06/18/12 1:49 AM ET
Left-handers a puzzle for Cubs' offense
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Following a 7-4 loss to Boston on Sunday night, Chicago is 3-15 against left-handed starters. Cubs hitters began the day batting .224 against southpaws, third lowest in the National League.
"It's almost a fluke," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Coming into the season, I thought that would be one of our strong points."
He thought that because of players like Jeff Baker, who batted .314 against lefties last season but is hitting .244 this year.
"It's not that they're doing horrible, but we're not getting the slugging percentage at all against left-handed pitching which is holding us back from scoring multiple runs in an inning," Sveum said.
On Saturday against Boston lefty Jon Lester, the only player to do damage was the only lefty in the lineup, Luis Valbuena, who hit a three-run homer.
Has Sveum considered using more lefties against lefties?
"Our left-handers aren't doing anything on a consistent basis to warrant that," Sveum said. "We're getting our hits, we're just not scoring runs."
Soto expected to come off DL on Monday
CHICAGO -- Geovany Soto was hitless in four at-bats on Sunday with Triple-A Iowa, but the Cubs catcher most likely will be activated Monday from the disabled list.
Soto, who has not played since May 17 after undersgoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus, went 3-for-16 in five rehab games in the Minor Leagues.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Sunday they may carry three catchers, keeping Soto, Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo when Soto is activated.
"It's still to be determined but it's a possibility for a little bit that we might do [carry three] because Clevenger is so versatile," Sveum said of the left-handed hitter, who can play first base if needed.
Soto was scheduled to play nine innings Saturday but did not because of wet grounds.
Alfonso Soriano will be the designated hitter for the next three Interleague games against the White Sox. It's a role he thrived in last weekend in Minneapolis, going 6-for-13 with three home runs against the Twins.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum is in favor of keeping the DH role.
"It's nice for fans to be able to see their heroes for another five or six years being able to DH," he said, citing players like Paul Molitor and Edgar Martinez.
The White Sox swept the Cubs at Wrigley Field in their earlier meeting in May and are in first place in the American League Central.
"They're obviously doing a nice job over there," Sveum said. "We're worried about day in and day out with us and winning ballgames every single day, no matter who we're playing. We know there will be a different atmosphere when we play the White Sox [on Monday], especially after getting swept here.
"Hopefully, we come out and prove we're capable of competing with a first-place team," he said. "We seem to have played a little better with those teams over the course of the year -- the Braves and Dodgers and even the Tigers. We just have to play good baseball, that's the bottom line."
Catcher Koyie Hill did not accept his outright to Triple-A Iowa and has become a free agent. Hill was acquired from the Reds for cash considerations on May 19 after the Cubs lost three catchers to injuries. In 11 games, he hit .179 with one RBI. He was playing at the Reds' Double-A Pensacola team when acquired. He was designated for assignment on Thursday.
Cubs top prospect Anthony Rizzo hit his 23rd home run on Sunday for Triple-A Iowa. He leads the Pacific Coast League.
"Rizzo's unbelievable," Cubs infielder Luis Valbuena said. "I've never seen a guy hit like that."
What did Sveum's son, Rustin, give him for Father's Day?
"He shagged," Sveum said of his son, who helped out during batting practice.
Sounds like a baseball family. Reed Johnson's wife, Taryn, went a step further. She bought a brick paver to be included in the sidewalk outside of Wrigley Field, and had it engraved: "Reed C. Johnson, Forever A Cub! Tyce & Jordyn." Tyce and Jordyn are the Johnson's two children.
"That's the nicest Father's Day gift I got," Johnson said.
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.