8/7/2014 2:09 A.M. ET
Cubs designate Schierholtz for assignment
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
DENVER -- Nate Schierholtz set career highs last season in nearly every offensive category, hitting 21 home runs and driving in 68 runs. But the outfielder couldn't quite get on track this season, and on Wednesday, he was designated for assignment.
The Cubs made the roster move to open a spot on the 40-man for pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list.
Schierholtz, 30, batted .192 with six homers and 33 RBIs in 99 games for the Cubs this season. He signed prior to the 2013 season, and batted .251 in 137 games with 32 doubles, three triples and the 21 home runs.
"He was very appreciative of the opportunity and the message I left him was to thank him for his efforts," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Wedndesday. "He's a pro.
"I'm sure it was a very tough time for him having had as much success as he had last year," Renteria said. "We're hopeful maybe a change of scenery will help him out."
With the team's decision to move switch-hitting Arismendy Alcantara to the outfield to make room for Javier Baez at second base, the Cubs have an overload of left-handed hitting outfielders. Schierholtz, the best defensive player among the Cubs outfielders, was 0-for-17 in his last six games.
"It's really, really hard to lose a teammate, especially another outfielder," Justin Ruggiano. "I think wherever he ends up, wherever he goes, I think it'll be a breath of fresh air for him to start fresh, not worry about numbers. You get in the middle of the season and the numbers are just staring at you. It's hard to push them aside and worry about today."
Ruggiano did the same thing last season, going 0-for-42 in July.
"I know what he's going through," Ruggiano said. "It's just a mental thing, and I think he'll have a little time to clear his head and get back on track wherever he is. I wish him the best."
Fujikawa back in bullpen after lengthy recovery
DENVER -- Kyuji Fujikawa was back in the Cubs bullpen for the first time since May 2013, and manager Rick Renteria didn't waste any time getting the right-hander back in a game.
Fujikawa, who underwent Tommy John surgery on his elbow in June 2013, was activated from the 60-day disabled list Wednesday. He originally signed to be the Cubs' closer but will be eased into game situations.
"The biggest thing is to get him back out there on a big league hill and see how he performs," Renteria said before the game.
The Rockies had rattled off seven straight hits against starter Jake Arrieta in the sixth when Renteria called on Fujikawa. There were no outs, and Fujikawa hit the first batter he faced, but got Jason Rutledge to hit into a double play and the next batter then flew out.
"He minimized damage," Renteria said. "He threw some good fastballs, his split looked good and he looked very calm and composed."
Fujikawa, 34, was limited to 12 games last season with the Cubs before he was sidelined with elbow problems. In six rehab games at Triple-A Iowa, he gave up one run on five hits and one walk over six innings while striking out four. He's totaled 11 2/3 innings in Minor League rehab games with the Cubs' Rookie League team, Class A Kane County and Iowa and has given up one earned run on seven hits and three walks.
The velocity on his pitches in the Minors has topped at 87 mph, but Fujikawa said that reading may have been his two-seam fastball.
"I don't really know until I get out there on the mound if it's back or not," he said through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa before Wednesday's game.
This is the second year of Fujikawa's two-year deal with the team, and he says his focus is the same, to get batters out. But what's next? He'll have less than two months for the Cubs to decide if they are going to pick up his option for 2015.
"I don't think that's something I should get into right now," Fujikawa said. "My job right now is to do the work that's ahead."
He said he has not thought about returning to Japan to pitch.
"I'm not really thinking about that, and I don't have time to think about that," he said.
Baez eager to play in front of Chicago fans
DENVER -- Javier Baez is eager to get to Chicago. Shortstop Starlin Castro delayed his shopping trip with the rookie infielder until they can go to stores on Michigan Avenue.
Twenty-four hours after Baez smacked a game-winning home run in the 12th inning of the Cubs' 6-5 win over the Rockies in his Major League debut, not much had changed for the second baseman.
He wasn't too concerned that television ratings for the game soared, or that Cubs fans were beyond giddy, expressing their enthusiasm on social media. He didn't answer all the text messages from friends.
"I have to rest, too," he said Wednesday on Day 2 of his big league life. "I came back to the hotel, and I passed out because I was tired."
His family certainly enjoyed the moment at Coors Field.
"They were really excited," Baez said. "They love that I got to the big leagues, they couldn't wait for this moment and it finally came through."
Baez, 21, also struck out in three of his five at-bats before the home run, and he has a track record of struggling in the beginning at each level he's been at. Is he prepared for that?
"I had three strikeouts, and still got the winning run," he said. "Hopefully, I figure it out pretty soon and start doing good."
His teammates are helping. Luis Valbuena was talking to Baez about positioning on the field when they shifted for the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez. Shortstop Starlin Castro keeps up constant chatter. What helps Baez is knowing he'll be playing every day in the final 50 games.
"Whatever happens, happens," Baez said. "I'm ready for anything."
He'll get his first taste of Cubs fans on Friday when the team returns home to face the Rays.
"I think it's going to be more exciting than here," Baez said. "We're home, and we have all the support from the fans, and there are a lot of people who know you and they want you to do good."
Cubs reportedly claim righty Turner off waivers
DENVER -- The Cubs have reportedly claimed right-handed pitcher Jacob Turner from the Marlins.
Turner, 23, was 4-7 with a 5.97 ERA in 20 games (12 starts) with Miami, striking out 54 over 78 1/3 innings. He was designated for assignment two days after giving up five runs in four innings in a 7-3 loss to the Reds.
Comcast SportsNet Chicago reported the Cubs had made the claim, but that the deal had not been finalized yet. Team officials would not confirm the transaction.
The Cubs could be hoping pitching coach Chris Bosio and his staff can help Turner get on track the way they did with Jason Hammel and Scott Feldman. Justin Ruggiano was Turner's teammate in Miami, and knows the right-hander well.
"He was a teammate of mine, and a great teammate, and he's a competitor out there on the mound," Ruggiano said Wednesday. "He's so young and he was a big piece in that Anibal Sanchez trade. That may have come with a little bit of pressure and may have caused him to press, I don't know.
"I'm sure he's capable of pitching at a high level," Ruggiano said. "Sometimes it takes guys a little longer to figure it out. I played against Cliff Lee when he was in Triple-A, and all of a sudden he's making $140 million twice. This game is crazy. I think Jacob has the personality that given another opportunity, he'll do OK with it."
The ninth overall pick of the Tigers in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Turner was pushed through the Minor Leagues quickly, and made his Major League debut in 2011 at the age of 20. He was dealt to Miami in July 2012 as part of the Sanchez-Omar Infante deal.
This season, Turner was 4-5 with a 6.03 ERA in 12 starts, and had a 5.74 ERA in relief.
• The Cubs held a private workout Wednesday at Wrigley Field for Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, 27. The Cubs had five people watching Castillo during a workout in Miami in late July, which was attended by representatives from 28 of the 30 teams.
• Arismendy Alcantara was batting .205 in the leadoff spot, so Renteria dropped the rookie to sixth on Wednesday.
"We want to try to take away a little bit of the pressure," Renteria said. "He still looks calm but the results haven't been what he wants. Seeing how guys work ahead of him might give him a different perspective, a different view."
• Chris Coghlan was back in the lineup Wednesday after nearly ripping the nail off the big toe on his left foot. Coghlan was injured when he accidentally kicked his suitcase in his hotel room during the middle of the night. He went to the emergency room at a local hospital for treatment Monday. He did pinch-hit Tuesday, but had to be lifted for a pinch-runner.
• The Cubs will celebrate the 1980s during the next homestand, which begins Friday with an Interleague game against the Rays. On Sunday, the Cubs will wear throwback uniforms from 1988, the year the lights were turned on at Wrigley Field. There will be a first-night bobblehead Friday.
On Aug. 13, it'll be '80s Rock Night, and any fans who show up wearing KISS makeup or Def Leppard branded clothing will have a chance to win tickets to two local shows by the rock bands. It'll also be Zubaz pants night at Wrigley.
All the events are part of Wrigley's 100th anniversary. For information, go to wrigleyfield100.com.
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.