Cubs Pitchers and Catchers Report to Fitch Park

Charley Steiner once said, “There is something liberating about those magical words, pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.” The off-season is over … the Cubs’ baseball season officially begins today.

FitchEntrance-10While a majority of the pitchers and catchers on the Cubs’ Spring Training roster has already reported to Fitch Park, the mandatory reporting date is today. The players will take physicals and have meetings with the coaching staff on Monday with the first official on-field workout scheduled for Tuesday. Along with the pitchers and catchers that are already in camp, many of the position players have reported as well … report date for position players is February 16 with the first full squad workout scheduled for Monday, February 17.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are expected to meet with the media on Sunday to give their ‘State of the Cubs’ address prior to the official kickoff of camp. The Cubs will hold their annual organizational meetings Tuesday and Wednesday in the Phoenix area.

Two weeks from today, the Cubs will already have one Spring Training game under their belt and will be preparing for their final Cactus League opener at HoHoKam Park …

Carlos Marmol

Carlos Marmol is expected to be in camp on time and reportedly Marmol will arrive at Fitch Park on Sunday night. Marmol begins what is likely his final Spring Training with the Cubs after a rough off-season. Marmol was nearly dealt to the Angels for Dan Haren then saw the Cubs, who owe him $9.8 million for the third and final year of his contract, sign a closer to a two-year guaranteed contract.

Then the news surfaced about allegations of domestic violence against Marmol. The Cubs are treating the matter seriously. But news surfaced Friday that Marmol’s case had been sent to the Dominican Republic’s high court. Marmol’s lawyers have filed counter suits against the alleged victim of extortion and blackmail. Epstein said Friday that the Cubs believe Marmol is innocent and his lawyer said that he will be ready for the start of Spring Training.

From all indications the Cubs are still trying to trade Marmol and rumors have suggested they will likely do so during Spring Training as contending teams search for proven answers for the backend of their bullpen.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have recently said that Carlos Marmol is the Cubs’ closer.

Kyuji Fujikawa

According to a report from the Sun-Times, Kyuji Fujikawa has already put in three days worth of bullpen work at Fitch Park. Fujikawa met with the Chicago media and six members of the Japanese media on Saturday. Fujikawa arrived to Mesa a week early and is ready to close games for the Cubs if needed this season.

Fujikawa was glad to hear about the new rule that allows coaches to take interpreters to the mound during games but the Cubs have not said if they will take advantage of the new addition to the MLB Rule Book.

Jeff Samardzija

Details of the one-year, $2.64 million contract that Jeff Samardzija signed to avoid arbitration in January were released on Saturday. Samardzija agreed to a one-year deal that paid him the exact amount that he earned last year but it also includes $125,000 incentive package based on innings pitched. According to Carrie Muskat, Samardzija will earn an additional $25,000 for 180 innings, $25,000 for 185 innings, $25,000 for 190 innings, $25,000 for 195 innings and $25,000 for 200 innings pitched.

Chattin’ with Bruce Levine and Jesse Rogers

Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his weekly chat Tuesday on ESPN Chicago and Jesse Rogers, the new Cubs beat reporter for ESPN Chicago, held his weekly chat on Friday … here are the highlights:

  • From the way Bruce Levine understands it, the Cubs and Tigers have not discussed a Rick Porcello for Carlos Marmol swap.
  • Levine thinks it is an open competition at third base this spring between Ian Stewart and Luis Valbuena … but if Stewart is healthy, he will start at third base for the Cubs on Opening Day.
  • Levine does not think the Cubs are interested in putting Travis Wood in the bullpen.
  • Speaking of the Cubs’ pen, Levine thinks Carlos Marmol will be traded by Opening Day. According to Levine, Marmol has tons of value out there. Levine thinks the Cubs would be willing to deal Marmol for young pitching talent and some left-handed bullpen help.
  • The Cubs worked long and hard trying to get Lonnie Chisenhall from the Indians or Mike Olt from Texas but neither team was interested in moving either player at this point.
  • Matt Garza’s previous injuries are a concern for the Cubs.
  • Chris Rusin is a possibility for the bullpen to join fellow southpaw, James Russell. Dontrelle Willis is a longshot to make the Cubs pen as a loogy.
  • Rogers thinks that the fifth spot in the rotation is Travis Wood’s job to lose.
  • Rogers does not see a way that Brett Jackson starts the year with the Cubs … but he thinks he will finish the season with the big league team.

Spring Training News Bites

Matt Garza threw his second official bullpen session on Saturday. Garza is reportedly pain free and is ahead of his typical off-season schedule.

The bunting tournament will return this spring but due to a lack of players, the front office will compete for a spot in the field of 64 … and Theo Epstein is expected to square off against Jed Hoyer in the first round.

Scott Feldman completed his first bullpen session on Saturday.

Reggie Golden is healthy and is one of the early arrivals to Spring Training. According to a report from Carrie Muskat, the Cubs’ number two pick in the 2010 draft is happy to be back after missing last year with a leg injury (hyperextended his knee in the seventh game of the year). Golden has been impressed with how Dale Sveum interacts with the young players and is looking forward to playing for him.

While the Cubs will not be a part of ESPN’s Spring Training coverage or previews, the 30 in 30 segments on the MLB Network begin on February 15 … and the first stop is the Chicago Cubs at Fitch Park.

Cubs Front Office Moves

The Cubs announced two changes to their front office on Thursday in the wake of Wally Hayward’s resignation. Alex Sugarman was promoted to Senior Vice President of Strategy and Development and Colin Faulkner’s role was officially expanded.

Alex Sugarman advised the Ricketts family during the sale of the team and was officially hired by the Cubs in 2010. Sugarman will play a key role in the Wrigley Field restoration project according to a report from Crain’s Chicago Business and in the team’s broadcast rights. The Cubs are currently under contract with WGN-TV through the 2014 season and with Comcast SportsNet through the 2019 season. The Ricketts family, as part of the purchase when they bought the team, owns a 20 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet.

Colin Faulkner will take on some of the responsibilities previously held by Wally Hayward. Among Faulkner’s new duties will be overseeing the Cubs’ corporate partnerships and managing the team’s relationship with W Partners, Wally Hayward’s new company.

Full Report from Crain’s Chicago Business

News and Notes

According to a report from ESPN Chicago, Jeff Samardzija is glad to see Major League Baseball to start testing for HGH.

The New York Mets are signing former Cubs to minor league deals this off-season. In addition to inking Marlon Byrd to a minor league contract, the Metropolitans recently signed both LaTroy Hawkins and Corey Patterson to minor league contracts.

Rich Hill signed on with the Cleveland Indians and his minor league contract includes a non-roster invite to big league camp. Former Cub, Robert Coello, signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Angels … and both Matt Tolbert and Joe Mather inked minor league deals with the Phillies that included non-roster invites to Spring Training.

Bill James said on MLB Network Radio that in his opinion the most important stats for pitchers are ERA, SO/BB ratio and the ability to consistently pitch the most innings. During the same interview, FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron said the pitchers’ stats he values the most are BB rate, SO rate, home run rates, number of hits in play and strand rate.

On September 24, 1985 one of the wildest games in Wrigley Field history took place. Chris Jaffe of the Hardball Times recapped the game between the Cubs and Expos.

Tickets for the Pearl Jam show on July 19 at Wrigley Field went on sale on Saturday morning … and became the fastest concert sell-out in the history of the old ballyard.

For those monitoring the mega-TV deals being signed throughout Major League Baseball, the Padres are the latest big league team to cash in on a new television contract. The Padres will receive $200 million in upfront money as part of the Fox Sports San Diego right deal with Dish Network. The new agreement between Fox Sports San Diego and Dish Network that was announced on Wednesday is valued at $1.2 billion over 30 years and the Padres own 20 percent of the regional sports network.

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Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax