CHICAGO -- Lockers were being cleaned out and boxes were being filled with belongings as the Chicago Cubs hurried to get out of town at the end of a disappointing season.
"It's a little weird to be packing up and heading home, because the last couple of years we've been still playing," said Ryan Dempster, the losing pitcher Sunday as the Arizona ended the year with a 5-2 victory."Dempster, who won 17 games last season, gave up five runs and six hits in five innings, struck out 10 and walked one."I think a lot of us wish we had a little bit better year than we did," he said.Two years ago, the Diamondbacks swept the Cubs in the first round of the playoffs. This year, both teams can only watch.Arizona fell from 90-72 two years ago to 82-80 last year to 70-92 this season, the third-worst record in franchise history. The Diamondbacks were 51-111 in 2004 and 65-97 in 1998, their first season.Chicago, without a World Series title since 1908, finished at 83-78, down from 97-64 last year.The Cubs wasted little time making a change.Hitting coach Von Joshua was relieved of his duties after Sunday's game, but will be given the chance to return to Triple-A Iowa. Joshua was promoted from Iowa on June 14 when Gerald Perry was fired.Doug Davis (9-14) allowed six hits in eight innings and lost his shutout bid in the fifth when Sam Fuld hit his first major league home run, in his 102nd career at-bat. Juan Gutierrez finished for his ninth save in 10 chances.Davis is eligible to become a free agent and was he was "just thinking that this will be the last time that I play with a lot of these guys," he said."I love everybody in this room. Everybody has treated me well and the organization has treated me well, and I've got no quarries with anybody here," he said.Davis will consider re-signing with the Diamondbacks."We'll see what happens. I'm getting to that age where I need to go where I'm going to be financially stable, so, we'll see what happens," he said.Cubs manager Lou Piniella plans to do some fishing and golfing and spend time with his family when he returns home to Tampa, Fla., without a chance this year to manage in the postseason. In his first two seasons, the Cubs were twice swept out of the playoffs in the first round."We've had a longer period of time to know that we were going home. When it happens in the playoffs, it happens suddenly," Piniella said. "Look, it's never easy."Arizona's Mark Reynolds struck out three times and finished with a major league record 223, 19 more than the previous mark he set last year.Chris Young put Arizona ahead 5-0 in the fourth against Dempster (11-9) with a three-run homer. It was Young's 15th home run of the season and eighth since Sept. 4.He returned from a stint in the minors on Aug. 28."It felt good to come back and find my swing back a little bit and get my aggressiveness back and just the type of game that I play started to show again and I'm happy with that," Young said.
All other Cubs coaches are returning next season, GM Jim Hendry said. ... Hendry said Ryne Sandberg likely will return to manage a second season at Double-A in 2010. The Hall of Fame second baseman has managed three seasons in the minors and led Tennessee to the playoffs this season. He hopes to someday manage in the majors. ... Cubs pitchers struck out 16 batters. ... The crowd was announced at 39,154, running the Cubs' home attendance for 80 games at Wrigley Field to 3,168,859. ... So Taguchi, the Cubs' 40-year-old left fielder, made a sliding attempt but couldn't hold Chad Tracy's looping fly ball that went for a double to start the third. Two outs later, Stephen Drew hit an RBI single, moved up on the throw and scored on Gerardo Parra's single to make it 2-0.