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posted: 8/27/2012 8:59 PM

Cubs hope Recker catches on

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The Cubs continued gathering some possible inventory for the rest of the season and beyond on Monday.

They obtained catcher Anthony Recker from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for minor-league catcher-first baseman Blake Lalli. The Cubs optioned Recker to Class AAA Iowa.

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To make room on the 40-man roster, they designated left-handed reliever Scott Maine for assignment. Maine had been at Iowa.

"Another catcher that's got some raw power and that can receive, throws really well," manager Dale Sveum said of Recker. "Still kind of the top of his career right now at 28 years old. Just another guy we can have in the organization. See what happens."

Recker, who turns 29 Wednesday, has 18 games of big-league experience between 2011 and this year. He has 7 hits in 48 major-league at-bats.

At Class AAA Sacramento this year, Recker had a hitting line of .265/.358/.435 with 9 homers and 29 RBI in 52 games. He played for the Kane County Cougars in 2006.

Lalli made his big-league debut with the Cubs in May, and Maine had been up several times. If no one claims Maine, the Cubs likely will outright him to Iowa.

Defense, defense:

Aside from the occasional "hiccup" or two as Dale Sveum puts it, the Cubs' defense has improved markedly as the season has progressed.

They entered Monday ninth in fielding percentage after being near the bottom earlier.

"Once the guys started buying into it, I think everything started getting a little better," Sveum said. "Sometimes those things aren't bought into overnight."

Sveum said he and his staff tried to point out how good defense helps the pitchers.

"I think that when players understand the positioning, for one, and two, the importance of preparation that goes into turning those double plays, keeping pitchers' pitch counts down, I think players start taking that a little more personally and start understanding that that error is just not my 10th error of the season," he said. "'That thing cost Samardzija 13 extra pitches, 24 extra pitches.

"When you put it to them that way, I think things turn around a little bit, and they understand that's how the game is played now because of the starting pitcher's pitch count, for the most part."

Minor matters:

Class AAA Iowa ended its home season Sunday with a 4-3 loss to Oklahoma City. Lefty Chris Rusin, who made a start with the big club, took the loss, working 7 innings and giving up 4 hits and 3 runs while walking one and striking out seven.

At Class A Boise, first-round draft pick Albert Almora was getting looked at by doctors Monday after appearing to tweak his ankle over the weekend. The Cubs hope Almora can play in another day or two.

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