03/08/11 7:26 PM EST
Fans applaud Perez's late-game hustle
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
The steal came in the Cubs' ninth inning Monday against the Angels. The game was tied at 13, and Perez walked with one out. He swiped second after several throws to first and eventually scored the game-winning run on Bryan LaHair's single.
"When you have a guy with that kind of skill, you just sit and watch and say, 'When is he going?'" Cubs manager Mike Quade said of the speedy Perez. "He did a nice job handling the moves, and when it was time, there he goes."
But a standing ovation?
"I was going to give him a standing ovation, because at that point, given the nature of the game, it's like, 'My goodness, this is unbelievable,'" Quade said of the Cubs' 14-13 win over the Angels.
The top basestealer on the Cubs last season was Ryan Theriot, with 16. They ranked second-to-last in stolen bases as a team. Perez may change that. On Tuesday, he started in center field against the Rockies, and the plan is to get him plenty of at-bats as the Cubs try to decide if he can fill the role as an extra outfielder.
Russell learning as he transitions to starter
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- James Russell does get a little antsy between starts. The left-hander is still getting used to the concept of starting.
On Saturday, when the Cubs travel to Las Vegas for a split-squad game against the Reds, Russell is scheduled to make his first spring start. He's being considered for one of the two vacancies in the Cubs rotation, but last season he was used strictly in relief. That was the first time in his young career he's only pitched out of the bullpen.
In 2009, Russell was switched from starter to reliever at Double-A Tennessee and then bumped up to Triple-A Iowa to start when the Cubs traded Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio. It was an easy transition.
"It's just pitching," Russell said Tuesday. "I just get to do it more."
2010 Spring Training - Chicago Cubs
News & Features
- Cubs' spring slate includes two games in Vegas
- Rizzo, Jackson headline system on the rise
- Towering homer from Castro leads Cubs
- Cubs ride five-run sixth to victory
- Cubs Beat: April 2
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
On Monday, he made his second appearance this spring, facing the Angels. In his longest outing, he gave up four runs on six hits and struck out two over three innings. It was a learning session. The Angels' Mike Trumbo hit a solo homer off Russell's 0-2 pitch.
"I'm learning as I go," Russell said. "I'm learning which guys not to go in on, obviously."
That was a reference to Trumbo.
"I didn't think he threw the ball as well as he's capable," Cubs manager Mike Quade said of Russell's outing. "His curveball at times was good. He threw a handful of good breaking balls. He got too many balls up for me. It doesn't matter if it's Spring Training or any other time, you get 0-2 on guys and try to come in, you have to get the darn thing in there. He knows that, and he got hurt with a long home run on the one and an extra-base hit on the other one.
"It's a learning process for him. When a breaking ball is so important to a guy, and it is to 'Russ,' this is a tough place [in Arizona]. You throw two great ones and the next four will not be. That's not normally the case when you get out of Arizona."
"I felt really good," Russell said of the outing. "I'm closer. There were just a couple mistakes that came back to bite me in the butt, but overall I felt really good."
What helps is being stretched out. Doesn't he get antsy between outings?
"A little bit," Russell said. "I feel left out, not throwing every other day."
If he can make the rotation, he would be the only lefty.
"I've still got a little bit of fine tuning," he said. "I'll get there and it'll be awesome."
Angel Guzman, rehabbing from right shoulder surgery, threw 20 pitches in a live batting practice session Tuesday and is continuing to make progress. No matter how well he does, he will not pitch in any Cactus League games. ... Jeff Baker will lead off Wednesday, when the Cubs face the Royals and lefty Bruce Chen at HoHoKam Park in Mesa -- in a free, exclusive cubs.com webcast at 2:05 p.m. CT. Baker batted .350 against lefties last year, .106 against right-handers. ... Marlon Byrd, who will be back in the lineup Wednesday, has five multi-hit games out of seven played this spring and was batting .611. ... The Cubs have had 2,954 people apply for the Wrigley Field public address announcer job. They hope to name a new voice by March 25.
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.