8/24/2013 9:38 P.M. ET
Cubs' Russell stands by selection of HR pitch
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- James Russell served up a tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning to the Padres' Will Venable on Friday, and after the eventual 8-6 defeat, Cubs manager Dale Sveum blamed bad pitch selection by the lefty reliever.
"You're not supposed to throw [Venable] a slider, and he threw him a slider," Sveum said.
"I saw [Sveum] wasn't happy with the slider, but I don't agree with that," Russell said Saturday. "That's what I do, is throw sliders to lefties and get them out. I don't think it's a bad pitch call at all."
Russell now has given up six earned runs over 2 2/3 innings in his most recent four outings. He said he felt great and was not overworked.
"I just hung a slider [to Venable], and lately my mistakes have been getting hit hard, and it's just been in big situations," Russell said. "My body feels fine. I don't feel overused at all. That's why I work hard in the offseason and work hard every day, so they can wear me out. That's my job, and I take pride in that.
"Pitch selection was not the problem last night," Russell said. "It's a hanging slider. If I get it down, it's not going to be hit out of the park."
It was the second home run by a left-handed batter off Russell this year. The Cardinals' Jon Jay hit the other one last Sunday at Wrigley Field.
Baez moving through system and not slowing down
SAN DIEGO -- Javier Baez has made the transition from Class A Advanced ball to Double-A look relatively easy.
Baez, rated the Cubs' top prospect by MLB.com, batted .274 with 17 home runs and 57 RBIs in 76 games for Class A Daytona before he was promoted to Double-A Tennessee, where in 45 games he was batting .310 with 17 home runs and 44 RBIs.
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said the team had expected Baez to go through "more of a process."
"He's had more success than we expected," Hoyer said of the Cubs' 2011 first-round Draft pick. "He got over that initial Double-A hurdle quickly, and he's been on a hot streak. Good for him. It's been impressive that he adjusted as quick as he did."
The shortstop is finishing on a high note.
"Hopefully, he'll carry that forward into next year, the confidence he had in Double-A," Hoyer said. "I think when he made the jump from High A to Double-A, we felt giving him the challenge was the right thing to do, and he's responded."
Baez will not play in the Arizona Fall League, but prospects Jorge Soler and Albert Almora will. The official AFL rosters were expected to be released later this month, and Hoyer said the Cubs would have an impressive group.
The Cubs have yet to finalize who will be called up to the big league roster in September, but the team will most likely add players who are not currently on the 40-man roster but expected to be added this offseason.
The Cubs also hope to add Luis Valbuena (right oblique strain) and Ryan Sweeney (left rib fracture), who were both on the disabled list.
Cubs not ruling out '13 return for Baker
SAN DIEGO -- The Cubs still feel Scott Baker has time to pitch for the team this year in his comeback from Tommy John surgery.
Baker gave up one run on four hits, including a solo home run, over four innings for Class A Kane County in a rehab outing Friday. He walked two and struck out three in his longest outing so far.
"He's still working his way back," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Saturday. "He's been gaining a little bit of velocity and gaining a better feel as he goes. It's still a process for him. Yesterday was a step in the right direction."
Baker had some setbacks because of the weather, which has interrupted Class A Daytona's schedule.
"He's such a good worker and so dedicated to come back this year," Hoyer said. "Our hope is that he can come back."
Cubs aim to help Jackson meet expectations
SAN DIEGO -- Edwin Jackson shouldered the blame for Friday's 8-6 loss to the Padres in which the Cubs right-hander blew a six-run first-inning lead. But pitching coach Chris Bosio said it was not just Jackson.
"There's one thing that we are as a team: We win together as a team; we lose together as a team," Bosio said. "We could've helped him out; he could've helped himself out. Last night, we did not close the deal as a team.
"I know he had some issues with his offspeed pitches, and he hung a couple and they got hit extremely hard," Bosio said. "That's what we've seen of Edwin this year. ... Yeah, we expect more out of Edwin, and I know he expects more out of himself. It's a constant work in progress with him."
Jackson is 7-13 with a 5.00 ERA in 25 starts, and he is 0-2 with a 6.95 ERA in four August starts.
"The bottom line is yes, there are more expectations out of Edwin than what we've seen, and he's been pretty candid about it that he's not lived up to that," Bosio said of the right-hander, who signed a four-year, $52 million contract this offseason with the Cubs, his first multiyear deal.
"What can he do differently? Work harder and try to execute the pitches," Bosio said. "In this game, it's a game of results, and he's got to give it done."
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.