Dan Haren blames shortest start since 2005 on stiff back

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Dan Haren didn’t make it out of the fourth inning Tuesday night against the punchless Twins lineup, coughing up five runs on eight hits in his shortest start since 2005.

Afterward he revealed the lower back stiffness that came on during his pregame bullpen session made it tough to finish pitches, which helps explain how Haren failed to record a strikeout in a start for the first time since 2004.

Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com notes that Haren has pitched 10 seasons in the majors without going on the disabled list and he’s trying to avoid doing so now, downplaying the severity of the injury. His next start will be worth watching and he gets another extremely favorable matchup at home versus the A’s.

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs’ pitching coach

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the pitching coach due to personal reasons. The club will begin a search for a replacement.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons. We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”

Hickey, 57, spent over a decade as a coach in the Rays organization before joining the Cubs for the past season, reuniting with Joe Maddon. The Cubs’ starting staff ranked 10th among all 30 teams with a 3.84 ERA and the bullpen posted an NL-best 3.35 ERA.