The Cubs received good news on Tuesday in regards to Matt Garza. The MRI on Monday revealed a mild left lat strain where the lat meets the oblique and Jed Hoyer said they are probably going to let Garza rest for about a week. The week layoff is not expected to keep Garza off the Opening Day roster but in reality if Garza is not throwing off a mound again in seven days he will not have enough time to be ready for the season.
The Cubs are going to make sure that Garza is pain-free before they allow him to throw again. Hoyer indicated the strained lat obviously pushes back his first Cactus League start and it is too early to say how this will impact the regular season. The Cubs are viewing the news as positive and reiterated that his arm is in good shape.
Starlin Castro met with the media for the first time this spring on Tuesday … and the Cubs’ shortstop is confident he can win a Gold Glove. Castro said he wants to be like Darwin Barney and win a Gold Glove. Castro spent the off-season working on his defense and indicated he would concentrate more this year.
Starlin Castro showed a lot of improvement last year and should benefit from having the same manager and coaching staff in consecutive seasons for the first time in his career. Castro admitted Tuesday that he feels a little more relaxed this spring with his contract extension behind him. Castro wants to focus on hitting for more power this year and getting back to a .300 hitter.
Castro thinks if the team wins then he will thrive. Castro said, “I’ll be (a bigger) superstar than I am. I know I can be what I’m supposed to be in the future. I know I can be very good because I’ve never been lazy. I work hard and be better every day.”
Alfonso Soriano told the media on Monday that he would be open to a trade to “six or seven” teams if the Cubs get off to a bad start this season. Multiple reports on Monday indicated that those teams are located in either the East or Central Divisions of both leagues … but that might not be the case.
According to a report from the Sun-Times, the “six or seven” teams includes both New York teams, the Dodgers, Phillies and White Sox. As the Sun-Times reported, Soriano would only waive his no trade clause if the Cubs are not playing well.
Seventh Inning Stretch Singers
According to a report from the Tribune, the Cubs are making changes to the stretch this season after listening to feedback from the fan base. After Harry Caray passed away in 1998, the Cubs began using guest conductors for the seventh inning stretch. Many feel that the guest conductor has run its course while some would like for it to remain.
Jim Oboikowitch, the Cubs in-game programming director, told the Tribune that the team would like to focus on former Cubs’ players, Chicago natives and people who know baseball and who are Cubs fans. The Cubs would like to have “A-listers” but no longer want the celebrities just to plug their new projet while they are in the booth.
The Cubs are also planning on using more update music before the game instead of the best rock songs of the 80’s. Gary Pressy will remain as the Cubs’ organist.
According to a report from ESPN Chicago, there is still no word on whether Carlos Marmol will have to leave the team in order to return to the Dominican Republic to deal with accusations of domestic abuse.
While the Cubs are waiting to find out, Dale Sveum does not think the situation has had an effect on Marmol. The Cubs’ closer is throwing the ball much better than he did last spring and is throwing strikes with his fastball.
Cubs Bunting Tournament
Michael Brenly, Jeff Samardzija, Jaye Chapman, Brent Lillibridge, Darnell McDonald, Brett Jackson, Blake Parker and Alberto Cabrera advanced to the next round of the Cubs annual bunting tournament on Tuesday. Alberto Cabrera advanced over Cory Wade because the veteran reliever did not show up.
Andy Lane, the Cubs’ bullpen catcher, defeated Dave Sappelt on Monday and Nate Helm also advanced onto the second round on Monday. The other first round winners include Luis Valbuena, James Russell, Brian Bogusevic, Edwin Maysonet, Drew Carpenter and Travis Wood.
Dioner Navarro, Josh Vitters, Brad Nelson, Welington Castillo, J.C. Boscan, Alberto Gonzalez, Steve Clevenger, Dave Sappelt, Kyuji Fujikawa, Carlos Villanueva, Rafael Dolis, Michael Bowden, Arodys Vizcaino, Jensen Lewis and Hector Rondon have been eliminated.
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Chattin’ with Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his weekly chat Tuesday on ESPN Chicago. Here are the highlights …
- According to Bruce Levine, Travis Wood is going to have to beat out Carlos Villanueva for a job in the starting rotation. Alberto Cabrera is also being groomed as a starter and the best five starters will be in the rotation on Opening Day.
- Levine could see the Cubs adding a veteran reliever to the pen if they are able to trade Carlos Marmol. Levine still thinks that Marmol will be traded before the beginning of the season.
- On which players have impressed him the most this spring, Levine said that Jeff Samardzija is always impressive. Darwin Barney has added six or seven pounds of muscle and Kyuji Fujikawa blew him away the two times he saw him throw.
- Levine has not heard the names that were involved last year in the Alfonso Soriano to the Giants talks. Levine thinks the Cubs would have received pitching in return.
Spring Training News Bites
Javier Baez spoke with Meghan Montemurro on Tuesday and told the Cubs’ beat reporter for The Northwest Herald that he was surprised he received an invite to big league camp. Baez would not give a timeframe on when he expects to be in the majors and said he can play second base, shortstop or third base. Baez does not have a preference as to where he would play in the majors … and added that he would play the outfield if the Cubs want him to.
While it appears Jeff Samardzija will get the ball on Opening Day in Pittsburgh, Samardzija will not count out Matt Garza for the honor. Samardzija knows how competitive Garza is and would like to compete with Garza and Edwin Jackson for the Opening Day nod during Spring Training.
Darwin Barney will receive his Gold Glove award in a pre-game ceremony on April 13. The first 10,000 fans attending the game against Giants will receive The Darwin Barney Gold Glove Replica Trophy. And speaking of the Gold Glove second baseman in the National League, he will not let Brandon Phillips’ comments become a distraction.
The Cubs altered their live BP sessions with rain in the forecast for Wednesday. Alberto Cabrera, Carlos Marmol, Rafael Dolis, Michael Bowden, Cory Wade, Jensen Lewis, Blake Parker, Casey Coleman and Shawn Camp threw on Tuesday.
Apparently not all of the players made it to camp on time as previously reported … outfielder and non-roster invitee, Johermyn Chavez arrived at Fitch Park on Tuesday.
The pressure has eased for Michael Brenly with his father no longer in the Cubs’ booth.
The uniform number shuffle could end up profitable for Travis Wood. After Dale Sveum gave up is No. 33 to Carlos Villanueva and swiped No. 4 from Dioner Navarro, the Cubs backup catcher is trying to pry No. 30 away from Travis Wood.
The Cubs’ 2013 Cactus League Opener is Saturday and the team plays two intrasquad games on Thursday and Friday at HoHoKam Park …
And, last but not least … Matt Garza has been eliminated as the mastermind behind the hunting vest practical joke. According to Paul Sullivan, only one more suspectzija remains.