PHILADELPHIA -- The Cubs entered their series against the Phillies having not scored a run since Friday, so obviously manager Dale Sveum was looking for different ways to get something going on offense.
That is why recently called up infielder Donnie Murphy got the start at third base instead of Cody Ransom when the Cubs opened a three-game series on Tuesday night. Luis Valbuena was getting the majority of time at the hot corner, but he was placed on the disabled list with a strained right oblique over the weekend. Ransom has usually been the third baseman in Valbuena's absence and filled in Saturday and Sunday with Valbuena hurt. However, Ransom has two hits in his last 38 at-bats and is hitting .199.
Murphy, a 30-year-old who spent parts of eight seasons in the Majors, has a career average of .204 and was hitting .265 for Triple-A Iowa, but Sveum gave him a shot Tuesday. Murphy, a right-handed hitter, batted eighth against Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick, and hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat during a four-run second inning.
"We're obviously trying to find some offense in that spot right now," Sveum said. "The defense has been incredible all season from Valbuena and Ransom. Right now, obviously, Ransom has had a rough stretch since the break and we're trying to find someone who has a hot bat."
Murphy hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat and finished 1-for-4 during Tuesday's 9-8 loss.
Neal excited for new opportunity with Cubs
PHILADELPHIA -- Thomas Neal was just glad that a team claimed him off of waivers when the Cubs scooped up the outfielder Sunday. After they told Neal he would be joining their Major League roster, Neal said it was "icing on the cake."
Neal joined the Cubs in Philadelphia on Tuesday for his third stint with a team in the Majors. Neal spent most of his season playing with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate, but he was designated him for assignment Friday.
The 25-year-old said he had been designated twice before in his career, but he did not get picked up either time. But the news that the Cubs not only wanted him, but wanted him on their big league club, was a welcomed surprise for Neal.
"This time going into it, I didn't know what to expect," Neal said. "I had spent the year in Triple-A, but this game is weird, you don't know what teams are looking for."
Neal was hitting .325 with an .802 OPS in 72 games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season. He has a career .301 average and .806 OPS in eight Minor League seasons.
A right-handed hitter, Neal has limited Major League experience. The Indians called him up in September last season, and the Yankees used him in four games during mid-June. Neal is 7-for-34 (.206) lifetime against Major League pitching, but he is hoping he can get more opportunities and put up better numbers with the Cubs.
"Anytime you come to a new situation, you definitely put your best foot forward," Neal said. "I just want to get back on the field and play baseball. Having to sit four days and waiting to find out what's going to happen can be torture. I'm just excited to be back."
Manager Dale Sveum said he expects to use Neal against left-handed pitching and play him in either of the two corner-outfield spots.
Neal appeared in Tuesday's 9-8 loss as a pinch-hitter, hitting a game-ending fly ball to left off Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon with two runners on base.
Sveum hopes PEDs are finally out of the game
PHILADELPHIA -- While the baseball world watched and reacted to 13 players being suspended in connection to Major League Baseball's Biogenesis investigation Monday, the Cubs had the day off.
Nobody on their roster was part of the news, but Tuesday was the first time manager Dale Sveum had a chance to weigh in on Monday's rulings.
"You're glad it's all done with, now. You don't have to deal with the speculation and all that," Sveum said. "The penalties, because it's out of the realm of MLB or the players' union and stuff, they're going to have to take their medicine and see what happens. It's nice that the stuff behind the scenes is getting picked up and caught to keep everybody on an even playing field."
Alex Rodriguez, the biggest name related to Biogenesis, was issued a 211-game suspension, will appeal his suspension and played Monday night in Chicago against the White Sox on the South Side. The Cubs were out of town, as Sveum said he spent his off-day relaxing in Philadelphia.
Sveum spent time in the Majors from 1986-99. He said that it's now clear that performance-enhancing drugs were prevalent in the 1990s, and Sveum does not want more players to try to beat the system.
"I think everybody on the field for the most part, 99 percent of the players, want it cleaned up," Sveum said. "Somebody made a good point. [A player] was competing with one of these guys in Spring Training for a job, and got beat out, probably, mainly, because of the PEDs. Those are what people don't want to happen, when people are working their butt off and somebody else is cheating, to lose jobs over it."
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.