Laying Down the Bunts … and Other Notes from Cubs Camp

It is position player reporting day in Cubs Camp … A majority of the players have already reported to Fitch Park but after Thursday Dale Sveum will have his full Spring Training roster in camp. There are only four position players that have not reported … Alfonso Soriano, Starlin Castro, Blake DeWitt and Jae-Hoon Ha. The first full squad workout is Friday and Tom Ricketts is expected to address the team prior to Friday’s workout.

The biggest “news” to come out of Mesa on day four of camp was the buzz created by the bunting tournament that begins Thursday. Not only did Dale Sveum come up with idea but he is putting his money where his mouth is and the Cubs’ skipper is participating in the tournament.

Here’s the update …

The Bunting Tournament
An idea that Dale Sveum had and used while managing in the Pirates’ minor league system will soon take place at Fitch Park … the Cubs are set to have a bunting tournament.

The Cubs 31 position players will square off against the 31 pitchers, along with Dale Sveum and Tim Buss, in a 64-player bracket style-tournament where the winner will take home $2,000.

Players score points by bunting balls into areas on the infield … and the better the bunt, the more points the player receives. Players have been practicing one of the fundamentals of the game in preparation for the competition.

Sveum thought the tournament would be a good way for the team to have fun and at the same time break things up a little bit … plus, the tournament will also give Sveum and the coaching staff an opportunity to see firsthand which players can and cannot lay down a bunt.

Dale Sveum will participate in the tournament and will face Kerry Wood in the first round. Wood picked Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells as the early favorites to win the tournament.


From ESPN ChicagoBracket of the First Annual Bunting Tournament

The Lineup
According to a report from ESPN Chicago, when Dale Sveum finally sets his Opening Day lineup he plans on being committed to it … and “there is no platoon situation in mind for anybody” in his everyday lineup.

Less than a week into camp, Sveum does not have any plans to platoon players but will use Jeff Baker in right field, first base and third base against lefties … not only get Baker playing time but to give David DeJesus, Bryan LaHair and Ian Stewart a day off.

According to the Tribune, Ian Stewart will get an opportunity early on to prove he can hit left-handers.

Notes from Cubs Camp
The injury bug has been rather bored so far this spring … only one issue has been reported. Back spasms sidelined John Gaub over the weekend but he is expected to be on the field for Thursday’s workout and bunting contest. Gaub probably will not throw a full bullpen session until later in the week.

Anthony Rizzo envisions a Cubs’ Series title according to ESPN Chicago.

The veterans are helping Dale Sveum sell the Cubs’ game plan according to the Tribune. The Cubs could have gone with a full-scale youth movement but instead decided to bring back Reed Johnson and Kerry Wood, along with keeping Marlon Byrd, in order to help teach the younger players how to play the game the right way.

Jeff Baker’s versatility will help him get playing time this season. Baker can play right field, first base, third base and second base.

According to the Sun-Times, Chris Bosio thinks Chris Volstad has high upside.

News and Notes
The YES Network made the announcement official that Lou Piniella has been hired to be an analyst and special contributor for the upcoming season. Piniella will be on 20-30 Yankees’ broadcasts during the year and he is excited to be back with the Yankees organization after spending last season in the Giants’ organization. Piniella will also be reunited (at least in the same organization) as his former boss, Jim Hendry, and his former pitching coach, Larry Rothschild.

MLB.com Prospect Ranking Correction
The CCO passed on two pieces of incorrect information Wednesday in regards to a current Cubs’ prospect and the one that was just sent to the Boston Red Sox.

Zach Cates moved into MLB.com’s top 20 Cubs’ prospect list (number 20) when Chris Carpenter was sent to the Red Sox. Cates came over from the Padres in the Anthony RizzoAndrew Cashner deal. Cates is a 22-year old right hander (December 17, 1989) not the 32-year old right hander that MLB.com indicated.

In the first Cubs’ prospect list released by MLB.com, Chris Carpenter was ranked as the fifth best prospect in the Cubs’ system, not as the 20th best prospect as Wednesday’s report read. Carpenter slid into the Sox’s system as the eighth best prospect in Boston’s organization.

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

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