GENEVA – Inclement weather drenched Cougars’ fans chances to see Matt Garza make a rehab start in April at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.
On Monday, the right-hander resurfaced, albeit on the lips of a former teammate and several would-be understudies.
The Cougars’ clubhouse buzzed with talk of the parent Cubs’ late afternoon trade of Garza to the Texas Rangers before a 5-2 loss to Lansing.
Thanks to the cellular technology that manager Mark Johnson often jokingly makes fun of, players will stay tuned to any further activity before Major League Baseball’s July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline.
“They’ve got all these ‘dumb’ phones to keep up with all this stuff,” Johnson said, “so they know things before we know them most of the time.”
Rehabbing righty Scott Baker learned his one-time Cubs and Minnesota Twins teammate had been dealt as he shuttled to and from his locker and the trainer’s room.
Baker, who expects to make his third rehab start Wednesday with the Cougars (37-58 overall, 7-22 second half) as he works back from April 2012 Tommy John surgery, figured the Garza trade was only a matter of time.
“You know, he’s a top-tier pitcher, so obviously the Cubs are in a situation where they’d like to go out there and get some good players for the future,” Baker said. “And they have the opportunity to do that.”
The Cubs acquired third baseman Mike Olt and right-handers C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm in addition to two players to be named later.
With Edwards shining for Hickory of the Class-A South Atlantic League – 8-3 with a 1.38 ERA and 122 strikouts in 93⅓ innings – the Cubs will send him to Advanced-A Daytona.
Grimm and Olt, a power hitting third baseman, are bound for Triple-A Iowa.
Cougars reliever Matt Iannazzo, a Pittsburgh product, faced Olt in college while Olt played for Big East rival Connecticut.
“You give it some thought. It’s nice to look back on. It’s pretty cool to look at people you’ve faced and see how far they’ve gone,” Iannazzo said. “And I’m sure there’s hitters that have said they’ve faced people like us and gotten hits. It works both ways.”
Lansing (41-58, 9-21) is happy to rattle the bats against anyone during a season in which it has been the victim of three no-hitters.
The Lugnuts grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first inning against Cougars righty Juan Paniagua, and Kane County drew as close as 3-2 when left fielder Reggie Golden launched a two-run homer in the second.
Lansing pitching limited the Cougars to two hits until the seventh inning, as the hosts were unable to secure a three-game sweep and split the six-game homestand.
Designated hitter Rock Shoulders just missed driving out a fastball with the bases loaded and the Cougars trailing by the final margin in the seventh, flying out to center field on the first pitch.
Johnson was ejected for the third time this homestand in the top half of the inning after arguing a fair/foul call.
Batting as the tying run, shortstop Marco Hernandez grounded out to first base to end the game.
COUGARS SHORT HOPS
Cougars (TBD) at Beloit (TBD) 7 p.m. Wednesday, AM-1280
Monday’s crowd of 4,681 pushed the Cougars’ season total to 264,774 fans in 46 home games. Kane County attracted 230,927 fans through the same span last season.
Spectators sported some pretty savvy jersey T-shirts Monday night, and the garb actully lent itself to to a game of six degrees of Matt Garza separation.
The fan in the Dontrelle Willis shirt supported a pitcher who also left the Cubs organization in 2013 (Willis, a former Cougar, was released from his minor league deal in February). The fan in the Yu Darvish shirt, meanwhile, represented one of Garza's new teammates with the Texas Rangers. The Cubs traded Garza Monday.
Cubs brass will be excited because
Cubs righty Scott Baker, who's recovering from April 2012 Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, reported no discomfort after a successful bullpen session Sunday. He is commuting from Chicago to rehab with the team and could start Wednesday's series opener at Beloit.
"I don't think the results are there yet," said Baker, who has a 15.88 ERA in two Midwest League rehab starts, "but hopefully, everything will start clicking pretty soon."
Cubs brass will cringe because
The Cougars still are trying to sustain a killer instinct. The club's lone three-game sweep came May 1 to 3 against Bowling Green.