CHICAGO -- The Cubs joined the Robert R. McCormick Foundation on Tuesday to announce more than $1 million in grants to non-profit organizations serving those in need in the Chicago area. This is the eighth consecutive year in which more than $1 million has been donated through Cubs Care, a McCormick Foundation Fund.
"Today's Cubs Care grant luncheon is about empowering non-profit organizations in Chicago and providing the necessary resources to help communities in need," said Cubs owner and board member Laura Ricketts, who serves as chair of the board of Chicago Cubs Charities. "We're proud to once again give more than $1 million to further these organizations' missions through Cubs Care and Chicago Cubs Charities. We thank our fans for generously supporting the community events that make these donations possible."
The 2012 grants include the Chicago Park District to provide funding for more than 13,000 low-income and special needs youth to play baseball this summer. A donation also was made to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago to provide access to adaptive sports and wheelchair softball for nearly 1,500 individuals with physical disabilities.
A contribution was made to the Chicago Public Library Foundation to support the Family Summer Reading program, a high-impact summer reading initiative which aims to keep 50,000 Chicago children reading and learning over the summer.
Through Cubs Care, more than $17 million has been donated to Chicago non-profit organizations since 1991.
Stewart takes pride in facing southpaws
CHICAGO -- So far, Ian Stewart can't wait to face left-handed pitchers, and he gives his dad credit for that.
The Cubs' left-handed-hitting third baseman was 2-for-2 against lefties entering Tuesday's game against Milwaukee southpaw Chris Narveson. He had a .229 career average against left-handers before going 0-for-3 against Narveson in the Cubs' 7-4 loss.
"I don't ever want to think of myself as a platoon type of player where I need to sit against lefties," Stewart said. "I take pride in hitting against them -- I've done that my whole career. There wasn't any part of me thinking, 'I'm not playing today.' I was glad to see my name in the lineup, and this gives me a chance to continue to face them and see what I can do against them and be an everyday player."
Stewart hit safely in each of his starts before Tuesday's game. On Sunday, he singled off Nationals lefty Sean Burnett in the eighth, and on Monday night, the Brewers called on Manny Parra to face him in the ninth, and he doubled. Stewart said he tries to prepare for everybody.
"It's not so much that it's a lefty coming in, I just like to know what a guy throws and maybe what his out pitch is and not so much what his hand is," he said. "My dad threw to me when I was growing up and he was left-handed, and I like to think that helped a little bit."
Before a series, Stewart will make sure he looks at video of an opposing team's left-handed relievers.
"He's swung the bat as good as anybody," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
Starlin's impressive streak comes to an end
CHICAGO -- Starlin Castro was surprised at how many consecutive games he was able to get on base. But the streak ended Monday night.
The Cubs' shortstop went 0-for-5 against the Brewers, snapping his streak of 43 consecutive games having reached base safely, dating back to Aug. 15.
"It was amazing," Castro said. "I have to keep going."
Castro had one last chance in the ninth against John Axford with the bases loaded, but the Brewers closer struck him out to end the game.
"He threw me a fastball, and it froze me," Castro said.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum is hoping the 23-year-old shortstop can learn more discipline at the plate.
"It just puts you in a whole other category," Sveum said. "It puts you in situations where you'll get a lot better pitches to hit, and when you have good pitches to hit, you're going to be more successful and more beneficial to the team. ... And you'll hit more home runs. The bottom line is getting a good pitch to hit."
Castro's 43-game streak was the second longest by a Cubs player in the last 94 years, trailing only Riggs Stephenson, who reached in 44 consecutive games in 1928.
Clevenger earning more playing time
CHICAGO -- Steve Clevenger may be getting more playing time than most backup catchers.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Tuesday that Clevenger could start twice a week, depending on matchups and the schedule.
"One, he's a heck of a catcher," Sveum said of Clevenger, who guided Jeff Samardzija over 8 2/3 innings on Sunday. "He receives well, he calls the game, he throws the ball extremely accurate and the good thing about having him on the bench [is he's a left-handed bat]. That's a nice asset to have on your bench."
But Sveum said he has to be careful not to use him too early in games.
"He's a valuable weapon," Sveum said of Clevenger, a former shortstop. "He's probably as good, and to me, one of the best backup catchers in all of baseball. It's a very difficult position to find. He has tremendous assets in every part of it -- blocking, receiving -- and pitchers love throwing to him, and he can hit. He has really quality at-bats most of the time."
Anthony Rizzo, whom the Cubs acquired from the Padres for Andrew Cashner, hit two home runs on Monday night and was batting .391 for Triple-A Iowa. Cubs manager Dale Sveum is well aware of what's going on in the Minor Leagues.
With the Cubs' new video system, Sveum can watch the Minor League at-bats the next day. Besides Rizzo, Adrian Cardenas, Brett Jackson and Tony Campana have gotten off to good starts at Iowa.
"It's nice to have some depth at your beck and call, and hopefully they stay hot all year long," Sveum said.
Jeff Baker got the start at first base against Milwaukee lefty Chris Narveson on Tuesday.
"I'm going to get Baker in there as much as possible," Sveum said of Baker, who has a career .309 average against left-handers. "He swings the bat too good against left-handers to get him out of there. You try to get [Bryan] LaHair at-bats and get him accustomed, but [LaHair] didn't swing too well against left-handers in Spring Training. I've got to get Baker's bat in there as much as I possibly can."
When the Cubs play the Marlins on April 17 in Miami, it will be manager Ozzie Guillen's first game back from a five-game suspension for comments he made regarding Fidel Castro. Guillen apologized on Tuesday.
"Right now, you hope you're never in that seat," Sveum said. "[Guillen] is in a difficult situation right now. It's unfortunate for him and the city of Miami. It's one of those incidents you wish you could have back. It's not going to go away."
Sveum and Guillen were teammates on the White Sox. Sveum was traded in 1992 after Guillen injured his knee.
"We came up together and played against each other at the same time," Sveum said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.