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Rockies’ DJ LeMahieu finds ‘extra motivation’ against Cubs

Chicago Cubs v Colorado Rockies

Chicago Cubs v Colorado Rockies

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Updated: August 22, 2013 7:07AM

DENVER — DJ LeMahieu didn’t need to follow the whole Ian Stewart Twitter saga and watch the eventual release of Stewart by the Cubs last month to realize the Cubs got the worse end of the Epstein-Hoyer regime’s first trade.

He has believed that since the December 2011 day the new guys shipped him and Tyler Colvin to the Colorado Rockies for Stewart and washed-out minor-league pitcher Casey Weathers — and he has set out to prove it ever since.

“I get a little extra motivation against them for sure,” said LeMahieu, who entered Saturday’s game hitting .458 with three doubles, a homer, three walks and a 1.310 OPS in seven games against the Cubs.

He has played all four infield positions for the Rockies over the last two years, including everything left of first base this year, and was hitting .265 through Friday.

Playing second base and batting second, he quickly singled his first time up Saturday.

“I definitely get up for this series,” he said

Maybe even a little bit more after seeing how Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer characterized the trade upon Stewart’s release four weeks ago.

“I don’t think there’s any way you can put it on any other side of the ledger other than a loss for us,” Hoyer said. “But I don’t think it’s a decision that has done any ­material damage to the ­organization going forward.”

No material damage? Maybe.

But as far as LeMahieu is ­concerned, that comment gives him a chance to prove the Cubs wrong one more time.

“I don’t really care what they say,” he said. “They traded me so they can say all they want about it. But I’m happy to be on this team. We’re right in the hunt in our ­division.

“Whenever we play them I just try to beat them. Ever since they traded me, it’s been a team that gives me extra motivation. I don’t know if it’s called a wake-up call. But I know for me it’s extra motivation. And it’s helped me out.”

Strop hope

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Saturday that newly acquired right-hander Pedro Strop could be the closer when Kevin Gregg is traded this month as expected.

He would be the Cubs’ fourth closer this season, not counting the closer committee they employed for two weeks in April.

“He’s obviously one of the higher candidates just because he’s pitched in high-profile games already in the big leagues,” said Sveum of Strop, who pitched well in two playoff games for the Baltimore Orioles last fall.

The hard-throwing Strop has allowed four baserunners and no runs in eight appearances since being acquired in the Scott Feldman trade July 2.

“He’s got the stuff, he’s got the velocity,” Sveum said. “He’s got a strike slider, he’s got a wipeout slider. … He has a good time on the mound. He’s not scared of anything. Those are the kind of guys you want out there.”

A few days before the trade for Strop, Sveum suggested rookie Blake Parker would be the top closer candidate when Gregg was traded.

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