04/26/11 1:44 AM ET
Baker subs for Ramirez, who gets day of rest
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
"Ramy needs a day -- I think he needs a day," Quade said. "I could've given it to him [Sunday], but I thought [Sunday] was a more offensive conducive day. It's a good thing when you have a guy playing so well like [Jeff Baker] is, it makes it a lot easier."
Baker subbed at third and the cleanup spot in the lineup against the Rockies on Monday. He's batting .361 overall, but has gotten most of his at-bats against lefties, hitting .455 (10-for-22). Against right-handers, Baker is batting .214 (3-for-14).
"I'm prepared to hit either one," Baker said of lefties vs. righties. "Obviously, I've had the majority of my at-bats against lefties, but you can get in a groove against righties."
He didn't want to face only right-handers in batting practice. That didn't matter, he said.
"In Colorado [last weekend], we had guys who threw left-handed [in batting practice], but that doesn't matter," he said. "It's more just about having a good approach and sticking with the approach, basically."
Baker doesn't have an edge against Rockies starter Esmil Rogers either. He's never faced him.
"I don't care," Baker said. "I just want to play. It's that simple."
Quade said he wants Ramirez to be fresh for the upcoming West Coast trip to Arizona and Los Angeles. Ramirez has reached base safely in the first 21 games and, according to Elias Sports Bureau, he's one of three players to reach via a hit, walk or hit by pitch in each of his team's games this season. Milwaukee's Ryan Braun and Cincinnati's Joey Votto also have done so.
Ramirez's streak is the longest by a Cubs player since 2007, when Derrek Lee reached safely in each of the first 32 games of the season. Alfonso Soriano reached base safely in his first 31 games of '07 but missed time because of a strained hamstring.
Castro commits three errors in second inning
CHICAGO -- It was raining, cold and windy during the Cubs' 5-3 loss to the Rockies at Wrigley Field on Monday, and Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki knew how tough the conditions were. He was not surprised by Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro's rough three-error second inning.
"I'll be the first one to say, especially with the weather conditions, it could've easily happened to me," Tulowitzki said.
The Cubs had taken a 3-0 lead in the first, and Tulowitzki led off the Rockies' second with a grounder to Castro, who had trouble picking up the ball. That was error No. 1. One out later, Seth Smith singled and then Jose Lopez hit a grounder to Castro, who picked up the ball but dropped it as he tried to make a throw. Tulowitzki scored on that misplay.
Chris Iannetta then bounced the ball to Castro, who threw wildly to second, allowing two more runs to score on error No. 3 to tie the game at 3.
"The first one, I thought, was a ball he didn't glove well," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "The second two were throws -- the ball's wet and we've got to get the ball to the right place. He's going to learn to play in tougher fields than this, and maybe you have to take a little extra time.
"If you're in a hurry with a wet pig, you're in trouble. You take a minute and maybe you don't turn a double play and you get one. They don't have weather like this in the Dominican very often, so it's another learning experience. We have to get better. I've been saying that and it's got to happen."
It's the second time Castro has made three errors in one game, and first time this year. He also did so last May 10 against the Marlins in his first game at Wrigley Field. Castro had made his Major League debut three days earlier in Cincinnati.
The youngest player in the Major Leagues at 21, Castro didn't make any excuses.
"I caught the ball and it was kind of wet," Castro said. "I tried to make the play. It's one of those things."
"Those balls were really wet," Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney said. "The wind was blowing and the rain's coming down sideways. [Castro] made the plays after that and showed some maturity there."
This was the first time a Cubs player made three errors in a single inning since Jamie Navarro was charged with three in the third inning Aug. 18, 1996, against the Astros.
The fans who braved the nasty weather gave a sarcastic cheer when Castro fielded Esmil Rogers' grounder and cleanly threw him out for the second out in the second.
"We talk about learning experiences as far as dealing with the conditions or playing in Chicago or anything else," Quade said. "You hear [the boos], but he'll deal with it and he'll deal with it fine.
"Most of his things to me are experience and fundamentals. He's working like a son of a gun. It's unfortunate that it's all in one inning. You make a mistake here, you make a mistake there, you want to clean it up, but when they come in twos and threes, that's a tough deal.
"We have to continue to understand the offense is great and all the rest of it is good stuff, but if you can't catch it, you can't win."
Castro, in the three-hole for the fourth game, went 0-for-5 and is batting .357. He ranks among the National League leaders in batting average, hits, and multi-hit games.
"It's one of those things that happens," Tulowitzki said. "You kind of have to throw it away and start over tomorrow. He's pretty confident in his ability. I don't think it's going to affect him."
Weather fickle, but pitching is issue for Cubs
CHICAGO -- The Cubs entered Monday's game with the dubious distinction of going 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9 and 10-10.
A win Monday over the Rockies, and they would continue to extend the odd Major League record and be 11-11. The Cubs are the only Major League team to have neither a winning streak or a losing streak longer than two games this year.
"Hanging around is what we're doing right now," Cubs manager Mike Quade said Monday. "I'd like not to be hanging around, I'd like to be five or six over [.500]. I think I understand the reasons we're not. Weather may play a little into that."
Mother Nature has not cooperated. The average game-time temperature at Wrigley Field has been 47 degrees. But you can't blame nature for everything. The Cubs are batting .282, second best in the Majors behind the Cardinals. But their .243 average with runners in scoring position ranks 11th in the National League.
"We've put the ball in play and we've hit the ball well," Quade said. "We haven't driven the ball, we haven't driven the ball out of the ballpark the way I think we're going to. Does the weather have something to do with that? Sure.
"It still goes back to getting our pitching straightened out, and I'm convinced of that and I'm convinced we will, and that isn't necessarily weather related. The quicker we get [Ryan Dempster] and [Carlos Zambrano] and [Matt] Garza on track and the quicker we get these kids back ... and maybe that will happen when the weather warms, and what a coincidence that will be."
The Cubs have five quality starts, fewest in the Majors, and have had to scramble to find two starters when Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells both went on the disabled list at the same time. There is no timetable for their return.
Catching instructor gets down to business
CHICAGO -- Cubs roving catching instructor Marty Pevey didn't waste any time. Almost as soon as he joined the big league team, he mentioned to manager Mike Quade that Geovany Soto needed to work on his footwork.
"That's what [Pevey] does, and that's what he needs to do," Quade said. "He takes great pride in that."
On Monday, Soto and catcher Koyie Hill both got some early work with Pevey, who developed a good working relationship with the catchers in Spring Training. One of the reasons they want Pevey here is for "maintenance," Quade said.
"You've got Soto, who can use the maintenance and get better throwing, and you've got [Hill], who needs the work because he catches once a week or whatever," Quade said. "There's reasons for both of those guys to get work.
"[Pevey] will be a regular visitor, once a month. If we're going through a tough time and something gets off, I'll pick up the phone and call him."
First baseman Carlos Pena has a career .217 average in the first month of the season, so his slow start is not unusual. "I have liked his at-bats better, particularly against right-handed pitching," Cubs manager Mike Quade said Monday. "You don't make excuses, but it's tough when you're trying to get someone going, and a lot of times it can be tough in April in Chicago. As good a kid as he is and as much as they understand this [weather] is part of the deal, that can weigh on you, too." Last year, Pena batted .247 in the first month with five homers and 22 RBIs.
Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells, both on the disabled list, will be re-examined Wednesday by team orthopedic specialist Dr. Stephen Gryzlo. Cashner has a strained right rotator cuff, Wells has a strained right forearm. "I'm just happy all the progress has been good," Quade said. "We want them back quick, but we want them back right."
Quade on closer Carlos Marmol: "His delivery is very deceptive. ... Ultimately, you go back to the slider. If you have his slider and you're throwing 88 [mph], hitters can sit and they'll have a better chance to succeed, but when they have to respect a 94, 95 mile an hour fastball as well, that's a tough deal."
Quade, Justin Berg and James Russell were among the Cubs in attendance at Sunday's Blackhawks NHL playoff game.
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.