Weekend Update … Notes from Day 11 of Camp Lou

It is the last day of February and the first pitch of the Cubs’ Cactus League schedule is in just four days …

Apparently Day 11 of Camp Lou IV was anything but boring … with Carlos Marmol throwing live batting practice. Lou Piniella said Marmol is “far ahead” of where he was last spring … but he hit Starlin Castro on the “backside” with a slider, then jammed him and brushed him back. Castro was not hurt and Piniella admired the way he stayed in against Marmol.

The news came down that Ted Lilly would probably miss the first month of the season. Lilly was back at practice on Saturday and is expected to get a full day’s work in on Sunday … but he is well behind where he should be in his rehab.

The Cubs received positive news on Alfonso Soriano, he feels his knee is about 90% … here’s the rest from day 11 of Camp Lou.

Notes from Mesa

  • Lou Piniella said the Cubs are going to stretch out eight or nine guys this spring (starting pitchers). The Cubs have a lot of split squad games early and they will need the extended innings … three of the Cubs five split squad games are in the first nine days, the Cubs have only one day off this spring, March 17.
  • The Cubs will sort out the bullpen situation in mid-March. Some of the guys competing for a starting job could end up in the pen.
  • Aramis Ramirez would not take live batting practice against Carlos Marmol. Ramirez will get his live BP on Thursday when the games begin. This is not new for Ramirez. He has not taken part in live batting practice in the past.
  • Piniella said Carlos Marmol is “far ahead” of where he was last spring.
  • Alfonso Soriano is happy with the way his knee has responded early in camp. Soriano said his knee is about at 90% and the real test will come when the games begin on Thursday.
  • Xavier Nady worked with Larry Rothschild again on Saturday … He is not sure if he will be ready for Opening Day but with five or six weeks without any setbacks, he could be.
  • Angel Guzman will test his arm on Sunday.
  • Starlin Castro looked confident taking swings against Carlos Marmol on Saturday.
  • The Cubs have six open spots on their roster according to a report from ESPN Chicago. Two starting pitchers, two relief pitchers and two bench players.

Tidbits from Bruce Levine

The always-informative Bruce Levine discussed several issues surrounding the Cubs during Talkin’ Baseball on Saturday morning. Here are the highlights:

  • Angel Guzman and Jeff Gray are behind the other pitchers due to injury. The Cubs were counting on both to fill late-inning roles … or as trade candidates.
  • Levine described the Cubs bullpen as “paper thin” right now.
  • Esmailin Caridad could end up as the Cubs’ primary setup man to Carlos Marmol.
  • Tom Gorzelanny and Jeff Samardzija are probably “1-2″ in the competition for the final two spots in the rotation.
  • Chad Tracy, Micah Hoffpauir, Sam Fuld, Bryan LaHair and Brad Snyder are in the mix for the final two spots on the bench.
  • If Kevin Millar could produce, he could be a valuable addition to the team. Levine compared Millar to Jay Johnstone.
  • If the Cubs feel Mike Fontenot can serve as Ryan Theriot’s backup at short, Andres Blanco does not make the team.
  • The Cubs plan on playing Mike Fontenot a lot at shortstop in the first two weeks of Cactus League games.

Well, there’s the update … and I am sticking to it!

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Quote of the Day

"A day without laughter is a day wasted." - Charlie Chaplin

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