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Sweeney back Sunday

Outfielder Ryan Sweeney should return Sunday after playing a scheduled game Saturday night at Class A Kane County. Infielder Luis Valbuena (strained oblique) might take a little longer, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.

The rest of the expanded September roster will evolve in the coming days, but it’s expected the Cubs will add a left-hander to the bullpen to ease the load on James Russell. He is currently the only lefty in the bullpen and has made 68 appearances, second most among major league lefties.


September becomes an evaluation month, not just for the younger players brought up for the first time.

“The last month is priceless for some guys, especially for some who had a tough season, and for guys who are being evaluated,’’ Sveum said.

Other teams also are evaluating every player with the idea of potential off season trades in mind.

“The saying that it’s not how you start but how you finish matters a lot,’’ Sveum said.


There’s no ready explanation why the Cubs have played better on the road this season than at home. But it is a fact that does bother the players.

“We play good teams in our division—St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh—but we would love to play better on our home field,’’ catcher Dioner Navarro said.

“I don’t think any one thing contributes to it,’’ Sveum said. “We’ve struggled late in innings to score runs and add on, which is our big thing here. We’ve been shut out [seven times] at home.

“But last year it was a complete flip-flop,’’ he said of the better home record vs. road record last season. “It’s hard to put a finger on it.’’


Class AAA Iowa was eliminated from playoff hopes Friday in a 3-2 loss to Nashville.

But Class A Daytona and Class AA Tennessee remain playoff-bound.

At Daytona, top draft pick Kris Bryant, who is hitting .315, has hit safely in 12 of his first 15 games.

At Tennessee, outfielder Matt Szczur is hitting .279 and third baseman Christian Villanueva leads the Southern League with 41 doubles.