Inside Pitch: Cubs

The Sports Xchange deals out insider notes and quotes on the Chicago Cubs.

Right-hander Chris Volstad remains the weak link in the Cubs' starting rotation, but at this point, moving him out of his fourth spot doesn't seem to be in the plans.

Volstad has been beset by a big inning almost every time out.

"It's the same old," manager Dale Sveum said before Sunday's 8-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. "He's working hard and everything. He just can't seem to shut down a whole game."

In Saturday's 8-2 loss to the Brewers, it was a five-run sixth inning that did in Volstad.

"How you fix that is the million-dollar question," Sveum said. "That's having shut-down innings. It's funny how a guy has pitched just as many shutout innings as anybody in baseball, but that one inning isn't one (run). It's four, five and six in the inning."

Volstad has had trouble with an errant slider and with working out of the stretch with runners on base.

After running off a streak of four straight quality starts, the Cubs now have three non-quality starts in a row. Jeff Samardzija's start Sunday wasn't bad. He didn't get a quality start but worked five innings, giving up one run.


--RHP Jeff Samardzija came out for a pinch hitter in the sixth inning after giving up only three hits and one run. He ran his pitch count to 91. OF Reed Johnson pinch-hit for Samardzija and hit a homer that broke a 1-1 tie. Manager Dale Sveum said it was time to "take a shot" with the pinch hitter. Samardzija wasn't arguing. "They caught me pretty quick coming down into the dugout," he said. "When you've got guys like Reed to pinch-hit for you, especially in a situation with the top of the lineup coming up, that's the way it goes sometimes."

--RHP Rafael Dolis has been bothered by a stiff back the last couple of days. He gave up a game-tying home run Friday night to the Brewers' Corey Hart. "He couldn't get over the ball," Sveum said. "He's much better today. He pitched through. It was just real stiff. He couldn't bend over like he likes to." Dolis warmed up Sunday but did not pitch because the Cubs scored late to take the game out of a save situation.

--LF Alfonso Soriano still has not homered this season, and he has a slugging percentage of .304. "The fact of the matter is fastballs are getting too deep," said manager Dale Sveum. "Whatever it is, it's a strange phenomenon right now." Sveum added that it might help Soriano to switch to a lighter bat. "He's gone a little bit (lighter), but there's no question I'd like to see a much lighter bat," the manager said. "He has adjusted a little bit, but I think a lighter, smaller bat would help a lot."

--RHP Carlos Marmol was placed on the 15-day DL Saturday with a strained right hamstring. RHP Casey Coleman was recalled from Class AAA (Des Moines) Iowa. Marmol suffered the injury in Friday night's game. He had lost his job as closer and has been working in middle-relief and setup roles. The Cubs said an MRI showed no significant damage.

--RHP Shawn Camp picked up his first victory as a Cub. But it came at the expense of a blown save and a possible victory for starter Jeff Samardzija, as Camp gave up the tying run in the bottom of the sixth inning.

--RHP Casey Coleman got up early Saturday in Fresno to catch a 5 a.m. flight for Milwaukee upon his call-up from Class AAA (Des Moines) Iowa.

After a stopover in Denver, Coleman made it to Milwaukee in time to pitch two innings of relief in Saturday's game. "Actually carried my stuff in a garbage bag because I didn't have a carry-on with me," Coleman said. Even with his baseball spikes in the bag, Coleman said he got through airport security OK. "I got a few looks, but that's OK," he said.

--Manager Dale Sveum is an avid Phoenix Coyotes fan as he lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., during the offseason. He was asked his prediction on the Coyotes' Western Conference Finals series against the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL playoffs.

"Coyotes in four, of course," he said. "Should be a low-scoring series, that's for sure. It would be fun for the fans to have the Stanley Cup sitting in Phoenix, Arizona. That would kind of shock a lot of people up north."

BY THE NUMBERS: 30 -- 1B Bryan LaHair walked in the eighth inning to run his consecutive-games streak of getting on base to 30. That's the longest streak in the NL this season and the longest by a Cubs first baseman since Derrek Lee had a 30-gamer in 2009.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Just one inning each game is destroying him." -- Manager Dale Sveum on RHP Chris Volstad's propensity to get beat by one bad inning per start


--RHP Carlos Marmol was placed on the 15-day DL on May 12 with a strained right hamstring.

--LF Alfonso Soriano (sore left knee) had sat out two of three games through May 9. He played May 11.

--C Steve Clevenger (right oblique strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 26.

--RHP Marcos Mateo (ulnar neuritis in right arm) went on the 60-day disabled list April 4.

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