CHICAGO -- James Rowson was surprised to get a call that the Cubs needed him to take over as hitting coach for the remainder of the season, replacing Rudy Jaramillo, who was dismissed on Tuesday.
Rowson, who was the Cubs' Minor League hitting coordinator, met some of the players in Spring Training. His toughest task?
"I feel like it's just building relationships," Rowson said. "While I'm here, I'm just going to start learning these guys, talking to them, getting to know them and building relationship. That's the way it usually works. The stronger relationship you build, the better off it works."
This was his first season with the Cubs after spending six seasons in the Yankees' organization.
"He's obviously a fresh face, a guy who has worked extremely hard," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Rowson. "He's a 24/7 guy who works extremely hard, knows mechanics and has a way of talking about things."
Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, said Jason McLeod, the scouting and player development director, knew Rowson and recommended him. Epstein said Rowson, was "very articulate, very engaging, and showed the ability to connect with the modern player, understood the role, understood the overall hitting approach."
Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair worked with Rowson this spring.
"I worked with James in Spring Training and had a lot of good conversations with him about hitting," LaHair said. "I don't see it being too big of a change for us. He brings a lot of confidence.
"It's a sad day," LaHair said about losing Jaramillo. "He's like a family member. Any time a player or a coach goes, it's not easy."
Epstein said they aren't expecting Rowson to make immediate changes.
"[Jaramillo] didn't do anything wrong," Epstein said. "We're all accountable for our offensive performance. You have to make a tough decision when there's a gap between where you are and where you want to be."
What's Rowson's philosophy?
"I think it's individual," Rowson said. "We'll talk to each of these guys as individuals, get to know them, they'll have their own plan."
Cubs players say they'll miss Jaramillo
CHICAGO -- Most of the Cubs didn't find out Rudy Jaramillo had been dismissed as the club's hitting coach until they arrived at Wrigley Field on Tuesday.
"You never like to see somebody go, but we have to move forward, we have to focus on trying to win ballgames," Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney said. "We're going to miss Rudy."
Jaramillo was in the final year of his contract and was let go because of the Cubs' offensive woes. They were hitting .247 overall entering Tuesday, and ranked 11th in the National League with runners in scoring position. Jaramillo was replaced on an interim basis by James Rowson, the Cubs' Minor League hitting coordinator.
"I feel, every hitter here feels, it's our responsibility that he lost his job, because we didn't do the job," left fielder Alfonso Soriano said. "That's hard when you see guys like Rudy, who liked to work. He liked to work, and we felt comfortable with him. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves and made the game so difficult.
"It's very sad to see him go," Soriano said.
Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, complimented Jaramillo on his ability to work with a hitter on his mechanics. Epstein said they wanted more attention paid to the approach at the plate.
"Rudy was very individualistic," Barney said. "He worked with guys on different things. With me, it was more the mechanical side of things early, and I felt I had a pretty good approach to hitting and did my homework. With other guys, he talked more approach.
"You're not going to really talk to someone like Jeff Baker about his mechanics," Barney said. "He's been doing this for a long time, and he knows how to hit a baseball. You probably talk to him more about the approach. He worked with guys on different things and what they thought they needed."
The Cubs have not been strong in terms of on-base percentage.
"We're hoping to get better at that," Barney said. "That was one thing Rudy and I did talk about and work on -- how can we take walks and be aggressive and get on base. That's still the process, that's still stuff we're working on here. It takes each guy individually to do their part. I think, over time, that's something we can get better at."
Johnson tweets he has signed with Cubs
CHICAGO -- The Cubs have yet to announce any signings of their picks in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, but Missouri State right-handed pitcher Pierce Johnson apparently has agreed to terms. Johnson, who was the 43rd player taken overall, selected in the compensation round, announced his signing on Twitter.
Johnson said: "Just signed with the Chicago Cubs! Thanks to God, family, teammates, coaches and friends. If it wasn't for you guys I wouldn't be here!"
Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, said they have reached agreement with several of their selections, but they are pending physicals.
The Cubs' No. 1 pick, outfielder Albert Almora, is not included in that group who have agreed to terms. Almora does have a commitment to the University of Miami.
"He's a great student and worked hard to get that full ride to a prestigious university," Epstein said. "He does have options. ... I think he loves baseball, too, and we'll sit down and talk about it."
Epstein was happy with what the Cubs did in the Draft because they were able to address a need for more pitching. Johnson was one of their targets, and Epstein said the right-hander might have been taken in the first round if not for a forearm strain. Johnson was healthy going into the Draft.
"There are a number of guys we're really excited about," Epstein said of the selections.
Theo Epstein said he can't comment on reports that Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler has agreed to terms with the Cubs. There were reports on Monday that Soler had agreed to a nine-year, $30 million contract.
"I saw those reports," said Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations. "I can't really address anything until it's official, and in this case, there's usually a process where there's an agreement and a term sheet, and then there's a immigration process in getting visas, and then there's a physical, and once the physical is done, the signing can be official."
The process could take about a week.
Triple-A Iowa first baseman Anthony Rizzo had to leave Tuesday's game after he hurt his right knee sliding into a fence in front of the visitors' dugout chasing a popup. Cubs officials said Rizzo has a right knee contusion, and is day to day.
Rizzo, who was batting .367, currently leads the Pacific Coast League with 22 home runs, and has hit four in his last three games.
If all goes well with Geovany Soto's rehab assignment, he could be back this weekend for the Cubs' Interleague series against the Red Sox. Soto is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
Welington Castillo also has begun his rehab at Double-A Tennessee from a sprained right knee.
"I know they're both doing pretty well," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.