09/12/12 8:18 PM ET
After injury scare, Rizzo available to pinch-hit in finale
By Clark Goble / MLB.com
Despite a hard, somewhat-acrobatic fall, Rizzo escaped with just a bruised right shoulder. Manager Dale Sveum said Rizzo was available to pinch-hit in Wednesday's series finale.
"He's just sore on the right side," Sveum said. "Everything else checks out good. No head problems. No leg problems. Just a little bit sore on his upper right side. He took some swings in the cage and he was OK."
Sveum said he thought Rizzo was going to be seriously injured after watching the first baseman's 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame hit the ground.
"Even watching the replay, there's a lot of things flying around," Sveum said. "A big body hitting the ground pretty hard. I think we're very fortunate that we got away with that one."
Anthony Recker, normally a catcher, manned first base and batted eighth Wednesday night. He hadn't played first base in the Majors, but logged 27 games at first base in the Minors, 26 of them with Triple-A Sacramento, the A's affiliate.
"He's played there enough," Sveum said. "He'll give us a right-handed bat in the lineup and we'll see what happens."
Sveum decided not to play first baseman Bryan LaHair, who is batting .063 (3-for-48) against left-handed pitching this season. Left-hander Fernando Abad started for the Astros on Wednesday.
Sveum discusses seeing less of Astros in 2013
HOUSTON -- With the Astros switching to the American League in 2013, the Cubs won't be coming to Houston nearly as often in the future.
Manager Dale Sveum said he didn't really think about that consequence of the Astros' move, but he did enjoy coming to Minute Maid Park, especially as a hitting coach.
"It was a nice place to hit," Sveum said. "It's one of those places where at least when you come to the park, you don't have to worry about anything. The elements are going to be the same every day. It's just a nice park."
The Cubs entered Wednesday's game with a 50-52 record at Minute Maid Park since it opened for the 2000 season. All-time, the Cubs are 142-207 in Houston (9-18 at Colt Stadium, 83-137 at the Astrodome), entering Wednesday.
Houston's move to the AL West also had massive ramifications for the 2013 schedule, released Wednesday. Sveum had a chance to check out what the Cubs' next season will look like.
"It's an interesting schedule, no doubt about it," Sveum said.
He voiced the most concern about the Cubs' schedule in April. Chicago starts on the road in Pittsburgh on April 1, followed by a day off on April 2. The Cubs then play 12 games in 12 days before an off-day on April 15, then 15 games in the last 15 days of the month.
"If everybody has to play that many games in 30 days, it's very difficult to get your pitching ready for those kind of innings and those pitch counts that early," Sveum said.
After playing the White Sox six times a year since 1999, the Cubs will only play four games against the Southsiders in 2013, two at U.S. Cellular Field on May 27-28 followed by two at Wrigley Field on May 29-30.
"That's one unique thing that's pretty cool," Sveum said.
Cubs renew contract with Boise Hawks
HOUSTON -- The Cubs renewed their player development contract with the Boise Hawks, the Cubs' short-season Class A affiliate since 2001, through 2014 on Wednesday.
The Hawks have qualified for the playoffs six times in 12 seasons with the Cubs, including the last two years.
"We are so excited that the Cubs have shown their support for the Boise area," said Hawks president/general manager Todd Rahr in a press release. "The loyalty they are showing the Hawks and patience they are giving us to improve the facilities here says a lot for their dedication to player development and to our great city and surrounding area."
The Cubs have sent their top draft pick to Boise in each of the last eight seasons.
The organization hasn't announced if it will renew their player development contract with Class A Daytona and Class A Peoria. Triple-A Iowa has an agreement through 2016 and Double-A Tennessee has one through 2014.
Center fielder Brett Jackson, who missed the last four games with a bruised right knee, was available to pinch-hit on Wednesday. He could be back in the lineup on Friday against Pirates right-hander James McDonald.
"All the swelling has gone down and everything checks out," Sveum said.
The baserunning blunder that cost the Cubs a run in Tuesday's game continues to baffle Sveum. On Wednesday, he reaffirmed that shortstop Starlin Castro wasn't responsible for not scoring on a fly ball before Dave Sappelt was tagged out at third base.
"It's not on [Castro] at all," Sveum said. "You want everybody to maybe sprint 100 percent through home plate, but not when it's a complete no-brainer, where there's no play at home and no play anywhere else. It's a non-play, basically. It's a sacrifice fly deep enough, kind of in the left-center field gap. It's not Starlin's fault for shutting it down five feet in front of home plate."
Sveum said he would talk to Sappelt about the mistake again.
"Some things aren't acceptable," Sveum said. "That's the bottom line."
Clark Goble is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.