5/27/2013 7:47 P.M. ET
On-base percentage a glaring weakness for Cubs
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- The Cubs rank 12th in the National League in on-base percentage, while the Reds and Cardinals are Nos. 1-2. That, manager Dale Sveum said, has a lot to do with why the Reds and Cardinals are at the top of the NL Central.
It's something the Cubs want to improve upon.
"Sometimes you have hitters who walk, and sometimes you don't," Sveum said. "It's hard to make people into people who walk. For younger guys, it comes with maturity, with at-bats. With our older guys, [Nate] Schierholtz and [David] DeJesus, they do take their walks. Other people have track records of just not walking. You're not going to change the media guide. That's just the way it is."
What can they do?
"If you had a magic potion for this, everything would be hunky dory," Sveum said.
"It's something we have to fix, that's for sure," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "You can look at the component numbers of this team, and we're far better than the record indicates. For me, it comes down to a lack of on-base percentage. We don't get on base enough, we don't walk enough. Our OPS looks good, our slugging percentage looks good. The most important part of OPS is on-base percentage, and that part of the equation is something we're not doing. You don't see a lot of multi-run homers. We struggle to put a long inning together."
Hoyer said he and Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, feel they need to get on base and grind out at-bats.
"We won't be successful until we do," Hoyer said.
Fujikawa returns to DL with right forearm strain
CHICAGO -- Cubs reliever Kyuji Fujikawa was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right forearm on Monday for the second time this season.
The right-hander, who was on the DL from April 13 to May 10 with the same problem, had to leave Sunday's game in the ninth inning. He said after the game the pain was similar to what put him on the disabled list earlier this season. Sunday was his seventh appearance since coming off the disabled list.
"We're cautiously optimistic that it's going to be the same thing he had before," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "We'll find out more tomorrow."
Fujikawa will undergo an MRI on Tuesday.
The Cubs' game against the Reds was tied at 4 when Cincinnati had two on and two outs in the ninth against Fujikawa. The right-hander said he felt some soreness on the first pitch to Joey Votto, who drew a walk.
Athletic trainer Ed Halbur then went to the mound, and Fujikawa was removed from the game. Kevin Gregg got Brandon Phillips to fly out and end the inning and also pitched the 10th, picking up the win in the Cubs' 5-4 victory.
Fujikawa has a 5.25 ERA in 12 games this season, giving up seven runs over 12 innings.
The Cubs' bullpen is already short-handed with Shawn Camp on the disabled list because of a foot injury.
Cubs claim reliever Burnett to replace Fujikawa
CHICAGO -- The Cubs claimed right-handed reliever Alex Burnett from the Orioles on Monday, and he was expected to join the team Monday to replace Kyuji Fujikawa, who was placed on the disabled list with a strained right forearm.
Burnett, 25, had appeared in two games with the Orioles this season, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks over 1 1/3 innings.
"Alex had a solid season last year with Minnesota," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "Given Fuji's injury, we felt it was the right thing to do and the right time."
Cubs manager Dale Sveum remembered Burnett after facing him when he was with the Twins.
"He has a pretty good arm, 93, 95 [mph], good run on his fastball," Sveum said. "He has the ability to throw a strike, breaking ball at any time. Not a lot of secondary stuff, but pretty decent velocity with pretty good movement on his fastball."
The Cubs' bullpen has already lost Shawn Camp, on the disabled list with a sprained right big toe, and now Fujikawa.
"Things were obviously lining up and going good," Sveum said. "We'll make do somehow."
Burnett made a career-high 67 relief appearances for the Twins last season, going 4-4 with 10 holds and a 3.52 ERA. He led the club in relief innings, and his 2.49 ERA prior to the All-Star break ranked fourth among American League relievers.
This season, Burnett was 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in nine Minor League relief appearances between Triple-A Buffalo and Triple-A Norfolk. He made two relief appearances for Baltimore this month before he was designated for assignment on May 23.
Cubs ready to move on from Garza-Cueto incident
CHICAGO -- Told that Reds manager Dusty Baker thought Johnny Cueto and Cubs pitcher Matt Garza should fight each other to settle their differences, Alfonso Soriano joked that he'd like to be the judge.
"Garza would win all three rounds," Soriano said, laughing.
The Cubs did their best Monday to downplay comments Garza made about Cueto, who threw a pitch over David DeJesus' head in Chicago's 5-4 win Sunday. Cueto had appeared to take exception to DeJesus stepping out of the batter's box in the first. In the sixth, DeJesus did it again, and Cueto threw a ball over DeJesus' head. Home-plate umpire Bob Davidson issued a warning to both benches.
Garza took exception to Cueto's actions and called it "total immaturity." The Cubs' pitcher wanted to make sure Cueto got his message.
"If the game was played that way, I don't like it like that," Garza said Sunday. "You don't go intently and try to injure somebody. Hopefully the league looks at that. I don't want him to get suspended or anything. I just want him to learn a lesson. Hopefully, his players will warn him. It is what it is, they run their own show. We'll see him again down the line."
On Monday, Cubs manager Dale Sveum tried to dismiss the matter.
"I don't have much to say about that," Sveum said. "Yesterday is over with. It's people's prerogative to make a big thing out of something that was no big thing at all. Those are their comments. I've got nothing to really comment on something that's over with."
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said he appreciated Garza's "fire" and support of his teammates.
"I think it comes from a good place with Matt," Hoyer said. "I think he's trying to support his teammate, but I think that's where it ends and we should let it lie."
DeJesus flied out to right in the at-bat and was laughing as he ran off the field, but that's because he was looking at the Reds' Todd Frazier, who is a friend of his.
"I'm not really worried about it," DeJesus said. "It's great to have guys who back you, your own teammates. You want your teammates behind you, like Garza, who's a great guy to have. I don't think this needs to get blown out of proportion. It gave us a spark that we needed yesterday. We were able to come back and win a big game. We come into this series feeling fresh and feeling positive. I think that's how we need to go. That's over with, that's done with and let's move forward."
What about Baker's comments that Garza and Cueto should duke it out?
"That's not a way to do it either," DeJesus said. "It is what it is now, and hopefully it's over with, and let's just move on. It's not worth putting any more oil in the fire."
There is no history between Cueto and DeJesus, who is very deliberate at the plate.
"I do the same thing every at-bat, so it's not like I'm doing it just against him," DeJesus said. "I have no problem with him, I respect his game, I respect him as a player."
Soriano knows Cueto well but didn't think the pitch was mean-spirited.
"I think Cueto was joking around with him because he takes time getting in the box," Soriano said. "If [Cueto] wanted to hit him, he'd hit him because he has good control. Cueto likes to pitch real quick, and DeJesus is different, he takes his time at home plate."
• Catcher Steve Clevenger, on the disabled list with a left oblique strain, has been playing games in Mesa, Ariz., at the Cubs' facility.
"He's been abusing some of our guys when he's playing in intrasquad [games]," Hoyer said Monday.
Camp, on the disabled list with a sprained right big toe, is still resting and not ready to resume baseball activities.
• Edwin Jackson is one of 171 players to have played for both the Cubs and White Sox. He'll start against the White Sox on Tuesday. What kind of reception does he expect?
"Time will tell," Jackson said. "Either way, it'll be a lot of fun."
Jackson has played for eight different teams. He couldn't recall ever being booed when he returns.
"Have I been booed? Maybe," he said. "You go out there and you're kind of in a bubble. It's short-term memory, I really don't remember. There's nothing that sticks out in my mind.
"If they do boo, then they boo. If a boo changes your game, then you probably don't need to be on the field anyway."
• Sveum's father, George, was a Marine, and the Cubs' manager honors him with three of his five tattoos. The message is something his father used to say: "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is just an option." Sveum's father lost a battle with cancer in 1992.
Memorial Day is special to Sveum.
"It's one of the bigger holidays we have in the country," Sveum said. "To take a day and remember what people sacrificed for the things we get to do out here, and guys get paid a lot of money to play a game. It is a really special day. Besides Christmas, I think it's the biggest holiday."
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.