7/29/2013 8:10 P.M. ET
Confidence growing as Cubs near .500 mark
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- The Cubs are 30-25 since May 26, the fourth-best record in the National League, and they've done that despite losing some key players such as Scott Feldman, Matt Garza and, most recently, Alfonso Soriano. Last year, Chicago lost 101 games. What would it mean to finish .500 this year?
"Well, I mean, it's a number," manager Dale Sveum said. "It's a goal that you want to have, but it's not a goal that we want to have with this organization because I think those kind of things hold things back, too. 'Oh, as long as we get to .500, yipee' -- but you're still going home like everybody else who's not in the playoffs."
The Cubs are coming off a sweep of the defending World Series champion Giants, and a 6-4 West Coast trip.
"We picked up some good pieces," closer Kevin Gregg said. "We were able to get [Matt] Guerrier and Pedro Strop in the bullpen, which is obviously a big help. ... We're coming together as a unit in the bullpen, which has helped. The rotation, I think, was strong right from Day 1, so that wasn't a question.
"It's big to lose Sori, he was a presence in the lineup for us," Gregg said. "But we've got a lot of young talent. You see that in Junior Lake. We're just putting pieces together. We have a lot of talented pieces now [and] it's just how we can put them together."
The West Coast swing definitely helped the mood in the Cubs clubhouse.
"It's more than a road trip," Gregg said. "But that's momentum for us to continue going down the stretch here, continue to play good baseball. Obviously, we played well in that whole road trip. And we've got to go from there, just baby steps."
Determined Arrieta to make Cubs debut Tuesday
CHICAGO -- Jake Arrieta has put the Minor Leagues behind him, and plans on staying with the Cubs after Tuesday's start.
Arrieta, acquired from the Orioles on July 2 in the Scott Feldman deal, will make his Cubs debut in the second game of a doubleheader against the Brewers.
"I think it's a very good change for me," Arrieta said Monday.
He had three stints with the Orioles this season, going 1-2 with a 7.23 ERA in five starts. The right-hander was Baltimore's Opening Day starter in 2012.
"It was almost like a weight off my shoulders, really," he said of the deal. "I felt like I was able to do a lot of good things over there, but there were some things that kept me from being able to do it on a consistent basis. My time there was great, and I wouldn't change it for the world. There came the point where they felt a move needed to be made to better their team and better this team as well.
"I've got a lot to offer," he said. "I feel I'm a guy who can go out there and be a bulldog and pitch deep in games, and I know I can do it on a consistent basis so it's just a matter of finally going out there and doing it."
The problem this season has been not pitching on a consistent schedule. He's shuttled between the big league team and the Minors, and he has been in the bullpen. As he said, his routine was thrown out of whack.
"I need to get out there every five days and continue to battle," he said. "I think my career is as a starter, and I'm going to show I can keep it that way."
Arrieta tuned up for Tuesday's game by pitching for Triple-A Iowa. As of now, he's in the rotation Tuesday, and that's it.
"I think the performance will do the speaking, that will determine whether I stay here or go back to Iowa," he said. "I don't plan on going back. I plan on making it tough for them to decide and just go from there. I just think first and foremost, it's great to be here. First time in Wrigley, and as soon as I walked up those [dugout] steps, I got some chills. It's a park that I've heard about and knew a lot about as a kid. It's just special. I'm thankful for this opportunity."
Lake makes Wrigley debut after sizzling start
CHICAGO -- When Junior Lake arrived at Wrigley Field for his first home game on Monday, his gear was stowed in a prime space. Lake was given Alfonso Soriano's locker in the Cubs' clubhouse.
Lake has been in Chicago before but never played at Wrigley until Monday. The young outfielder opened his stint with the Cubs on fire, with 15 hits in his first 30 at-bats, but is 0-for-13 since an infield single in the sixth last Thursday. Manager Dale Sveum said the Cubs aren't worried.
"No, we're not going to panic over an 0-for-13 [stretch]," Sveum said. "He had to face [Tim] Lincecum, [Madison] Bumgarner and [Matt] Cain, so you're facing Cy Young's and guys that have done a lot of good things in their careers.
"Those are the things that, for a kid like him with the ability that he has, is the experience we talked about," Sveum said. "That's why you want some guys to be here a little bit earlier sometimes to get that taste and see Major League pitching on an everyday basis sometimes and have to make those adjustments."
With the departure of Soriano via trade, Lake has taken over in left field and will start in center against left-handed pitchers. Outfielder Brian Bogusevic is rehabbing in Mesa, Ariz., from a strained left hamstring. Will Lake stay the remainder of the season? Sveum said there's been no discussion about sending Lake back to Triple-A Iowa.
"As far as I'm concerned, he's going to be in there pretty much every day unless I feel he needs a day off," Sveum said.
Trade rumors swirl around Gregg, Schierholtz
CHICAGO -- The Trade Deadline can't come soon enough for the Cubs' Kevin Gregg and Nate Schierholtz. The two have been rumored to be headed elsewhere for most of the month.
Gregg said Monday that he has "no idea" as to what will happen.
"You're going to see a lot of movement over the next couple days, and I'll just wait and see," he said. "And if I happen to see Theo [Epstein, president of baseball operations], I'll just ask him what's going on."
Gregg is checking the transactions wire to see what moves teams make.
"I like to see how organizations think, what they need, what they're willing to give up for certain guys," he said. "It's fun. It's kind of a shuffle -- who's doing what to make that last push."
If he's traded, Gregg said he would consider coming back to the Cubs.
"We'll see where we're at at the end of the year and I'm sure I'll have a conversation with Theo after the year if I do get dealt," Gregg said. "I like it here. I've really enjoyed my time here in Chicago. I like the organization, I like the coaching staff, I like the players. If you're happy with everything, it's a good place for you."
Schierholtz is happy with the Cubs, too, but also an attractive option for a team needing a left-handed bat and solid corner outfielder.
"It's always a good thing, I think, to be in trade rumors or have the possibility to be traded," Schierholtz said of the positive talk, "but like I said, I'm happy here and I want to be part of the future here."
• The Cubs held a moment of silence on Monday for former Cubs pitcher Frank Castillo, who died Sunday in a swimming accident at Bartlett Lake in Arizona. He was 44.
The Cubs drafted Castillo in 1987, and he pitched for the team from 1991-97, compiling a 47-62 record and 4.29 ERA in 166 games (161 starts). He spent last year as a pitching coach for the Cubs' Rookie League team.
• Javier Baez hit two home runs, but it wasn't enough as Double-A Tennessee lost 8-5 to Birmingham on Sunday. He hit a two-run homer in the first and a two-run shot in the ninth. After batting .274 with 17 home runs at Class A Daytona this year, Baez now is batting .232 with 10 home runs with the Double-A Smokies.
• C.J. Edwards had quite a debut Sunday for Class A Daytona. He struck out the first seven batters he faced, and finished with eight strikeouts over five scoreless innings, giving up one hit and walking one in a 2-1 win over Palm Beach. The Cubs acquired Edwards in the Garza deal with the Rangers.
• Brett Jackson, the Cubs' No. 1 pick in the 2009 Draft, has joined the Double-A Tennessee roster. Jackson, 24, began the season at Triple-A Iowa, but has been slowed by a turf toe injury and problems with his right calf. In 61 games with Iowa, he batted .223 (48-for-215) with seven doubles, three triples, six home runs and 23 RBIs. He spent part of the 2010 and '11 seasons with the Smokies.
• Scott Baker, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, gave up two runs, one earned, on three hits and two walks over 3 1/3 innings for Class A Daytona in a rehab start on Monday. Baker struck out two and served up a solo home run in the fourth.
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.