Maddon ejected for arguing with plate umpire

Maddon ejected for arguing with plate umpire

ST. LOUIS -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon was ejected in the sixth inning Wednesday night for arguing balls and strikes with home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn, the second time Maddon's been tossed this season.

Maddon apparently was not happy about calls during Kris Bryant's and Jorge Soler's at-bats in the fifth. Both struck out looking against the Cardinals' Lance Lynn.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs activate righty reliever Grimm from DL

Cubs activate righty reliever Grimm from DL

ST. LOUIS -- The Cubs got a key member of the bullpen back on Wednesday, activating Justin Grimm from the disabled list, and manager Joe Maddon feels much better about who will pitch in the middle innings.

"[Grimm] fits into the leverage moment, whenever that moment comes," Maddon said.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs bring back Szczur to fill bench role

Cubs bring back Szczur to fill bench role

ST. LOUIS -- The Cubs recalled outfielder Matt Szczur from Triple-A Iowa and optioned Junior Lake to the Minor League team. It wasn't because of anything Lake did or didn't do, manager Joe Maddon said.

"We thought [Lake] needed to play more on a consistent basis than Szczur," Maddon said. "We feel Szczur is more apt or able to come off the bench and not be negatively impacted. They're both in developmental stages. We thought Junior needed more consistent play right now."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

17 years ago, Kerry Wood struck out 20 batters

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17 years ago, Kerry Wood struck out 20 batters

You know how when you say a word over and over again, it loses all meaning? Eighteen years ago, Kerry Wood did that to the letter K.

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Hendricks still trying to gain feel for pitches

Cubs' confidence in righty remains strong despite early-season struggles

Hendricks still trying to gain feel for pitches

ST. LOUIS -- Before Tuesday's game, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer gave Kyle Hendricks a vote of confidence.

"He's been really good early, and then had that fourth, fifth inning when he's struggled," Hoyer said. "We're not worried about him at all. He's a feel pitcher. He has so many ways to get you out, I think he'll be just fine."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Reliever Russell happy to make return to Cubs

Lefty allows one run in 1 1/3 innings in Chicago's loss to Cardinals

Reliever Russell happy to make return to Cubs

ST. LOUIS -- James Russell barely had time to meet his new teammates who have arrived since he last pitched for the Cubs on July 29 before he was in the visitor's bullpen at Busch Stadium.

"I had enough time to shower, get ready and go meet some faces," he said.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pitching woes continue for Cubs in loss to Cards

Pitching woes continue for Cubs in loss to Cards

ST. LOUIS -- Off to their best start (through 26 games) in modern franchise history, the Cardinals scored another come-from-behind victory -- this one a 7-4 win over the Cubs at Busch Stadium -- to run their winning streak to eight on Tuesday. It's the longest winning streak by the club since July 2010.

After erasing deficits of five and four runs in a series-opening win, the Cardinals climbed out of a three-run hole to bump the Cubs 6 1/2 games back in the division and become the first team since the 2003 Yankees to open a season with 20 wins in its first 26 games. It hasn't happened in the National League since '00 (Braves).

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Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com. Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Russell, Varvaro join 'pen in flurry of moves

Denorfia placed on DL; Germen optioned to Triple-A

Russell, Varvaro join 'pen in flurry of moves

ST. LOUIS -- The Cubs re-stocked the bullpen on Tuesday, adding right-hander Anthony Varvaro and lefty James Russell.

Varvaro, who was claimed off waivers from the Red Sox on Sunday, was called up from Triple-A Iowa, while Russell's contract was selected from the Minor League team. The Cubs optioned right-hander Gonzalez Germen to Iowa and placed outfielder Chris Denorfia on the 15-day disabled list to make room on the 25-man roster. Right-hander Blake Parker was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Russell.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Maddon the steadying force Cubs need

Maddon the steadying force Cubs need

ST. LOUIS -- The Chicago Cubs did not hire Joe Maddon as manager just so he could give the speech at the parade celebrating the World Series championship.

Maddon, of course, would be fine giving that speech or any other speech. But first there is the matter of getting the Cubs over the considerable distance from here to there. And that is going to entail some bumps in the road, some sections of the road that don't appear to be paved, and, occasionally, some difficult detours.

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Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bryant showing impressive plate discipline

Bryant showing impressive plate discipline

ST. LOUIS -- Kris Bryant is doing things no Cubs player has done before. He just still hadn't hit that first big league home run entering Tuesday.

The Cubs' top prospect reached base safely five times on Monday, hitting a single and drawing four walks. He also reached base safely five times April 18 against the Padres in his second Major League game. He's the first Cubs player since at least 1914 to reach base safely five times in a game twice within his first 16 games.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Well-traveled Varvaro ready to help Cubs

Reliever joins team after starting year with Red Sox

Well-traveled Varvaro ready to help Cubs

ST. LOUIS -- Anthony Varvaro was a little surprised when the Red Sox designated him for assignment.

"They said they needed a long guy," the right-handed pitcher said Tuesday. "There were a couple times they stretched me out a little bit, but that's just not the type of pitcher I have been and that's not the type of pitcher I was when I had success with the Braves."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Two Wrigley bleacher sections open Monday

Two Wrigley bleacher sections open Monday

ST. LOUIS -- Wrigley Field will nearly be back to normal with the opening of the left- and center-field bleachers on Monday.

The opening of the left- and center-field bleachers will coincide with the Cubs Charities' "Pink Out," presented by Advocate Health Care. Each fan in the bleachers that day will receive a pink T-shirt to promote breast cancer prevention awareness and celebrate moms and women everywhere who are survivors.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Denorfia headed to DL with hamstring strain

Cubs expected to promote outfielder Szczur from Triple-A Iowa

Denorfia headed to DL with hamstring strain

ST. LOUIS -- Cubs outfielder Chris Denorfia is headed to the disabled list again after aggravating his left hamstring running the bases in Monday night's 10-9 loss to the Cardinals.

The Cubs are expected to promote outfielder Matt Szczur from Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday. Szczur was pulled from Iowa's game in Des Moines.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs expecting more in power department

With homers from Rizzo, Russell on Monday, Cubs rank 7th in NL with 20

Cubs expecting more in power department

ST. LOUIS -- The Cubs appear to have a power outage this season.

Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell hinted at the Cubs' potential to deliver the long ball by hitting solo shots in Monday's 10-9 loss in St. Louis. The homers gave the Cubs 20 for the season, which now ties them for seventh in the National League. Cubs manager Joe Maddon admitted that he expected more at this point in the season.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wild 1st sets tone as Cubs falter vs. Cards

Wild 1st sets tone as Cubs falter vs. Cards

ST. LOUIS -- Following a trio of walk-off wins over the weekend, the Cardinals rolled their winning streak to seven by erasing an early five-run deficit and snatching a 10-9 victory from the Cubs in Monday's series opener at Busch Stadium. The win improved the Cardinals to 19-6, marking their best start through 25 games in modern franchise history.

"If any team had the right to maybe shut down after this weekend and how everything played out, this team could have, and that wasn't at all what it was," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I think I said yesterday that 'wow' was my explanation. I don't even know what to give you today because, to me, that's just a sign of a tough team, a mentally tough team that is going to be relentless. I hope that's something that we never lose."

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Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com. Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Soler sits; Cubs name Minors' best for April

Vogelbach, Null named Minor League player and pitcher of month

Soler sits; Cubs name Minors' best for April

ST. LOUIS -- Jorge Soler did not start Monday, to give the Cubs' rookie a chance to catch his breath, manager Joe Maddon said.

Soler went 7-for-23 on the Cubs' homestand with two doubles and three walks. Maddon had inserted Soler into the leadoff spot on Saturday to try to get the outfielder to have a different mental approach, and he went 1-for-3 with a walk.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bryant not worried about home run numbers

Bryant not worried about home run numbers

CHICAGO -- Kris Bryant led the Minor Leagues with 43 home runs last season and paced the Major Leagues in Spring Training with nine, but has yet to connect in his 15 games so far with the Cubs.

"I could go the whole season without hitting a home run as long as we're winning games, and right now we're doing pretty good," Bryant said Sunday. "I know the type of player I am. It's percentages -- I hit home runs and I'm due, and [Saturday] I was due for a bad game. It happens."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs come up short in rubber match against Brewers

Cubs come up short in rubber match against Brewers

CHICAGO -- Aramis Ramirez hit a solo home run in the second and a tie-breaking two-run single in the eighth to lift the Brewers to a 5-3 victory Sunday over the Cubs and their first series win of the season.

Ramirez spared the Brewers from letting an eighth-inning rally slip away. Cubs reliever Pedro Strop had loaded the bases with nobody out when he struck Brewers shortstop Jean Segura in the head with a fastball, but recovered to induce a 5-2-3 double play from Ryan Braun.

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hammel has to battle to earn quality start

Hammel has to battle to earn quality start

CHICAGO -- Jason Hammel didn't lose to the Brewers on Sunday, but couldn't quite get the win.

The right-hander threw his second consecutive quality start, and did not get a decision in the Cubs' 5-3 loss to the Brewers. Hammel was charged with three runs over six innings, a lot considering he entered the game having not given up a single run in his two previous starts against Milwaukee.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Schwarber on Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week

Mets' top prospect threw 14 scoreless innings, struck out 19 in two starts

Schwarber on Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week

MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances from the previous seven days. Any player currently on an organization Top 30 Prospects list on our Prospect Watch is eligible, including big leaguers.

Triple-A Las Vegas's Cashman Field is one of the toughest places to pitch in professional baseball. Games there averaged 11.9 runs per game in 2014, the fifth-highest total in the Minor Leagues, and an average of 11.1 runs per contest are being scored this season.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, Callis' Corner. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB reveals 30 Honorary Bat Girl winners

MLB reveals 30 Honorary Bat Girl winners

Mother's Day is Sunday, and for Melissa Rupert of Liberty Township, Ohio, it will be the first one to celebrate as the mother of a baby boy named Noah.

"He's my entire world," Rupert said. "Every day, I hold my baby boy as tightly as he'll let me and remind myself that he is my rock and my joy, and I barely think about ... breast cancer."

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Jackson settling in as a reliever

Jackson settling in as a reliever

CHICAGO -- The Cubs' Edwin Jackson seems to be making the transition from starter to reliever. The right-hander has not given up an earned run over nine innings in his last six outings, and held opponents to a .171 average.

"I always thought he could [pitch in relief], even back in the day in Tampa," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Sunday of the right-hander, who was on the Rays staff in 2007-08. "His stuff was really good [Saturday]. He was very assertive with all his pitches and his breaking ball was really good. Hopefully, that's a sign of things to come with him."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Russell, Rizzo are OK after collision

Russell, Rizzo are OK after collision

CHICAGO -- First baseman Anthony Rizzo and second baseman Addison Russell survived a full-speed collision in the second inning of Saturday's 6-1 loss, and fortunately, there was no blood.

The Brewers had a runner at second and two outs in the second when Carlos Gomez lofted the ball to right. Both Rizzo and Russell gave chase, then crashed into each other and tumbled to the ground.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.