PITTSBURGH -- Fans are invited to play catch on Wrigley Field on June 21 as part of Cubs Charities' annual "Catch in the Confines."
The event, sponsored by Advocate Children's Hospital, allows people of all ages the chance to spend 50 minutes on the field either throwing the ball in the outfield, visiting the batting cage, or hanging out in the dugouts.
Admission includes a commemorative Wrigley Field 100 DVD, custom photograph, the group's name on the scoreboard and a baseball. For family and friends who want to watch participants, guest tickets are available and include access to the stadium. All ticket purchases benefit Cubs Charities programs, which help at-risk youth.
Tickets are $150 per person and $25 for guests, and can be purchased online at www.cubscharities.org or by calling (773) 404-CUBS. For available times, please visit the website.
Rizzo looks back on Major League debut
PITTSBURGH -- Three years ago, Anthony Rizzo was promoted from the Minor Leagues to the Padres, and made his Major League debut on June 9 against the Nationals. Now with the Cubs, Rizzo has a good idea about what the Pirates' Gregory Polanco is feeling as the highly touted outfielder was called up on Tuesday.
"It's exciting," Rizzo said. "You embrace it. Hopefully, he can play for a long time in this league -- that's what everyone thinks when they get called up."
That's what Rizzo thought, but the first baseman found himself back in the Minor Leagues after batting .143 in 35 games with the Padres.
"Rizzo was doing extremely well in the Minor Leagues and he had a little hiccup," said Cubs manager Rick Renteria, who was on the Padres big league coaching staff at that time. "It wasn't that he wasn't going to be able to perform here. You could tell he just wasn't quite ready and there was a lot of anxiousness and desire to get there.
"There was a lot of clamoring and a lot of pushing for him because his numbers looked good in the Minor Leagues," Renteria said. "Some guys transition easier, some guys don't. All things being equal, I think sometimes you err on the side of caution."
That's the approach the Cubs are taking with their own young talent, Kris Bryant, who leads the Southern League in all three Triple Crown categories, hitting his 22nd homer on Monday for Double-A Tennessee. Would Rizzo like to see Bryant get bumped up?
"I like what we have up here," Rizzo said of the current Cubs. "Whatever guys are doing in the Minor Leagues, it's great. It's not easy to do, because it is the Minors, and you're playing in front of a thousand people, if that. I like what we have here, and I like what we keep developing."
The Pirates have Polanco, the Astros promoted prospects George Springer and Jon Singleton. What about Bryant?
"I want to see Bryant when he's ready to be seen," Renteria said. "I get all of that, but I'm not going to base our thinking on what other people are doing. We have to do what we think is right for us."
Cubs release reliever Veras on Tuesday
PITTSBURGH -- The Cubs released veteran reliever Jose Veras on Tuesday, one week after the right-hander was designated for assignment.
The Cubs had signed Veras on Dec. 27 to a one-year, $4 million deal, and he was projected to be the closer. But he lost the closer's job to Hector Rondon, and compiled an 8.10 ERA in 12 games with the Cubs.
"You're disappointed when you sign a free agent and bring in a veteran and it didn't work out," Chicago general manager Jed Hoyer said last week.
After Veras, 33, was designated, the Cubs had 10 days to trade him or release him.
Tickets are still available for the third annual Hot Stove Cool Music Chicago benefit concert, to be held June 20 at Wrigleyville's Metro. The event will celebrate baseball, music and giving back, and feature Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and Tom Morello of "Rage Against the Machine."
Epstein will be joined by Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons and Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper in the event, which is presented by Victory Park Capital and Giordano's. The event has raised more than $5.5 million for Epstein's Foundation To Be Named Later (FTBNL).
There will be ensemble performances by Morello and Chicago Hot Stove All-Stars Jimmy Chamberlin (Smashing Pumpkins), John Stirratt (Wilco), Scott Lucas (Local H), Eddie "King" Roeser (Urge Overkill), Jered Gummere (Ponys), Gary Klebe (Shoes), singer Jennifer Hall and Tributosaurus members Matt Spiegel, Curt Morrison and Jon Paul.
This year's event will pay homage to Chicago's great history of music, and sets will focus on songs by bands and artists with a Chicago connection.
General admission tickets are $50, with no service fees for cash purchases. VIP tickets will also be available at www.ftbnl.org. Tickets are available at www.metrochicago.com and the Metro Box Office, 3730 North Clark Street, Chicago.
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.