The first pitch of the Cubs’ Cactus League schedule is five days away …
The Cubs continued making headlines as the second week of Spring Training began Monday. Mike Quade had a meeting with Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza and told the top pitchers in his rotation which one would be getting the ball on Opening Day.
Quade gave Dempster the nod and announced Zambrano and Garza would be slotted behind Dempster to begin the season. The choice of Ryan Dempster as the Cubs Opening Day starter also means Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza will pitch the first two games of the year against the Brewers in Milwaukee (April 8 – April 10)
The Cubs also announced Monday that Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza would pitch in the Cactus League opener Sunday against the A’s.
Here’s the update from Mesa …
Ryan Dempster joined Dave Kaplan, Brian Noonan and Andrea Darlas Monday evening. Dempster discussed his big day and how Spring Training has been so far.
The interview began with Dempster talking about his relationship with Carlos Zambrano. Dempster and Zambrano have been teammates for a long time. He has a lot of respect for Zambrano and he realizes how much starting on Opening Day means to him. Dempster thought the way Zambrano handled the news Monday showed the strides he’s made in his maturity.
After Mike Quade broke the news to his top three pitchers, Dempster wondered how Zambrano felt. What Z said put Dempster’s mind at ease. Zambrano did not have to say anything but Dempster was glad he did.
Dempster said the beginning of Spring Training is always good … some years are better than others. Everyone in the locker room feels like they have a real good team, they just have to prove it on the field.
Mike Quade has been great with the players but has also been very demanding according to Dempster. The Cubs have to play hard every day, every game.
Dempster mentioned the new guys are very motivated and Kerry Wood is ready to go. The guys from Tampa (Matt Garza, Carlos Pena and Fernando Perez) are looking forward to playing in front of a full house in front of the greatest fans in all of baseball.
Ryan Dempster sounded upbeat and ready to go … plus Dave Kaplan gave him an idea of a prank he could play on Reed Johnson.
News, Notes and Tweets
Dave Kaplan is in Mesa and passed on a few tidbits Monday night. Mike Quade has been great with the media. Kaplan brought up the story about Quade discussing the media when he addressed his team last Saturday. The players were told the local media is a ‘monster’ but something they must embrace on a daily basis.
According to Kaplan, Quade is the ultimate communicator. He is going from field to field, carrying a fungo bat, making sure drills are getting completed.
Greg Maddux is expected in camp on Thursday according to Kaplan.
According to a report from Carrie Muskat, expect to see Tyler Colvin starting games at first base about a week into the Cactus League schedule. Quade said what he’s seen from Colvin at first base has been great, physically, so far.
Todd Wellemeyer will be looked at as a starter and a reliever. If Wellemeyer makes the team out of camp, it would likely be as a reliever.
Mike Quade got to face Scott Rice in batting practice Monday. Rice was one of the last pitchers to throw and the hitters had to leave for a scheduled meeting with Rudy Jaramillo. Quade stepped in the box so the lefty could get his work in.
Tim Sheridan (Boys Of Spring) posted great photos from last weekend at Fitch Park.
According to a report from the Tribune, the Cubs will begin the season with a five-man rotation. Quade might “bounce” the fifth starter from time-to-time due to days off, but not early in the season.
Friday, April 1 will be Ryan Dempster’s third Opening Day assignment. Dempster pitched the first game of the year for the Florida Marlins in 2001 and 2002.
Aramis Ramirez feels strong and is hoping for a bounce-back season according to a report from the Tribune. The Tribune also speculated that the Cubs would not pick up the club option on Ramirez for 2012.
Kerry Wood spoke with Bruce Miles about returning to the Cubs, the 2003 NLCS, his time in New York and his 20-strikeout game.
Matt Garza is ready to roll according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.
Video from Mesa
View more videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com.
Notes from the CCO
Just because the off-season is over, it doesn’t mean the CCO’s coverage of the Cubs is coming to an end. The CCO will be at the first four games of the Cubs’ Cactus League schedule. There will be tweets, photos and video. Plus, one of the staples of the CCO returns Sunday.
For those new to the site, the CCO provides game previews to every game (even in the spring) that provides info as well as a way to discuss the games as they are happening. The first “Talkin’ Cubs Live” of the spring launches in just five days …
Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it!