The Cubs Spring Training Report – The Pitching Staff Update

Larry Rothschild on ESPN 1000, plus Bill Madlock on XM Radio and Photos from Sunday in Mesa and Carlos Zambrano to pitch in the Spring Opener and Opening Day

The Cubs made a lot of news throughout the weekend, so don’t forget to check all of the reports here at the CCO.

Pitching, Pitching….Pitching. It seems like that is the only word we have heard this entire week. Pitching and defense wins championships so those two are usually front and center on the minds of most baseball fans….now with the Cubs Faithful that is an entirely different ballgame. For years now most of the news from the farm system has concerned the pitching prospects….not the position players. The Cubs have paid more attention to their pitching than anything else, which in turn has made many of us novice-pitching coaches. The biggest news from the weekend was Kerry Wood and Mark Prior both throwing off the mound and Wade Miller is progressing fine as well and could be on the mound soon.

Larry Rothschild was on ESPN 1000 Saturday afternoon and talked about the pitching staff of the Cubs. When asked about how the guys are handling the expectations of the coming season, Rothschild thinks the guys are doing fine. Right now the players have a bad taste in their mouth from last season and have come in to camp in good shape. He said the players are having different conversations than in years past and feels the players have a different focus. Rothschild thinks expectations give you goals and enthusiasm and the guys that can handle it play well and those that cannot handle it their play suffers. He does not think there is any additional pressure on the Cubs than has been the past two seasons. The Cubs have to go out and play the way they are capable of and he thinks it should be fun to watch. The conversation then switched and Rothschild spoke about Angel Guzman, Rich Hill, Jerome Williams and Sean Marshall.

Angel Guzman participated in the Arizona Fall League this past season and pitched 5 to 6 innings per outing. The Cubs tried to get him as many multiple inning outings as possible. Rothschild said Guzman’s arm has been fine so far but he has to be watched. Guzman needs innings and will not be able to start the season at the Major League level according to Rothschild. Guzman needs to work on his different pitches and needs to get experience at a higher level. (Cubs.com has a good article on Angel Guzman.)

Rich Hill came into camp in a great frame of mind and will get a chance to pitch quite a bit in Spring Training. Rothschild will see where Rich Hill is and the Cubs feel he has a chance to make the team out of Spring Training. Rothschild said the Cubs will be looking at Hill’s overall performance, just not the numbers. Rich Hill’s location and ability to change speeds on his fastball will be a determining factor in him making the team. Hill’s numbers in the Minor Leagues were impressive, but the Major League is a big jump. Rich Hill will have to be ready to accept that next move.

Jerome Williams came into camp in good shape and there should be good competition this spring for spots at the Major League level in the piching staff. Rothschild brought up Sean Marshall and spoke very highly of him. He said Marshall has been impressive but is not ready for the Majors yet. Marshall has to stay healthy he has had injury problems for the last three seasons.

While I was listening to Mark Gray to XM Radio Saturday afternoon, to my surprise one of his guests was Bill Madlock. Madlock has taken a position with the Chicago Cubs and said he will be working with Billy Williams. He did not mention his title or capacity and I looked on Cubs.com and they have not updated their Front Office section of the website (Grady Little is still listed as the Roving Catching Instructor). Madlock feels the Cubs will be a factor in the upcoming season, but he feels the Cardinals are the team to beat. Madlock thinks Wood and Prior is the key for the entire season. Carlos Zambrano will make his 30-35 starts and he feels the National League Wild Card will not come out of the Central Division. Madlock feels the teams in the division will ‘beat’ each other up during the season. He likes the changes Jim Hendry made to the bullpen and feels that will be a big part in the success of the Cubs in the upcoming season. I was glad to hear another piece of the past is back with the Cubs, now if they could just work on Mark Grace.

Yahoo Sports has released more photos from Mesa. There are almost two full pages….check them out.

I was glad to see Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to pitch the first Spring Training game this coming Thursday in Mesa against the Oakland A’s. Cubs.com is also reporting that Zambrano is likely to start on Opening Day in Cincinnati, depending on how he is used in the WBC.

Glendon Rusch, Greg Maddux, Scott Eyre, Ryan Dempster, Bobby Howry, Will Ohman, Angel Guzman and John Koronka all threw pitches to live batters on Sunday. Jerry Hariston Jr. and Michael Restovich practiced with the outfield on Sunday. Those of you in the Arizona area, should take advantage of the intrasquad game scheduled for Wednesday at Noon.

Check back for updates from Spring Training and the CCO will be in Mesa all next weekend for the first 4 games of Spring Training.

Well that’s the news….and I’m sticking to it!!

Quote of the Day

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." - Abraham Lincoln

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