CHICAGO -- On Sunday, Lisa Kates and her daughter, Torie, were at Wrigley Field to celebrate her cancer-free future.
Kates, 29, was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, but she approached the eight rounds of chemo and 28 rounds of radiation with a positive attitude, and has shared that with other cancer patients. In a belated Mother's Day salute, Kates was honored at Wrigley Field before Sunday's Cubs game. She is the winner of the 2014 Honorary Bat Girl contest, which recognizes baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and who demonstrate a commitment to eradicating the disease.
Winners were selected from all 30 clubs. Because the Cubs did not play at home on Mother's Day, Kates' celebration was delayed until Sunday. She was pretty excited to be on the field and to get autographs from the players.
"I've been a Chicago fan since birth -- born and raised Cubs," she said.
The good news is that Kates had her last surgery at the beginning of March, and the latest scan showed she was cancer free.
She was thrilled to be selected by the Cubs.
"I've been nominated the last two years," Kates said. "The first year when I was diagnosed, my cousin nominated me. Last year, one of my survivor friends nominated me. This year, they were like, 'You should just write in.' To get the call that I was even a finalist was exciting. To actually get the call and say, 'Yes, you're winning it -- but you can't tell anyone yet.' It was awesome."
She did call her father, Joe Lukaszewski, immediately. He's been one of her biggest supporters.
Since she was diagnosed, her mother, Linda Bain, and her aunt also have been diagnosed with cancer. Kates does everything she can to help others affected by the disease.
"I'm constantly getting calls and questions from people around my community, they've reached out to me," she said. "I have a childhood friend who had a lumpectomy the same day as my final surgery. The cancer community is pretty close knit."
So are Cubs fans.
"Some people would call me unlucky, but I feel I was put through what I was to offer hope and give me a purpose in life that I will never take for granted," she said. "Go Cubs go!"
Rizzo using bunts to help beat the shift
CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo hasn't tried to bunt for a hit since he did so in back-to-back at-bats Thursday against the Cardinals. But it's now part of his repertoire. The Cubs first baseman has to do something to counter the defensive shifts.
"He wants to get on base," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "We had a situation the other night [in St. Louis] when we were down four runs and he's not thinking, 'I'm going to hit a solo home run here.' He just wants to get on base.
"He figured they were giving them that side of the diamond, he put it down," Renteria said of Rizzo's at-bat in the first. "The next at-bat, he looked out there and they were doing the same [defensive shift], and he said, 'You know what, I'll do it again.'"
Which Rizzo did in the fourth inning. He scored that inning on Starlin Castro's home run.
In Rizzo's next at-bat in the fifth, the Cardinals did not shift as dramatically as before.
"He's smart enough that he's starting to understand the game more and more and taking advantage of it," Renteria said.
Struggling Schierholtz gets a rest in series finale
CHICAGO -- Last year, Nate Schierholtz set career highs in home runs, doubles, RBIs and games played. This season, the Cubs outfielder hasn't been able to match those numbers.
Schierholtz was not in Sunday's lineup in the series finale against the Brewers and right-hander Marco Estrada. In 36 games, Schierholtz was batting .197 with five doubles, no home runs and 13 RBIs.
"I think his at-bats have actually been better," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "We haven't had the results we wanted. I think just continue to give him a little breath and step back. He's doing everything he can to stay in the lineup. The results haven't been what he wanted, but he's looked a lot better."
A year ago, Schierholtz was batting .286 on May 18, and had hit five home runs. What's also puzzling is that the left-handed hitter is batting .250 (7-for-28) against southpaw pitchers and .182 (18-for-99) against right-handers.
"He's been around a long time," Renteria said. "He knows himself. He had a very nice year last year in terms of home runs. Those are things that happen in the course of a season. I don't think he's going to try to do the same thing he did last year. I think he just wants to go out there and have good at-bats, put the barrel on the ball. He can't really worry about that."
The Cubs aren't getting much production from their outfielders this season, and were tied with the Phillies for the fewest home runs (six) in the National League heading into Sunday's games.
Reliever Pedro Strop, on the disabled list since May 7 with a left groin strain, threw a bullpen session on Saturday for the first time since he was injured. Strop was headed to Mesa, Ariz., on Sunday to continue his rehab at the Cubs complex, and will throw one or two bullpen sessions there, then pitch in an extended Spring Training game.
"I'm getting closer to games," Strop said Sunday.
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.