8/24/2014 7:37 P.M. ET
Castro to return for series vs. Reds, Watkins optioned
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, who has been on the bereavement list, will rejoin the team in Cincinnati on Tuesday for the start of a six-game road trip.
Castro, 24, had returned to the Dominican Republic to attend to family after a car crash that killed a relative and three friends last Wednesday.
Javier Baez has started the last five games at shortstop for Castro, and was expected to move back to second base. Infielder Logan Watkins was optioned to Triple-A Iowa to make room on the roster for Castro.
Baez went 3-for-22 with two home runs on the just completed six-game homestand and surprised Cubs manager Rick Renteria with a bunt attempt with one on and no outs in the sixth inning Sunday.
"He's not your prototypical No. 2 type hitter," Renteria said of Baez. "Would I rather have him swing the bat? Of course. But I will say this, he's thinking about the game. Everybody talks about young players not thinking about the game, and he was thinking about doing something productive for his team, [but] not necessarily something I would want him to do in that moment. We talked to him. His mind was in baseball mode. Sure, I would want him to swing the bat."
Baez and Watkins were two of five rookies in the Cubs' starting lineup Sunday, the first time the team has had that many since Oct. 3, 2012, against the Astros at Wrigley Field. The last time the Cubs started five rookies before rosters expanded on Sept. 1 in a game was in the second game of a doubleheader, Aug. 18, 2012, against the Reds (Steve Clevenger, Anthony Rizzo, Adrian Cardenas, Brett Jackson, Brooks Raley).
Wright, Jackson proud of Chicago's LLWS team
CHICAGO -- No matter how the Jackie Robinson West Little Leaguers did in Sunday's championship game against South Korea, they are winners to the Cubs players.
"Win, lose or draw, they should enjoy the experience," Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson said Sunday.
Jackson and fellow Cubs pitcher Wesley Wright were among the Major League players who contributed money to help pay for the families of the Chicago team to go to Williamsport, Pa., to watch the Little League World Series, which wrapped up Sunday. However, the Jackie Robinson West team came up short, losing in the finale, 8-4, to South Korea.
"I'm excited for them and this opportunity," Wright said Sunday. "I'm so happy for them and their families, and the way they've represented their city and their families on a grand stage has been amazing to me. They're 12-year-olds, and I'm just really proud of how they've persevered through that game [Saturday], and they lost the lead late and kept fighting. They've been an inspiration to me and a lot of people in the U.S."
Jackie Robinson West rallied to beat Nevada in the U.S. championship and advance to the final. The Cubs' rain delay on Saturday was almost perfectly timed so the players and fans on the concourse could watch the game on television.
"It's fun for them -- and it's motivation," Jackson said. "You watch the news and the parents say they've already had kids sign up for next year's team. It's always fun watching the little kids play, especially when they come back to win. You see the emotions go from crying to mad to excitement and full of joy, and then the other team is just the opposite. It's an emotional game at every level, and the higher you go, the more you have to control it."
The win Saturday was especially sweet for the Jackie Robinson team, which had lost, 13-2, to Nevada earlier in the week.
Jackson and Wright have enjoyed more than just the Little Leaguers' skills. It's also nice to see positive headlines about Chicago and the South Side, where the team is based.
"I'm not from Chicago, but I am African-American, and I know there are a lot of African-Americans predominantly on the South Side and some of the headlines that come out of there can be tough at times," Wright said. "I'm glad these kids can overcome some of the tough obstacles and be successful, whether it be on the baseball field or in life. I just want to be able to help mentor them in any way I can, whether it's baseball or life in general. I'm just really proud of them."
"It's definitely a positive outlook on the city," Jackson said of the Little League program, which he did participate in as a youth. "Instead of the headline being something negative, you can have a bright spot in the city. It's definitely energizing to pick up the paper and see a positive headline. It's fun for the city and motivation for the kids at home.
"This is where it starts. When they come home, they'll be looked at as celebrities in the city. It should encourage more kids to play. The more you're in activities, the more you're out of trouble and [sports] keep you occupied."
Renteria, Hyde grab grounds crew worker from under tarp
CHICAGO -- On Tuesday, the Cubs grounds crew was shorthanded and couldn't get the tarp on the field fast enough to handle a sudden downpour at Wrigley Field. On Saturday, the crew was quick and efficient, but needed help from Cubs manager Rick Renteria and bench coach Brandon Hyde, who pulled a worker out from underneath the tarp.
Rain halted play at the start of the third inning Saturday between the Cubs and Orioles, and as the crew was pulling the tarp across the infield at Wrigley Field, one of the workers stumbled and fell, and was caught underneath. The crew didn't stop, and the tarp was pulled over him.
Renteria and Hyde saw what happened from the dugout, and went to the worker's aid.
"I just didn't think it was good for him to be under the tarp and just reacted," Renteria said Sunday. "Brandon went in there and lifted it and got him out."
Weren't they nervous going under there?
"I didn't think about it to be honest with you," Renteria said. "The guy needed to get out of there."
Renteria comfortable with short bench
CHICAGO -- The Cubs have carried 13 pitchers most of the season, but manager Rick Renteria said he hasn't been hampered by the short bench.
"You have as many options as you have," he said. "I still think carrying the arms in the 'pen has served us well to do some of the protecting we've had to do over the course of the season. The guys we've used have done a nice job coming off the bench."
On Saturday, pitcher Travis Wood subbed as a pinch-runner.
"You just have to be creative," Renteria said.
• Brian Schlitter, on the disabled list since Aug. 9 with right shoulder inflammation, was reinstated Sunday and optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Schlitter pitched one inning in relief in a rehab outing Saturday, giving up one run on one hit over one inning.
• Felix Doubront gave up three earned runs on five hits over 4 1/3 innings in Double-A Tennessee's 9-7 loss to Jacksonville on Sunday. Doubront, scheduled to start one of the Cubs' doubleheader games on Saturday against the Cardinals, threw 95 pitches, 59 for strikes. He struck out five, walked three and gave up five hits.
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.