CWS@CHC: Putnam retires Alexei in Cubs debut

CHICAGO -- The Cubs placed reliever Zach Putnam on the 15-day disabled list because of bone spur in his right elbow and recalled left-handed pitcher Brooks Raley from Triple-A Iowa.

Putnam pitched Tuesday night but told manager Dale Sveum his elbow felt like it was "on fire." He underwent an MRI on Wednesday. Putnam, 25, had given up seven earned runs over 3 1/3 innings in five appearances with the Cubs.

Raley, 24, was 5-4 with a 4.92 ERA in 13 appearances (12 starts) with Iowa. He made his big league debut last August, and was 1-2 with an 8.14 ERA in five starts.

"Right now, obviously, our bullpen is a little short, and we have some length there [with Raley] if anything happened," Sveum said.

Late Tuesday, the Cubs acquired reliever Henry Rodriguez from the Nationals for Minor League pitcher Ian Dickson. Rodriguez has not joined the Cubs yet.

"I don't think he's thrown in 10 days," Sveum said of Rodriguez. "We have some time to let him throw and see where we're at in a couple days."

Rodriguez, 26, had a 4.00 ERA in 17 relief appearances with the Nationals before he was designated for assignment on June 4.

Garza not on the same page with Castillo

CIN@CHC: Garza on his struggles against the Reds

CHICAGO -- After Tuesday's game, Cubs pitcher Matt Garza said he didn't feel he'd found a good rhythm yet with catcher Welington Castillo.

"Being in this game for as many seasons as I have, I need to take control and I need to guide him through it," Garza said. "I'm not doing what I'm supposed to do. I'm going to get ready in five days and try to make it right."

Castillo has caught every one of Garza's five starts this season.

"[Garza] pitched a pretty good game with [Castillo] behind the plate a couple outings ago," manager Dale Sveum said of the right-hander's May 31 start against the D-backs, when he gave up two earned runs over seven innings. That was Garza's only win of the season.

"If you get the ball up, it doesn't matter who's catching," Sveum said.

That was the problem for Garza on Tuesday against the Reds. Sveum said he does support pitchers who feel more comfortable with one catcher.

"In this case, it was definitely not warranted," Sveum said.

This is Castillo's first season as the Cubs regular catcher, and Sveum says he's seen improvement.

"He's put himself into [position] as one of the better defensive catchers in the game," Sveum said. "Hopefully, it's one of those building blocks, like how [Yadier] Molina started his career swinging a bat. One thing Molina did early in his career, he didn't strike out. The average and production wasn't there. We've all seen Molina graduate into one of the better and tougher outs in all of baseball. Welly has the mechanics and hand speed to do that."

Extra bases

• The Cubs began play on Wednesday 16 games back in the National League Central. It will be tough to make up ground, as the Cardinals, Reds and Pirates rank among the top four teams in baseball. And the Cubs lost their third in a row on Wednesday, a 2-1 decision to Cincinnati.

"Obviously, when you're 16 games out, you're dealing with the teams ahead of you that are the elite in the league," Sveum said. "We haven't been compatible to our division at all. We haven't played well. The pitching and stuff, we're not right there yet, so it's unfortunate.

"We still have 100 games left and guys go out and play their butts off every day, and we'll see what happens. We continue to get good starting pitching, but we have to put six, seven runs up."

The Cubs entered play on Wednesday ranked 13th in the NL in team batting with runners in scoring position (.228), well behind the Cardinals (.341) and Reds (.279), who were 1-2 in the rankings.