Cubs Pitchers and Catchers Report to Fitch Park

Charley Steiner once said, “There is something liberating about those magical words, pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.” The off-season is over … Chicago Cubs baseball begins today.

While the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers is today, many of the players have been in camp and on the field. The first official on field workout is Monday for pitchers and catchers. Position players report on February 18 with the first full squad workout scheduled for February 19.

Jim Hendry and Mike Quade are scheduled to meet with the media on Sunday prior to the start of Camp ‘Q’.

The Cubs made improvements to the facilities at Fitch Park. Four covered batting cages have been added to give the players a total of six to get their work in. In case of bad weather, the screens on the cages come off which creates more room for pitchers to get their work in. The additional room creates a total of eight mounds … one of the many improvements Lou Piniella wanted to see during his tenure.

More Photos of Fitch Park
(Click on Photos to Enlarge)

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Make sure to check the CCO’s twitter feed (located on the right side bar) for updates. With Spring Training underway, news and notes will pop up that are worthy of a mention but not front page news. The CCO will tweet what we hear, of course from reliable sources.

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Happy Pitchers and Catchers Report Day from the CCO!

Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver
  • Tony

    We wait all winter, debating the moves and non-moves, discussing who is done and is just starting.

    We discuss whose working out, and who is playing in winter ball.

    We want to know why there is no activity, then, complain about the moves that are made.

    We debate is this the year, or should we be building for the future?

    We go back and forth, and repeat our discussions over and over, trying to rationalize our point of view, or sometimes, even see it from a different perspective.

    We do all of this to get through winter, and what a winter we have had.
    Now the discussion turns to practices and soon to spring training games.

    – How good is that prospect, we keep hearing about? Now we get to see him next to big leaguers.
    – Is that veteran done, or does he have one more season under the son, to shine and show that he’s still a ballplayer?
    – How is that player recovering from injury? Will he be available on Opening Day!
    – This player is really in shape, but what happen to him?

    Hope is everywhere and why not, every team starts the season 0-0. Real games will decide who is good, who is close, and who needs to rebuild. How will the Cubs finish the year, no one really knows, but one thing is for sure, if this is “The Year”, then we will all be cheering and rooting our team all the way.

    The best part of pitchers and catchers reporting to camp, officially…We are one day closer to seeing our Boys in Blue, playing on the green grass at Wrigley.

    It’s time to start practicing…

    • paulcatanese

      Tony, youre a poet,need to get the license,copywrite it,pretty neat.

    • Neil

      Excellent post!

    • Gary J


  • Tony

    Speaking of pitching, I was looking at our rotation and started looking out the next 3 seasons. Why 3 season? Zambrano and Dempster are signed through 2012, so I wanted to look at those 2 season, plus the season after their contracts are over.

    2011 – Zambrano, Dempster and Garza will take 3 spots – 2 open spots
    2012 – Zamrbaon, Dempster and Garza will take 3 spots – 2 open spots
    2013 – Garza will take 1 spot – 4 open spots

    So who is available in 2011

    Cashner is going to be given every opportunity to win a spot this year, so that means, they are planning on him in the rotation moving forward, it’s just the starting time that is yet to be determined.

    Wells has a spot to lose, but is there room for him past 2011?

    Old guys – Silva, Looper, Wellemeyer – none should make it, but Silva is owed a lot of money, so he will be around awhile, on the DL or in the rotation. Looper and Wellemeyer, should not be in the rotation this year, let alone the future.

    Young Guys – McNutt, Jackson, Carpenter, Coleman, Rusell – Could get some starts this year, depending on injuries and effectiveness.

    So now looking at 2012 we should have 4 spots taken, with Cashner in the rotation. So that would leave one spot for…McNutt most likely, but could also be Coleman, Carpenter, Jackson, and we might start to hear Hayden Simpson’s name in 2012. If Wells is still around, he could fill the spot, if no one is ready…but I think we will have someone more than ready by then, and if we have more ready, we can start moving out Z or Dempster, in the last year of their contract.

    2013 – Garza and Cashner have spots, McNutt if he was the one who cracked the rotation in 2012, leaving 2 more spots for the the cast above. We could easily see a rotation of Garza,Cashner, McNutt, Carpenter, Jackson by 2013.

    Now of course, this is assuming Big Z, and Dempster aren’t given extensions or traded, and that JH doesn’t make a splash in FA. But if you look at it like this, we only need 1 or 2 of these young guys to make it to the majors over the next 2 years. It’s 3 years out that we need the biggest splash.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      Thoughts Coleman will get some starts this year and Jackson and Carpenter will get bullpen oppurtunities. Depending on how McNutt develops this year, he could get some looks late in the season as well. Jackson is viewed as a backend of the rotation type guy and last year towards the end of the year he lost some velocity. He may get it back, but a move to the bullpen would help in that regards. I think that Jackson has a better chance of making it as a bullpen guy this year to get his feet wet and could end up back in the rotation at some point.
      Scouts who saw Carpenter in the AFL said he remains a starting possibility but might profile better as a reliever and if moved to relief he could help out this year.
      Coleman isn’t suited for the bullpen, and is viewed strictly as a starter and will be staying ready in AAA, in case he is needed for spot starts.
      Wells will go to arbitration for the first time next year and maybe kept around for a little while but when he starts to get a little exspensive he will likely be traded.
      Hayden Simpson is the wildcard here his college strike out to walk ratio is stellar at 2.38 and Wilken said he has 4 average to plus pitches in his arsenal. Simpson’s numbers suggest he already has good control of his arsenal. In other words SIMPSON COULD MOVE UP QUICKLY!

      • Tony

        I agree on Coleman being the spot starter called up, for short stints.

        Carpenter does have a future as a set-up or even a closer, but the Cubs seem set to give him every shot to start someday.

        Wells is going to have to be very impressive this year, to stick around. They will continue to have internal options to fill the backend of the rotation, and will have no need to pay arbitration starter money to Wells.

        I am looking forward to seeing Simpson get his professional career started.

  • cubs1967

    If this was camp Ryno………….just think about that.

    If this team ends up 75-87 or somewhere close to it; P.K.McCaskey and family have NO idea the backlash coming their way. And this idea of taxpayers paying for Wrigley………..just scrap that for a LONG time if another lousy year appears.

    Their only hope then……………….Pujols!!

    103 yrs and counting, there is NO grace period.

    P.S. Thank God it’s spring………….even if there is snow; when the players show up, my mind says it’s spring!

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Pujols is not the answer!! Maybe for a couple years but he is NOT going to sign a 3 year deal! He has elbow issues and will be 32 going into FA if he isn’t resigned by the Cardinals. He wants a 10 year 300 million dollar contract. He would be 42 at the end of that do you want to pay a 42 year old 30 million dollars? Anyone who signs Pujols is going to overpay in terms of years and annual salary. He will be the next Soriano but at a steeper price.

    • cubs1967

      yep–why would we want a HOF player-right?

      sorry……..dude; you got no clue on this one.

      how much wear and tear is on a 1b???………wow!

      • Patrick_Schaefer

        I said I would want Pujols on a 3 to 4 year deal, not the 10 years he is asking for that would be completely stupid why would anyone want to pay a 42 year old 30 million dollars, you apparently aren’t thinking of the Long Term implications.
        Wear and Tear look at Derek Lee’s back and neck problems, they have steadily gotten worse with age. Albert Pujols isn’t super human age catches up to everybody.
        Pujols won’t be worth his contract past 35 maybe 36. If the Cubs could sign him for 3 years 95 million or 4 years 110 million I would be all for it but it’s not going to happen!

        • cubs1967

          7 yrs for 40M or 8 yrs for 35M………konerko just had a career year aat age 35. dlee had a great yr in 2009….at 35.

          pujols thru 36 s/b great.

          apparently you are not thinking about a WS anytime soon……….it’s only been 103 yrs.

          trust me–the cards worst nightmare….is lose pujols and he wears cubby blue pinstripes.

          is he leaves st louis……..cubs ownership has NO choice, but to sign him………..or the loyalty will arode even more.

          this is a no brainer…….logic or not. you sign him!

          • Tony

            And if they do have the stars align and sign Pujols (wow that is still the biggest IF out there) and don’t win in his first 3-4 years, they will be sunk for another decade.

            Pujols seems to be in a differentl level for sustained production, but when he does decline (everyone does), it will be hard to swallow @$30M for 4,5,6 years past his worth.

            This will be a tough call, that is why the Cardinals haven’t already extended him.

          • BillyFinT

            I agree, and I will add that the point of a long term contract is two folds. But as long as a superstar is even half of that 8-10 years being serviceable and above average (which Soriano was not*), something good can happen when the GM builds the team around the guy. 2 cents.

            *Fonzi Soriano, despite his deceiving 40-40 year plus an almost 40-40 year, was never that great compared to the top 50 between 2001-2006, when he played full every year, and before he signed with the Cubs. He had an above average career overall, not great, but above average. His decline from above average means he became mediocre.

            To his credit, b/w 2001-6, Fonzi played 930 games, being the 11th most active player during that span, just below Orlando Cabrera and, guess what, Albert Pujols.

    • BillyFinT

      With all due respect to your in-depth look at prospects and the growth of players, Patrick, I need to disagree here.

      “Prince Albert” has been the best hitter in baseball since 2006. I mean, THE BEST in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. He was only behind ARod and Andruw Jones back in 2005 (if we use the WAR). His wOBA, and his OPS were the BEST for that exact same span of regular playing, day in and day out, year in and year out. And his batting average (if it means anything in run production) during that span was surpassed by none but Mauer (who really didn’t play as regularly in 2007).

      Despite wrist and other injury concerns throughout his career the last decade, Pujols had stayed healthy, run the bases well, helped his team in all ways, including his way above average defense, and has been a class-act, a “good clubhouse guy,” like Jim Hendry would love to call him.

      He’s not Barry Bonds, a clubhouse cancer lately. Albert Pujols is BETTER than Barry Bonds when we count in character and service to his community.

      I mean, you got to love this guy. He might decline, but seriously, from a 1060 OPS to perhaps 900 OPS???

      A little decline from his prime? I can care less. 900, that’s like what? Still a Hall of Famer. You don’t grow Hall of Famers on trees. Three thousand or more players in the Big every year, but only ONE Albert Pujols since 2006.

      Sign him 10 years,and God Bless the Cubs!

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    The first tweeted pic was of Marlon Byrd running. Byrd was working with Tyler Colvin the other day on base-running skills. Marlon as most of you know is a helpful team player and was showing Tyler some new running drills and tips. Byrd indicated the Cubs outfielders are going to be running more on the bases this season (of course we always hear that at this time of year). However, today’s action at Fitch may indicate the Cubs are serious about running more. Marlon was working with a world class sprinting coach and doing some exercises that I’ve never seen anywhere. What’s interesting but not surprising is Byrd working on his running a full week before full-squad workouts are mandatory on a Saturday. Byrd’s specialist at Fitch is a highly regarded track and sprint instructor who has delivered gold medals for many of his protégées. I’ll be happy with a few more stolen bases. Some players are always looking to improve and will sacrifice to do so.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      I didn’t read the Weekend Update this was included in there, As always Neil is on top of his Game!

    • The Maven

      Speaking of running, let us know if there are any races between Brett Jackson, Evan Crawford, and Matt Szczur. THAT would be interesting!

  • The Maven

    Dave Seminara wrote an interesting article in today’s Tribune. In promoting a new book, he addressed, among other things, the Cubs’ “curse”. He proposed that Cubs fans and their support have more to do with the century-plus without a championship than a “curse”. In response to that, I say:

    NO KIDDING!!!!!!!!!! (I wanted to use stronger language)

    I cringe every time I hear national broadcasters saying that the Cubs have “knowledgeble” fans. They may be “knowledgeble” in the the best bars and restaurants to go after the game, but the people in the stands usually know little about what is going on. With a successful bottom line, why would anyone be interested in changing things?

    The one thing the article did not address was the Chicago media, which usually seems more interested in kowtowing to management rather than “holding their feet to the fire”.

    • Jim_Tinley_Park

      There is no curse.

    • paulcatanese

      I have to agree with you on all points. If I were still living in Chicago I doubt very seriously if I would attend the ballgames at the park. The fans (most of them) are not one bit interested to whats going on at the field. There is far too much drinking, women in very revealing outfits, and they know when the camera is on them. The game is secondary to them to what is around them. But I guess if I were single 20-30 yrs old I would make a lot of games. I dont really think they care if the Cubs win or lose. The ideal for me is to watch the game on TV with the sound turned off. Replay and knowledge of the game makes it a pleasurable experience for me.But thats just my opinion.

      • paulcatanese

        I forgot ,also with these types of fans,who needs to improve the team? The turnstiles will turn whether they win or lose. The only real fans are here on the blog.

      • studio179

        “The ideal for me is to watch the game on TV with the sound turned off. Replay and knowledge of the game makes it a pleasurable experience for me.But thats just my opinion.”

        You watch the games on TV with the sound down and no radio? I could not do that.

        I do know too many people who view a Cub game as everything but the game itself. As far as being 20-30 and going to games looking at girls, I did not do that at all. As a kid, teen and adult, I only went to Wrigley to…well, watch the game. Imagine that, someone going to a Cub game to watch baseball. How dare I. Ha!

        • paulcatanese

          I would like nothing better to have the radio on,but out in Calif. I don’t
          get radio broadcasts of the games. And I don’t like listening to Brenly, he
          trys to teach baseball. If he would just broadcast the game I could handle
          it, I can do without all the extras. I also went to the games the same as
          you,but when I was there it usually had about 2-15 thou. tops. and actually
          its not totally without sound,I step on my wife’s toes and she screams. I
          try to do that when the Cubs score,It gives me the same effect. And when I
          was young and single I went stag to the games,too cheap to bring a date.

      • Patrick_Schaefer

        I don’t live in Chicago it’s about a 2 hour drive, but I usually go to atleast 2 games a year if not more. I certainly don’t see most fans not interested in the game. I see fans cheering every pitch made in the 9th inning by Carlos Marmol and applaunding every walk/hit. I’m not saying that there aren’t people there for the drinking and atmosphere, but most aren’t in my opinion.

        • paulcatanese

          Patrick,thats good to hear.I can only follow the camera and respond to what
          I see there. I would hope thats the case as you describe. When I lived in
          Chicago it was also about a two hour drive, I lived in Mt Greenwood,as far
          south as you can get and still be in Chicago. I usually made it to anywhere
          from 15-20 games a year. And quietly I would say 10 or more White Sox
          games,mostly night games. I may have over reacted on the present fans,I will
          take youre word for it.

          • studio179

            I can not disagree with you or Patrick’s obsevations on many ‘fans’ at Wrigley. It can be a circus atmosphere. My stance is I go there for the game. I have that right. Others can go to pick up girls or party. They have that right, too. It is a shame though. It is satisfying to glance over and see a dad or mom with a child or two REALLY enjoying the game and the parents answering their young kid’s question about baseball.

            Good stuff.

            Ha! I like the part about being too cheap to take a date. I did not take dates, either. They had to slowly prove they really liked the Cubs and baseball. I did not want to sit around explaining the basics every date.

          • paulcatanese

            I don’t really have the right to dictate what others do at the park and it was just my opinion.I have out here in Calif. taken my grandchildren to Giants stadium to see games and it was great. As far as taking a date,I married a concert violinist who new absolutely 0 about baseball and it was easy to teach her the Cubs were good and the Sox were bad and that solved the problem.

          • BillyFinT

            Boy, I wish I can do that, being almost 30 and a stag, oh well, the truth is still too sweet to not pass on. I think my next soulmate will hear every criticism of the Cubs managerial history and Cubbie failure as a result of it… Of course, I’ll throw in the bleach bumming and bars–shall be good distraction from my lectures….

          • paulcatanese

            Thanks for responding.As far as the wife goes,she is absolutly into reading the blogs and is now a very knowlegable fan. Of course it only took 54 years of marriage to acomplish that.And boy she dislikes the White Sox as much as I do. She was only at Comiskey park once, and that was to meet a teamate of mine from Germany, Joe Hicks,who was calledup at the time.

          • BillyFinT

            Paul, you can amuse me anytime. Hicks, this guy?:

            Served in the Major League system until age 33. Not bad at all.

            I wonder what is the “Germany” league like. Maybe Neil should help you write and edit a post of your own. The history (your experience) of Cubbie or Chicagoan players in Germany…

            Take care, sir.

          • paulcatanese

            Thanks for the response.Baseball in Germany was Army. The league was
            comprised of base teams or area teams. I played for Northern Area Command
            that included a number of areas. These teams were largely mad up of minor
            leaguers,college players and Officers who served as coach or manager. On
            Hicks we played together in 1956, and yes he was in the White Sox chain,As
            was Donny Thompson(Yankees),Frank Shell(Detroit) Pete Delios (Cubs). Let me
            say the only two I could find later was Hicks and Thompson. I had a very
            short stint with the Port Arthur Seahawks,very short,but was smart enough to
            carry my contract with me and that got me the opportunity. Played for Ft
            Bragg the yr before. One other thing Hicks was telling us about a SS that
            was sure to make it,the guy Luis

            you can amuse me anytime. Hicks, this
            guy?: On

          • BillyFinT

            You know, this instilled countless curiosity from me. Were there Communist Russians watching you Army boys play in Germany? What was the field like? Who’s maintaining the gloves? Is there a brand of tar you guys used? Could baseball woo a lady there?

            Wonders and wonders! Where is Neil when I need him?

          • paulcatanese

            I was in Frankfurt,Germany. And there were probably Communists watching us
            play. That is another story as I was an MP during the winter and we tracked
            them on specific routes they took thru the city. The field was great 330
            down the LF line 420 Cf and 350 down the RF line fenced,and the LF fence was
            45 ft high. We had our own gloves or could buy them at the PX. All equipment
            was furnished by the Army incl. Louiville Sluggers nothing was wanted.
            Buse’s for road trips,planes for travel(England,France) No tar,never heard
            of it their. And yes you could woo the ladys their. I have sent some
            pictures to Neil regarding that (baseball,not the ladys). Thanks for
            asking Paul.

          • paulcatanese

            After looking at the photos of Fitch Park our’s in Germany looked very much he same,only we had closed dugouts. It didn’t hurt that the Second in command of Northern Area Command was a staunch fan of our clubWhen we left on road trips he would have the troops there and the full band,his favorite was “When the Saints go marching in”.Very funny to see half awake officers at 5:30 AM to cheer us off..

          • S Shell T

            I am the daughter of Frank Shell (Detroit). I have just been interviewing him lately about his minor league years in the Tigers organization, as well as his stint with NACom. He was a catcher and had mentioned Hicks, Delos and Thompson. I would very much like to get in touch with whoever was writing about them.

          • paulcatanese

            Thank you for the inquiry, Yes I was in Frankfurt in 1952 and was on the
            NACOM Black Knights as they were called. Frank was the catcher on that team,
            a very good one. I was playing third base until I threw my arm out . My name
            is the same that I post under,with the nickname Jack.

          • paulcatanese

            In response to youre inquiry.

            I was the one posting about Frankfurt and NACOM.
            It would be nice to have contact with you regarding Frank
            and the Baseball team in Germany.
            If you wish to contact me any further,please do so and I will
            be happy to provide any information I can.

            Thank You,

            Paul (Jack ) Catanese

          • paulcatanese
  • Neil

    Also, just a reminder to everyone to read the CCO’s twitter feed. Lots of tweets coming out of Mesa this morning.

  • cubs1967

    OK—-i know phil rogers is full of BS on most rumors………

    but Young for Soriano………..hmmmmmmm………just sayin….vernon wells got moved.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      Yes, that would be awesome!!! Doubtful, anything is possible, I wouldn’t keep my fingers crossed though.

      • Richard Hood

        I would actually like a double move with Young being flipped to Colorado for lopez and EY jr. I do not see why Texas isn’t taking that all the way to the bank. Must be the money involved.

        • Patrick_Schaefer

          The Rockies reportedly want the Rangers to pay over half of Young’s salary for the remainder of his contract.

  • Chuck

    Remembering the words of the late Ron Santo “This is the Year!”

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Just got back from a walk with the kids down by the river where I live, a beautiful day, saw some eagles, ducks, and geese.
    Baseball and spring is in the air.
    I can’t wait to here Pat Hughes say those magical words “Chicago Cubs baseball is on the air.”
    I know the Cubs aren’t predicted to win anything this year, but that is why they play the games. I’m excited and optimistic and full of hope, gonna start drinking early this spring, Kool-Aid not the hard stuff LOL!

    • studio179

      In the back of my mind the excitement and hope wants to come out. The realistic side says the team is not much for 2011. The Cub fan in me says this team is not going to be championship quality. The team will not quit and have a better year than I thought even a month ago.

      So yeah, I found some Kool-Aid, too. Then again, maybe my baseball excitement is from the fact spring is closer and ‘Old Man Winter’ has loosen his grip from a nasty few months. Winning year or not, I am ready for baseball!

      • Patrick_Schaefer

        I’m excited for the season to start and my expectations are low, but my optimism is high. Can’t wait to see how Castro, Colvin, Cashner do this year, and possibly Jackson, Carpenter, Barney, and Coleman. I’m excited to see how some of the minor leaguers develop and am going to go watch the Peoria Chiefs a lot more this year, Reggie Golden Micah Gibbs, Hayden Simpson, Matt Sczcur, and possibly Bour it’s about an hour and 20-30 min drive for me but you can’t beat the prices.

        • studio179

          Exactly. I am looking forward to how the young guys develope from the big club down. And no, you can’t beat the prices at Peoria.

  • jw

    I believe in world peace, Mike Quade and miracles

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      Love the optimism!