Russell's big hit helps propel Cubs to victory

Russell's big hit helps propel Cubs to victory

CINCINNATI -- Addison Russell will finally get to play at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs' No. 2 ranked prospect will make his home debut Monday night, and he arrives feeling a little better after hitting a key three-run double in Sunday's 5-2 win over the Reds.

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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.

Arrieta's in-game adjustments spur strong effort

Arrieta's in-game adjustments spur strong effort

CINCINNATI -- In both of Jake Arrieta's starts against the Reds this season, the Cubs pitcher has gotten off to great starts. On Sunday, he showed what he can do when he gets out of rhythm.

The right-hander scattered four hits and struck out six over six innings in the Cubs' 5-2 victory over the Reds on Sunday.

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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.

Starlin adds to highlight reel with throw from knees

Starlin adds to highlight reel with throw from knees

CINCINNATI -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon has challenged his players to try to win Gold Gloves. Starlin Castro is taking that seriously.

In the sixth inning of Sunday's 5-2 win over the Reds, Castro made a play that needs to be included on his personal highlight reel. Brennan Boesch hit a ball to Castro's right that he made a backhanded grab on as he fell on the grass, then was able to throw from his knees to first in time to get the Reds' right fielder.

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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.

Arrieta, Russell lead way as Cubs top Reds

Arrieta, Russell lead way as Cubs top Reds

CINCINNATI -- Big hits from Miguel Montero and Addison Russell were enough to lift the Cubs to a 5-2 victory over the Reds on Sunday at Great American Ball Park. Chicago took both games of the rain-shortened series.

The Cubs took a 1-0 lead with one out in the second inning against Anthony DeSclafani when Montero hit an 84-mph 1-1 changeup to the seats in left field for a home run. The Cubs added four unearned runs in the top of the fourth inning following third baseman Todd Frazier's fielding error.

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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. Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hammel happy to be home to face Pirates

Hammel happy to be home to face Pirates

The Pirates, one of the National League Central's reigning elite teams, and the Cubs, a growing force, begin their second series in a week Monday night at 7:05 p.m. CT in Wrigley Field. The first front of the pitched battle will involve right-handers Vance Worley of the Bucs and Jason Hammel of the Cubs in a rematch of their meeting on Wednesday.

Worley's 4-3 victory in that game started the Pirates on the winning streak that reached five Sunday in Arizona. The Bucs now go for their first six-game winning streak during the month of April since 2002.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Maddon lauds Bryant's keen batting eye

Maddon lauds Bryant's keen batting eye

CINCINNATI -- As much as Cubs fans want to see Kris Bryant hit home runs, manager Joe Maddon likes the walks the rookie third baseman has been working.

Bryant drew eight walks in his first eight games, which has helped the Cubs' overall numbers. Chicago leads the National League in pitches per plate appearance.

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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.

Motte sends text of support to injured Wainwright

Herrera impressing Maddon with positive approach off Cubs' bench

Motte sends text of support to injured Wainwright

CINCINNATI -- Cubs reliever Jason Motte sent Adam Wainwright a text message Saturday night as soon as he heard that his former teammate was injured. Wainwright was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with an injury to his left Achilles and ankle that may be season-ending.

Motte, who pitched in St. Louis for six seasons, said as bad as the injury may be, the Cardinals always seem to find others to step up. They did it in 2013 when Motte missed the year because of elbow surgery.

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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.

Maddon content to bat pitcher in No. 8 slot

Maddon content to bat pitcher in No. 8 slot

CINCINNATI -- So far, Cubs manager Joe Maddon's preference for having the pitcher bat eighth seems to be working, and he plans on sticking with it.

The starting pitcher has batted eighth in each of the Cubs' 17 games this season, and the group is batting .141 collectively. However, where the pitcher bats is not Maddon's concern.

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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' tilt with Reds gets rained out

Cubs' tilt with Reds gets rained out

CINCINNATI -- Miguel Montero and Jorge Soler played dominoes. Anthony Rizzo posted a photo of himself with other 25-and-under teammates: Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Starlin Castro and Soler. Joe Maddon had a little applesauce, some peanuts and a couple of pieces of sushi.

The Cubs had plenty of down time on Saturday at Great American Ball Park, as they waited 4 hours, 13 minutes before the game was postponed because of rain. No makeup date was announced. The Cubs return to Cincinnati from July 20-22 and Sept. 29-Oct. 1.

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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.

Maddon calls Reds' Hamilton a 'game changer'

Maddon calls Reds' Hamilton a 'game changer'

CINCINNATI -- Billy Hamilton didn't waste any time running on Chicago's Jon Lester. The Cubs weren't surprised. The Reds' center fielder has done that to other pitchers, as well.

"I know the focus is on Jon, but I promise [Hamilton] has done that to other people," manager Joe Maddon said on Saturday. "My biggest concern there is to not permit a big inning, and that's part of the bigger inning."

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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.

Rizzo's approach at the plate impresses Maddon

Rizzo's approach at the plate impresses Maddon

CINCINNATI -- The Cubs' Anthony Rizzo began the day leading the Majors with a .493 on-base percentage, and manager Joe Maddon is happy with the first baseman's approach at the plate.

"If you want to teach a young left-handed hitter how to break the shift, watch what [Rizzo is] doing now," 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.

Ozzie, Rickey, Jenkins and Tiant enter Hall of Game

Talented class of players embody passion of Negro Leagues

Ozzie, Rickey, Jenkins and Tiant enter Hall of Game

KANSAS CITY -- Ozzie Smith's patented backflip was the perfect maneuver to help him stick the landing in the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum's "Hall of Game" class of 2015.

Now in its second year, the Hall of Game is for former Major League players who not only did great things on the field, but also exhibited the flair and passion reminiscent of the Negro Leagues players. Joining Smith on Saturday in the Hall of Game induction class were Rickey Henderson, Ferguson Jenkins and Luis Tiant.

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Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Herrera proves he's ready for anything with go-ahead single

Manager Maddon admires utility player's professionalism, upbeat attitude

Herrera proves he's ready for anything with go-ahead single

CINCINNATI -- This spring, manager Joe Maddon wasn't quite sure what to expect from Jonathan Herrera, and he's discovering that the utility player is ready for anything.

In his first at-bat of the game, Herrera delivered a tie-breaking RBI single to highlight the Cubs' four-run 11th in a 7-3 come-from-behind win over the Reds on Friday night.

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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.

Lester improves, strikes out 10 against Reds

Despite no-decision, lefty pitches best outing this season

Lester improves, strikes out 10 against Reds

CINCINNATI -- Jon Lester has had to do a crash course on the National League, and on Friday, his studying skills paid off.

The Cubs lefty did not get a decision in the 7-3, 11-inning win over the Reds, but he had his best outing to date, striking out a season-high 10 batters over six innings.

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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.

Herrera drives in go-ahead run as Cubs win in 11th

Herrera drives in go-ahead run as Cubs win in 11th

CINCINNATI -- A four-run top of the 11th inning gave the Cubs a 7-3 victory over the Reds on Friday, their fifth game won in their final at-bat in 16 games overall. Jonathan Herrera delivered the go-ahead run with an RBI single.

It was a 3-3 game in the top of the 11th when struggling Reds reliever Burke Badenhop gave up three straight one-out singles. Anthony Rizzo started the rally with a lined single to center field that was stopped on the short-hop by a diving Billy Hamilton. Kris Bryant followed with a single up the middle before Herrera, who entered the game defensively in the ninth inning, came through with a lined RBI single to right field.

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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. Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Russell makes diving stop to throw out speedster Hamilton

Rookie infielder also turns double play in fourth big league game

Russell makes diving stop to throw out speedster Hamilton

CINCINNATI -- Cubs infielder Addison Russell may have only been playing his fourth big league game, but he was well aware of how fast the Reds' Billy Hamilton is.

Hamilton was 2-for-2 with three stolen bases in his first two at-bats Friday against the Cubs, and he led off the fifth with a grounder toward right-center. Russell dove to his right, snared the ball, and got to his feet in time to throw Hamilton out at first.

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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 appreciate Denorfia's highlight-reel catch

Despite resulting gash in knee, left fielder happy to 'lay it all out there'

Cubs appreciate Denorfia's highlight-reel catch

CINCINNATI -- Cubs outfielder Chris Denorfia had a nice cut on his right knee and appreciation from his teammates as souvenirs from his diving catch on Thursday night at PNC Park.

Denorfia robbed the Pirates' Andrew Lambo of an extra-base hit with his catch for the second out in the first inning. He landed on the warning track, which caused the gash in his knee.

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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

Anthony Castrovince

Homer potential just one dimension of Bryant's game

There's anticipation to see power, but Cubs third baseman has shown even more

Homer potential just one dimension of Bryant's game

PITTSBURGH -- Kris Bryant has been up in the big leagues for a week now, and he's still looking for his first home run -- unless you count that Francisco Cervelli-aided scamper around the basepaths at PNC Park the other night.

But in the course of compiling a 1.035 OPS, four doubles and seven RBIs in seven games, what Bryant has quickly demonstrated is that he's far more than just the home-run hitter he's known and expected to be.

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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bryant keeping focus on game, not potential grievance

Bryant keeping focus on game, not potential grievance

CINCINNATI -- Cubs top prospect Kris Bryant said Friday he prefers to stay focused on the field, and not on any potential grievance that the Major League Baseball Players Association may consider filing on his behalf because of the timing of his callup.

"For me, I'm just supposed to play on the field and worry about what I do out there," Bryant said. "I'm not worried about the stuff off the field. I'm here to help the team win now, and I'm having fun with it."

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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.

Staked to early lead, Cubs fall to Pirates

Staked to early lead, Cubs fall to Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco hit an RBI double in a three-run sixth inning and a tie-breaking RBI single in the seventh to lift the Pirates to a 5-4 victory over the Cubs on Thursday, and split the four-game series.

"Arguably for us, it's one of the best team wins since I've been here with what we had and what we went out there with and how we were able to battle," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle 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. George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rizzo loves Beyonce, prefers New York-style pizza

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Rizzo loves Beyonce, prefers New York-style pizza

You've seen "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee," right? Well, what you're about to watch is just like that except instead of comedians, you get me and the Cubs' All-Star first baseman, Anthony Rizzo, driving around the streets of New York. There's also no coffee, unless you brought your own. Sorry. 

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Denorfia leaps into highlight reel with catch

Denorfia leaps into highlight reel with catch

PITTSBURGH -- If Chris Denorfia was tired from Wednesday's late game, he didn't show it in the first inning of Thursday's game against the Pirates.

Making his second start since coming off the disabled list, Denorfia made a great running catch on Andrew Lambo's fly ball to left for the second out in the first. Denorfia launched himself for the ball and grabbed it in the air before landing on the warning track.

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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.

Maddon wants starters to have extended outings

Maddon wants starters to have extended outings

PITTSBURGH -- Joe Maddon doesn't want to put any pressure on Jon Lester, but the Cubs could sure use a complete game from the left-hander on Friday night.

In the past four games, including Thursday's 5-4 loss to the Pirates, the bullpen has been busy, and Maddon is still trying to figure out roles. Jake Arrieta went seven innings during Monday's series opener, but the next two starters lasted only five innings and Kyle Hendricks went 5 1/3 on Thursday.

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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.

Comfortable at third, Bryant makes first start in center

Comfortable at third, Bryant makes first start in center

PITTSBURGH -- Kris Bryant is well aware of the super talented center fielders who have played the game such as Willie Mays and Andrew McCutchen.

"Don't even put me in the same sentence with those guys -- I'm not there," Bryant said, laughing. "Third base is the position I want to get better at. When guys go down, other guys step up, and I'm here to fill that hole when needed and Dexter [Fowler] will be back soon."

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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.

Maddon appreciates players stepping up for any role

Maddon appreciates players stepping up for any role

PITTSBURGH -- Third baseman Kris Bryant played center field, catcher Welington Castillo nearly switched to third base, and pitcher Travis Wood, always eager to pinch-hit, was one run away from playing the outfield.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon has had to be clever this season, and that trend continued Wednesday night when Bryant made his Major League debut in center for a half inning. On Thursday, Bryant started in center to give Dexter Fowler another day to heal from a tight right groin.

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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.

Lester not worried he's yet to post win with Cubs

Lester not worried he's yet to post win with Cubs

PITTSBURGH -- Jon Lester hasn't been at his best during the month of April in the past, so the left-hander isn't too concerned that he has yet to win in his first three starts with the Cubs.

In his career, Lester is 13-15 with a 4.04 ERA in the first month of the season. This year, he's 0-2 with a 6.89 ERA in three games, and the southpaw will make his fourth start on Friday against the Reds. It will be a rematch of his April 13 game when he gave up six runs on 10 hits over six innings.

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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.