08/07/2004 3:40 PM ET
Notes: Making NL adjustments
Garciaparra mastering transition from American League
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Baseball is a game of adjustments and Chicago Cubs hitting coach Gary Matthews isn't worried at all about Nomar Garciaparra's ability to adjust to the National League.
|Nomar Garciaparra is 10-for-27 with four doubles and three RBIs in his six games with the Cubs. (Brian Kersey/AP)
In six games with the Cubs, Garciaparra is 10-for-27 with four doubles and three RBIs. He batted .321 with the Boston Red Sox before being dealt to the Cubs on July 31 in a four-team deal.
"He's been hitting the ball hard," Matthews said of Garciaparra. "It takes an adjustment to get to know the pitchers.
"I've felt that it's easier to go from the American League to the National League if you're an aggressive hitter because it's an aggressive league," he said. "I think it's more difficult to go to the American League when you're an aggressive hitter because they throw a lot of off-speed pitches and nibble, nibble, nibble."
So, this is a good trade for Garciaparra?
"It's a good move for all of us," Matthews said.
Garciaparra went 3-for-3 with a walk against San Francisco's Jason Schmidt on Friday. Matthews felt the shortstop had an edge because he'd faced Schmidt before. He had. Once. On June 20, Garciaparra was 0-for-4 against Schmidt in an Interleague game. Evidently, Garciaparra is a quick study.
"Nomar can hit," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "He can hit good pitches, bad pitches. He can hit. The more at-bats he sees, the more consecutive at-bats in games he sees, the better he'll be."
Cubs second baseman Todd Walker, who has played in both leagues and doesn't seemed fazed with the switch, has heard the stories about how there are more fastballs in one league over the other.
"The reality is you still have to see it and hit it," Walker said. "I don't see that much difference. The only difference may be if you're not familiar with the hitters. The more you face a pitcher, the more it becomes a hitter's advantage and that's probably the only difference.
"There's a lot of things people say," Walker said, "but the only thing judging by what I've seen is getting familiar with pitchers when you change leagues."
OK, but what about all the adjustments and tugs and jerks and twitches that Garciaparra does in the batter's box before each at-bat? Doesn't that drive Matthews crazy?
"It drives you crazy when you're the opposition and he's getting hits like that," Matthews said. "When he's on your team, it doesn't drive you crazy at all.
"He's an accomplished player," Matthews said. "The last four years, it was (Derek) Jeter, (Alex) Rodriguez and Nomar. Take your pick."
Saviors: Cubs reliever Kent Mercker had to leave Saturday's game because his back tightened up on him. His status was day-to-day.
"It's fine," Mercker said after the game. "It just stiffened up a little bit. This wasn't a day to be a tough guy. You don't want to screw that up."
No one in the Cubs 'pen wanted to be the guy to blow starter Greg Maddux's chances at his 300th career win. Maddux notched the milestone with an 8-4 victory over San Francisco and became the first pitcher since Cy Young to do so against another pitcher who was making his Major League debut. Brad Hennessey took the loss Saturday in his first career start.
Young beat John McPherson in 1901 to win his 300th game, and went on to become the game's all-time leading winner with 511.
Giant-sized: San Francisco's Barry Bonds teased the crowd at SBC Park with some long fly-ball outs.
"If you keep him in the park, it's a good at-bat as far as I take it," Maddux said of Bonds, who has the most home runs (eight) and at-bats (120) against the Cubs pitcher. "A walk's not the worst thing in the world to him."
Is that the best way to get Bonds out?
"Hey, man, there is no best way to get Barry out," Baker said. "He's perhaps the greatest hitter of all time. He adjusts. It doesn't take long for him to adjust.
"They were impressive outs, they were impressive long outs if there is such a thing," Baker said. "Whenever he hits a ball, it looks like it always has a chance to go."
Serving time: Part of the rules of Carlos Zambrano's five-game suspension is that he's not allowed in the dugout or the bullpen during the game. On Friday, Zambrano worked out, then left SBC Park to return to the team hotel.
"I stick around until the third or fourth innings, then I go to the hotel," Zambrano said. "Today, no. I want to see Maddux. I want to celebrate with Maddux."
And he did.
Extra bases: Corey Patterson's home run into McCovey Cove was the second this year by an opposing player. Former Cub Hee-Seop Choi also did so April 30. It's the seventh time a visiting player has recorded a splash homer. ... Moises Alou's home run was his 10th against teams managed by his father, Felipe Alou, and his third against the Giants this year. ... Baker may be looking for a new agent. His representative, Jeff Moorad, is going to take over the Arizona Diamondbacks. ... Atlanta Braves executive Stan Kasten was in attendance Saturday for Maddux's milestone game. ... The Cubs rotation for the upcoming series against Wild Card contender San Diego will be Mark Prior on Tuesday, followed by Zambrano, Matt Clement and Maddux.
Minor matters: The Cubs have reacquired left-hander Jimmy Anderson from the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later, and he started Friday night for Triple-A Iowa. Anderson gave up five runs and three walks on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings. Anderson appeared in five games for the Red Sox, giving up four runs on 10 hits over six innings. He was designated for assignment by Boston on July 22.
Highly regarded minor league pitcher Angel Guzman has been shut down for the rest of the season. Guzman, who had shoulder surgery last summer, was 3-1 with a 4.20 ERA in seven games at Class A Daytona, striking out 40 in 30 innings. He went 0-3 with a 5.60 ERA at Double-A West Tenn, fanning 13 in 17 2/3 innings. Guzman is not hurt but the Cubs feel he'll benefit from rest.
Infielder Richard Lewis, acquired from Atlanta in the Juan Cruz deal, has been promoted to Iowa. Lewis batted .329 in 99 games for West Tenn with 10 homers and 59 RBIs.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.