PITTSBURGH -- For the final two games of the first half, the Cubs decided they needed a little more experience on the bench, and recalled infielder Munenori Kawasaki from Triple-A Iowa on Saturday. Jeimer Candelario was optioned to Iowa to make room on the roster.
Kawasaki, 35, was batting .271 with nine doubles, one triple and 11 stolen bases in 61 games with Iowa this season. Candelario, 22, the Cubs' No. 7 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, went 1-for-11 in five games with the Cubs. He was hitting .333 at Iowa when promoted. Candelario, who played third base for the Cubs, was picked to play in Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in San Diego, but had to drop out after his promotion to the Majors.
The Japanese infielder also brings a little life to the clubhouse. On Saturday, he did a few dance moves and was seen wearing a mask that is designed to help one's breathing. He is unique.
Last year when the Cubs were going through a funk, manager Joe Maddon hired a magician to perform in New York and liven things up.
"[Calling up Kawasaki] was a lot more inexpensive and easier to find," Maddon said.
Candelario will likely be added in September, if not sooner. Maddon felt that the brief exposure the infielder had with the big league team will help him in the long run.
"What he did here now, got a couple at-bats, played some defense, made a couple plays, he was in the big league clubhouse -- all that stuff counts," Maddon said. "How far away is he? He's not far off. He's somebody who could help at the end of the season with a good run on his part.
"I think the most important thing was that he saw this and felt this and I don't think he'll be as impressed with it the next time," Maddon said. "I think he's really talented. I love his swing. We just thought it was wise to get him back out and let him go play."
• Jorge Soler, who has been on the disabled list since June 7 with a left hamstring strain, has yet to begin a rehab assignment. Soler has been bothered by leg problems in the past and the Cubs are being cautious with him in his rehab.
"I'd like to believe we're close to a rehab assignment also, but I don't know that," Maddon said. "I was told the news was better and doctors were more optimistic."
• Catcher David Ross, on the seven-day concussion disabled list, would be eligible to return immediately after the All-Star break. On Saturday, rookie Willson Contreras caught Jon Lester, the first time someone other than Ross has been behind the plate for the left-hander since last Aug. 29 when Miguel Montero did so.
• Clayton Richard, on the DL since June 21 with a blister on his left middle finger, gave up one run on three hits over 4 2/3 innings in a rehab outing for Double-A Tennessee on Friday night. Richard could be activated after the All-Star break.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.