Day Ten of Cubs Camp: Good News on Garza and Castro is Eyeing Gold

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

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.”

Full Report from the Tribune

Alfonso Soriano

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.

Full Report from the Chicago Tribune

Carlos Marmol

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.

2013BuntTournament1     2013BuntTournament

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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.

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Quote of the Day

"Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again." – Bob Feller

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  • gary3411

    Castro’s interview with Dave Kaplan was pretty good. CANNOT believe how good his English has gotten in such a short time expecially spending offseasons in the Dominican, he has worked at it you can tell. I understood him clearer than many 30-somethin Latin players.

  • 07GreyDigger

    I don’t understand how Castro indicated he would be more focused this year. So he wasn’t focused before? I understand he’s a young player and has a lot to learn, but he should be focused anyway, not because management is telling him to.

    I’m also bothered that he feels he’ll play better if the team is winning. Wouldn’t the team play better if he continued to improve and get better at his game? It is a team sport after all. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, there is somewhat of a language barrier.

    • triple

      I think it’s great of him to admit that he hasn’t always been focused. He’s 22 years old. He’s still so young, yet he’s had to grow up quickly and hopefully he’s turning the corner. But it seems as though he is taking responsibility for what he does on the field. I wouldn’t read too much into what he’s saying. What I’m concerned about is seeing how he is looking on the field and in the batter’s box.

      Also the fact that Soriano took him under his wing is probably a good thing, as many still rave that Sori has one of the best work ethics in the game. Which I still sometimes find that hard to believe myself. As far as Castro’s comment about being on a winning team, not to read into it, but my take is that if he is surrounded by better players in the batting order, he will also become a better hitter. Idk, just my thoughts.

      • 07GreyDigger

        I do like he wants to improve his defense and has been using Darwin Barney as a mentor for playing the position. That’s very encouraging.

      • Brp921

        He can also see some credible guys coming up the ladder behind him. He can’t just rest on his laurels. Competition is motivation for anyone no matter how much talent you’ve got.

    • DWalker

      Actually, I really like what he said. Last year, he certainly wasn’t as focused as he could have been. he came to spring training with the fear of felony charges hanging over him and then even once they were cleared he still went through personal and team slumps and a contract negotiation. He had a few well publicized lapses that really showed he had let his mind wander, and I think for part of the season he was probably wondering when he would be traded as the team spiraled down. Most of the year, he had one other functional bat in the lineup to protect him on a dead end team. This year, he’s hoping he’s going to have other core players performing around him, and not just placeholders.
      Now, possibly for the first time in his pro career, he’s being challenged directly to really improve rather then just use his natrual talent, and hes being given guidence on how to do it, maybe for the first time. He watched a player who will never be considered close to the player Castro is, win a prestigous award for defense and he is realizing that with his gifts, he could do the same thing. He seems like he’s a smart kid who when he applies himself, can really LEARN and it sounds like he may have come to the realization that he someday could be as good as he thinks he should be if he works at it.

  • John_CC

    Short of doing away with the 7th inning circus altogether, at least this is a start.

    • 07GreyDigger

      I don’t think they could ditch it altogether, I think there would be too much of an uproar, but I’m encouraged that they aren’t shy about getting rid of some of the tired traditions.

      • John_CC

        You are right, but this is a good step in the right direction. I used to love the stretch and still enjoy it when it’s someone worthy, Billy Corgin, Bill Murray, Cusak…any old Cub player, etc. People with ties to the city and that are fans.

        To put it in Garza’s words, it has really turned into a crapshow in recent years.

        • paulcatanese

          People with ties to the city. I agree with that. Their are a lot of people that are
          celeberties that are strong Cub fans.
          William Peterson, Joe Mantagna,Cusak, Murray, and have interesting things to say.
          Randy Hundley, and a few of the other
          “old Cubs” can stay out to pasture as I have heard their stories over and over again.
          I hope it is a big change.

          • John_CC

            I was thinking more along the lines of Ryno, Moreland, Sutcliffe…but anyway

          • paulcatanese

            Agree, those guys are cool. And Ryno would be a bonus.