The All-Star break has arrived, which means the Home Run Derby, the All-Star Game, and an understood moratorium on announcing transactions. I wouldn’t necessarily expect the rumors to take a hiatus over the next few days, though.
- Scott Baker made his first rehab start yesterday at Kane County, throwing 56 pitches. He gave up four runs in the first, but – statistically – cruised after that. Really, you don’t much care about the results in an outing like this so much as how he feels after throwing against hitters. “Right now for him, it’s more about getting the work in and getting comfortable,” Sveum said, per Cubs.com. “Today was a big hump to pitch against hitters and get in a real game and the whole atmosphere. Hopefully, we see a gradual pickup in the velocity and all that.” The other things you care about, of course, are the velocity on the fastball, the command, and the movement on the breaking pitches (assuming he’s able to throw them yet). Sveum’s comment makes me wonder if the velocity wasn’t quite where the Cubs hoped it would be, but BN’er Rooster, who was at the game, says Baker was throwing between 89 and 92 mph. To me, that’s just fine for a first rehab start (it would be like a first Spring Training start). Besides, Baker is a 91/92 mph fastball guy for his career anyway.
- Cubs infield prospect Arismendy Alcantara hit a bomb of a homer yesterday at the Futures Game, and got a lot of love. Luke ranked Alcantara as the 5th best prospect in the Cubs’ system before the game yesterday.
- Travis Wood finished out the first half without a quality start last night, but his 17 are still the most in baseball. He gets a lot of love from his teammates over at CSN.
- New Cubs outfielder Cole Gillespie is happy to be reunited with his former college teammate, Darwin Barney.
- Speaking of Barney, an interesting side note from Bruce Miles on Saturday’s game: “We had an interesting scoring change in last night’s game. The Cubs’ Darwin Barney reached base on apparent catcher’s interference in the second inning, when his bat struck the glove of Cardinals catcher Tony Cruz. Barney hit the ball to third base and eventually made it safely to first base after at first telling the umpire his bat made contact with the catcher’s glove. The initial ruling was catcher’s interference, Cruz being charged with an error but Barney not getting charged with an at-bat. However, after the game, the official scorer was informed that Barney made it to first safely, and thus, a hit was awarded.” That, combined with last night’s big game, gives Barney five hits in his last eight at bats, and has helped him raise his OPS by 28 points in the last two days.
- 15 years of ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ by folks other than Harry Caray have been a mixed bag, but this video package is still pretty fun.
- SportsCenter had a package on loving the long ball, thanks to today being the Home Run Derby, and I couldn’t help but notice that, despite it featuring dozens of famous homers, none of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa appeared. Right decision? Wrong decision?