, especially when you're facing one of the best closers in the game."

The Cubs signed Coghlan to a Minor League deal in January after the Marlins non-tendered the outfielder in December. Manager Rick Renteria said situations like Friday's are what Chicago envisioned when it signed Coghlan.

Following Friday night's hit, Coghlan is batting .282 (11-for-39) as a pinch-hitter during his career.

"We were hoping he'd be able to come off the bench and give us some good at-bats, and he has, actually," Renteria said. "We've pinch-hit him three times prior to using him [Friday] night, and he squared up the ball well all three."

Coghlan is 3-for-12 since Chicago selected his contract from Triple-A Iowa after Ryan Sweeney went on the 15-day disabled list with a moderate right hamstring strain suffered May 3. Renteria has enjoyed Coghlan's veteran approach this week.

"He stands in there, he's got a good feel," Renteria said. "He has a good idea of what he's doing, so it's been nice to have him here."

Coghlan broke into the big leagues with the Marlins and was named the National League Rookie of the Year after batting .321 with a .390 on-base percentage in 2009. However, injuries have hampered Coghlan since.

He played only 70 games last season while battling issues with his back and right calf, and described his assignment to Iowa out of Spring Training as "humbling." Now healthy, he hopes to become a reliable bench option and remain in the Majors.

"Anytime you're healthy, it's always fun because you can just go compete off your skill set," Coghlan said. "I feel grateful to be here. I'm just grateful for an opportunity."


Kalish finding success at or near top of order

ATLANTA -- Whether it's coincidence or not, there's something about Cubs outfielder Ryan Kalish batting near the top of the order. Entering Saturday, he was batting .321 (9-for-28) with four runs scored, all four of his RBIs and three of his five walks in the first and second spots.

"It's a fun challenge, for sure," Kalish said. "My job is to score runs."

Kalish hit second Saturday night, making three consecutive starts hitting either first or second in the order. During the past two games, he has reached base four times in 10 plate appearances, including a run-scoring single on Friday night.

In three Major League seasons, Kalish is batting .286 (20-for-70) when batting first or second, a mark much better than his .245 (80-for-326) career clip.

Cubs manager Rick Renteria plans to keep Kalish near the top of the order since he believes the outfielder has enjoyed better games and at-bats as a result. But in addition to results, Renteria also loves the passion Kalish brings.

"He's actually been pretty comfortable and pretty calm at the plate," Renteria said. "He's high-energy both out on the field and in the dugout. He's going 100 miles an hour, so it's nice.

"You can always tone somebody down, but it's kind of tough to speed people up. It's nice to have somebody like that because he's got some energy and we can tone him down when we need to."

Kalish is paired with speedster Emilio Bonifacio, who was batting .297 (38-for-128) with a .348 on-base percentage entering Saturday, at the top of the order, and Renteria likes what that one-two punch offers to lead off the lineup.

"I like the two hole because if [Bonifacio] gets on, I can try to move him along the bases, however that may be," Kalish said. "It's just a fun spot to be in, obviously."

Renteria added: "It just gives us a couple of guys who can run at the top and guys that can get on base."

If Kalish continues his success in the second spot, Renteria likes the possibilities that creates for Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, who ranked first and third, respectively, among Cubs in RBIs of 18 and 16 entering Saturday.

"Rizzo and Starlin, I want to get them as many RBIs as I can," Kalish said. "My job is to get on base, make things happen and score runs."


Club taking it slow with Veras' rehab stint

ATLANTA -- Cubs manager Rick Renteria is unsure how many appearances reliever Jose Veras (left oblique strain) will make before concluding his rehab assignment with Double-A Tennessee that began Tuesday.

"I couldn't tell you how many I need to have him feel comfortable with," Renteria said. "It's more of how comfortable he starts to feel and then all us coming together and seeing where we're at."

Veras has made two appearances with the Smokies, pitching an inning each Tuesday and Thursday. He struck out a batter in each outing, earned a victory Thursday and has yet to allow a baserunner.

Veras was placed on the 15-day disabled list April 26 retroactive to April 25. Veras and the Cubs are hopeful his time away may help him mentally after he lost the closer role due to a 15.88 ERA and two blown saves in his first six games.

"I don't want to be in a position where I can't help the team win ballgames," Veras said April 26. "I want to help the team win ballgames. That's why they brought me here. Even though I'm struggling, it's just the start of the season, five or six outings, and I'm used to throwing 70 outings every year. Hopefully, I can come back, and when I come back, I can start over and healthy 100 percent."

Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Source: CHC Homepage News CHC Homepage News | Joe Morgan

Club taking it slow with Veras' rehab stint Saturday, 10 May 2014, 11:12 pm

By Joe Morgan / MLB.com | 5/10/2014 7:32 P.M. ET

ATLANTA -- Cubs manager Rick Renteria is unsure how many appearances reliever Jose Veras (left oblique strain) will make before concluding his rehab assignment with Double-A Tennessee that began Tuesday.

"I couldn't tell you how many I need to have him feel comfortable with," Renteria said. "It's more of how comfortable he starts to feel and then all us coming together and seeing where we're at."

Veras has made two appearances with the Smokies, pitching an inning each Tuesday and Thursday. He struck out a batter in each outing, earned a victory Thursday and has yet to allow a baserunner.

Veras was placed on the 15-day disabled list April 26 retroactive to April 25. Veras and the Cubs are hopeful his time away may help him mentally after he lost the closer role due to a 15.88 ERA and two blown saves in his first six games.

"I don't want to be in a position where I can't help the team win ballgames," Veras said April 26. "I want to help the team win ballgames. That's why they brought me here. Even though I'm struggling, it's just the start of the season, five or six outings, and I'm used to throwing 70 outings every year. Hopefully, I can come back, and when I come back, I can start over and healthy 100 percent."


Kalish finding success at or near top of order

ATLANTA -- Whether it's coincidence or not, there's something about Cubs outfielder Ryan Kalish batting near the top of the order. Entering Saturday, he was batting .321 (9-for-28) with four runs scored, all four of his RBIs and three of his five walks in the first and second spots.

"It's a fun challenge, for sure," Kalish said. "My job is to score runs."

Kalish hit second Saturday night, making three consecutive starts hitting either first or second in the order. During the past two games, he has reached base four times in 10 plate appearances, including a run-scoring single on Friday night.

In three Major League seasons, Kalish is batting .286 (20-for-70) when batting first or second, a mark much better than his .245 (80-for-326) career clip.

Cubs manager Rick Renteria plans to keep Kalish near the top of the order since he believes the outfielder has enjoyed better games and at-bats as a result. But in addition to results, Renteria also loves the passion Kalish brings.

"He's actually been pretty comfortable and pretty calm at the plate," Renteria said. "He's high-energy both out on the field and in the dugout. He's going 100 miles an hour, so it's nice.

"You can always tone somebody down, but it's kind of tough to speed people up. It's nice to have somebody like that because he's got some energy and we can tone him down when we need to."

Kalish is paired with speedster Emilio Bonifacio, who was batting .297 (38-for-128) with a .348 on-base percentage entering Saturday, at the top of the order, and Renteria likes what that one-two punch offers to lead off the lineup.

"I like the two hole because if [Bonifacio] gets on, I can try to move him along the bases, however that may be," Kalish said. "It's just a fun spot to be in, obviously."

Renteria added: "It just gives us a couple of guys who can run at the top and guys that can get on base."

If Kalish continues his success in the second spot, Renteria likes the possibilities that creates for Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, who ranked first and third, respectively, among Cubs in RBIs of 18 and 16 entering Saturday.

"Rizzo and Starlin, I want to get them as many RBIs as I can," Kalish said. "My job is to get on base, make things happen and score runs."


Coghlan chipping in with key hits off bench

ATLANTA -- Down a run and needing a rally against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, the Cubs turned to Chris Coghlan in the top of the ninth inning Friday night. Coghlan delivered, notching a leadoff single and eventually scoring the game's tying run.

"Any time you can come off the bench and get a hit, it's huge," Coghlan said. "It's not easy to do, especially when you're facing one of the best closers in the game."

The Cubs signed Coghlan to a Minor League deal in January after the Marlins non-tendered the outfielder in December. Manager Rick Renteria said situations like Friday's are what Chicago envisioned when it signed Coghlan.

Following Friday night's hit, Coghlan is batting .282 (11-for-39) as a pinch-hitter during his career.

"We were hoping he'd be able to come off the bench and give us some good at-bats, and he has, actually," Renteria said. "We've pinch-hit him three times prior to using him [Friday] night, and he squared up the ball well all three."

Coghlan is 3-for-12 since Chicago selected his contract from Triple-A Iowa after Ryan Sweeney went on the 15-day disabled list with a moderate right hamstring strain suffered May 3. Renteria has enjoyed Coghlan's veteran approach this week.

"He stands in there, he's got a good feel," Renteria said. "He has a good idea of what he's doing, so it's been nice to have him here."

Coghlan broke into the big leagues with the Marlins and was named the National League Rookie of the Year after batting .321 with a .390 on-base percentage in 2009. However, injuries have hampered Coghlan since.

He played only 70 games last season while battling issues with his back and right calf, and described his assignment to Iowa out of Spring Training as "humbling." Now healthy, he hopes to become a reliable bench option and remain in the Majors.

"Anytime you're healthy, it's always fun because you can just go compete off your skill set," Coghlan said. "I feel grateful to be here. I'm just grateful for an opportunity."

Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Source: CHC Homepage News CHC Homepage News | Joe Morgan

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