Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Mariners – 03/19/12

Spring Training Game Nineteen: Cubs (7-11) vs. Mariners (11-6)
Game Time – 3:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: None – Radio: Cubs.com
Location – Peoria Sports Complex, Peoria

Travis Wood (1-1, 20.25/3.75) vs. Jason Vargas (0-1, 5.63/0.88)

The Cubs take a break from the Cactus League split squad games this afternoon and will make the rather lengthy trip from Mesa to Peoria for a single game against the Mariners. While the Cubs officially take a break from the split squad games (resumes on Tuesday with games against the A’s and Rangers), the Cubs created a game with the Indians in Goodyear that was scheduled to begin at 10:00am local time (12:00pm CDT). A “B” game will take place between the Cubs and Tribe with Randy Wells getting the start.

Darwin Barney is expected back in the starting lineup while Ian Stewart will spend another day on the shelf. Stewart is expected back in a starting lineup Tuesday, likely against the Rangers at HoHoKam Park.

Today’s Cactus League game all starts with Travis Wood

To say Travis Wood is pitching today to prolong the Cubs’ decision to send him to Triple-A to start the season would be an understatement. Travis Wood has struggled this spring and has fallen behind Jeff Samardzija, Chris Volstad and Randy Wells in the mix for the final two spots in the Cubs rotation.

Wood makes his third appearance, second start, in the Cactus League and is coming off a bad outing against the Brewers. Wood allowed six runs, five earned, on three hits with two walks and a strikeout in a third of inning. Another outing like the one against Milwaukee today and he’s liable to be optioned out in the next round of spring roster cuts.

James Russell and Jay Jackson are also on the Cubs’ pitching schedule for Monday.

Jason Vargas makes his third start this afternoon for the Mariners. Vargas has allowed five runs on six hits with a walk and five strikeouts over eight innings in his first two starts. Vargas threw four innings of shutout ball against the Padres back on March 4 and was rocked by Arizona in his last start. Vargas has not pitched in a Cactus League game since March 9.

News and Notes
According to multiple reports Sunday, Jeff Samardzija is close to locking up a spot in the Cubs’ Opening Day rotation.

The wet fields have delayed Ian Stewart’s return to the lineup. The Cubs planned for Ian Stewart to do running drills Sunday and return to the lineup Monday. Weather/field conditions kept Stewart from running and the Cubs decided to push him back a day for precautionary reasons. Stewart is expected back Tuesday after missing time with tightness in his right quad.

According to a report from the Tribune, there is only one available spot on the Cubs’ bench and Joe Mather is the favorite to land the spot. Welington Castillo or Steve Clevenger will begin the season as the back-up catcher. Blake DeWitt, Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson are assured of spots according to the Tribune. If that is the case, the Cubs will have to open two spots on the 40-man roster (currently stands at 40), one for DeWitt and one for Mather. Both players were non-roster invitees to big league camp.

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Quote of the Day

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