Some Cubs look to make strong final impressions
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Catcher Dioner Navarro and third baseman Donnie Murphy are two players who have more than caught the attention of the Cubs this season.
If you can remember these players, you have a great memory or you spent way too much time watching the Cubs this year: Alberto Gonzalez, Hisanori Takahashi, Kameron Loe, Alex Burnett, Henry Rodirguez and Zach Putnam.
Yes, they all played for the Cubs as did Dave Sappelt, Scott Hairston, Kyuji Fujikawa, Julio Borbon, Eduardo Sanchez and Brent Lillibridge.
Cubs scouting report
Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field
TV: WGN today and Sunday; Comcast SportsNet Saturday
Radio: WGN 720-AM
Pitching matchups: The Cubs' Chris Rusin (2-3) vs. Kyle Lohse (9-8) today at 1:20 p.m.; Jake Arrieta (2-1) vs. Johnny Hellweg (0-3) Saturday at 3:05 p.m.; Travis Wood (8-11) vs. Yovani Gallardo (10-9) Sunday at 1:20 p.m.
At a glance: the Cubs are 4-8 against the Brewers, 2-4 at each ballpark. This begins a stretch of 20 games in 20 days for the Cubs. The Brewers (60-79) are 1 game ahead of the Cubs (59-80) in the battle to avoid last place in the NL Central. Jean Segura, a pleasant surprise in Milwaukee, leads the Brewers in batting average (.304) and hits (165). Carlos Gomez leads in homers (19). The Brewers rank sixth in the NL in batting (.254) and 10th in ERA (3.95). The Cubs are 14th in batting (.239) and 11th in ERA (3.99).
Next: Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park, Monday-Wednesday
— Bruce Miles
Heading into this weekend's series against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field, the Cubs have used 52 players, one short of the team record set last year, when the club lost 101 games.
Still waiting to see game action are J.C. Boscan (who was up last month but did not play), Justin Grimm, Chang-Yong Lim (who warmed up in the bullpen Wednesday) and Daniel Bard. It remains to be seen whether the Cubs activate rehabbing pitcher Scott Baker.
Teams with poor records have a way of running through players, as they try to find somebody, anybody, who can play.
A few of the aforementioned players suffered season-ending injuries, such as Fujikawa and Putnam. But others — such as Burnett, Loe and Rodriguez — were stopgaps or guys here on a look-see.
As the Cubs head into the off-season in less than one month, a few remaining backups and role players will be seeking to make positive impressions so they can gain spots — even if it's just a bench spot — for 2014.
Let's take a look at a few.
•Donnie Murphy: How about Murphy as the feel-good story of the summer? Let go by the Milwaukee Brewers at the end of spring training, Murphy spent most of the season at the Cubs' Class AAA Iowa affiliate before coming up Aug. 3.
In 27 games, Murphy has a line of .276/.355/.612 for an OPS of .967 on the strength of 9 home runs and 6 doubles. He also has driven in 17 runs. His 9 homers are as many as shortstop Starlin Castro.
The 30-year-old Murphy came up to the big leagues for the first time in 2004 with the Kansas City Royals. He can play second base, third base, shortstop and the outfield. That could put him in the running for a utility job next spring.
"It's that point of the year where I'm starting to think about it a little bit more, but at the same time, not trying to get too far ahead of myself," he said.
"I don't want to get that far ahead of myself and start thinking one thing and start thinking about it a little too much and maybe affect my play on the field.
"I don't want to do that, but at the same time, it's that point in September where it starts getting in the back of your mind a little bit more."
•Dioner Navarro: If there has been one pleasant surprise the whole year for the Cubs, it's backup catcher Navarro.
Not only has he been a mentor for young catcher Welington Castillo and a solid clubhouse presence, he has produced. The 29-year-old Navarro has a hitting line of .305/.369/.515 with a career-best 12 home runs.
"It's been a nice asset, especially since we lost (Alfonso) Soriano," said manager Dale Sveum, referring to the trade of their slugging left fielder to the Yankees.
"We don't have that guy to sit there in the 4-hole and produce. He's produced all year and gives some protection to (Anthony) Rizzo, and he's done a great job."
Navarro can become a free agent at the end of the season, and the Cubs would be wise to sign him for one more year.
•Ryan Sweeney/Brian Bogusevic: Injuries have hampered both of these left-handed hitting outfielders, but both are getting playing time down the stretch.
Sweeney brings enough speed to play a nice center field. In 48 games, he has put up a line of .298/.360/.540 with 5 homers and 17 RBI. Sweeney's career high in homers is 6, set over 134 games with Oakland in 2009.
Bogusevic is at .287/.344/.483 with 3 homers and 12 RBI over 27 games. He hit 13 home runs in the minor leagues for Houston in 2010 and 7 with the Astros last season.
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