Young Cubs hitters could be more selective

Updated 8/11/2011 7:09 PM
  • Aramis Ramirez swings follows through on a 2-run homer in the seventh inning Thursday at Wrigley Field.

    Aramis Ramirez swings follows through on a 2-run homer in the seventh inning Thursday at Wrigley Field. Associated Press

Nobody will ever accuse the Cubs of being the Incredible Walking Men.

They entered Thursday's 4-3 victory over the Washington Nationals ranked last in the National League in walks. Cubs batters have drawn 287 bases on balls for the season. First baseman Carlos Pena has 24 percent of those walks, with 69.

Good thing or bad thing, manager Mike Quade?

"You work like heck to be more patient," Quade said. "It's funny because it's not about just walking. Even coming from other organizations where you preach discipline and you try to get guys to improve discipline wise. But that does a lot of things for you.

"Yes, it helps you walk some, but it also puts you in favorable counts. It allows you to hit for a better average. It allows you to play the game some as far as putting on plays and playing some hit-and-run. There are just a lot of benefits to that."

The Cubs also have several players near the bottom of the rankings for walk rate, including youngsters Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro.

"But it's also a learned thing, and not always, to me, are young players at the top of their game at that," Quade said. "There are some guys that just swing and are free swingers. And if a guy's been a free swinger all of his life and has been playing for 8, 9, 10 years, you're going to have a hard time correcting that.

"But I know Rudy (hitting coach Jaramillo) spends a lot of time talking about that, talking especially to the younger guys."

Cashner throws:

Pitcher Andrew Cashner threw from the mound Thursday morning. He'll face hitters in Atlanta on Saturday in either a live-batting-practice or simulated-game setting.

Cashner has been on the disabled list with a strained right rotator cuff, suffered in his first start of the season in early April. He remains confident he'll pitch again this season.

"There's no doubt in my mind," he said. "This is my sixth or seventh bullpen today. We're going in the right direction."

Is that a fact?

Kerry Wood struck out the only two batters he faced in the eighth inning. That gave him 8 straight strikeouts over his last 3 appearances. The 8 straight strikeouts tie a team record since the pitcher's mound was lowered in 1969. Wood shares the mark with Kyle Farnsworth (2001) and Juan Cruz (2003).

He seemed both unaware and unimpressed by the record.

"I have no idea," he said. "(Carlos) Marmol? Oh, me? No. I have no idea."

Bush opts out:

Veteran right-handed pitcher Dave Bush has opted out of his contract at Class AAA Iowa. The Cubs signed Bush to a minor-league deal last month. He became one of a long line of veteran pitchers signed by the Cubs this year, joining Doug Davis, Rodrigo Lopez and Ramon Ortiz.

This and that:

Reed Johnson started for a second straight game after going 4-for-4 Wednesday. He was 3-for-4 Thursday and is 9-for-14 over his last five games ... Ryan Dempster reached the 10-win mark for the seventh time in his career. He's the third Canadian pitcher with at least seven seasons of 10 or more wins. Fergie Jenkins had 15, and Reggie Cleveland had eight.

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