Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekend Roundup: Cactus League Baseball is Near!

  • The Cactus League schedule opens this week! The first Spring Training game for the Chicago Cubs is on Thursday afternoon at 2:00 PM CT. Randy Wells will get the nod as the starting pitcher in this game. He will go about 2 innings before the ball is turned over to the bullpen.
  • Sean Marshall, J.R. Mathes, Esmalin Caridad, and Mike Parisi will all see action in relief in Thursday's game, which is against the Oakland A's. Former Cubs Jake Fox, Eric Patterson, and Mike Wuertz will all be with the A's for this game at HoHoKam.
  • Today's workouts at Fitch Park were cut short because of rain. John Grabow was the only pitcher to toss some BP.
  • Angel Guzman threw 25-30 pitches in the batting cages from 45 feet today and says his arm felt OK.
  • Lou Piniella will make his ideas about the Cubs' batting order public tomorrow. Carrie Muskat says that we should look to see Alfonso Soriano in the 6 slot.
  • Tomorrow is photo day for the Cubs.
  • Cubs LHP Ted Lilly will most likely miss the entire month of April according to Bruce Levine. This leaves an extra opening in the Cubs' rotation to start the year, as now the 4th and 5th spots are up for grabs.
  • Lilly did some running and playing catch yesterday.
  • Larry Rothchild has been working on throwing with outfielder Xavier Nady, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. The rehab is going well, but whether Nady will be ready for Opening Day is still up in the air according to
  • Aramis Ramirez sat out live BP against Carlos Marmol yesterday. Rami doesn't like taking live BP, but instead chooses to hit off pitching machines and coaches.
  • Mike Fontenot has been taking grounders at short stop. He wants to be able to handle that position as well as second base.
  • Lou Piniella says that there are two jobs open on the Cubs' bench. Koyie Hill, Xavier Nady, and the loser of the Baker/Fontenot competition for the starting second base job will fill the first three spots. reports that there are also four open spots on the pitching staff, 2 each in the rotation and the pen. This means that Grabow, Guzman, Marmol, and Caridad have already been penciled into spots in the bullpen.
  • Sweet Lou went to a chapel today and prayed for our Cubbies.
  • Many of "the kids" will get a chance early on in Cactus League play.
  • Derrek Lee hasn't had talk of a contract extension with the Cubs, so he fully expects to become a free agent at the end of the season according to the Sun Times.
  • Jim Hendy is trying to make a move to bolster the bullpen before Opening Day. Bruce Levine has been reporting for at least a month that Jason Frasor and Luke Gregerson are options, but so far nothing has come of those potential trades. With the recent injuries to Gray and Guzman, the need for relief pitching depth has become apparent.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer takes a look at the state of the Cubs' minor league system.
  • Cubs legend Greg Maddux has been on the field working with pitchers so far, but once games get started on Thursday, Greg will travel with Randy Bush and Gary Hughes to scout opponents.
  • Paul Sullivan reports that Kosuke has made a minor change to his batting mechanics.
  • Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald breaks down the Baker/Fontenot battle.
  • Andre Dawson was on ESPN talking Cubs and Hall of Fame induction!
  • Kevin Millar's chances of making the team improve by the day.
  • Marlon Byrd told Bob Nightengale that he doesn't like all the comparisons to his friend Milton Bradley.

And now let's dive into some TV and Radio Recaps, starting with Lou Piniella on Mully and Hanley on Thursday:

  • Lou likes that fact that the Cubs are not picked to win the division. It takes some pressure of the team.
  • Last year, the Cubs couldn't afford too many injuries, and that's what hit them.
  • They know their system a lot better now that they got a chance to play some kids last year.
  • The pitching was the mainstay of the team in 2009. Randy Wells came out of no where, Carlos Marmol pitched well when he got in the closer's role, and other guys like Caridad and Berg did nice jobs.
  • The Cubs need a bounce back year from Zambrano, they need to get Ted Lilly healthy, and "go from there".
  • One thing is for certain according to Piniella- the Cubs are going to score more runs in 2010 then they did last season.
  • The biggest jobs the Cubs have in Spring Training is sorting out the back end of the rotation and looking for an experienced right handed reliever.
  • The more a manager can rest his team, the better.
  • Lou really likes this baseball team. "We're gonna be a nice ballclub," he said.
  • Carlos Zambrano is his own worst enemy at times.
  • Lou says that there's not reason why Z can't win 17-18 or even 20 ballgames.
  • Team chemistry is not overrated, but obviously the more you win the more chemistry you have.
  • At the start of 2009, there were 11 new faces on the 25-man roster. Then when the rash of injuries occurred, more new people came in. This could have been the cause of the lack of chemistry.
  • Piniella is proud of his club for keeping it together last season.
  • He watched Starlin hit the other day, and saw that Castro had really nice hands, hitting line drives all over the place.
  • Theriot is going to be the Cubs short stop. Castro needs a little more experience.

Jim Hendry joined Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood on Talkin' Baseball on ESPN Radio Saturday:

  • Bruce Levine celebrated his birthday on Saturday, prompting Jim to joke that Levine was one of the oldest guys left in the media.
  • Hendry thinks it was unfortunate that they had to go to arbitration, but it's not going to be an issue with Theriot.
  • Jim is hoping he won't have to go to a hearing again.
  • The Cubs need to swing the bats more consistently this season.
  • He is going to keep his eye on bullpen pitchers. The free agent market is thin, but they will try to work out a trade. They will try to make a move before Opening Day if something good comes along, but it won't be a failure if they don't.
  • Aramis Ramirez is being counted on to be healthy again. Jeff Baker could shift over to third to backup, and Chad Tracy can also play the hot corner if Rami were to go down.
  • Ted Lilly has a little irritation in his knee, and that is normal. Ted is not going to need a procedure.
  • Marlon Byrd has become a really good offensive player. Byrd has made a lot of progress the last few years in Texas. Jaramillo gave the Cubs a really good review of Marlon. Byrd also plays good center field and is a great team guy.
  • In a perfect world the Cubs would have liked to have added a left handed bat, but Byrd hits righties well.
  • Jim is "not really" disappointed in the way that Carlos Silva has reported. Silva knows that he needs to get 10-12 pounds off before Opening Day. Carlos has thrown the ball well.
  • Hendy has a great relationship with Lou, but both sides are going to worry about 2010 first. They are not concerned about Piniella's contract beyond this year yet.
  • He thinks it's a great idea by MLB Network to do the reality TV show on the White Sox. It will certainly make for a great story.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted on everything Cubs as always!

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