CINCINNATI -- During early batting practice on Wednesday at Great American Ball Park, Cubs third baseman Ian Stewart was hitting ball after ball to the opposite field. Then he launched a few into the right-field seats."I like the ones he was hitting to right," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. Stewart entered Wednesday's game against the Reds batting .169 overall and 2-for-14 (.143) in the just-completed four-game series in Philadelphia. "He's hit into a lot of bad luck," Sveum said. "For his average to be where it is, I don't think that's where his swings are, not that he's where he wants to be on a consistent basis. But some of the balls he's hit hard. ... It's not as bad as the numbers look. The way he's played defense and still centering balls up, it's not as bad as it looks." Sveum has been patient with Stewart and catcher Geovany Soto, who is hitting .127 overall. "It's 25 games into the season," Sveum said. "It's hard to panic after 25 games when you have 140 left, basically. These guys have a track record, although Stewart had a tough year last year. We didn't pick him up to give him 25 days of a chance, especially when he's a two-way player, or can be a two-way player. "It's way too early, the weather is just starting to warm up," Sveum said. "There's plenty of guys struggling. [Albert] Pujols doesn't have a home run yet, Prince Fielder hasn't hit one since the second day of the season. It's way too early to think about any change or anything like that."
Campana reflects on progress since debut
CINCINNATI -- Tony Campana took advantage of Tuesday's rainout to get a home-cooked meal, going to see his mom in nearby Springboro, Ohio, for her stromboli.Campana is approaching the one-year anniversary of his Major League debut with the Cubs, which was May 17 at Great American Ball Park, much to the delight of family and friends. He's come a long way since then. "It's crazy -- I was looking at some hitting against [Bronson] Arroyo yesterday with Rudy [Jaramillo, hitting coach] and saw how much different my stance and everything is since then and how much more relaxed I am now," Campana said. "It's pretty crazy." Campana, with seven, and Starlin Castro, with 10, are the first Cubs duo to record at least seven stolen bases each in the first month. Campana fills a unique niche on a lineup. "Me and Juan Pierre were talking about that a little," said the speedy Campana. "He was saying, 'They try to find ways to weed us out, and then you see guys come around every once in a while and you can't.' If I can get on base, I can be valuable."
Rizzo, Batista snag April Minor League honors
CINCINNATI -- The Cubs named Triple-A Iowa first baseman Anthony Rizzo and right-handed pitcher Frank Batista as the organization's Minor League player and pitcher of the month for April.Rizzo, 22, batted .384 with three doubles, seven home runs and 23 RBIs in 22 games with Iowa in April. A left-handed batter, he posted a .430 on-base percentage and a .663 slugging percentage, good for a 1.093 OPS. He ranks among the Pacific Coast League leaders in several offensive categories, including home runs, RBIs, total bases and batting average. Batista, 23, combined to toss 9 2/3 scoreless innings in eight relief appearances between Double-A Tennessee and Iowa in April. He limited opponents to a .176 batting average and struck out 11 while walking two. He began the year in Double-A and collected five saves in six scoreless outings before he was promoted.
The Cubs will have to make at least one, and most likely two roster moves prior to Thursday's game to make room on the roster for starter Ryan Dempster. Dempster has been on the disabled list since April 18 with a strained right quad and was scheduled to start in the series finale against the Reds.Randy Wells made two starts in Dempster's spot, and was expected to go back to Triple-A Iowa to make room. The Cubs also have to make a move if they activate Kerry Wood from the DL. He has not pitched since April 13 because of fatigue in his right shoulder. Cubs manager Dale Sveum would not reveal the moves until Thursday. "We want to make sure nobody shows up to the ballpark sick or anything like that," Sveum said. The Cubs' defensive positioning is the culmination of lots of homework on the part of Sveum and the coaching staff. They watch video, study spray charts. "It's a 90-percent rule," Sveum said. "If a guy is going to hit the ball there 90 percent of the time, then why not play there?" On May 9, Dempster will host the third annual Casino Night to benefit the Ryan and Jenny Dempster Family Foundation and raise money to fight 22q (also known as DiGeorge syndrome), a disorder which his daughter, Riley, has. There will be a live auction, and the items will include a baseball signed by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, a Ryder Cup golf tournament package, an Ernie Banks autographed jersey and a behind-the-scenes experience at MLB Network. The event will be held at the Palmer House Hilton Chicago, and include performances by American Idol singer Crystal Bowersox and Chicago's own John Vincent. For more information, go to the Dempster Family Foundation website.
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.