6/28/2014 9:30 P.M. ET
Castro, Rizzo see big rise in first-half numbers
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- What a difference a year makes for the Cubs' Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo.
Last year, Castro was batting .245 prior to the All-Star break, with six home runs and 29 RBIs. This season, he entered the second game of the Cubs' doubleheader against the Nationals batting .280 with 11 home runs and 47 RBIs.
Castro ranked second among all National League shortstops in batting average and hits, trailing the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki.
Prior to the All-Star break in 2013, Rizzo was batting .241 with 13 home runs and 54 RBIs. This year, he was batting .286 with 17 home runs and 44 RBIs going into Saturday's late game.
Rizzo leads NL first basemen in home runs. Could he or Castro make it to the All-Star Game? They'll find out July 6 when the NL team is announced.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 10:59 p.m. CT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.
After recovery day, Lake back in lineup
CHICAGO -- Junior Lake was back in the Cubs' lineup Saturday afternoon after taking a day to rest following his head-on collision with a metal door in the outfield wall at Wrigley Field.
Lake suffered bruises to his head and left leg in the crash in the second inning Thursday night when he was chasing a fly ball. He had lobbied to stay in the game, and was able to walk off the field. However, Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Lake was not available Friday as a precautionary measure.
Did Renteria give the young outfielder any advice to avoid any more collisions?
"He's going to play the way he plays," Renteria said. "When you have guys who are giving you great effort, you want them to continue to do what they do. Will he have a greater sense or awareness of the wall? Probably, and that's a good thing. I don't think we want to take away his innate aggressiveness to want to catch everything that's hit to him."
On first pitch he sees, Beeler collects hit
CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Rick Renteria expected Dallas Beeler to have a few butterflies before his Major League debut. He probably didn't expect the pitcher to get his first hit in his first at-bat off the first pitch he saw.
Beeler, called up from Triple-A Iowa for the first game of a day-night doubleheader against the Nationals, singled to center off the first pitch he saw from Gio Gonzalez with two outs in the third.
A 41st round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, Beeler was 3-for-12 at Iowa this season.
The last Cubs pitcher to get a hit in his first big league at-bat was Chris Rusin, who tripled in his first at-bat in the third inning of his Major League debut Aug. 21, 2012.
Baker familiar with Beeler from spring camp
CHICAGO -- John Baker caught Dallas Beeler a few times in Spring Training, but the Cubs catcher remembered the right-hander's repertoire, and was behind the plate Saturday for his Major League debut.
"I'm blessed and cursed with a memory that never forgets," Baker said. "I do forget names often, but I don't forget what guys throw or how they pitch."
Beeler was promoted from Triple-A Iowa for the first game of a day-night doubleheader Saturday against the Nationals.
"They did a nice job communicating during the spring," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "One of the things the catchers are asked to do is when they're catching somebody in their bullpens, ask what kind of pitches do they like to throw in certain situations, where do you like me to set up -- all those types of conversations. Bake's a pretty bright guy, as is [catcher Welington Castillo]. They know their craft and they know the guys."
The Cubs are still being careful with Castillo, who returned from the disabled list Sunday after missing time with a left rib cage strain.
Renteria expected Beeler to be nervous, but not too much.
"He came in, said hello, and about broke my hand shaking it, he was pretty excited," Renteria said of the pitcher, who was the Cubs' 41st-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. "It's a great opportunity for him and a great moment for him and for the Cubs. He's a pretty confident young man."
• The Cubs travel to Boston for a three-game Interleague series that starts Monday, and will continue to carry 13 pitchers and not add another bat. Renteria said he'll rotate players in the designated hitter spot.
• Kris Bryant, the Cubs' No. 1 pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, has a six-game hitting streak after going 3-for-6 on Friday for Triple-A Iowa, including two doubles. Chris Rusin not only picked up the win for Iowa with a quality start, but also hit his first home run in a 16-3 victory over Colorado Springs.
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.