Cubs keep DeJesus, delivers three RBIs in 6-1 rain-delayed win
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com
As the trade deadline passed without another deal Wednesday and the rumors finally fell silent for the moment, the Cubs faced the final two months of a season that could lead to just about anywhere but October.
A trade or two could yet be made in August, and that could include Wednesday survivor David DeJesus.
The promising young starter who debuted for the Cubs Tuesday, Jake Arrieta, should return sometime this month for an extended look in the rotation down the stretch.
Rehabbing right-hander Scott Baker (elbow) and outfielder Ryan Sweeney (rib) are targeting returns from the disabled list in the next few weeks.
And the group that surprisingly remained intact over the final five days before Wednesday’s deadline have been playing just well enough lately to have some guys in the clubhouse still talking about reaching the .500 mark.
“We’re happy to still have everyone,” DeJesus said, “and hopefully it can bring more wins to the table.”
DeJesus demonstrated his point by driving in three runs in the Cubs’ 6-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers Wednesday night.
And core guys Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro both punctuated their roles going forward with home runs to offer at least the suggestion that the final two months of this season can avoid the dead-team-walking finish endured by last year’s trade-ravaged club.
“Obivously, we know we’re missing some pieces, and it would be a lot easier with a couple more pieces,” pitcher Carlos Villanueva said, referring to trades earlier in July of pitchers Scott Feldman and Matt Garza, and cleanup hitter Alfonso Soriano.
“But we have what we have now. … We want to be a team that’s taken seriously.”
DeJesus, Rizzo and Castro all looked especially serious Wednesday – along with starting pitcher Edwin Jackson (7-11), who pitched eight powerful innings, including 2 1/3 of it following a 1-hour, 6-minute rain delay.
“The current team doesn’t get any strong when you trade guys like Feldman and Garza,” said general manager Jed Hoyer. “But we’re a better organization for having done it, and we do have better depth for handling it this year than we did in the past.
“I think we have guys that can step in, certainly better than [last year]. [Chris] Rusin’s done a really good job. We liked what we saw from Arrieta the other day. Villanueva can move from the bullpen to the rotation. … I think we’re much more equipped to handle the rest of the season than we were last year.”
What it might mean for wins and losses the rest of the way is anything but certain for a team that still has hitting problems, bullpen problems and lapses in the field.
But they are still here, and largely intact, and that seems to mean something to a lot of them.
“I think especially the guys that were being mentioned in all those deals are probably going to be a little more relaxed,” said Villanueva, whose starting role could be in play again when Arrieta and/or Baker join the rotation.
“They’re probably tired of all those questions: `Are you going to get moved?’ `What do you think,’ all this. The fact that it didn’t happen will probably mean it’ll be even a little more of a relaxed atmosphere in here. And hopefully we can just continue to play well.”