Change was in the clubhouse and in the air well before the Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-1 Saturday at Wrigley Field.
That victory snapped a six-game losing streak for a Cubs team whose face is changing, even early in the season.
The intrigue began when the Cubs placed No. 1 starting pitcher Ryan Dempster on the disabled list. They'll call up Randy Wells from Class AAA Iowa to start today.
But the corresponding roster move for Dempster was the call-up of outfielder Tony Campana from Iowa.
That immediately set off speculation that the Cubs soon would move slumping center fielder Marlon Byrd off the roster one way or another.
That one way or another became a Saturday night trade that sent Byrd to the Boston Red Sox for right-handed reliever Michael Bowden, a 2005 graduate of Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora. The Cubs will send a signficant amount of Byrd's $6.5 million salary for this year to the Red Sox, and they will get a player to be named later — a pitcher — back from Boston.
Bowden will join the big-league roster Monday, and that will force another roster move.
Even with Byrd gone, the Cubs will not rush center-field prospect Brett Jackson from Class AAA Iowa to the major leagues. Instead, they'll use Campana, Reed Johnson and Joe Mather in center field until they feel Jackson is ready.
Hoyer insisted that Byrd's .070 (3-for-43) start played no part in the trade.
“The slow start didn't play any part at all,” Hoyer said. “We had talked about some deals at the end of spring training. Our feeling was that we had been trying to acquire relief pitching, really, since the end of the winter.”
More immediately, though, it appears they will not sit still and let a slow start spiral out of control. Or at least they'll try different players.
“Campy's here because we had a spot today,” said Cubs manager Dale Sveum, whose team improved to 4-11. “We didn't need anything else.”
It figures to be just a matter of time before Byrd is moved. Assuming that happens and the Cubs do wait to promote Jackson, Sveum will have to see how the speedy Campana fits in with the veteran Johnson and utility man Mather.
Campana has blazing speed and bats left-handed. Johnson is a good veteran presence who hits right-handed, as does Mather.
Campana singled as a pinch hitter in Saturday's sixth inning and then went in to play center field.
Speaking of change, Sveum shook up his lineup, with good results. The Cubs knocked out a season-high 14 hits, including 4 doubles and a triple. They scored once in the first and four times in the second to grab a 5-1 lead.
Regulars such as David DeJesus (2 hits), Darwin Barney (3-for-4, double) and Starlin Castro (2-for-5, double and triple) pitched in, and so did backup catcher Steve Clevenger, who went 3-for-4 and is at 10-for-17 on the season.
The beneficiary was left-handed starter Paul Maholm (1-2), who won his first game as a Cub and his first decision since last July 11, against the Cubs, while pitching for the Pirates.
“Today was much better, a lot of groundballs,” Maholm said. “Ahead (in the count), using all my pitches, and obviously, the defense picked me up. The offense got rolling pretty quick. I had to make sure we kept that lead.”
Sveum said Geovany Soto (6-for-40) would start Sunday, but Clevenger could keep the change machine working if he continues to hit and call good games.
“Yeah, he's done great,” Sveum said. “His earned run average when he's catching is incredible (1.03). Guys are doing really well. He's swinging the bat really well. Three hits today again. He's doing a great job.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.