Cubs’ camp is in full swing after a long day Friday at Fitch Park. All of the players have reported and the Cubs’ workout Friday went late into the afternoon.
Tom Ricketts, Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Dale Sveum addressed the team before the first full squad workout. Tom Ricketts feels a new energy and a new vibe this spring and thinks he has a good team and it is going to be a good year.
Dale Sveum also met with each player Friday before leading his first full practice as manager of the Chicago Cubs.
It is good to have baseball back. The first pitch of the spring is eight days away.
- The team is going to be working a little harder this year than in the past. The team is focusing on different fundamentals.
- Ricketts said the upcoming season is not about patience and he expects the team to compete in the NL Central.
- From the Tribune: “We’ve got a good team and we’re going to have a good year.”
- There are no plans for the Cubs to play at U.S. Cellular Field next year while repairs to Wrigley Field are being made … right now there are not any renovations planned, other than the patio deck in right field.
- Ricketts is enthusiastic about the team’s new manual … ‘The Cubs Way‘
- There is not a date set for breaking ground on the Cubs new spring training facility but it is still expected to open in 2014.
Blake DeWitt reported to camp Thursday after driving to Mesa from his home in Missouri. DeWitt discussed his “weird” month with the media.
DeWitt avoided arbitration with the Cubs and agreed on a $1.1 million contract just before he was DFA’d to make room on the 40-man roster for Adrian Cardenas. DeWitt will have a shot to earn his way back on the Cubs’ 25-man roster this spring but if he’s unable to make the Opening Day roster, DeWitt will still be paid the $1.1 million contract he agreed to in January. If DeWitt would have chosen to become a free agent and left the organization he would not have been paid the $1.1 million.
DeWitt did not receive a call from the Cubs after he was designated for assignment.
Starlin Castro spoke publically for the first time since he was questioned by Chicago police in mid-January about allegations of sexual assault last September.
Castro said he cooperated with the police and is ready to play baseball.
The Cubs’ shortstop realizes he has to work on his defense and his baserunning … and said he would like to hit third in the lineup.
David DeJesus and Bryan LaHair
Dale Sveum has started talking about possible lineups. David DeJesus appears to be in line to get the first crack at the leadoff spot … and not only would DeJesus be at the top of the lineup but Bryan LaHair would be hitting cleanup.
The Cubs are going to be patient with Bryan LaHair and give him every opportunity, even if he starts out slow. Dale Sveum diffused the notion Thursday that there could be a competition at first base this spring between LaHair and Anthony Rizzo.
Sveum also said that LaHair would not be seeing any time in the outfield this spring. According to a report from ESPN Chicago, LaHair is the Cubs’ first baseman … but “if anything was to happen somewhere along the line” the Cubs will cross that bridge then.
Alfonso Soriano is also a candidate to hit fourth in the lineup when the spring games begin.
Dale Sveum knows Soriano’s reputation and heard about it from Cubs’ fans over and over again during the convention. Sveum said Thursday that he would be giving Soriano days off to stay fresh.
Sveum pointed out how hard Soriano works and acknowledged he understands why the fans have lost faith in Soriano … it’s because of the things he does. Sveum is going to stay on Soriano but said Soriano standing at the plate admiring long fly balls is a habit some Major League players have. Sveum indicated that happens but it is important “to be able to run balls out to the left side of the field” and “to be able to stretch singles into doubles, take hard turns, run the bases really hard.”
Alfonso Soriano talked to the media on his first day of camp. Soriano said it is time for the Cubs to move on from the past and pointed out they will not miss Carlos Zambrano. Soriano said he likes the moves that were made this off-season.
The Bunting Tournament
The Cubs’ bunting tournament kicked off Thursday with Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo posting the highest score of the day (540 points).
Casey Coleman, Jeff Beliveau, Lendy Castillo, Trey McNutt, Rafael Dolis, Dae-Eun Rhee, Chris Rusin and Scott Maine were first round winners while Alberto Cabrera, Casey Weathers, Marco Carrillo, Jay Jackson, John Gaub, Tim Buss, Blake Parker and Marcos Mateo were eliminated.
Each player is allowed eight bunts over three innings … and a position player will square off against a pitcher for the bunt-off championship.
The Cubs’ bunting tournament took a break Friday.
Notes from Cubs Camp
Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo were the lucky ones Friday that got to stand in against Carlos Marmol. Rizzo did not make contact and Jackson was able to foul a pitch off.
Ryan Dempster, Lendy Castillo, Travis Wood, Jay Jackson, Jeff Beliveau, Carlos Marmol and Trey McNutt threw live batting practice Friday.
Tim Sheridan pointed out that Dale Sveum “is really about business and moving things along so as to get the most out of workouts.” As Sheridan said, that is a good thing. Make sure to check out ‘Boys of Spring’ for a different view of what has been happening at Fitch Park.
Steve Clevenger showed some pop in batting practice Friday according to ESPN Chicago.
Dale Sveum threw batting practice to the catchers Friday and observed practice from the tower in the middle of the four fields at Fitch Park.
A Note and a Rumor
MLB players are being tested for HGH for the first time this spring … and they are not happy about it.
According to a report from ESPN Boston, the Red Sox are very interested in signing Jorge Soler. Soler is expected to establish residency in the Dominican Republic in the next two weeks, which is the first step in the process before he can negotiate and sign a contract with a Major League team.
Quotes of the Day
Dale Sveum from Cubs.com on what he said to his team prior to the first full squad workout: “I just let them know that, look, you’ve got a veteran catcher behind the plate, a guy who won the MVP in Triple-A playing first, a guy who did a nice job — [Darwin] Barney — at second base. [We've got] a guy who had over 300 hits in his first two years in the big leagues [at short], a guy who hit 20 something plus home runs a couple years ago in Colorado at third, an All-Star in center field, a guy with 340 home runs in left field and a really nice leadoff-type professional player playing right field. [Plus] obviously the pitching staff with [Ryan Dempster], [Matt] Garza, [Paul] Maholm, [Randy] Wells, [Travis] Wood and you go on and on with the bullpen and [Carlos] Marmol and [Kerry] Wood and [Jeff] Samardzija. I just let them know that’s a team that can compete and do really well. We’re not here to rebuild, we’re here to try to win the World Series this year.”
Tom Ricketts from the Sun-Times: “We’re not preaching patience. We’re preaching have expectations. Expect these guys to play hard, expect them to compete every game, expect them to have a great season. It’s not about patience. We have a good team, and we’re going to have a good year.”
Well, that’s the update … and the exhibition season is just around the corner.
Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO