Theo Epstein: “Our goal in 2015 is to win the National League Central”

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The Cubs have finished in fifth place in the NL Central in each of the last five seasons. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is ready to see his club get out of the basement, telling Cubs season ticket holders that “our goal in 2015 is to win the National League Central,” as MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports.

It’s not outlandish to think that the Cubs could break out in the NL Central. The 2014 season saw a youth infusion, as Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, and Arismendy Alcantara made their major league debuts. Top prospects Kris Bryant (the 2014 Minor League Player of the Year), Addison Russell, and C.J. Edwards could get the call in 2015. 25-year-old first baseman Anthony Rizzo just had a breakout season while Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta each performed remarkably well on the mound. Hector Rondon was quite reliable at the back end of the bullpen. The pieces are obviously all there, or at least they will be very, very soon.

Donaldson ejected for kicking dirt on plate after home run

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
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Minnesota’s Josh Donaldson managed to get ejected while hitting a home run.

Donaldson barked at plate umpire Dan Bellino for the second time in the sixth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

With the score 2-2, Bellino called a strike when the 2015 AL MVP checked his swing on a 2-0 pitch from Reynaldo Lopez.

Manager Rocco Baldelli came out to speak with Bellino, and Donaldson homered down the left-field line on the next offering. After rounding the bases, Donaldson kicked dirt at home plate as he crossed it.

Bellino ejected him immediately, and Donaldson, realizing he had missed home plate, returned to the plate to touch it and then argued as he kicked more dirt on it.

Donaldson also had argued with Bellino on a 1-1 breaking ball in the first inning that appeared to be high but was called a strike, leading to a strikeout.

“We need Josh on the field, out there playing, and at third base,” Baldelli said. “That’s when we’re at our best. And so that’s really the end of it. I think we can move past it at his point, and go from here.”