Routine keeping Szczur reliable in a pinch

Cubs' OF delivers big hits off bench in Rangers series; Fowler, Soler nearing rehab assignments

Routine keeping Szczur reliable in a pinch

CHICAGO -- The Cubs' Matt Szczur has developed a good routine, which has resulted in back-to-back games with key RBI hits off the bench.

When the Cubs take the field, Szczur rides a stationary bike, and he does that every inning to stay loose. In the second inning, he does some drills with assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske in the batting cages. In the fourth inning, coach Henry Blanco will throw batting practice to Szczur and the other bench players.

On Friday, Szczur smacked a two-run single, and on Saturday, he hit an RBI single, both in pinch-hit at-bats.

Szczur's two-run single

"We just have the routine going," Szczur said. "We're all ready."

The only option for visiting teams is to hit off a tee into a net in a hallway.

"Obviously to swing the bat and see pitches, it's a huge advantage for [the Cubs] as opposed to one guy hitting off a tee into the net, no visuals," Texas manager Jeff Banister said Sunday. "It's an advantage."

Adding batting cages to the visitor's side is in the renovation plans for Wrigley Field.

Szczur's RBI single

• Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he was "surprised" to receive a memo from Joe Torre, Major League Baseball's chief baseball officer, which was distributed to all managers and asked them to not argue balls and strikes. The memo warned the managers that they should not rely on replay to support their complaints.

"I know recently I've been guilty of yelling at an umpire," said Maddon, who has been ejected twice this season. "I never argue based on replay."

From his perch in the dugout at Wrigley Field, Maddon said he can tell whether a pitch is up or down, but he can't tell if it's in or outside the strike zone.

"I argue based on what I see," he said.

Maddon did think fans must miss the arguing between managers and umps.

"I think the fans dig it," he said. "They probably miss Mr. [Leo] Durocher kicking dirt on umpires and umpires kicking dirt back on Mr. Durocher, and that's always been part of the game."

Maddon's ejection from the game

Dexter Fowler and Jorge Soler, both on the disabled list with hamstring strains, ran the bases Sunday, and both should begin Minor League rehab assignments this week. Fowler has been sidelined since June 19 with a right hamstring strain, while Soler has been out since June 7 with a left hamstring strain.

Reliever Trevor Cahill, on the disabled list retroactive to July 9 with patellar tendinitis in his right knee, joined Triple-A Iowa this weekend. He was eligible to come off the DL on July 24.

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.