05/07/07 3:21 PM ET
Mailbag: Sorting out the schedule
Beat reporter Carrie Muskat answers Cubs fans' questions
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and please include your name and hometown. The mailbag will return next Monday. And please, no more questions regarding those awful blue jerseys.
What's the new rule on suspended games? I heard the rule benefitted the Cubs with the rainout in the middle of the seventh inning against the Pirates on May 1. I'm not sure how that works, and what happens if the game gets rained out before it's official? Don't the teams have to complete five innings for the game to continue?
-- Ryan D., Nashville, Tenn.
Rule 4.12 (a) states: A game shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date if the game is terminated ... (because of) weather, if a regulation game is called while an inning is in progress and before the inning is completed, and the visiting team has scored one or more runs to take the lead.
Because the Cubs, who were the visiting team, had taken the lead in the top of the inning and the Pirates did not get a chance to match that in the bottom of the inning, the game was suspended. Under the old rules, the game would have reverted back to the score it was at the end of the complete game, and the Cubs would've lost.
When are they going to reschedule the postponed game with Houston? I can't remember it taking this long to schedule a makeup game. Is there a problem with having it July 12? They also have a postponed game against the Cardinals to make up. Can we expect it to take just as long to reschedule that one?
-- Eric G., Bloomington, Ind.
Major League Baseball, the two teams and the Players Association have to agree on makeup dates. As soon as we get word, we'll post it. There's plenty of time to figure it out.
In 2003, when the Cubs won the division, what was their record in April? How does it compare to the record they put up this year?
-- Ghazaleh S., Santa Barbara, Calif.
In 2003, the Cubs went 14-12 in April, and had a 3.39 ERA. The club hit .259 that month. This April, the Cubs batted .270, and went 10-14 with a 3.60 ERA.
Which manager holds the record for most career ejections, and where does Lou Piniella stand on the list?
-- Andrew P., St. Charles, Ill.
John McGraw holds the record of 131 ejections. Atlanta's Bobby Cox, though, is closing in, and was tossed for the 128th time on Sunday. According to Sports Illustrated's research, Piniella has been tossed 57 times.
I saw a feature about how Carlos Zambrano's arm slot is down this year, and he's finishing across his body instead of toward the plate. It made me wonder, how much film does pitching coach Larry Rothschild watch on pitchers when they're struggling, and, assuming they figure out what is going wrong, how do you even go about trying to get a pitcher to go back to throwing from the same position they used to?
-- Dom N., Savannah, Ga.
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Rothschild watches video constantly. He has a library of DVDs with each player's games. He is well aware of Zambrano's arm slot issues, and so is Zambrano. The problem is, once Big Z takes the mound, he reverts to his old ways. He admitted in his last start that he realized what he was doing wrong during an at-bat to Washington's Ryan Zimmerman, and was able to correct it.
Coaches can talk and talk and talk, but once the player takes the field, it's up to him to do it right. For example, the coaches at Class A Peoria have been working with one pitcher to get him not to throw out of the windup, but instead pitch out of the stretch. Last Tuesday, he entered a game, and what did he do? He threw from the windup.
When will Big Z get to wear his blue alternate jersey again?
-- David C., Broken Arrow, Okla.
For the 4,364,297th time, the Cubs are not using the blue jerseys this year. And Zambrano says he's OK with that.
Derrek Lee is hitting doubles at an incredible rate. What is the Cubs' single-season record for doubles?
-- Nate S., York, Pa.
The single-season record for most doubles by a right-handed batter is 57 by Bill Herman, done twice, 1935 and 1936. The record for most by a lefty is 51, set by Mark Grace in 1995. Lee hit 50 in 2005, which ranks fourth on the team's all-time single season list.
By the way, the record for most doubles in one game is four, done four times, most recently by Matt Murton on Aug. 3, 2006, against Arizona. That also ties a Major League record.
I was at the Cubs-Cardinals games on April 27-28, cheering on the Cubs, and my seats were right next to the Cubs' bullpen. I noticed one of the Cubs pitchers had a pink Strawberry Shortcake backpack. Do you know whose backpack that is, and the significance?
-- Caleb W., St. Louis, Mo.
The backpack is loaded with bullpen essentials, such as gum and candy, and is carried by whoever is the youngest member, which, in the Cubs' situation, is Rocky Cherry.
I know the Cubs have a lot of young players on the team, but who are the true rookies? I'm curious if we have anyone who could be making a run for Rookie of the Year if they have a great season.
-- Chris W., Strum, Wis.
Cherry and Felix Pie are the only rookies now on the Cubs' 25-man roster.
Do the polls on the Cubs' Web site that we vote on affect decisions made by the Cubs?
-- Nathan H., Orlando, Fla.
I know general manager Jim Hendry is a big fan of the Web site, but he hasn't asked for my opinion over the years, so the answer is no.
If I remember correctly, isn't Michael Barrett a free agent after this season? What are the chances the Cubs re-sign him? What other potential replacements -- besides Henry Blanco -- are available in the Minors?
-- Rohan M., Aurora, Ill.
I don't think any contracts will be re-done this season with the team being for sale. As far as Minor League catching prospects, Geovany Soto is having a good year at Triple-A Iowa, batting .302 in 21 games.
Someone recently asked where is Sean Marshall. I want to know where is Marmol? He seemed to have done better than Marshall last year, so what's up with him right now?
-- Jeff B., Hoffman Estates, Ill.
Marmol is with Marshall at Triple-A Iowa, and as of Monday, he was 3-1 with a 3.74 ERA in six starts. He has struck out 39 over 33 2/3 innings, including a 10-strikeout game April 14 against Round Rock. On Sunday, he gave up two runs on four hits over seven innings while fanning nine.
What is the status of former high draft picks Ryan Harvey and Luis Montanez? I don't see either of them on any of the Cubs' Minor League rosters.
-- Nick K., Center Point, Ill.
Harvey had stayed at extended Spring Training, but now is with Class A Daytona and is batting .250 in 10 games with two home runs and four RBIs. Montanez is now with the Baltimore Orioles' Minor League team, the Norfolk Tides, and is hitting .242 in 21 games. You can go to www.minorleaguebaseball.com to check on players.
I've heard a lot of rumors about the Cubs being moved to Las Vegas. I just wanted to know if you heard this rumor, and are the Cubs really moving to Las Vegas or anywhere else?
-- Austin H., Knox, Ill.
Haven't heard that one, but can you imagine the sequin-studded uniforms if Mr. Vegas, Wayne Newton, bought the team?