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updated: 4/4/2013 4:38 PM

Epstein expects the NL will add DH

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  • Dan Vogelbach, a 250-pound first baseman with the Kane County Cougars, isn't likely to replace Anthony Rizzo for the Cubs in a few years. But he could have a future as a designated hitter if the NL adopts the rule change.

       Dan Vogelbach, a 250-pound first baseman with the Kane County Cougars, isn't likely to replace Anthony Rizzo for the Cubs in a few years. But he could have a future as a designated hitter if the NL adopts the rule change.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 
 

PITTSBURGH -- The Kane County Cougars have a first baseman on their roster named Dan Vogelbach.

The 20-year-old Vogelbach is listed at 6 feet and 250 pounds in the Cubs media guide. Although Vogelbach handles first base just fine, that body type might have "DH" written all over it, especially with Anthony Rizzo expected to be at first base for years to come and the Cubs not inclined to move Vogelbach to the outfield.

There's only one problem: The National League does not have the designated hitter, at least not yet.

Although there are no immediate plans for the NL to adopt the DH, there is talk that it will happen. Cubs president Theo Epstein, a former American League exec, was quoted in USA Today as saying: "I think we're going to see the DH on the National League. Hopefully, we're just a few years away."

That "hopefully" betrayed a bias by Epstein, although it may not endear him to the purists among Cubs fans.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he likes the DH in the AL and pitchers batting in the NL.

"I kind of like it the way it is," Sveum said. "But obviously, it makes sense now with the new scheduling and all that. It's going to be brought up quite a bit, a serious issue now, when you come to rule changes.

"I enjoy the National League game."

The Cougars are the first-year affiliate of the Cubs in the Class A Midwest League.

"You could have the ability, with somebody in your organization, a Vogelbach, those kind of guys that are primed for that spot if it does happen," Sveum said of the DH. "Those are advantages and disadvantages, too. You produce some pretty good hitters in the minor leagues, and sometimes you might have to trade them off or whatever because of the positions. You draft guys and they end up pretty good hitters, you might not have a spot for them. I think Vogelbach is a good example-type guy. He might not have a spot, but he would if you had a DH.

"That's a guy you drafted high, and you keep him in the organization as a hitter.

Starting with the starters:

Starting pitcher Travis Wood worked 6 scoreless innings in Thursday's 3-2 win over the Pirates. Both Wood and opening-day starter Jeff Samardzija pitched shutout ball, with Samardzija going 8 innings. Edwin Jackson, Wednesday's losing pitcher, pitched 5 innings and gave up 2 runs, giving Cubs starters an 0.95 ERA over three games.

Wood walked two and struck out four, and he had a good, hard fastball.

"I had good fastball command," he said. "I was able to locate it both sides and keep them off-balance. We played well as a team today."

RISP-y business:

After going 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position for the first two games, Cubs hitters were 2-for-2 Thursday, with Starlin Castro hitting an RBI single in the third inning and Nate Schierholtz driving a 2-run homer in the ninth with Anthony Rizzo on second.

"I knew it was a big run on second," Schierholtz said. "When I came up, I was just trying to get something good to hit and put it in play and get the run home."

Garza update:

Pitcher Matt Garza worked from a bullpen mound Thursday in Arizona as he continues his comeback from a left-lat-muscle injury. Garza will join the team in Atlanta this weekend, and he's expected to throw from the mound Sunday.

If things progress well, Garza could rejoin the rotation in early May.

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