Youth movement unable to contain Padres
Cubs start four rookies, use club-record six rookie pitchers
CHICAGO -- Lou Piniella was wearing his diamond-studded 1977 world championship ring Wednesday. He won't be adding any more jewelry this season, his last, with the Cubs.
Four rookies started against the first-place Padres, who have the best record in the National League, and notched their 72nd win with a 5-1 victory over the Cubs. The list included Casey Coleman, one of six rookie pitchers to appear in the game, a club record and the first time a Major League team has used that many since the Orioles did so on Sept. 24, 2008. It's the first time it's happened prior to September in Major League history.
"That's what we have," Piniella said. "We used what we have."
Another rookie, Tyler Colvin, entered defensively in the ninth. So that's six pitchers plus Colvin, shortstop Starlin Castro, catcher Welington Castillo and second baseman Darwin Barney.
"If I'd have known that, we'd have found one more and put him in there," Piniella quipped.
The Cubs got younger after the game when they dealt two-time All-Star Derrek Lee to the Braves for three Minor League pitchers. It's the third such deal the Cubs have made in the last 2 1/2 weeks. Micah Hoffpauir will join the club Thursday from Triple-A Iowa.
Was this how Piniella envisioned his last season managing?
"I'm part of this organization and I'm going to support what they want to do," Piniella said. "It's not easy but, look, it's part of the job."
It wasn't an easy assignment for Coleman. The right-hander lasted 4 1/3 innings and gave up three runs on six hits, including Adrian Gonzalez's 23rd homer, in the loss.
"It was a good learning experience," Coleman said. "That's a good team, in first place. It's a team with that lineup today, they're going to put pressure on you with all the lefties and the speed they have. I have to do a better job of throwing strikes and putting the pressure on them."
Coleman (0-1) may have been making his first Major League start but it's been a family tradition. His grandfather, Joe, had a 10-year big league career, and his father, Joe, played professionally from 1965-79, including a few games against Piniella. Dad was at Wrigley Field to watch his son in the historic event.
The Colemans are the first family in Major League history to have three generations of pitchers reach the big leagues, and fourth family overall to feature three generations. The Padres boast two others in brothers Jerry and Scott Hairston.
Whether it was nerves or just finding his rhythm, Coleman got into trouble in the first when he walked two batters and hit another to load the bases for Matt Stairs, who hit a two-run double.
"We've been through that here before," Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley said of relying on rookies. "You have to be patient with them. They'll be all right. The guys they ran out there, I thought they were all pretty good."
The Cubs tallied in the second on back-to-back doubles by Alfonso Soriano and Jeff Baker off starter Clayton Richard (11-5), but Gonzalez made it 3-1 with his 23rd homer with one out in the third.
Chicago dropped to 4-13 in August, including seven one-run losses. It's been challenging.
"We don't have any quitters on this team," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "We don't have to worry about that. We lose a voice and we lose one of the best first basemen in the game [in Lee]. At the same time, that's the business we're in."
Lee, Ted Lilly, Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot are gone.
"Everyone's going to have to step up, all the veterans, even guys like Sean Marshall and [Carlos] Marmol," Byrd said. "When you lose a guy like Lilly and then a guy like Derrek, they know how it works around here and have established themselves in this clubhouse. Some guys will have to step up."
Coleman will get another start. He's hoping to make a good impression and be included in the team's 2011 plans.
"We're trying to get ourselves out there," Coleman said of the rookies. "Maybe it's next season, next Spring Training. Whoever's coaching, you want to do good to set up for next year."
There will be more young faces in the clubhouse after September callups. Piniella said he was looking forward to having the kids on the roster.
"You get young kids to look at, the future of this organization, and it gives us a few more options," he said.
But no rings.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.