The first pitch of the Cubs’ 2011 Cactus League schedule is two days away … this is the last Friday without Cubs baseball for at least the next seven months.
The grind of the exhibition season is about to begin and Mike Quade has lined up his pitching staff for the first four games.
Matt Garza is expected to make his Cubs’ debut Sunday in the opener against the A’s. Carlos Zambrano and Carlos Marmol are also expected to pitch in the first game of the spring. Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner are among the pitchers slated to face the Brewers at HoHoKam on Monday.
As for the first two road games of the spring, Ryan Dempster and Casey Coleman are on the schedule for the trip to Scottsdale to play the Giants. The Cubs travel to Maryvale to play Milwaukee in the fourth game of the spring. Quade has Carlos Silva and James Russell on the schedule to face the Brewers.
Mike Quade is expected to announce his first Spring Training lineup on Friday. Quade said that Aramis Ramirez will hit cleanup (fourth) and he likes Starlin Castro hitting in the two-hole. Quade is expected to do a lot of mix and matching throughout the Cactus League schedule.
Ron Santo would have turned 71 on Friday and Pat Hughes recently discussed his longtime partner. Hughes said the reality of being without Santo has hit him this week as he prepares to begin his 16th season as the voice of the Cubs. Hughes and Keith Moreland call the first game of the spring Sunday from HoHoKam Park.
On the day Cubs’ individual game tickets for the regular season go on sale, here’s the update …
Mike Quade and Mark Riggins released the first pitching schedule of the spring Thursday. If all goes as planned, look for the starters to get in two innings in their first outing with the relievers being on a pitch count.
Here is a list of the probables for the first five games … with more names to be added.
- Sunday, Feb. 27 vs. A’s – Carlos Zambrano, Matt Garza, Carlos Marmol
- Monday, Feb. 28 vs. Brewers – Randy Wells, Andrew Cashner, Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall
- Tuesday, March 1 at Giants (Scottsdale) – Ryan Dempster, Casey Coleman
- Wednesday, March 2 at Brewers (Maryvale) – Carlos Silva, James Russell
- Thursday, March 3 vs. Rangers – Braden Looper
News, Notes and Tweets
According to a report from the Tribune, Starlin Castro will have his own place in Chicago this season. Castro roomed with Alfonso Soriano after his call-up last year.
According to a tweet from Dave Kaplan, energy at Cubs camp from last year to this year is unbelievably different. Kaplan credited Quade with making a big impact on the players.
Randy Wells, who is starting the second game of the spring, told the Tribune that he would not press too hard coming back from a disappointing season. Wells plans on going out and getting outs this spring and hopefully he will be in the Cubs’ rotation when the season begins.
Marlon Byrd is grooming Brett Jackson for his position. According to a report from Cubs.com, Byrd is really helping Jackson by teaching him how to run the bases and play the outfield.
According to a report in the Tribune, Mike Quade will let players know two to three days notice when they’re playing in Cactus League games.
According to a report from the Daily Herald, Len Kasper is excited about developing Cubs’ webcasts. Kasper, along with the Smokies’ play-by-play man Mick Gillespie, will begin calling Cubs games this spring that are solely broadcast on the Internet. Kasper will work 16 of the 19 games to be broadcast on Cubs.com. The games will be broadcast free on Cubs.com with a registered account. The first Cubs.com game of the spring will be on March 1 when the Cubs square off against the Giants in Scottsdale.
Kasper mentioned there could be a variety of guests that end up joining him and Gillespie during the games … from Bob Brenly to Pat Hughes and Keith Moreland to Jim Hendry and Randy Bush.
32 of the Cubs’ 34 exhibition games will be broadcast on TV (WGN, Comcast SportsNet, ESPN 2 and MLB Network), radio (720 WGN, XM Radio) or the Internet.
Carlos Marmol believes the Cubs’ bullpen has the potential to be among the best in baseball this season. Marmol told Bruce Levine, “We are the best. We feel very confident.” And on paper the Cubs’ pen looks strong two days before the start of the exhibition games. The key is for the backend to stay healthy and if they can, Sean Marshall and/or Kerry Wood in the eighth with Marmol in the ninth looks pretty good … at least on February 25.
During the Afternoon Saloon (ESPN 1000) Thursday afternoon, Bruce Levine said Augie Ojeda would probably make the roster out of camp over Darwin Barney.
Chattin’ with Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his Thursday chat on ESPNChicago.com, here are the highlights …
- The Cubs might have pitching depth, but no one with any value on the trade market. The Cubs are not going to trade Andrew Cashner or James Russell. Carlos Silva is untradeable and both Braden Looper and Todd Wellemeyer were signed to minor league contracts.
- If Andrew Cashner does not make the rotation, he will go back to the bullpen.
- Mike Quade does not know who’s going to leadoff against right-handed pitching. Tyler Colvin strikes out too much. The Cubs are looking for a high on-base percentage guy to hit in front of Starlin Castro.
- Fernando Perez’s speed is intriguing to the Cubs but he has to hit. The Cubs are going to have to decide between Perez and Reed Johnson. Levine’s gut says Johnson will make the team instead of Perez.
- There is zero chance the Cubs will be able to trade Alfonso Soriano. According to Levine, Soriano will finish his contract as a Cub.
- The Cubs would like Blake DeWitt to win the starting second baseman’s job.
- The Cubs like Ryan Flaherty but view him a little like Darwin Barney. As for D.J. LeMahieu, the Cubs feel he will be a starting second baseman in a year or two.
- Levine thinks Casey Coleman has a chance to make the team out of spring but will have to pitch lights out to win a job in the rotation. The Cubs like what they’ve seen but Coleman will likely begin the year in Iowa.
Video from Mesa
Ryan Dempster with his best Chris Farley
Tim Kurkjian on Carlos Zambrano
Baseball Tonight at Fitch Park – Cubs
Just a reminder, the CCO will be in Arizona for the first four games of the Cubs’ Cactus League schedule. Be sure to follow the CCO throughout the weekend and log in to participate in Talkin’ Cubs Live …
Well, there’s the update … and it’s almost time for Cubs baseball!