Three-fifths of the Cubs projected rotation and a majority of the backend of the pen completed bullpen sessions at Fitch Park on Wednesday.
Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson, Shawn Camp, Carlos Marmol and James Russell threw off the practice mounds on Wednesday with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod, Dale Sveum and Chris Bosio in attendance for the sessions.
According to multiple reports, Jeff Samardzija was in midseason form and threw an impressive bullpen while Edwin Jackson was throwing at about 80 percent. As for Matt Garza, he is still working his way back from the stress reaction injury.
Dale Sveum was happy with the way all three pitchers threw the ball on Wednesday and he is glad to have three power arms at the top of his rotation that have a chance to throw a no-hitter every time they take the mound.
Who (Else) is on First?
Who will back up Anthony Rizzo this season? Rizzo is the only first baseman on the Cubs’ roster with the way it is currently constructed … and the Cubs’ pan on addressing that problem this spring.
Welington Castillo and Dioner Navarro will see time at first base when the spring games begin. And while Steve Clevenger can fill in as well, he does not figure to break camp with the big league team. That is one of the reasons that Brent Lillibridge has an excellent shot of being with the Cubs on Opening Day in Pittsburgh.
Lillibridge can play all of the positions in the infield and outfield and is a right-handed bat that could hit leadoff against lefties. According to multiple reports on Wednesday, Lillibridge will also see time at first base this spring.
The Tribune reported that Ian Stewart is another possibility for a backup at first base.
With Anthony Rizzo leaving camp to play with Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic, the Cubs will have plenty of time to look at different backup options at first base.
The Cubs’ newest outfielder reported to Fitch Park on Wednesday; put on a Cubs’ hat for the first time and was issued No. 21. Scott Hairston said he will enjoy wearing the number while he can because he thinks the Cubs will eventually retire the number. Hairston grew up a White Sox fan because of his father but said he enjoyed watching Sammy Sosa ”do his thing” when he would go watch games at Wrigley Field.
Hairston grew up in Naperville and is the third Hairston to play for the Cubs.
According to a report from the Tribune, the Cubs had real interest in signing him and while he was happy both New York teams pursued him, the Cubs wanted him the most.
Scott Hairston is projected to platoon with Nate Schierholtz in right field and according to the Sun-Times, Hairston could see time in centerfield and in left and he is capable of playing second base if needed.
According to a report from Bruce Levine, the White Sox put in a claim on Tony Campana last August but the Cubs pulled him back and the two teams could not work out a deal. It is common practice for teams to put just about their entire roster on waivers in August in order to gauge which team or teams may have interest in their players … and sometimes the interest shown in August can lead to trades in the winter.
According to Levine’s sources, the Cubs and White Sox had not discussed Campana as of Wednesday.
The Cubs designated Campana for assignment on February 10 and have 10 days to trade him. If Campana is not dealt, he will go on waivers and if he remains unclaimed the Cubs have the option to re-signing him to a minor league contract.
Cubs Add Two Saturday Night Games to 2013 Schedule
FOX released their broadcast schedule for the upcoming season on Tuesday. FOX’s 24-week schedule begins on April 6 and the primetime coverage begins on May 25.
2013 Cubs Games on FOX: Cubs vs. Giants on April 13 (11:30am CDT); Diamondbacks vs. Cubs on June 1 (6:00pm CDT); Cubs vs. Mariners on June 29 (6:00pm CDT); Cubs vs. Cardinals on July 13 (6:00pm CDT); Cubs vs. Dodgers on August 3 (2:30pm CDT); Cubs vs. Brewers on September 7 (11:30am CDT)
The games against Arizona and St. Louis are both at Wrigley Field.
Spring Training News Bites
Rick Sutcliffe was involved in the Cubs’ organizational meetings and apparently came away impressed. Sutcliffe tweeted, “Amazing the upgrade in talent in just one year!”
Tim Sheridan had a chance to speak with Theo Epstein on Wednesday while watching the workouts at Fitch Park.
Jesse Rogers spoke with Dioner Navarro on Wednesday morning. The Cubs’ backstop told Rogers, “Who wouldn’t want to play for the Cubs? I have a good history of going to bad teams and trying to turn them around a little bit. That’s one of my goals this year.”
Darwin Barney is hoping to establish himself this season as one of the best second basemen in the league by becoming more of an all-around player according to a report from the Tribune. Barney is looking to improve his offense while maintaining his Gold Glove performance in the field. Barney made a few tweaks to his mechanics in order to help him be more consistent at the plate.
All is good between Edwin Jackson and Steve Clevenger according to a report from the Sun-Times.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will square off in the first round of the bunting tournament on Saturday … the media relations staff and several of the clubhouse crew will also face off to determine the final spot in the field of 64. Anyone in the Cubs’ front office with pro ball experience is not allowed to compete for the final spot, which takes Jason McLeod out of the tournament. The 2013 bunting tournament will begin after all of the position players are in camp.
Carlos Villanueva sees the Cubs going to the next level according to a report from Comcast SportsNet. Villanueva was on the Brewers’ team that Dale Sveum took over at the end of the 2008 season and according to Villanueva, “every single person in that clubhouse wanted him back to manage the next year.”
According to a report from Carrie Muskat, give Dale Sveum an assist with Brent Lillibridge deciding to sign a minor league contract with the Cubs.
Scott Hairston joins the likes of Jason Marquis, Tyler Colvin, Milton Bradley and Andy Sonnanstine as players than have worn No. 21 since Sammy Sosa was traded to the Baltimore Orioles.