CHICAGO -- For the last four years, Jill Finken, her sister Molly Alesch, and college roommate Krissi Diers have attended at least one weekend Cubs series. It had become a little tough to schedule for Finken, 34, after she joined the Iowa National Guard and served in Afghanistan.
On Sunday, Finken and her group -- plus her husband, John -- were at Wrigley Field to celebrate her return from a tour of duty. Jill said she would wear a Cubs t-shirt under her uniform whenever possible and that they stayed in touch with the team by listening to Armed Forces Radio or checking for updates on the Internet.
For some games, she would special order a sausage and cheese plate and watch a game. After growing up listening to Ron Santo on WGN Radio, Finken said it's different having to set an early alarm overseas to follow the Cubs.
"Here, you take things for granted sometimes," Finken said. "Sometimes, we'd get up at 3 a.m. to watch the games."
Cubs call up Socolovich to add bullpen depth
CHICAGO -- The Cubs on Sunday recalled right-handed reliever Miguel Socolovich, who was claimed off waivers from the Orioles on Aug. 23.
Socolovich, 24, was 4-0 with two saves and a 2.11 ERA in 31 relief appearances between Triple-A Norfolk and Triple-A Iowa. He struck out 57 hitters over 55 1/3 innings and walked 14.
He was a non-roster invitee to the Orioles' Spring Training camp, and had three stints with the big league team, appearing in six games. He was designated for assignment Aug. 14.
The Cubs already have used a franchise high 27 pitchers this season. It's the most since 25 hurlers were used in 1999.
The 27 pitchers used ranks third-most in the Major Leagues this year behind the Blue Jays (32 pitchers) and Padres (30).
Sveum pleased with team's growth on defense
CHICAGO -- Now that Cubs manager Dale Sveum has seen the team for five months, what areas does he feel they've made the most improvement in?
"I think the most progress is definitely the defense," Sveum said Sunday. "For the most part, we've had a couple ugly games, and for the other 130 games, we've played pretty solid defense, especially up the middle with [Starlin] Castro and [Darwin] Barney and [David] DeJesus and even [Alfonso] Soriano. For what his legs can do, he's played heck of a left field."
Barney has gone a National League single-season record 117 straight games without an error at second base heading into Sunday's game. That tops David Eckstein's mark of 113 consecutive games set with the Padres in 2010.
Soriano is the only Major League left fielder to have handled at least 150 total chances without an error this season.
Last year, the Cubs finished last in the National League in fielding percentage, committing 134 errors. This season, they are 10th in fielding percentage and have made 85 errors.
"The young catchers have come around this last month of buying into and sticking with game plans and slowing the game down," Sveum said. "I think our defense has come to grips with positioning and the importance of it all."
CHICAGO -- Wrigley Field can be very fickle.
So far this season, the wind has blown in for 41 games, blown out for 14 and there's been a crosswind for 12 games. It makes a difference. When the wind blows in, teams are averaging 7.9 runs per game, and when it's blowing out, they average 10.9.
Does that affect what Cubs manager Dale Sveum does with his lineup?
"Right now it's blowing in, and by game time, it could be blowing out," Sveum said before Sunday's game against the Giants. "It's difficult to think you could set your lineup and go into it with a game plan. ... A lot of times you build your team or roster around a ballpark, and here it's difficult to build it around the wind."
He doesn't check the flags before making out his lineup card.
"I've come to find out, you don't do anything with your lineup," he said. "It just doesn't work that way. The bottom line is, when you get a set lineup, you get guys who can keep the line moving, that's the bottom line."
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.