09/05/11 6:45 PM ET
Cubs finalizing plans on Dominican academy
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
"It is going to be something special," said player development director Oneri Fleita. "I hope guys like Starlin Castro, Carlos Marmol, and all our guys can call it home -- a place they want to train at in the winter.
"It'll be a place they can go and tell our young players and players soon to be Cubs down the road where we once were and where they are today -- and how proud they should be to be Cubs and be part of everything that [chairman] Tom [Ricketts] and his family are providing," Fleita said. "Their support has been energizing -- the word's probably invigorating. It's exciting."
The current academy can house 60 players in cramped quarters, and they have two fields to practice on. The new facility will handle 100 players and have four fields, plus batting cages.
"The place will be very similar to what we see in Spring Training," Fleita said. "We hope it's a place we can say is home and feels like home -- it feels like Chicago in the Dominican."
Cubs activate Cashner from 60-day DL
CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Mike Quade sounded as if he expected to see Andrew Cashner waiting outside Wrigley Field on Monday for someone to open the door.
"I figured he got off the mound in Iowa last night, and got in his car and drove here as quick as possible," Quade said.
Instead, Cashner caught an early morning flight from Des Moines to Chicago on Monday, and was activated from the disabled list. Finally.
"The velocity was there, and I'm really pleased with the way everything has gone," Cashner said. "No pain, and I feel like I'm 100 percent and ready to roll."
He made his last rehab appearance on Sunday for Triple-A Iowa, throwing 12 pitches (seven strikes) in one inning and striking out one. In three appearances for Double-A Tennessee, he gave up two runs on three hits and did not walk a batter, while striking out six over 2 2/3 innings. All of the runs came in his first outing. In two outings at Iowa, he did not allow a baserunner in two innings, and finished with two strikeouts.
"His pilgrimage is over," Quade said.
"I threw the ball well," Cashner said. "The main thing I wanted to work on was my fastball command down there. It's there, right now, so I'm feeling good and have a lot of confidence now. And [I'm] throwing good breaking balls and changeups. Everything's been good."
Cashner has been on the DL since April 6 with a strained right rotator cuff. Will he be a starter or reliever in 2012?
"I have no idea," Quade said. "There's a new general manager that needs to be hired, there's too many variables, medical issues. I'd love to see him be a starter. Prudent decisions involving him, right now, and his health have a lot to do with it -- and the rigors of starting versus coming out of the pen."
For the final 21 games, Cashner will be used as a reliever. He will pitch in the Arizona Fall League, which starts Oct. 4, and was expected to start then.
The Cubs were expected to add more players from Iowa, after it wrapped up the regular season on Monday. The Des Moines Register reported on Monday that pitcher John Gaub, infielder DJ LeMahieu and outfielder Lou Montanez were to be added to the big league roster.
Gaub was acquired from the Indians in the Mark DeRosa deal on Dec. 31, 2008, and has never pitched in the big leagues. LeMahieu, a second-round pick in 2009, and Montanez, who was the Cubs' first-round selection in 2000, were both called up during the season. LeMahieu batted .243 in 23 games, while Montanez hit .239 in 25 games.
Mechanics at heart of Marmol's problems
CHICAGO -- Carlos Marmol leads the National League in blown saves with nine, not a statistic he'd like to be No. 1 in.
Marmol's latest blown save was on Saturday, when he served up Derrek Lee's grand slam in the Pirates' 7-5 win over the Cubs. He's still the team's closer, and came through on Monday, throwing nine pitches -- including seven strikes -- in the ninth to preserve the Cubs' 4-3 win over the Reds.
"We need Marmol to be who he is and who we've seen," Cubs manager Mike Quade said Monday. "I'm not the kind of person who bails on a guy because he's going through a rough stretch. Part of that is on him to work and figure things out."
The issue is mechanics. When Marmol is out of whack, it shows.
"The quality of the slider is the thing that's lacking, right now," Quade said. "He's been more inconsistent with that pitch than in the past. You can't look past that when he's right, how dominant he is. It hasn't been a great year for him. But we need that dominant guy at the end of the game -- and he still should be that guy."
Marmol's previous season high for blown saves was five, set last season when he saved 38 games. He now has 31 saves in 40 opportunities.
Could Quade consider Kerry Wood or Sean Marshall for the role?
"As good as both of those guys have been, when Marmol's right, nobody here has eclipsed how dominant he is late in the game and nobody has handled it as well," Quade said. "We've just got to get him right, that's all."
Baker not sure why Chicago hasn't won
CHICAGO -- Jim Hendry, who hired and then fired Dusty Baker as the Cubs' manager, is gone after he was dismissed on Aug. 19. The Cubs are searching for a new GM and Baker -- who led the team to winning records in two of his four seasons, including the National League Central title in 2003 -- was asked if it's tough to win in Chicago.
"You ask me this question all the time," Baker said to Chicago writers on Monday in the visitor's clubhouse before his Reds were to face the Cubs in the first of a three-game series. "I've got the same answer. I don't know why. I tried to tell them. They ran me out of town.
"I wasn't there that long, really -- four years. They keep reminding you of the 100 years [since winning a World Series]. That's a pretty short time period to try and change things around. And that's not easy."
Baker wouldn't offer any advice to the next GM. His Reds are in the same division as the Cubs.
"I can't give them any advice on how to beat me," he said. "I had answers when I was here. They didn't listen to me."
Jackson to play for Team USA
CHICAGO -- Instead of playing in the Arizona Fall League, Cubs prospect Brett Jackson will play for Team USA in the World Cup and Pan American Games.
Team USA was expected to make an official announcement on Tuesday.
"They called and invited me," Jackson told the Des Moines Register. "I played last year. It was one of the better experiences I've had. To wear your country's uniform and play for the United States of America, there's not a better feeling."
Jackson, the Cubs' No. 1 pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, said the team backed his decision.
"They were all for it," Jackson said. "I get to play for a cause and go down to the World Cup and do some damage, and then do the Pan American Games, also."
The Baseball World Cup will be played Oct. 1-15 in Panama, and the Pan American Games are scheduled for Oct. 19-25 in Mexico.
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.