April's cruelty strikes Cubs again
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It was T.S. Eliot who wrote that "April is the cruelest month."
Certainly, the Cubs are feeling that with the weather. They were forced Wednesday to postpone a home game for the second time this season as rain and cold weather knocked out the night's scheduled game against the Texas Rangers.
The two teams will try it again Thursday afternoon. No makeup date has been scheduled, and things are dicey because Thursday's weather is supposed to be bad and because the Rangers are an American League team with one scheduled visit to Wrigley Field.
The Cubs said fans should retain their tickets to use for the rescheduled game. The two teams have a common off-day on May 9, one day after the Rangers are in Milwaukee and the Cubs host the Cardinals.
April weather in Chicago rarely is ideal for baseball, but this year's conditions are playing havoc with the Cubs' work schedule.
"This has probably been a little exceptional as far as not being able to get on the field," said manager Dale Sveum. "When we've been on the field, it's been pretty miserable work conditions, too. That's what it is. The guys get plenty of swings in, but the concerning part is working on defense and those kinds of things. That's part of the gig. It's a long season. We just came out of spring.
"The bottom line is we're just not getting on the field and getting any kind of quality work. But both teams are in the same boat, as well."
The Cubs are 4-9, so April indeed has been cruel, but it's also important, with Sveum channeling his own inner T.S. Eliot.
"Any manager is always going to say April is the biggest month of all to build momentum, whether it's to build a lead or stay in it or keep your head above water, but it's the most important month of the season, obviously, to get to that ultimate goal, to play meaningful games in September," he said.
The Cubs' pitching rotation will stay the same. It just gets bumped back a day. Carlos Villanueva starts the series finale against Texas. At Milwaukee this weekend, the Cubs will go with Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson and Scott Feldman.
Soriano's slow start:
Left fielder Alfonso Soriano said he is not thinking about going anywhere, despite the slow start by himself and the Cubs. Soriano has a hitting line of .275/.302/.333 and is without a home run or an RBI. He also has 10-and-5 rights and cannot be traded without his permission.
"We've played hard, but not good enough to win," Soriano said. "I'm not thinking about (going elsewhere). It's only 13 games. We're not playing good, but we're not playing bad.
"We play hard all the time, and I think we just need a little bit more, and we'll be fine because all those games we lost, we had a chance to win those games."
Soriano did not homer last year until May 15, but he says he is feeling comfortable at the plate this year.
Camping out for answers:
Last season, Sveum liked to tout reliever Shawn Camp as having a "rubber arm."
Camp tied for the major-league lead with 80 relief appearances, putting up a record of 3-6 with a 3.59 ERA, 2 saves and a WHIP of 1.29.
It's been a rough start this year for Camp, who is at 0-1 with a 15.43 ERA and a WHIP of 2.79 in 6 games.
"We all noticed his slider isn't breaking like we'd all like it to," Sveum said. "The consistency of his slider isn't there. Even the velocity is down, not that he's a power guy. We've got to get to the bottom of it, obviously.
"He's had couple things that kind of rattle you, too. One's a balk and one's a pickoff (gone awry), and obviously, things didn't go well after those miscues on the mound, picking a guy off and balking. It's a confidence thing. A lot of this comes down to confidence when you're out on the mound, too."
Closer Kyuji Fujikawa is due to come off the disabled list April 28 as he recovers from a right forearm strain. Sveum says it's "logical" that Fujikawa will step back into the closer's role but that he'll first need a minor league rehab stint.
The Cubs say things appear to be go for Matt Garza to make his first rehab stint Friday for the Kane County Cougars. Weather has been a concern, but look for Garza in Geneva.
Big Z is here:
Former Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano visited his former team Wednesday afternoon. The Cubs are not interesting in re-signing Zambrano, who pitched last year for Miami but is now out of the game.
Sveum was asked if he saw Zambrano.
"No," he replied.
When asked about potential rumors, Sveum replied: "Rumors are rumors."
• Follow Bruce's Cubs and baseball reports via Twitter@BruceMiles2112, and check out his Chicago's Inside Pitch blog at dailyherald.com.
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