CHICAGO -- Over his past few appearances, reliever Jeff Samardzija has become a staple in the Cubs' bullpen, and that's exactly where he is going to stay.
Early in his career, Samardzija worked as a starter, but he recently found his niche as a reliever.
"Not right now, not that I've even considered it in the least," manager Mike Quade said when asked if there were plans to move Samardzija back into the rotation. "I think, once again, I'm so happy with his development -- so happy with the way he's throwing the ball. For now, we should just leave it at that."
In 52 appearances this season, Samardzija is 6-4 with a 3.53 ERA. Over four appearances in the month of August, he hadn't allowed an earned run in 4 1/3 innings of work, striking out six and walking one.
Looming contenders to dictate Quade's rotation
CHICAGO -- Before Tuesday's game, manager Mike Quade said Rodrigo Lopez, who is scheduled to start Wednesday, will remain in the rotation for the time being, but he made no promise things will stay that way.
"I'm committed to him right now," Quade said. "As I look at this thing as it pans out, [I'm going to take it] four days at a time."
The Cubs are coming into a particularly challenging month of August, which features series against the Braves, Cardinals, Brewers and Giants. Quade said it's important to get his rotation situated before then.
"We've got contenders through the rest of the month, that's part of the reason I want to keep the pitching on line," he said. "[I want to have] at least a couple of the big three [Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza] in each series, trying to get them to face these better clubs."
Quade holds Nats' bats in high esteem
CHICAGO -- As the Cubs began a three-game series against the Nationals on Tuesday, manager Mike Quade paid some respect to the middle of Washington's lineup.
"[Third baseman Ryan] Zimmerman is swinging the bat way better than he was when we saw him last time," Quade said. "He was just coming off some down time. He's always dangerous."
When the Cubs last faced Zimmerman on July 4, he was batting .224 with three homers and 13 RBIs. In his 29 games since, Zimmerman has hit .368 with two home runs and 13 RBIs, raising his season average to .299 coming into Tuesday's game.
Quade didn't stop his praise with Zimmerman, though.
"[Jayson] Werth is dangerous as dangerous can be," Quade said. "He's not having a great year, but he too has [raised] his average since we last saw them."
Werth, in his first season with the Nationals, is batting .223 with 13 home runs and 43 RBIs in 109 games.
Players' union makes call on makeup game
CHICAGO -- If you had tickets to Monday's Cubs-Nationals game and can't attend Thursday's makeup game, don't be mad at the Cubs.
Monday's game was postponed because of rain, and Koyie Hill, the Cubs' player representative, said they lobbied to play a split doubleheader on Wednesday. The Nationals were already scheduled to stay in Chicago on Wednesday night and wanted to play Thursday, which was an off-day for both teams.
"If our players and their players can't agree on when to play, then it goes to the union, and if they can keep from scheduling split doubleheaders and there's another option, they'll take the other option no matter what," Hill said Tuesday. "The only way we could've gotten to play Wednesday was if Washington agreed."
The two sides presented their preference, disagreed, discussed their options with their respective teams again, and still disagreed.
"At that point, it goes to the [players'] union," Hill said. "[The Nationals] were flying out Thursday at 3 [p.m.], so for them it made sense. They were going to stay one more night and enjoy our wonderful city and then go to Philadelphia in the middle of our off-day. Unfortunately, we didn't have much of a say."
This was Chicago's fourth rainout this season, the most since 2009, when five home games were washed out. The other rainouts this year were April 19 against the Padres; April 27 against the Rockies; and May 15 against the Giants.
Tickets for Monday's game will be good for admission to Thursday's game, which will start at 1:20 p.m. CT.
Cubs participate in 'Play Campaign' for kids
CHICAGO -- Cubs players Darwin Barney, Andrew Cashner and Blake DeWitt took part Tuesday in a "Play Campaign" clinic for more than 60 kids at Wrigley Field, emphasizing good nutrition and activity.
The campaign is sponsored by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) in conjunction with the Taylor Hooton Foundation and AthletiCo Physical Therapy, and was led by Cubs athletic trainer Mark O'Neal and assistant trainer Ed Halbur.
Besides sessions on the dangers of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs, the kids were treated to mini baseball clinics. Barney talked to them about fielding, DeWitt discussed hitting and Cashner gave some pointers on pitching. O'Neal and Halbur emphasized the importance of staying active.
All 30 Major League teams conduct "Play Campaign" clinics during the season in an effort to fight childhood obesity, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control, has tripled in the last 30 years.
The Taylor Hooton Foundation aims to raise awareness about the dangers of steroid abuse, and was founded in 2004 in memory of Hooton, a 17-year-old athlete from Plano, Texas, who committed suicide as a result of anabolic steroid abuse.
The kids at the Cubs event were sponsored by AthletiCo, the official provider of physical therapy to the team, and also by Sheil Park in Chicago.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. Sam Zuba is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.