Casey Coleman wants to help Cubs stay on roll
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org August 15, 2011 10:30PM
Geovany Soto stands on second base after hitting a two-run double in the sixth inning Monday night against the Houston Astros. | Dave Einsel~AP
Updated: October 19, 2011 3:59AM
HOUSTON — The player in the clubhouse who has known Carlos Zambrano longer than the rest acknowledged the pitcher’s repeated troubles but sympathizes with the man.
‘‘You hate to see it happen like that for him,’’ right-hander Kerry Wood said after notching his first save since June of last year in the Cubs’ 4-3 victory Monday night over the Houston Astros. ‘‘Seriously, baseball aside, Z’s a good person, man. He really is. He’s a good guy; he’s got a good heart; he gets it; he knows what the game’s about. But, unfortunately, he’s had a history of not being able to control his emotions. I’m sure he’s well aware of it, and the people around him are well aware of it.
‘‘The same thing that made him great — makes him great — is the emotion that he pitches with. But, again, it’s a double-edged sword. And that’s one too many times.’’
The team has responded well in Zambrano’s absence, winning its third consecutive game since he cleared out his locker Friday night and left the team. They’ve won 12 of 15 overall, and a victory in either of the next two games would give them five straight series wins.
Dunston’s kid, Baez sign
In the final hours before Monday night’s signing deadline for draft picks, the Cubs got almost all of their key unsigned picks under contract, including No. 9 overall pick Javier Baez ($2.625 million), a prep shortstop from Jacksonville, Fla., and 11th-rounder Shawon Dunston Jr. ($1.275 million), a prep outfielder and son of the Cubs’ former All-Star shortstop.
Other key signings included second-rounder Dan Vogelbach ($1.6 million), a Prince Fielder-like high school first baseman from Florida, and fourth-rounder Tony Zych ($400,000), the University of Louisville closer with an upper-90s fastball.
The Cubs considered the signing of their 14th-round pick a particular success because right-hander Dillon Maples — considered a top-two-round talent — had a football scholarship to North Carolina, where he also planned to play baseball, and was thought to be difficult to sign. The Cubs got him for a $2.5 million bonus.
In all, the Cubs have signed nine of their first 10 picks (including the first seven) and 18 of the first 20.
Soriano, Zambrano OK
Among the teammates Zambrano said during a televised interview that he has talked to since leaving the team was Alfonso Soriano, who has no such recollection.
Soriano said he still hasn’t talked to or heard from Zambrano but had sent a message through a mutual friend to ‘‘find out how he’s feeling and if he’s more relaxed.’’
‘‘I just worry about him because he’s part of the team,’’ Soriano said. ‘‘I just want to know how he’s feeling because I think what he did, he did it because of frustration, not because he wants to retire.’’
Zambrano said he and Soriano were fine after Soriano confronted him Friday night in the clubhouse to tell him he was wrong to throw at Chipper Jones.
‘‘We don’t have any problem,’’ Soriano said.
Starter Casey Coleman and reliever Scott Maine joined the team in Houston from Class AAA Iowa.
Maine was officially recalled to join a taxed bullpen until Coleman is added to the roster Wednesday to start in Zambrano’s slot.
‘‘I’m not looking to replace Z,’’ Coleman said. ‘‘No one will be able to do that with the Cubs for a long time. I’m just coming up here trying to help give this team innings and stay out of the bullpen as long as possible . . . and help the team stay on the roll that they’re on.’’