Chicago Sun-Times Latest news from the Chicago Sun-Times Online en-us (Editor) Newspapers Chicago Sun-Times 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Pirates’ Russell Martin would be perfect fit for 2015 Cubs ]]> Lead story image

PITTSBURGH — Of all the free agents who might be available to the Cubs this winter, one of the easiest to overlook also might be one of the best fits. Assuming the turnaround starts next year, as team officials suggest, and that building a long-term pitching staff starts to become a priority, then there might not be a better-equipped position player on the market than Pirates linchpin Russell Martin. It would take pulling the plug on Welington Castillo as the Cubs’ catcher of the future, a proposition that is already the subject of internal debate. It also likely would take … ]]> Sun, 14 Sep 2014 22:21:41 -0500 <![CDATA[ Cubs hit into their first triple play in 14 years, lose to Pirates ]]> Lead story image

PITTSBURGH — Not that they were looking for a fitting play to sum up their ugliest road trip of the year, but the Cubs definitely found it Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. An especially rare around-the-horn triple play put a sudden end to their fourth inning in their eighth loss in nine games. One day after he hit his first big-league homer, rookie Matt Szczur drove a shot down the line toward third for what looked like a possible extra-base hit — until former Cubs farmhand Josh Harrison caught it next to the bag on a bounce, touched third and … ]]> Sun, 14 Sep 2014 21:49:34 -0500 <![CDATA[ Cubs manager Rick Renteria confident his job is safe ]]> Lead story image

PITTSBURGH — The rookie-development program the Cubs are running at the big-league level has conspicuously included first-year manager Rick Renteria, whose game management has been called into question by longtime baseball people inside and outside the organization. But if Renteria is concerned about his job security, especially heading into a 2015 season that figures to bring higher expectations, he’s not letting it show. “I don’t worry about my job. Never have,” said Renteria, who signed a three-year contract when he took the position last fall. “I’ve never done it as a minor-league coach or big-league coach. I focus on my … ]]> Sun, 14 Sep 2014 10:28:22 -0500 <![CDATA[ Save the worship for when Cubs actually win ]]> Lead story image

It’s one thing to hope. It’s another to let your imagination run wild until panting projections become indisputable facts. In other words, howdy, Cubs fans. I don’t want to say that some of you have skipped a few important steps, but debating about what smoking jacket and ascot Theo Epstein should wear at the World Series parade seems premature. It’s great that the Cubs and their president of baseball operations have finally given you a reason to be optimistic. The young talent coming through the pipeline is promising. It’s fun to think about what free-agent pitchers the franchise might sign … ]]> Sun, 14 Sep 2014 02:34:03 -0500 <![CDATA[ ‘Patient’ Javy Baez hits two dingers in two days ]]> Lead story image

PITTSBURGH — No Anthony Rizzo behind him in the lineup. No Starlin Castro. No Jorge Soler. No problem for Javy Baez — at least not in the last two games. The Cubs’ big-swinging rookie with just 38 big-league games had struggled in particular since Rizzo left the lineup three weeks ago with a stiff back. But on Friday, he hit his first home run since then, and on Saturday his two-run shot off Jeff Locke in the third inning jump-started the Cubs to a 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that snapped a seven-game losing streak. “He had some really … ]]> Sun, 14 Sep 2014 02:35:33 -0500 <![CDATA[ A trying trial by fire for Cubs’ kids as losing streak hits seven ]]> Lead story image

PITTSBURGH — They can only dream of what meaningful big-league baseball in the fall will feel like in their dugout. But some of the Cubs’ kids being counted on to deliver the next generation of fall thrills at Wrigley Field at least got an up-close look at a pennant race shoved in their face Friday night at near-capacity PNC Park, thanks to the surging, scoreboard-watching Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cubs’ major contributions to the buzz in Pittsburgh was the big-swinging, undermanned lineup continually stirring the chilled air with another 12 strikeouts — and solo home runs by touted rookies Javy Baez … ]]> Sat, 13 Sep 2014 02:13:24 -0500 <![CDATA[ Cubs learning what they have on mound ]]> Lead story image

PITTSBURGH — How much starting pitching do the Cubs actually need as they look to the offseason? How much do they have? How much of it’s any good? How much of it’s coming back? The Cubs aren’t sure. The series this weekend against the heating-up Pirates should help us learn more about what the Cubs have and what young playoff pitchers look like. That starts with the Pirates’ hard-throwing Gerrit Cole, 24, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, who faces the Cubs on Friday night. He’s followed Saturday by 2013 All-Star Jeff Locke, 26, a second-rounder who … ]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 21:09:44 -0500 <![CDATA[ Kid Cubs swept by Blue Jays, lose 6th straight ]]> Lead story image

TORONTO — If this is what growing pains look like, then, well, ouch. With a lineup made up mostly of rookies, run by a rookie manager, the kid Cubs got manhandled by the playoff-hopeful Toronto Blue Jays for three games at Rogers Centre. They were outscored 28-3 in a sweep that left them with a six-game losing streak heading into Thursday’s day off. On Wednesday night, it was an 11-1 loss in a game that was 1-0 headed to the bottom of the sixth —and 4-1 until manager Rick Renteria used three relievers for the first four batters of the … ]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 02:21:26 -0500 <![CDATA[ Renteria’s decision-making, growing pains proving painful ]]>

TORONTO – A season of questionable in-game decisions by first-year Cubs manager Rick Renteria found another spotlight in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s 11-1 loss. That’s when a quick succession of pitching changes in a three-run game, early in the inning, turned into a five-run inning, with Kyuji Fujikawa left in to take the brunt of the beating and face seven batters. Renteria’s bullpen use – which includes a penchant for frequent changes combined with an apparent paranoia over how much he uses a guy – has drawn criticism and head-shaking throughout the season from within the organization as well … ]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 23:19:34 -0500 <![CDATA[ Cubs’ rookies in a familiar scene to Chris Valaika ]]> Lead story image

TORONTO — Chris Valaika has seen it before. In recent years, he has lived it. “I don’t want to say it’s been the story of my career, but I’ve gotten to the big leagues, and I’ve been in situations where I’ve been up and down,” he said. “I know better than most what it takes to be here and stay.” He knows the difference in the expectations and pressure between the big leagues and anywhere else somebody plays baseball. It’s a difference that can show up when a team sends six rookies to start against a playoff hopeful — as … ]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 02:20:59 -0500 <![CDATA[ Marcus Stroman has high praise for Cubs’ prospects ]]> Lead story image

TORONTO — Marcus Stroman didn’t have to read the reports over the summer linking his name to the Cubs in those Jeff Samardzija trade talks. The Toronto Blue Jays’ prized rookie pitcher knew that Theo Epstein had his eye on him ever since his time at Duke when the then-Boston GM chatted up the pitcher/shortstop at one of his games against Boston College. Stroman, the powerful right-hander who thought he might get drafted by the Red Sox until the Blue Jays took him two spots ahead in the first round of the 2012 draft, said none of that had anything … ]]> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 23:58:56 -0500