Weekend Update … Its All Business at Cubs Camp

The first week of camp is officially in the books and reportedly there is a definite difference this spring from the past. The Cubs are focused on baseball and preparation for the upcoming season, even the well-publicized bunting tournament has a purpose.

The bunting tournament resumed Saturday with the first round of position players. Matt Szczur topped Lendy Castillo’s high score from the first day and quickly became the favorite to win the tournament until Steve Clevenger eliminated Tony Campana. Szczur beat Castillo’s score by 70 points (610-540) but Clevenger totaled 660 points to Campana’s 290.

Geovany Soto sat out practice Saturday with a minor groin injury. Soto went through pre-workout exercises but did not participate in practice with the rest of his teammates. Dale Sveum said Soto’s injury was not serious.

The Cubs still have not announced the Gerardo Concepcion signing … and the 40-man roster currently sits at 39 players.

This is the last Sunday without Cubs baseball until October … the exhibition season begins in a week.

Here’s the update …

Theo Epstein Compensation
The Theo Epstein compensation issue resurfaced Saturday when John Henry and Larry Lucchino addressed the Boston media in Fort Myers. The compensation for Epstein is not completely done but the Red Sox received the ‘big’ piece of the compensation earlier in the week … the Sox received right-hander reliever Chris Carpenter and a PTNBL for player to be named later.

John Henry said Saturday that the Cubs and Red Sox had a basic misunderstanding on what Boston would receive for letting Epstein out of the final year of his contract.

According to a report from WEEI, “There was some misunderstanding in his [John Henry] conversations with Cubs owner Tom Ricketts that led to what he viewed as a somewhat unsatisfying outcome.”

John Henry from WEEI: “How satisfied are we? In a negotiation, both sides are never, if it’s a tough negotiation, both sides are generally a little unhappy with the way it works. The Cubs probably aren’t ‘happy’ with it; we probably aren’t ‘happy’ with it. Given the amount of time that was spent on it, it probably was the appropriate result. I think there was a basic misunderstanding between Tom Ricketts and I when we first spoke about it. I really admire Tom Ricketts as an owner. He’s one of the best owners in baseball. It’s a great organization. We had a misunderstanding as far as expectation. There’s was no room for agreement. The best way to explain it is we probably had different expectations based on the first conversation to what was transpiring.

Larry Lucchino acknowledged on WEEI that Chris Carpenter did not represent the type of haul Boston was expecting for Epstein. Lucchino said, “We have a saying at the Red Sox – you’ve heard it before – all’s well that ends, period. Let’s move on, next issue.

The compensation transaction with the Red Sox is expected to be completed by April 15 … and the compensation to the Padres for Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod is expected to be settled by the end of Spring Training.

The Bunting Tournament
The Cubs’ bunting tournament resumed Saturday and after talking trash to his teammates, Tony Campana was eliminated by Steve Clevenger.

Saturday’s match-ups were: Junior Lake vs. Matt Szczur; Josh Vitters vs. Adrian Cardenas; Michael Brenly vs. Jonathan Mota; Blake Lalli vs. James Adduci; Jae-Hoon Ha vs. Brett Jackson; Welington Castillo vs. Dave Sappelt; Steve Clevenger vs. Tony Campana; Bryan LaHair vs. Anthony Rizzo.

The winners in the first round of the position players Saturday were: Matt Szczur, Adrian Cardenas, Jonathan Mota, Blake Lalli, Brett Jackson, Dave Sappelt, Steve Clevenger and Bryan LaHair.

Brett Jackson reportedly beat Jae-Hoon Ha with a walk-off bunt, flipped his bat and raised his arms in victory.

Notes from Cubs Camp

  • Kerry Wood and Matt Garza threw side sessions early Saturday morning.
  • According to Jamie Quirk, Dale Sveum is a perfect fit for the Cubs.
  • According to Doug Padilla (Talkin’ Baseball/ESPN 1000), Dale Sveum pointed out something positive about each player during his pre-workout speech Friday.
  • Dale Sveum said Blake Parker threw the ball really well Saturday.
  • The Cubs are playing for the future according to Doug Padilla (Talkin’ Baseball/ESPN 1000) while putting a decent spin on the upcoming season.
  • Dale Sveum clarified comments he made Friday about the rotation. Sveum listed five starters Friday: Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Paul Maholm, Randy Wells and Travis Wood. Sveum said Wells, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad and Rodrigo Lopez are all in the running for jobs Saturday.
  • The catchers are spending a lot of time working on their defense this spring according to a report from Bruce Miles.
  • The Cubs value the speed Tony Campana brings to the table according to Doug Padilla (Talkin’ Baseball/ESPN 1000). Campana has unique skills and could make the team as a fifth outfielder and a late-inning pinch-runner. When he gets a chance this spring Campana must make the best of all opportunities.
  • Doug Padilla and Bruce Levine (Talkin’ Baseball/ESPN 1000) described Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer as “approachable” but neither one of them are willing to sit in a golf cart and just chat … Epstein and Hoyer are all business and want to keep it that way.

Photos from Fitch Park
John CC attended practice Friday and not only did he email his observations but sent several excellent photos. Below are a few of John’s pics and the others have been posted on the CCO’s Facebook pageclick here to see the entire photo gallery.

John said the young guys looked great and Bryan LaHair, Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters were impressive in batting practice. Anthony Rizzo showed off his strong arm during infield drills.

AZ spring 2012 Barney.jpg AZ spring 2012 Castro in cage 2.jpg AZ spring 2012 Demp 2.jpg AZ spring 2012 Demp 3.jpg AZ spring 2012 IF Drills.jpg AZ spring 2012 Marmol.jpg AZ spring 2012 Sori, Rudy Castro.jpg AZ spring 2012 Soriano.jpg AZ spring 2012 Byrd in cage.jpg AZ spring 2012 Epstein_Bosio.jpg AZ spring 2012 IN Drills 3.jpg AZ spring 2012 LaHair_Stewart.jpg AZ spring 2012 Sveum and team.jpg AZ spring 2012_Sveum.jpg

A huge ‘Thank You‘ goes out to John for taking his time to email the great photos and observations to the CCO so everyone could enjoy.

Tom Ricketts talks about the ‘Cubs Way’

Well, there’s the final weekend update of the winter … and I’m sticking to it.

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Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne