It's time for all-star talk, and already the Cubs are represented.
Top prospects Kris Bryant and Javier Baez have been selected to play in the Futures Game, July 13 at Minnesota's Target Field. The Futures Game is part of Major League Baseball's All-Star Game festivities, and it features top prospects from each organization. The MLB All-Star Game is July 15, also at Target Field.
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Bryant recently was promoted to Class AAA Iowa from Class AA Tennessee. On Tuesday, he hit his fifth homer of the season in his sixth game at the Triple-A level. The third baseman has 27 home runs between Tennessee and Iowa.
Baez, a shortstop, has 11 homers and 43 RBI for Iowa.
At the major-league level, the Cubs are unlikely to have any position players voted on to the National League all-star team. Shortstop Starlin Castro and first baseman Anthony Rizzo are possible selections as reserves.
Rizzo seems eager to go, if chosen.
"Yeah, absolutely," he said. "If anyone says they don't care about being an all-star … it's all you dream about as a kid, that and winning a World Series."
Starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija has a record of 2-6, but his ERA of 2.53 ranked seventh in the NL entering Tuesday.
"If the question is, 'Would I recommend him?' " asked Cubs manager Rick Renteria, "Yes. Would I be criticized for it? It really wouldn't matter. I think that he's pitched extremely well. He's in the top 10 pitchers in ERA. We haven't scored a whole lot of runs for him, but is he an individual that deserves sincere consideration? Absolutely."
The Cubs have a day-night doubleheader against Washington coming up Saturday at Wrigley Field. They will be able to add a 26th player to the roster for the doubleheader.
With no off-days between now and then, the Cubs will have to find a pitcher to start one of the games, with Jeff Samardzija pitching the other.
Bullpen man Carlos Villanueva looks to be a likely candidate. The Cubs recently added left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada to the 40-man roster, but he threw 99 pitches Tuesday for Iowa, and Rick Renteria ruled Wada out for Saturday.
"We haven't put our finger on who it is we're going to be using for that game," the manager said. "That would put him out of it."
Whiteside to Iowa:
The Cubs said Tuesday that catcher Eli Whiteside had cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Iowa. The Cubs designated him for assignment Sunday, when Welington Castillo came off the disabled list.