CHICAGO -- On Sunday, Cubs prospect Arismendy Alcantara, an infielder with Double-A Tennessee, will play in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. Futures Game alumni Alfonso Soriano and Welington Castillo will be cheering him on, knowing just how important this event is.
Soriano was the MVP of the first Futures Game, played in 1999 at Fenway Park. He hit two home runs for the World Team, including a monster shot over the Green Monster off Mark Mulder.
Was Soriano nervous playing in the event?
"A little bit," the Cubs veteran said. "I was a little nervous because we were playing on a big league field. I said, 'One day, I'm going to play in those ballparks.'"
Castillo took part in the 2008 game, the last All-Star event held at old Yankee Stadium. His World teammates included Pablo Sandoval, Ivan DeJesus Jr. and Hector Rondon, then with the Indians and now on the Cubs staff.
Castillo said he couldn't tell who among his teammates would make the big leagues.
"Honestly, I wasn't sure I'd make it," Castillo said. "I wasn't a good catcher at that point because I was an infielder, and still learning a lot about catching. It was a good experience to be around those guys. I saw that a couple of the guys got a Major League debut in September, and I said, 'OK, I need to keep working hard because I want to make it.'
"Being in that game, it opened your eyes," he said. "I think it gave me a lot of confidence."
Edwin Jackson was on the U.S. Team for the 2003 Futures Game played at U.S. Cellular Field.
"All the names you see now, pretty much most of the people in the Futures Game find their way to the big leagues somehow," Jackson said.
Did he think he would make it?
"At the time you're just enjoying it," Jackson said. "You're talking about guys coming from Double-A, Single-A. Back then, you're 26, and you're still considered young. It's not like it is now."
Cubs claim Gillespie off waivers from Giants
CHICAGO -- Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney gave the thumbs up to the team's newest addition, outfielder Cole Gillespie, who was claimed off waivers from the Giants on Saturday.
Barney and Gillespie were teammates at Oregon State, and helped lead the Beavers to the 2006 National Championship.
"It's usually not my job to play front office, but I think it's a good pickup for us," Barney said. "He was all-state shortstop kind of guy, good athlete, and a right-handed bat that we need right now. He can play all positions real well. I'm excited to finally play with a teammate who I played with in the past. He's a good teammate guy."
Gillespie, 29, spent most of the last three seasons in Triple-A in the Diamondbacks and Giants organizations. A right-handed hitter, he signed a Minor League contract with the Giants last offseason and batted .277 with 11 doubles, two triples, nine home runs and 31 RBIs in 74 games with Triple-A Fresno this year. He was called up to the big league team July 5, went hitless in nine big league at-bats and was designated for assignment on July 9.
Gillespie was in the Brewers' big league camp when Cubs manager Dale Sveum was on the coaching staff.
"He's a really sound, fundamental baseball guy," Sveum said. "He runs well, plays all the outfield positions. He can hit the ball out of the ballpark, gives you a good at-bat. He's a real professional player."
So, did Barney give a good scouting report?
"I've seen him enough," Sveum said. "I've probably seen him more than he has. He gave me the thumbs up, though."
The Cubs have been carrying an extra reliever because of the lack of outfielders available. Ryan Sweeney (fractured rib), David DeJesus (sprained shoulder) and Minor League prospect Brett Jackson (calf) all are sidelined with injuries. Gillespie was expected to join the Cubs in time for Sunday's night game against the Cardinals. A corresponding roster move would be made at that time.
"He obviously hasn't had a whole lot of reps in the big leagues," Sveum said of Gillespie. "He's just a baseball player. He can steal a base, he's going to catch the ball. He's just a good baseball player."
Barney works out with Gillespie in the offseason -- they live about 20 minutes from each other -- and said solid fundamentals are emphasized at Oregon State.
"We're stuck indoors all winter and we play on the road the first 21 games because of the weather," Barney said. "That's all we do is work on the little things, and [Gillespie] is good at that."
Cubs players give Bryant special welcome to Wrigley
CHICAGO -- Kris Bryant not only got to take a few swings at Wrigley Field on Friday, but the current roster of Cubs players took some swings at him, in a friendly way.
Bryant, the Cubs' first-round Draft pick, officially signed his contract on Friday, and before his first round of batting practice, he had to address the players.
"You want him to feel comfortable, but you want to make him feel as uncomfortable as possible in a fun way," Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney said Saturday. "You have him introduce himself, and tell how much he signed for, just to hear it come out of his mouth.
"He's a great kid, very humble," Barney said of the third baseman, who won the Dick Howser trophy as the top college player in the country. "He had a good time yesterday and he's excited to get going. I was surprised at how big he was. I guess I'll just be shorter and shorter to everybody else."
Bryant, by the way, signed for $6.7 million, and he's 6-foot-5, while Barney is 5-foot-10.
When Bryant was introduced at his news conference, he was given a Cubs jersey with a No. 1 on the back. That's Cody Ransom's number. During the players' session, Ransom told the story about how actor Billy Crystal signed a one-day contract with the Yankees, and was given No. 1. Ransom was on the team, and gave up his number for the day. Crystal paid Ransom back with some nice gifts.
Naturally, Ransom expected Bryant to come through, and asked for a Rolex watch.
"Cody's like, 'Hey, he's wearing my number, he signed for a lot of money, he better give me something,'" Barney said.
Schierholtz rests on Saturday, will likely sit Sunday
CHICAGO -- Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz did not start Saturday because he's a little "banged up," manager Dale Sveum said, and most likely will not play Sunday to give him time to heal some nagging injuries.
Sveum said the injuries involved several body parts, but it was nothing major. The right fielder has never had this many at-bats (253) prior to the All-Star break in his career. He's been scuffling a little at the plate, batting .138 in his last eight games.
"He's a little banged up," Sveum said Saturday. "I'll probably give him [Sunday] off as well and let him get six days off. I might have to use him to pinch-hit or something. He's just banged up and struggling a little bit."
Outfielder David DeJesus, on the disabled list with a sprained right shoulder, will go to Mesa, Ariz., and take batting practice at the Cubs facility, and if everything goes well, could begin a rehab assignment at the end of the week.
"He won't have to play in tons of games as long as everything goes good, and then he gets in a real game and hopefully doesn't swing and miss," Sveum said of DeJesus.
The Cubs hope DeJesus doesn't "swing and miss" and re-aggravate the shoulder, which he injured crashing into the outfield wall at Citi Field on June 14.
Minor League outfielder and No. 4 prospect Brett Jackson, who has been rehabbing in Arizona from a sore calf, was expected to return to game action this week. Jackson was batting .223 in 61 games at Triple-A Iowa before he was injured. When ready, he could be assigned to Double-A Tennessee, although that is still to be determined.
New scoreboard, signage not going up this season
CHICAGO -- The unanimous approval by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks last week of a video scoreboard in left field and new signage in right at Wrigley Field is just one step, and even if the Cubs get the go-ahead by other city commissions this year, they won't be able to install the signage this season.
The Cubs made compromises since the matter was last discussed by the commission. Instead of a 6,000-square foot video scoreboard in left field, the Cubs say they will accept a 5,700-square foot scoreboard. Plus, instead of installing a 1,000-square foot see-through sign in right, the Cubs were willing to install a 650-square foot see-through sign.
Julian Green, vice president, communications and community affairs for the Cubs, said they still need approval from the Chicago Plan Commission, zoning committees and the full Chicago city council. Green said the Cubs have not selected a video scoreboard company. Plus, they want to be careful with what they install.
"We know the sensitivities of the new assets coming to the ballpark and people wondering how it's going to fit into the character of the ballpark, and we know we have to get it right the first time," Green said Saturday. "It's going to live with us the next 100 years."
The scoreboard also will need a full-time production staff, which has not been hired.
What about getting the signage up for next year?
"The amount of revenue that can be generated from an asset like a video board, we're going to try to get it up as soon as possible and get it operating," Green said.
The Cubs and chairman Tom Ricketts were encouraged by the approval from the Landmark Commission.
"A unanimous vote by the Landmarks Commission sends a strong signal as we go through the additional approval process," Green said. "The Mayor [Rahm Emanuel] is on board. Thanks to his leadership, the Landmarks Commission is saying [the video scoreboard and signage] does not interfere with the landmark designation of the ballpark. As far as we're concerned, we think we have some really good momentum to move forward with this $500 million investment."
The investment includes renovation of Wrigley Field as well as building a hotel outside the ballpark at Clark and Addison Streets. The hotel has not been formally approved.
• Scott Baker, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, will make his first Minor League rehab start on Sunday for Class A Kane County.
Baker was scheduled to throw four innings, or 65 pitches. If all goes well, the right-hander could be ready to join the Cubs rotation in about a month.
• Opening Day starter Jeff Samardzija will open the second half next Friday in Colorado. The Cubs' rotation after the All-Star break will be Samardzija (5-9, 4.06 ERA), Carlos Villanueva (2-5, 3.59) and Edwin Jackson (6-10, 5.11) against the Rockies, with Matt Garza (5-1, 3.22) kicking off a four-game series in Arizona on July 22, followed by All-Star Travis Wood (6-6, 2.69).
Wood wraps up the first half on Sunday night against the Cardinals.
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.