05/02/2013 2:17 PM ET
Castro bats fifth, but remains Cubs' two-hole hitter
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Starlin Castro remained in the fifth spot in the Cubs' lineup Thursday, a day after he moved down from the No. 2 hole, but Cubs manager Dale Sveum said the move was more to take advantage of Cody Ransom's numbers against left-handed pitching. Castro is the Cubs' No. 2 hitter.
"I see [Castro] as a two-hole hitter," Sveum said of the Cubs' shortstop, who has a career .303 average batting fifth and a .299 average batting second. "When everything is set correctly, he's really a two-hole hitter. A lot of times you'd like a left-handed hitter there to hook the ball, and right-handed catchers have trouble throwing when a left-handed hitter is in the batter's box.
"On our team right now, he's a two-hole hitter. Obviously, he's a hand-eye coordination guy who will put the ball in play and doesn't walk much, so maybe he's more apt to hit at the bottom or the order because he can hit into some double plays and things like that. For the team we have now, he's the second hitter."
Ransom entered Wednesday's game against Padres lefty Eric Stults 6-for-16 with three home runs against left-handed pitchers, while Castro entered hitting .206 against lefties.
The fifth hole is more of an RBI spot.
"You hope those things happen," Sveum said. "You have to be a little creative sometimes with the lineup. You can't be so vanilla. If someone is hot and hitting home runs off left-handers, you want to make sure he gets three at-bats. It's that extra at-bat you're trying to get for that hot hand."
Garza eyes next rehab outing after Double-A start
CHICAGO -- Cubs pitcher Matt Garza returned to Wrigley Field on Thursday after making his first Minor League rehab start, and said all went well and he's eager for his next game.
Garza, who has been sidelined since mid-February with a strained left lat suffered during a live batting practice session, threw 2 2/3 innings Wednesday for Double-A Tennessee. The right-hander would not give a timetable as to when he might return to the rotation.
"I'm just looking forward to [Minor League rehab start] No. 2," Garza said. "I'm prepping my mind for No. 2."
Garza has not pitched in the big leagues since July 21. He was shut down after 18 starts last season because of right elbow problems and finished the 6-12. The elbow hasn't been an issue this year, though.
"I feel great," Garza said. "I'm glad to be back, sort of. I'm excited for No. 2."
He walked two batters and did not strike anyone out in the Minor League outing, allowing a run on a hit.
"I was glad to throw strikes and glad they were swinging," Garza said. "That's a good sign. I know I had no punchouts, but that means I got a lot of outs with them swinging at the ball, so I threw the ball in the zone a lot, so that's kind of what I was looking for."
The stadium radar gun said Garza's fastball was at 87-90 mph, but the clubhouse staff in Mississippi told the pitcher that it isn't very accurate.
"[Velocity] isn't my concern," Garza said.
He was just happy to pitch. Weather has messed up his schedule lately.
"I seriously felt like I had a black cloud following me from city to city," Garza said. "There was nothing going to stop me from throwing [Wednesday]. It was more like someone left the sprinkler on, and it kept coming."
The Cubs have said they want Garza to make at least three Minor League starts.
"I can't predict when [he'll be back], I'm just going to say I'm looking forward to five days from yesterday," Garza said. "When we get to No. 3 -- and it might even be No. 4 -- when we get to No. 3, we'll make a decision. Right now, I'm looking forward to No. 2."
Feldman credits Navarro for first complete game
CHICAGO -- Scott Feldman threw his first career complete game in Wednesday's 6-2 win against the Padres and gave catcher Dioner Navarro credit for guiding him through the outing.
"I take a lot of pride in what I do behind the plate," Navarro said. "That's why I'm still in the big leagues. My offense hasn't been that good."
Navarro is a career .244 hitter, and his defense has kept him in the big leagues for nine seasons.
"We had a game plan and just went out there and executed," Navarro said. "It didn't take me long to find out what pitch was working. We didn't throw many curveballs, we didn't throw many changeups. We threw a lot of sinkers and cutters, and he worked fast. He was throwing a lot of strikes, and it was a big plus for us."
Feldman gave up three hits -- including a pair of solo homers -- two walks and struck out 12. He had to lobby manager Dale Sveum to let him pitch the ninth after throwing 100 pitches in the first eight innings and he finished with 114.
"I didn't know he didn't have [a complete game]," Navarro said. "To a pitcher, that's the ultimate goal, that's the icing on the cake. My personal goal every day I catch is to throw a shutout. I guess we were on the same page."
• Cubs pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa, on the disabled list with a strained right forearm, threw his second bullpen session Thursday, and the next step could be a rehab outing Sunday with Triple-A Iowa.
"His command and everything was much better," Sveum said. "Everything looked a lot crisper than the other day [in his first bullpen session]."
Fujikawa could start his rehab outing to make sure he gets one inning of work. However, the Cubs do want to have him pitch in relief to get into his normal routine in preparation for his return.
• Cubs third basemen have combined for seven home runs in 27 games, most in the Major Leagues, and more than half of what they hit in 2012. Luis Valbuena has hit five, and Cody Ransom had two as a third baseman entering Thursday's game against the Padres. Last season, Cubs third basemen combined to hit 12 home runs.
• If you're coming to next Wednesday's Cubs-Cardinals game at Wrigley Field, wear pink. It will be the first Cubs Charities "Pink Out," presented by Advocate Health Care, to promote breast cancer awareness. Fans sitting in the Budweiser Bleachers will receive pink hats, which will be handed out at the gate by the wives of Cubs coaches and players.
All fans in attendance that day are encouraged not only to wear pink, but also participate in the Chicago Cubs Charities 50/50 Raffle. Proceeds will benefit mammograms for under/uninsured women through Advocate Healthcare.
The Cubs and Advocate Health Care will honor breast cancer survivors by having them throw out the first pitch, sing the National Anthem and during the seventh-inning stretch.
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.