Reds put RH Cueto on 15-day DL with muscle strain
The Associated Press
CINCINNATI — The Reds have lost top starter Johnny Cueto for at least a few weeks because of a strained muscle in his back, the third significant injury for the defending NL Central champions in the season’s opening weeks.
Cueto went on the 15-day DL on Monday. The Reds called up right-handed reliever Justin Freeman from Triple-A Louisville, a boost to their often-used bullpen.
The Reds are likely to call up left-hander Tony Cingrani to start in Cueto’s spot on Thursday.
Last year, the Reds made it through the regular season without one of their starters getting hurt. That streak ended when Cueto pulled an oblique muscle in the first inning of a playoff game against San Francisco, leaving their rotation in flux for the rest of a 5-game series that the Giants won.
Cueto strained a back muscle during the fifth inning of a 3-1 loss in Pittsburgh on Saturday, forcing manager Dusty Baker to go deep into his bullpen. The injury was initially thought to be in his triceps but an examination found the problem in the right side of his back.
It’s unclear how long the Reds might be without their opening day starter and 19-game winner from last season.
“Hopefully only three, maybe four starts,” Baker said. “Once he does come back, he has to get his endurance up, so we’re really not putting a timetable on it. We’re going to miss him but we’ve got to carry on.”
The Reds won 97 games last season — second-most in the NL — despite having the back end of their bullpen wiped out by injuries during spring training. They also lost Joey Votto for 48 games at midseason because of torn knee cartilage.
The injuries are piling up quickly for Cincinnati.
Left-handed set-up reliever Sean Marshall developed a sore shoulder late in spring training and went on the DL. Cleanup hitter Ryan Ludwick tore cartilage in his right shoulder while sliding into third base during the season opener and will miss at least the first half of the season.
Now, Cueto is gone.
“This is our ace,” Baker added. “We already lost a couple of key guys in Marshall and Ludwick, so I hope we don’t lose any more.”
The Reds transferred Ludwick to the 60-day DL on Monday to make room for Freeman on the 40-man roster. The 26-year-old reliever will make his major-league debut the first time he gets into a game.
Cingrani was limited to two innings in his start on Sunday, keeping him fresh so he could fill in for Cueto on Thursday. The 23-year-old pitcher has fanned 26 in 14 1/3 innings for Louisville. He will make his debut as well.
Jackie Robinson’s ballboy throws out 1st pitch
MIAMI — A Brooklyn Dodgers ballboy during Jackie Robinson’s rookie season helped honor the baseball pioneer Monday by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the Miami Marlins-Washington Nationals game.
Norman Berman, 84, lives in nearby West Palm Beach and has been a Marlins fan since their first game in 1993. He also was the Dodgers’ 19-year-old ballboy in 1947, the year Robinson broke the sport’s color barrier.
Berman witnessed the challenges Robinson overcame as depicted in the new movie “42,” with opponents relentlessly taunting and heckling the Dodgers rookie.
“That movie was very close to what he had to go through,” Berman said before the Marlins game. “They threw at him, they stepped on his feet and he never turned his back. He never said anything to them. He never tried to fight them. He walked away with a smile on his face because they told him, ‘If you argue and fight with them, you’re going to ruin it for everybody else’.”
Berman’s only season as ballboy was in 1947 and he watched Robinson and the Dodgers reach the World Series. Berman said Robinson befriended him, played catch with him and gave tips on how to make a double-play pivot.
“He was a wonderful person,” Berman added. “I learned something from him — when you go through tough times, you’ve got to stay positive. I don’t think most of the ballplayers who came after him would have been able to be the first black ballplayer because they couldn’t do what he did.”
Baseball celebrated its annual Jackie Robinson Day on Monday, with players at all major-league games wearing the late Hall-of-Famer’s No. 42.
Cubs unveil $500M Wrigley Field renovation plan
CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs and the city have agreed on details of a $500 million facelift for Wrigley Field, including an electronic video screen that is nearly three times as large as the one currently atop the centerfield bleachers of the 99-year-old ballpark.
Under terms of the agreement, the Cubs would also be able to increase the number of night games at Wrigley Field from 30 to 40 — or nearly half the games played there each season. They would give Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts the ability to renovate the second-oldest park in the major leagues, boost business and perhaps make baseball’s most infamous losers competitive again.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel hailed what the two sides called a “framework” agreement in a joint statement issued Sunday night, noting that it includes no taxpayer funding. That had been one of the original requests of the Ricketts family in a long-running renovation dispute that at times involved everything from cranky ballpark neighbors to ward politics and even the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama.
“This framework allows the Cubs to restore the Friendly Confines (of Wrigley) and pursue their economic goals, while respecting the rights and quality of life of its neighbors,” Emanuel said.
Still uncertain was how the agreement will sit with owners of nearby buildings who provide rooftop views of the ball games under an agreement with the Cubs that goes back years. They have threatened to sue if the renovations obstruct their view, which they claim would drive them out of business.
On Monday, a spokesman for the rooftop owners said the group would have a statement later but in the meantime, referred the AP to the group’s statement released earlier this month that says: “Any construction that interrupts the rooftop views will effectually drive them out of business and be challenged in a court of law.”
The Cubs wrote the video screen they are proposing to build is 6,000 square feet and would be built with “minimal impact on rooftops with whom (the) Cubs have an agreement.”
The current centerfield scoreboard is slightly more than 2,000 square feet; the Cubs also have plans to add a left-field sign of 1,000 square feet.
“Rooftop views are largely preserved,” the team wrote in its announcement. “The Cubs have agreed to install only two signs in the outfield — a videoboard in left field and a sign in right field. This is far less than our original desire for seven signs to help offset the cost of ballpark restoration.”
The signs offer the team a chance to reach new advertising deals and pay for the overhaul, even if it might change the character of the historic park. The city and club said they hope the agreement would allow the Cubs to obtain necessary city approvals for the work by the end of the current season. The Ricketts family, which bought the Cubs in 2009 for $845 million, initially sought tax funding for renovation plans.
With that out in the new agreement, the owners will seek to open new revenue streams outside the stadium. Under the agreement, the Ricketts family would be allowed to build a 175-room hotel, a plaza, an office building with retail space and a health club and provide 1,000 “remote” parking spots that will be free and come with shuttle service.
“We are anxious to work with our community as we seek the approvals required to move the project forward,” Ricketts wrote in the statement.
The site of Babe Ruth’s “called shot” home run in the 1932 World Series and more heartbreak than Cubs’ fans would like to remember, Wrigley Field is younger only than Boston’s Fenway Park in the majors. It has long been a treasured showplace for baseball purists — night games were only added in 1988 — but team officials for years have desperately wanted a true upgrade, saying it costs as much as $15 million a year just to keep up with basic repairs.
The ballpark has also played no small part in the lore of the team, as fans were reminded April 10 when someone delivered a goat’s head in a box addressed to Ricketts. Neither the team nor the Chicago Police Department have talked about a possible motive for the strange delivery but as every fan knows, it was in the 1945 World Series when a tavern owner arrived at the park with his pet goat — which had a ticket.
According to legend, the owner was told the goat smelled and was denied entry. The angry tavern owner then put the “Curse of the Billy Goat” on the Cubs — and the team has not been back to the World Series since. The last World Series championship for the Cubs came in 1908 — six years before Wrigley was built.
In recent weeks, fans had to deal with the unlikely specter of the Cubs leaving Chicago. With the talks bogged down, the mayor of nearby Rosemont piped up, saying the village located near O’Hare International Airport would be willing to let the Cubs have 25 acres free of charge to build a replica of Wrigley Field.