08/04/12 9:07 PM ET
Rizzo takes Rookie of the Month honors in stride
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
"I try to focus on today, focus on my at-bats and my defense in the game," Rizzo said Saturday. "When Oct. 3, or whenever the end of the season comes, I'll look back on it."
Since making his debut June 26, Rizzo entered Saturday second among NL rookies with a .314 average behind the Rockies' Jordan Pacheco (.327), but led in home runs (eight) and RBIs (20).
He's come a long way since last year, when Rizzo batted .141 in 49 games with the Padres. Is he tired of the media asking to compare last year versus this season?
"It's in my head all the time," Rizzo said. "It's hard to get it out of my mind. As much as I try, I think it takes time. It was a big part of my life and it was catastrophic how bad that was. It's just about staying positive and keep going every day."
Rizzo's goal now is to show he can be consistent, improve on the field, at the plate. He's moved on.
"Now it's August, and then September, and hopefully in a few months, we'll be talking about other things," he said.
After bullpen session, Garza feels 'ready to go'
LOS ANGELES -- Cubs pitcher Matt Garza said he expects to start Tuesday against the Padres, which would be his first start since July 21, when he came out of the game with cramping in his right elbow.
Garza (5-7, 3.91 ERA) threw a full bullpen session on Saturday, and the Cubs will wait to see how the right-hander feels on Sunday before saying for sure who will start.
"I'm just champing at the bit and ready to go," Garza said. "Not doing anything for three days didn't set me back but didn't work out too well. Today I felt great, threw a whole bullpen and we'll wake up tomorrow."
Garza was sidelined while with his wife, who gave birth to the couple's fourth child on Tuesday in Chicago. The only issue may be stamina. In his last start, Garza threw 33 pitches before he was pulled.
"Even if he goes [Tuesday], it won't be all that many pitches," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "If he goes, it would be 70 to 80 pitches and depend on the stress level. [His session Saturday] was encouraging."
The Cubs may have a Minor League pitcher waiting in the wings in case Garza isn't ready.
Cubs look for LaHair to return to first-half form
LOS ANGELES -- While Anthony Rizzo had a standout July, Bryan LaHair would like to forget the month. The Cubs outfielder batted .194 with one home run and three RBIs. The home run was his only extra-base hit in July.
"We have to get more production out of that spot and RBIs and more home runs and game-changing hits," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Saturday. "Those are the things we need to get more of to change the game around and get a three-run lead. You have to get home runs and slugging percentage and slugging percentage with guys on base."
LaHair, one of the Cubs' two All-Stars, does believe in visualization. Maybe he thinks too much at the plate?
"I think it's not so much thinking, but trying to guess along with the pitcher or the catcher," Sveum said. "There's times for educational guesses but not every single pitch. You have to stay away from that mind game."
Javier Baez, the Cubs' No. 1 pick in last year's First-Year Player Draft, was promoted from Class A Peoria to high Class A Daytona. The shortstop was batting .333 with 12 homers, 10 doubles, five triples and 33 RBIs, plus 20 stolen bases in 57 games.
He is ranked by MLB.com as the team's No. 2 prospect.
Cubs prospect Rock Shoulders is squaring off against Rougned Odor in the Minors Moniker Madness final as they compete for the best name in all of Minor League Baseball. Odor, 18, is in the Rangers' system and playing for Class A Hickory. The Venezuelan's first name is pronounced "Roo-nyed."
Shoulders was the Cubs' 25th round pick in 2011 and plays for Class A Boise.
"Not to sound cocky, but I think I've already beaten some better ones than that," Shoulders said of facing Odor in the final. "When I was going up against Goose [Kallunki], [the Hawks] played against him in Eugene, and he got on first base. So we were messing around, having some fun with it. I was like, 'We're going to beat you tonight and I'm going to beat you in Minors Moniker Madness.'"
Shoulder's given first name is Roderick, and his nickname came because the mother of one of his childhood friends couldn't say it right. Rock stuck. You can vote for Shoulders at MiLB.com.
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.