MILWAUKEE -- There are some hitters who hate the idea of being a designated hitter. Alfonso Soriano said he can handle it for the next six days.
"I like it, especially in a stadium where I can have a batting cage behind the clubhouse and the dugout, that's good," Soriano said Thursday, a day before the Cubs open six-game Interleague swing through Seattle and Oakland. "Between innings, I can work on my swing and be ready with my at-bats."
Soriano did not start Thursday against the Brewers, getting a second straight day off. The veteran outfielder entered the finale hitting .245 overall and .191 in 22 June games with one home run and seven doubles.
"At my age, now I'm 37, I just hit for one week, it's good," Soriano said. "[Being the DH] the whole season, that's totally different. But for six games, it's not bad."
Cubs manager Dale Sveum wanted to use Brian Bogusevic in left field and keep him hot. He joined the team Tuesday after batting .319 in 78 games with Triple-A Iowa.
Cubs receive OK for certain Wrigley renovations
MILWAUKEE -- The Commission on Chicago Landmarks approved a master plan for 45,000 square feet of "new or existing" signage for Wrigley Field, but withheld approval of the signs proposed for left and right field during a Thursday meeting in Chicago.
The vote on those two signs was postponed until July 11. The Cubs and Alderman Tom Tunney hope to come up with a compromise by then.
The Cubs want to install a 6,000-square foot video scoreboard in left and a 1,000-square foot see-through sign in right. Tunney wants the video scoreboard reduced to 4,000 square feet, and the right-field sign reduced to 600 square feet. Tunney also wants the Cubs to scrap plans for a pedestrian bridge over Clark Street, which would connect a hotel to the team's new office building, and eliminate an outdoor patio deck for the hotel.
At the meeting, Tunney added another demand: that the Cubs scrap plans to take out a lane of parking on Waveland Avenue and a sidewalk on Sheffield Avenue to extend the right- and left-field walls outward to provide more interior space for concessions and concourses.
"For 265 days a year, this is residential community and sidewalk width and coming up and down the street [is pivotal]," Tunney said. "We are very concerned about the width of the sidewalk. It's a public safety issue."
The Cubs are seeking approval of a five-year, $500 million renovation plan for the ballpark and surrounding area.
Cubs spokesman Julian Green told the Chicago Sun-Times they need the larger video scoreboard and sign in right to generate the resources needed for the Cubs to remain at Wrigley.
Wood offers example of trade that worked well
MILWAUKEE -- Travis Wood will open the Cubs' Interleague series Friday against Seattle, and the lefty may be the best candidate to represent the Cubs at the All-Star Game on July 16. And as the July 31 Non-Waiver Trade Deadline approaches, he's also a reminder of good things that can happen when a team makes a trade.
"To lead all of baseball in quality starts is solidifying enough," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "He obviously had a couple tough-luck outings, but he's been as consistent as anybody in baseball. On a team with guys who haven't had great first halfs, he and [Nate] Schierholtz are the top candidates to represent us."
The Cubs acquired Wood from the Reds in December 2011, along with infielder Ronald Torreyes and outfielder Dave Sappelt for reliever Sean Marshall.
"That's a trade that has definitely worked out," Sveum said.
Some players have already started hearing their names mentioned as trade bait as the deadline approaches. There were more scouts than usual at the Cubs' games Wednesday and Thursday to watch starters Scott Feldman and Matt Garza.
"Those things I don't have control over," Sveum said. "I know it's [the media's] job to talk about it a lot. In my world, I'll deal with that bridge when I'm getting ready to cross it, or cross it already, because a lot of times, that's out of my hands and I don't even know what's going on."
Last year, Sveum had to pull Reed Johnson from the on-deck circle, then take Geovany Soto out of the same game when they were dealt in separate trades to the Braves and Rangers, respectively. The Cubs were busy one year ago at the deadline, dealing Johnson, Soto, Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm.
"When you're a commodity, it's part of the game," Sveum said. "I think players realize that, and hopefully they can block it out. The bottom line is when you cross those lines, you just go out and play and whatever happens, happens."
Cubs sign fourth-round Draft pick Skulina
MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs announced Thursday they signed right-handed pitcher Tyler Skulina from Kent State University, their fourth-round selection in the First-Year Player Draft.
The Cubs have signed 18 players from the June draft, including four top-five picks, eight top-10 selections and 15 top-20 picks.
Skulina, 21, went 6-4 with a 3.36 ERA in 15 games for the Golden Flashes. He walked 34 and struck out 102 for an average of 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
He was named a 2013 Louisville Slugger Pre-Season Second Team All-American after going 11-3 with a 3.77 ERA in 18 starts in 2012. The right-hander sat out the '11 campaign after transferring from Virginia. He was selected by Oakland in the 46th round of the'10 Draft, but did not sign.
• Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro went 2-for-5 on Wednesday in his first game back after a one-day breather, and he could have had a third hit if Milwaukee third baseman Aramis Ramirez wasn't hugging the line.
"Hopefully, that kind of game propels you moving forward and he can be the kid we all know he is," manager Dale Sveum said of Castro.
• Ramirez went deep Wednesday for his 2,000th career hit, most of which came with the Cubs, and Sveum isn't surprised to see him have a long, successful career.
"I had the luxury of playing with 'Ramy' when he was 19 years old, playing in the Pittsburgh organization," Sveum said. "You're like, 'Wow, this kid can hit from foul pole to foul pole.' He's always been one of the tougher outs in the game for a power hitter. He's never been a big strikeout guy, he's been a good breaking ball hitter. He's been one of the elite right-handed hitters in the game for 10, 15 years now."
• Cubs reliever Blake Parker is experimenting with a new split-change pitch.
"It's still a work in progress," Parker said. "I like it as a third pitch."
Something's working for the right-hander, who has thrown scoreless relief in seven of eight appearances.
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.