08/03/12 11:11 PM ET
Jackson, Vitters in talks as Cubs ponder moves
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Their discussions included outfielder Brett Jackson (the Cubs' No. 1 prospect) and third baseman Josh Vitters (No. 11), who are playing for Triple-A Iowa.
"It's just determining when, and how everything plays out," Sveum said Friday. "Those guys have gotten their development in. Now, it's just a matter of whether we decide to do it this month or wait until September."
Vitters, the Cubs' No. 1 Draft pick in 2007, was batting .300 after 108 games with Iowa with 16 home runs, 31 doubles, two triples and an .857 OPS, while Jackson, the top pick in '09, was hitting .258 in 104 games with 15 home runs, 22 doubles, 12 triples and an .824 OPS.
Jackson also has struck out 154 times. However, the team saw positives when Cubs hitting coach James Rowson saw Jackson in May. At that time, Rowson was the Cubs' Minor League hitting coordinator.
"He was having some punchouts, and then he made some adjustments," Rowson said. "We were working on getting him to focus on controlling his head and driving the ball to the middle of the field. When he got comfortable doing it, it took a few days but he started to come along and cut down on strikeouts and hit some balls hard. He started to get consistent, and then they started pitching him differently and he was a little inconsistent.
"It was a stretch where I saw some adjustments and I actually talked to Dale during that time and told him I thought [Jackson] was making some strides and he looked good at that time."
Now the question is: Would Jackson benefit working with Rowson and Sveum at the big league level -- and facing big league pitching?
"That's the million dollar question -- when do you start the development here?" Sveum said. "There are a certain few people who walk into the big leagues and have success. It usually comes down to who can make the adjustments and who can handle the third deck of the stadium. You have to find out sometime."
When is still to be determined.
"You never know," Rowson said. "[Jackson's] talent speaks for itself and even though you look at the punchouts, he drives it for extra base hits. I know he was really good in spring and probably pressed a little early [in the season], I would say, just in talking to him. I know he pressed a little, he didn't get off to a great start, and was probably pressing and trying to do too much and never really recovered. We'll have to wait and see."
Cubs uncertain when Garza will make next start
LOS ANGELES -- Cubs pitcher Matt Garza's bullpen session was cut short on Friday, and the right-hander will throw again on Saturday, but it was uncertain when he would start.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Tuesday's starter should still be listed as "to be determined."
"It's pushing it," Sveum said about Garza getting back in the rotation on Tuesday for the first time since July 21. "That's still a wait-and-see thing on how he does and recovery."
Garza came out of his last start after three innings with cramping in his right triceps. He could still be put on the disabled list, retroactive to July 22, which would allow the Cubs to call up a pitcher from Triple-A Iowa for Tuesday's game, such as Casey Coleman.
"We'll have somebody waiting in the wings," Sveum said. "We just have to decide who it is."
Garza didn't get much work done this week as he was with his wife, who gave birth to the couple's fourth child, daughter Summer Grace, on Tuesday.
"It felt like I thought I would feel," Garza said of Friday's workout. "I took three days off and didn't do anything. We'll come back and do it again tomorrow."
He was so busy with his family that Garza wasn't paying attention to Tuesday's Trade Deadline. A few teams had considered the right-hander.
"I was knee-deep in wait," Garza said about being with his wife. "Just wait, wait, wait, epidural, hold, wait, wait, hold, time, where are we at? Three o'clock [Central Time] came and I didn't know [the Trade Deadline had passed]. We looked up and [my wife] said, 'Hey, it's 3:05.' I looked to see if anybody had moved.
"I figured I wasn't [going to be traded] just because of the situation and I hadn't thrown for a number of days," Garza said. "If you traded for me, you were kind of getting a blind pick. That's the way people felt. It is what it is, and I'm happy to be where I'm at and happy to still be playing."
He was more optimistic about starting Tuesday.
"I'm going to try to make it," Garza said. "That's my shot, that's my goal right there."
Trades give Volstad another shot in Cubs' rotation
LOS ANGELES -- Chris Volstad will make his 10th start on Saturday for the Cubs, still in search of that elusive win.
Volstad does not have a "W" since July 10, 2011. In 12 starts at Triple-A Iowa, he was 3-5 with a 5.17 ERA and threw eight shutout innings in his last start July 27 against Oklahoma City.
Did Cubs manager Dale Sveum think Volstad was thinking too much about the losing streak?
"It's not not in his head," Sveum said Friday. "I think any human being will always be out there, 'Golly, I've got to do this,' and you start thinking, 'Man, I can't blow this because I have the lead, and I want this win.' Instead of just pitching, you're worrying about another entity that shouldn't be in your head, but I think it's only natural to be in your head."
Volstad hasn't gotten much offensive support as the Cubs have scored one or no runs while he's been on the mound in six of his nine starts. With the loss of Paul Maholm and Ryan Dempster, who were both traded, Volstad is likely in the Cubs' rotation for the rest of the season.
Cubs' monthly Minors honors go to Baez, Raley
LOS ANGELES -- Class A Peoria shortstop Javier Baez and Triple-A Iowa left-handed pitcher Brooks Raley were named the Cubs' Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month for July.
Baez, 19, batted .368 with six doubles, three triples, seven home runs, 20 RBIs and 21 runs scored in 28 July games. The Cubs' No. 2 prospect led the Midwest League in hits (39), total bases (72) and slugging percentage (.679), and was second in extra-base hits (16), batting average, runs scored and OPS (1.076).
Selected by the Cubs in the first round of the 2011 Draft, Baez was hitting .330 with 10 doubles, five triples, 11 home runs, 32 RBIs, 40 runs scored and 19 stolen bases in 56 games for Peoria.
Raley, 24, posted a 2.12 ERA in five July starts for Iowa, walking just 12 while striking out 28 and limiting opponents to a .254 batting average. His 2.12 July ERA ranked fourth lowest among Pacific Coast League pitchers. Raley allowed two or fewer runs in each of his five outings while recording three quality starts and surrendered just two home runs in 132 batters faced.
Raley, selected by the Cubs in the sixth round of the 2009 Draft, has combined to go 6-10 with a 3.58 ERA in 22 starts between Double-A Tennessee and Iowa this season.
Third baseman Christian Villanueva had quite the debut for the Cubs, hitting two home runs for Class A Daytona in his first game Thursday, an 8-2 win. The third baseman also drew a walk. Acquired from the Rangers in the Ryan Dempster deal, Villanueva homered on the third and fourth pitches he saw, according to the Daytona Beach News Journal. Roni Torreyes, acquired in the Sean Marshall trade, hit his sixth home run. He finished with three RBIs.
Jake Brigham, acquired from the Rangers for Geovany Soto, made his debut Thursday and took the loss in Tennessee's 6-1 loss to Pensacola. The right-hander gave up three runs on five hits over three innings. Logan Watkins had two hits, including his fifth home run, and now has 40 RBIs. Watkins broke up a perfect game by Wirfin Obispo with his home run in the fourth.
It was a rough week for the Daytona Cubs organist. Derek Dye, 21, was ejected Wednesday after playing "Three Blind Mice" during a game. After a close call at first base, Dye played a short clip of the nursery rhyme.
"It was the first time we've ever played it," Dye told reporters, "and within about three or four seconds, the home-plate umpire looks at me, points directly at me, and yells, 'You're gone,' as loud as he can. He ejected me, said no more music, no more [public address]."
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.