Cubs Spring Training News and Notes

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 …

Gordon Wittenmyer on the Score
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.

Ron Santo
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.

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Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.

Quote of the Day

"Baseball, just a game as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes." - Ernie Harwell
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  • Patrick_Schaefer

    I know many people won’t agree with me but I do commend Soriano for his dedication. He has taken all the criticism time and time again, he doesn’t gripe and moan about it, he could easily just blow it off and laugh his way to the bank, but he still wants to earn his contract at 35. You can see a big difference so far this spring in his approach at the plate, hittings balls to rightfield instead of trying to pull everything let’s hope it pays off.

    • Kojak Osborne Jr.

      I do agree with Soriano does work hard but he had that bad habit for a long time so it will take some time to change his approach.

    • Tony_Hall

      Patrick – I have been one of the biggest critics of Soriano, and I was thinking the same thing. He could of easily said, this is how I play, yet he has put in the work.

      I still see no way, he is a productive NL Outfielder for 4 more years, but maybe, just maybe, he will become enough of a hitter again, that an AL team will find a way to make a deal, at some point, so that he can DH the rest of his career.

    • Dorasaga

      Indeed. I will add that Soriano is not a “bad” fielder. His throwing arm has been accurate and quick. He even led the league with one of the most outfield assists (catching runners out). Opposition runners don’t dare to run against him, unlike against Marlon Byrd, who should be a DH while he’s hot the first 40 games of the season, methinks.

      Both UZR and Dewan’s plus-n-minus, which used video scouting for all plays, indicated Soriano an above left fielder. In fact, his arm is probably more valuable than other great left fielders like Crawford.

      Soriano has worked hard, been on a winning team (can’t beat the Yankees), and nice to the fans. I’m OK with the boo-s to remind him that as a 18M x 4 years player, he needs to be excellent, not above average.

      But I’ll say this, there’s a little Ernie Banks in old Fonzi. It’s probably easier to cut Silva and ARam while the organization can bench Alfonso and play Colvin, Jackson, more…

      And I’m starting to miss DLee. Why are Pena and Baker there?

      • Ripsnorter1

        Just waiting until Pena gets “hot”–I mean, 6 k’s in a row, followed by a weak tap back to the pitcher. You’ll stop missing DLee then.

        Mr. .196

        • The Maven

          Derrek Lee would find a way to hit into a double play, even with nobody on base.

  • Bryan

    I know this is manager “spring training speak”, but really!…is this what we should expect from Quade (quotes from today’s Tribune re:Silva).

    “I tend to give a guy who’s had this kind of a career and the longevity and has been around as a veteran his space to do this,” Quade said. “It’s not his first rodeo, and I think he was fine today. He went about his business great. He worked through a little trouble in the first couple innings and just couldn’t make a pitch or two to get out of the third inning. “I make nothing out of this other than just a rough day. For all the communication or conversations I have … he’ll be fine.”

    C’mon!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

      What did you expect Quade to say? He is a bum but he is our bum? No he is handling Silva’s situation just fine. Now if continues to struggle and ends up being moved you will know that this is just what I think it is. Saying all the right things to keep a very volatile pitcher motivated and positive.

      • Tony_Hall

        I somewhat agree.

        He could have said

        “Silva is a veteran, who knows how to get ready for the season, and I have confidence in him to do just that. Of course, this outing was bad, and he will need to start to get more production in his next outings, as we have many capable arms to choose from, for the last 2 spots in the rotation.”

        • cubs1967

          which is better:
          to win OR
          to lose, but continue letting the 12M fat ass bad pitcher pitch, just so he earns his money; even though the fans and team suffer; its’ all about getting bang for the team’s buck.

          WTF???????–release silva; he is not a viable pitcher; who unlike sori does put up numbers; just not numbers reflecting an 18M salary and he does behave towards the media, fans, and teammates plus he appears to always be in shape.

          Really-PK Ricketts; the money is spent on silva thanks to YOUR GM, isn’t it better to win; don’t you need that for your reputation, which at this point is beyond bad, then let silva pitch just so you can justify what he is paid…………

          wha’t gonna happen here when YOUR MGR said silva has to earn a spot and right now his era is close to 30, wells is low and cashner is 6.75…………..are you really gonna keep Fatty???

          Silva should of been released after the dugout episode, should be now cuz he SUCKS,………….

          SOS, new owner, new mgr, no championships like always w/ this group…….just like the circus…………clowns-Tommy, Jimmy, Mikey & Kenney……….who’s got an elephant??

          • Tony_Hall

            I would have cut Silva already.

            Silva is making $11.5M this year, but “only” $6M is from the Cubs. IF, Silva can show a little something in his remaining ST starts, they may be able to trade him to a team and pick up a little bit of his “bloated” salary. I know it is highly unlikely, but that is the most we can hope for right now, because if they don’t trade him, I still believe that they will march him out there, as their 5th starter.

  • gocubs

    2012 lineup…

    Jackson CF
    Castro SS
    Fielder 1B
    Ramirez 3B
    Soto C
    Soriano LF
    Lemahieu 2B
    Colvin RF