CHICAGO — As the annual Crosstown Classic draws to a close Thursday at Guaranteed Rate Field, one thing remains perfectly clear: The rivalry hasn’t lost any of its intensity.
Despite the Chicago Cubs and their neighbors to the south, the White Sox, moving in different directions as next week’s trade deadline approaches, winning as much as possible — especially against one another — is a common goal.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Wednesday that the club remains open for business after trading pitchers Jose Quintana and David Robertson and third baseman Todd Frazier in recent days. How active the White Sox will be remains unknown; but, while the Cubs chase after a National League Central Division title, the White Sox are in still full-blown rebuilding mode.
“We’re still having conversations on a couple of different fronts,” Hahn said Wednesday before the White Sox lost 8-3 to the Cubs and fell to 2-14 in their last 16 games. “Obviously, I think we’ve made our major moves up to this point. But we’re still having some conversations.”
While Hahn focuses on the future, manager Rick Renteria keeps his focus on the present, especially with one final game against his former team coming Thursday.
Jon Lester (7-6, 3.95 ERA) will start for the Cubs, who are 10-2 since the All-Star break, while the White Sox counter with Mike Pelfrey (3-7, 4.46).
Lester is 6-6 with a 4.43 ERA in 14 starts vs. the White Sox, including 6-3 with a 3.54 ERA in nine turns at Guaranteed Rate Field. Pelfrey is 2-0 with a 1.66 ERA in three outings against the Cubs.
“We’re trying to play as well as we can,” Renteria said Wednesday. “It would be nice to get a win here (against the Cubs) with the hometown fans, for sure. That’s what we’re going to try and do. We’re going to execute; and, if we go out and do what we need to do, just like any other ballclub, we give ourselves a chance and an opportunity to win a game.”
The Cubs, meanwhile, are moving closer to the trade deadline likely in the buyer’s market. In addition to perhaps adding a little more pitching, the Cubs, who moved into first place in the National League Central with their win Wednesday, reportedly have been shopping for a backup catcher.
Manager Joe Maddon elected to sit the hot-hitting Willson Contreras on Wednesday night to provide a breather. After the Cubs cut ties with veteran Miguel Montrero earlier this season, having a bona fide backup catcher still may be a priority.
Maddon, for one, isn’t concerned.
“Our (front office) guys know what they’re doing,” Maddon said. “They read the tea leaves really well. They’re inspired to do what they can do to help us out further, but I will stand by my comment: I like what we have here right now.”
After Jake Arrieta allowed only two hits in 6 2/3 innings Wednesday night, Lester will take the mound with hopes of continuing the strong effort the Cubs have gotten from their starters. Since the All-Star break, Cubs starters are 9-0 with eight quality starts and have posted a 2.50 ERA.
While the Cubs possibly look to add to their arsenal, is there a need to add another arm?
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