05/18/12 7:55 PM ET
Soto has meniscus tear, to miss three weeks
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Soto was scratched from Thursday's lineup against the Phillies because of inflammation in his knee.
Steve Clevenger, the Cubs' backup catcher, is already on the disabled list with a rib-cage injury and was to start taking batting practice on Saturday or Sunday. He was ahead of schedule in his rehab, but wasn't expected to be ready until next weekend.
Welington Castillo, who opened the year at Triple-A Iowa, will take over for now. On Thursday, he went 2-for-4, hitting a solo homer and a three-run double for a career-high four RBIs.
Soto said he had some discomfort when he woke up Thursday. He was hitting .161 with three home runs and six RBIs this season and has started 27 of the Cubs' 37 games. Although his batting average is low, he's shown some improvement. He hit .127 in April and was batting .211 in May.
Infielder Darwin Barney was the emergency backup catcher on Friday for the Cubs' Interleague series against the White Sox. However, the Cubs made a roster move prior to the game and selected the contract of catcher Blake Lalli from Triple-A Iowa. Pitcher Chris Volstad was optioned to Iowa to make room on the 25-man roster.
Lalli made his Major League debut on Friday when he entered the game as a defensive replacement in the ninth.
Sveum ejected after arguing call at second
CHICAGO -- Manager Dale Sveum knew he could expect some intensity between the Cubs and White Sox in their intracity Interleague games, and he showed some himself in the fifth inning of the Cubs' 3-2 loss on Friday when he was ejected for arguing a call at second.
David DeJesus singled with one out in the fifth and tried to stretch his hit. But Dayan Viciedo's throw to second baseman Gordon Beckham was in time. DeJesus and Beckham collided at second, with the White Sox infielder tumbling into the baserunner. DeJesus was called safe by third-base umpire Marty Foster, but then called out as Beckham knocked him off the bag. Sveum argued about the collision and was tossed by Foster.
"As far as I know, you can't shove people off the base, otherwise, everybody would be doing it all the time," Sveum said. "We lost a guy on second base and a potential guy in scoring position, and it was a big play at that part of the game."
Sveum didn't offer Foster's explanation.
"I'll just keep that between us," Sveum said.
DeJesus said it was the first time he was pushed off the bag.
"Those situations don't happen too often," DeJesus said.
Foster didn't say much to DeJesus.
"He said I kind of bounced off the base or something like that when [Beckham] barreled me, so I couldn't do anything about it," DeJesus said. "I didn't know what to do. Dave [McKay, first-base coach] was telling me to stay on the base, and the umpire was saying I was out, so I was staying on the base. I want to see the replay. It probably looked pretty funny."
For Sveum, it was bad timing. Friday's game was Kerry Wood's last, and instead of handing the ball to Wood in the eighth inning, the Cubs' manager was in the clubhouse.
"I wish I could've been the one who took him out of the game and made that decision," Sveum said. "I wish I would've thought about that before I got carried away -- I did afterword. I was like, 'Man, I'm going to miss this.'"
It's the second time Sveum has been ejected this season.
The two teams were issued a warning by home-plate umpire Tim Timmons in the fourth after White Sox starter Philip Humber threw behind Bryan LaHair to open the fourth. Humber's throw came after Jeff Samardzija hit Paul Konerko with a pitch above the left eye.
"Are you expecting retaliation and somebody throwing at somebody else's head? No," Sveum said. "Unfortunately, you're not expecting any retaliation after somebody gets hit by a split-finger fastball. We're obviously not trying to hit Paul with any kind of pitch like that.
"If there's retaliation, you'd appreciate it if the guy throws a little lower than he did," Sveum said. "He didn't. Those are incidents that happen in baseball. I hope Paul's all right. He's a friend of mine. I play golf with him and spend some time with him. Hopefully, it's no big deal."
LaHair expected to get plunked, but didn't think the White Sox would throw at his head.
"Any time a player like Konerko gets hit, it doesn't matter where he gets hit, there's always going to be some retalitation," LaHair said. "Hit me, just don't hit me in the head. They didn't, they missed, so it was good for me."
Cubs option Volstad to Triple-A Iowa
CHICAGO -- Chris Volstad, winless in his past 19 starts, was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Friday in hopes that the right-hander can get his confidence back.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum met Friday with Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, general manager Jed Hoyer and pitching coach Chris Bosio to discuss Volstad's future after his outing Thursday.
The right-hander is 0-6 after a loss to the Phillies and winless in his last 19 starts, dating back to last July. On Thursday, he gave up four runs on six hits over two innings. It was his shortest outing since Aug. 28, 2009, when he lasted 1 2/3 innings against the Padres.
"I'm not going to say it's a small thing," Sveum said. "There's more to it than that. The easiest thing is it's probably a confidence factor. We all saw the confidence he showed in Spring Training and the dominance he had there with the location and the movement he had on the sinker and using the sinker in Spring Training. It's a lot more confidence than mechanics than anything like that."
Volstad, acquired from the Marlins for Carlos Zambrano, had one option left. He will start for Iowa. The Cubs added catcher Blake Lalli from Iowa on Friday, selecting his contract, and the 40-man roster now is at 40.
Lalli, 29, has a .298 career batting average in the Minor Leagues. He also can help in a pinch out of the bullpen. He's made 18 career relief appearances, going 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA.
A left-handed batter, Lalli was a non-roster invitee to Major League Spring Training for the second time this year. He made his Major League debut on Friday, entering the game defensively in the ninth.
Travis Wood, acquired this offseason from the Reds in the Sean Marshall deal, picked up a win Thursday for Triple-A Iowa, giving up two runs on five hits over seven innings. Wood will fill Volstad's spot Tuesday against the Astros in Houston.
The Cubs are short-handed at catcher because of Geovany Soto's knee injury. Lalli is the fourth catcher to be used this season. Backup Steve Clevenger is on the disabled list with a rib-cage injury. Welington Castillo started Friday.
Sveum no stranger to intense rivalries
CHICAGO -- Dale Sveum has been a part of intense rivalries, participating in the Red Sox-Yankees series as a player and a coach. This weekend will be his first exposure to the Crosstown Showdown between the Cubs and White Sox.
"You don't want to say it's different than any other game, but they are, that's the way it is," Sveum said of the Interleague matchup.
The Cubs play host to the White Sox at Wrigley Field for three games, starting Friday, and the two teams will meet again at U.S. Cellular Field from June 18-20.
"Everything's more magnified -- the fans are into it, they're going to stay longer," Sveum said. "It's a whole different atmosphere than any other game. It's like being in the playoffs but you're not.
"To me, you feel like it's Christmas morning. You can't wait until that morning comes. I think you get up earlier. It's different, and it's not just any other 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.