Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Mariners – 03/08/12

Spring Training Game Five: Cubs (2-2) vs. Mariners (5-1)
Game Time – 2:05pm CST
Coverage – TV: None – Radio:
Location – HoHoKam Park, Mesa

Chris Volstad (0-0, -.–/-.–) vs. Kevin Millwood (0-0, -.–/-.–)

The Cubs return to their spring home to host the Seattle Mariners this afternoon.

Chris Volstad will throw his first pitch in a Cubs’ uniform after the Cubs acquired him from the Marlins in January for Carlos Zambrano and $15.345 million. Volstad is competing for a spot in the rotation with Randy Wells, Travis Wood, Jeff Samardzija, Casey Coleman, Andy Sonnanstine and Rodrigo Lopez.

The Cubs new regime set out to build controllable starting pitching depth when they took over the organization in October. Volstad fits the bill and gives the team depth for the upcoming season and beyond.

With Jeff Samardzija setting the bar high in his first start Wednesday, Chris Volstad needs a good outing this afternoon.

Today’s exhibition game starts with Chris Volstad

The former first round pick of the Marlins will make his Cubs’ debut this afternoon. Chris Volstad is coming off a disappointing season for the Marlins (5-13 with a 4.89 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP in 29 starts) but the Cubs are hoping he can build on a solid second half of 2011.

While Volstad did not post a win (0-5), he threw the ball a lot better after the break. In 11 games, Volstad allowed 30 runs on 67 hits in 62 1/3 innings with 49 strikeouts and 18 walks (4.04 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP).

Chris Volstad has been working on grips with Rick Sutcliffe this spring and needs a good outing this afternoon to stay in the picture for a starting spot.

The Cubs will get a look at a very familiar face this afternoon … Kevin Millwood. The 37-year old right hander signed with the Mariners in the off-season after posting a 4-3 record in nine starts for the Rockies last season (3.98 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP). Millwood is looking for another summer in the sun after two not-so-good seasons with the Orioles, the Red Sox’s organization and the Rockies.

News and Notes

Jason Jaramillo is not close to getting on the field due to problems with his legs (quadriceps). With Jaramillo unable to compete, the back-up catcher’s job is down to Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger. Both have had decent starts to the exhibition season but both need to step up and improve on their weaknesses while Geovany Soto is on the sidelines. Soto could make his spring debut Saturday in Maryvale.

Ian Stewart and Marlon Byrd are expected to be in today’s starting lineup. Stewart was a healthy scratch Wednesday after Dale Sveum penciled him in the starting lineup by mistake. The plan is for Stewart to play two days then take one off as he recovers from injuries that basically cost him last season.

Kerry Wood is expected to make his spring debut this afternoon.

The Cubs announced Wednesday that Travis Wood will start Friday against the White Sox in Glendale. Randy Wells and Rodrigo Lopez will also pitch Friday. Ryan Dempster will make his second start Saturday against the Brewers in Maryvale and Matt Garza is expected to take the ball Sunday against the Dodgers in Glendale.

Paul Maholm threw a simulated game Monday and a bullpen session Wednesday. Maholm has been slowed by the flu this spring and is expected to throw another bullpen Friday. Maholm should make his first start early next week.

The first round of roster cuts could come as early as Friday or Saturday. The Cubs currently have 62 players (39 on big league roster) in camp.

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Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon