The exhibition season is in full swing and the Cubs began a stretch Monday of playing nine games in six days. The second week of the Cubs’ Cactus League schedule concludes with games against the Reds and Dodgers in Las Vegas.
In a pre-game interview Monday, Mike Quade said he would likely wait until the end of Spring Training to announce the last two spots in the rotation.
Quade previously said that the first round of cuts would probably not come until March 16 … the Cubs first and only day off of the spring. The Cubs still have three split-squad games, two over the weekend and the last one on March 15 against the A’s and Rockies.
With 24 exhibition games remaining before every out counts, here’s the rest of the update …
The Cubs beat writer for the Sun-Times joined Hit and Run on 670 the Score Sunday morning.
Gordon Wittenmyer said the Cubs have moved past the Carlos Silva and Aramis Ramirez scuffle. They had a couple of meetings about what happened last Wednesday and have put it behind them.
Wittenmyer thinks Mike Quade handled the situation the right way without being reactionary. Quade took care of things then let his veterans handle the situation.
Which two pitchers will end up in the Cubs’ rotation to start the season is one of the biggest storylines of the spring.
Wittenmyer indicated it is hard to say if Randy Wells will start the season in the Cubs’ rotation. Wittenmyer thinks Wells has a leg up right now. Carlos Silva’s contract will play into the Cubs decision.
According to Wittenmyer, Andrew Cashner will get every chance to make the rotation … no matter the numbers and results he puts up this spring. The Cubs consider Cashner their future and they want him at the Major League level this season.
Wittenmyer said it is hard to see Carlos Silva in the pen and the Cubs feel the same. Wittenmyer said the Cubs might end up moving Silva. Wittenmyer does not think Randy Wells fits in the pen either but Todd Wellemeyer or Braden Looper might work as the Cubs’ long reliever.
Alfonso Soriano looks good this spring, the best he’s looked in his Cubs’ career. Soriano did a lot of specific training in the off-season. Soriano worked on his upper body and worked on his lower-body hitting mechanics at Rudy Jaramillo’s suggestion. Wittenmyer noted that Soriano even looks better in the field … he’s a lot more agile.
As for the lineup Mike Quade will begin the year with, according to Wittenmyer it will pretty much be what he’s been running out this spring.
Starlin Castro has looked great at the plate, but not that good in the field. Castro has shown improvement. Wittenmyer stressed that Castro is a work in progress.
As for the Cubs horrible defense, Wittenmyer said the fans and the Cubs should be concerned. The Cubs figure to begin the year with pretty much the same team they ended last season with and there are not a lot of reasons to think there will be improvement made in the field.
The Cubs consider Tyler Colvin an outfielder. Colvin has been getting a lot of work at first base because he has to. The Cubs want to make sure he’s the team’s third option at first base … Jeff Baker is the backup to Carlos Pena at first. If there is an injury to Pena then Colvin would get playing time at first base.
Wittenmyer said he is curious as to how the Cubs are going to use Tyler Colvin. They have to get him at bats, but how? Wittenmyer thinks Colvin will receive playing time in left and center, to go along with right, when Quade wants to have more lefties in the lineup.
Right now the Cubs are planning on using Kosuke Fukudome as their leadoff hitter against right-handed pitchers. Jeff Baker will probably hit at the top of the lineup against southpaws.
Wittenmyer pointed out not to count on Fukudome being the Cubs full-time leadoff hitter, especially if his track record holds up (hot in April, cools down in May and pretty much disappears over the last four months of the season). Blake DeWitt could end up as the Cubs’ leadoff hitter, if he catches fire. DeWitt is on Quade’s radar for the leadoff spot and there is still a lot of time in Spring Training to determine who will leadoff for the Cubs.
News and Notes
Tyler Colvin is expected to make his second start of the spring at first base on Thursday.
Carlos Silva turned to Carlos Zambrano after Monday’s start against the Angels.
Trey McNutt is following Greg Maddux’s lead according to a report from Cubs.com.
The Cubs are responding to Rudy Jaramillo according to a report from Bruce Levine.
According to a report from the Sun-Times, Alfonso Soriano is eyeing a big second half of his contract with the Cubs.
The MLB Network’s 30 Clubs in 30 Days will feature the Cubs on Friday, March 11. The Cubs episode airs at 6:00pm CT.
XM Radio (MLB Network Radio) will be in Cubs’ camp Thursday, March 10. Casey Stern will talk all things Cubs with Jim Bowden beginning at 1:00pm CT on XM Channel 175, Sirius 210.
The first tribute to Ron Santo will be Thursday at HoHoKam Park. The Cubs will honor Santo on March 10 in pre-game ceremonies.
“Ron Santo: A Perfect 10” is the title of the book Pat Hughes is collaborating on about his time with Ron Santo. The book is scheduled to be released on Father’s Day.
Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.