8/12/2013 7:55 P.M. ET
Sveum preaches patience for young Cubs batters
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- The Cubs' batters are showing a lot of patience at the plate lately.
Since the All-Star break, the Cubs rank second in the National League and fourth in the Major Leagues with 84 walks. So far, the team is averaging 3.5 walks per game after averaging 2.6 walks per game prior to the All-Star break.
"Give them credit," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of his hitters. "We've seen plenty of pitches this year. It's what we've done when we've got to the 3-1 and 3-2 counts that has put us in jeopardy of bigger innings. Lately, we've been pretty good at laying off the bad pitches in those counts."
The Cubs haven't been consistent at the plate, batting .225 with runners in scoring position, lowest in the Major Leagues.
Sveum and hitting coach James Rowdon have encouraged better pitch selection.
"It's not a mystery that walks come with experience and at-bats in the big leagues for guys who want to take that extra step in their game," Sveum said. "There are some guys who don't take that extra step. When an offense starts rolling, it's when you start winning games just because you're taking those 3-2 walks and not swinging out of the zone trying to be, if you want to call it selfish, or whatever.
"We have to be more prepared and preach it and guys feed off it and everybody starts talking about it, and that's when it starts turning."
Sveum noted that batters like the Reds' Joey Votto don't panic when they are faced with a two-strike count. He wants the young Cubs batters to take that approach.
"People don't realize the more strikes you get on you, the more anxiety," Sveum said. "Those guys [like Votto] don't change with the count. That's what you have to get through to younger hitters and some older hitters -- the anxiety level shouldn't change."
First-round pick Bryant earns Minor League promotion
CHICAGO -- Kris Bryant, the Cubs' top pick in the June First-Year Player Draft who was riding a 15-game hitting streak at short-season Boise, was promoted on Monday to high Class A Daytona.
Bryant, 21, who was the second player taken in the Draft, was batting .354 with four home runs, eight doubles, one triple and 16 RBIs. He was able to keep his hitting streak going in a doubleheader on Sunday, and was a combined 5-for-7 with three RBIs in the two games.
Daytona was a season-high 14 games over .500, and headed for the playoffs in the Florida State League. Ben Carhart has been playing third, and was batting .247. Bryant skipped low-A Kane County, where Jeimer Candelario is the third baseman.
"We felt Daytona was a place Kris would be able to go and compete in his Draft summer once he got enough [at-bats] under his belt," said Jason McLeod, the Cubs' director of player development and scouting. "With Daytona being in the playoffs, Kris will get three-plus weeks down there, which will be nice. We want Jeimer to continue playing third base every day, so that was taken into consideration as well."
Bryant, ranked No. 4 on MLB.com's list of the Top 20 Cubs prospects, has only gone hitless in two of the 18 games he's played in this season at Boise, including his pro debut on July 23. A right-handed hitter, he's batting .476 (10-for-21) against left-handed pitching and .295 against right-handers.
• The Cubs will salute Hall of Famer Ernie Banks prior to Tuesday's game against the Reds at Wrigley Field. Banks has been named a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Billy Williams, Banks' teammate on the Cubs and a fellow Hall of Famer, will introduce Banks on Tuesday. The festivities were expected to begin around 6:50 p.m. CT before the Cubs face the Reds at 7:05 p.m. CT.
No date has been set as to when Banks will receive the honor from President Barack Obama. The Medal of Freedom, established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, is the highest honor awarded to civilians in the United States.
• Scott Baker, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, threw a bullpen on Monday and was expected to begin another rehab assignment starting Wednesday at Class A Daytona. The right-hander made three starts at low Class A Kane County, then one with Daytona, and weather interfered with his next outing. His longest start was 3 1/3 innings on July 29.
• Cubs prospect Eric Jokisch, who threw a no-hitter on Aug. 6, has been named the Southern League Pitcher of the Week for the period of Aug. 5-11. It's the second award this season for the Double-A Tennessee left-hander, who was named the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month for April.
Jokisch, 24, made history against Jacksonville with the Smokies' first nine-inning no-hitter since Scot Elam in 1985. It was the first no-hitter since Mark Holliman tossed a seven-inning no-no in 2007. Jokisch struck out eight and faced four batters over the minimum in a 10-0 win over the Suns.
This season, he is 9-10 with a 3.57 ERA in 22 starts for Tennessee, and he ranks fifth in the Southern League in both strikeouts (114) and innings pitched (128 2/3). He was selected in the 11th round in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Northwestern University.
• The Cubs' game Sept. 7 against the Brewers has been changed to a 3:05 p.m. CT start time. It had originally been listed as a 12:05 p.m. CT start, but was adjusted at the request of national television, the team said.
Friday's and Saturday's games against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field also will start at 3:05 p.m. CT.
The late afternoon games are tough because it's an unusual time, and the shadows on Wrigley make it tricky for the players to see.
"The shadows and the sun in right field are horrendous and obviously, late in the game hitting, you better have the lead because it ain't too easy hitting once those shadows come in," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
• No. 3 prospect Jorge Soler, sidelined with a stress fracture in his left tibia, was examined on Monday in Mesa, Ariz., and the test results were to be sent to the team's medical staff in Chicago to gauge the progress the outfielder is making.
Soler, who was playing for Class A Daytona, was injured in late June and was expected to be sidelined four to six weeks. The Cubs were hopeful he could return to action this season. Soler could play in the Arizona Fall League, which begins in early October.
Soler, 21, was batting .281 with eight home runs, 13 doubles, one triple and 35 RBIs in 55 games with Daytona. He apparently fouled a ball off his left shin in Spring Training, and the injury flared up before the Florida State League All-Star Game.
• The Cubs signed 18-year-old Taiwanese right-handed pitcher Jen-Ho Tseng to a $1.625 million bonus. Tseng was ranked No. 29 among international prospects. In the 2012 World Junior Baseball Championship, he went 3-0 with a save, striking out 22 and giving up 12 hits over 21 1/3 innings. He made one appearance in the World Baseball Classic in a qualifying game against New Zealand, pitching in relief.
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.