Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Dale Sveum met with the media at Fitch Park on Sunday as pitchers and catchers officially reported to Spring Training. The Cubs’ brass addressed the ‘State of the Cubs’ as the team prepares for an extended camp.
The Cubs made two announcements and addressed their plans for Javier Baez’s first big league camp.
Scott Hairston’s two-year, $5 million contract was officially announced on Sunday. Hairston is expected to platoon with Nate Schierholtz in right field and he can earn an additional $1 million in incentives over the next two years.
To make room for Hairston on the roster, the Cubs designated Tony Campana for assignment. The Cubs have 10 days to trade him but if he makes it through waivers he will be assigned to Triple-A Iowa. It is likely that once Campana clears, he will remain in camp on a non-roster invite.
The Cubs will spend Monday taking physicals and in meetings with the front office and coaching staff. The first on field workout for pitchers and catchers is Tuesday and the report date for position players is February 16 … the first full squad workout is scheduled for February 17.
The Cubs will hold their annual organizational meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Phoenix area.
Scott Hairston and Tony Campana
When the news surfaced that the Cubs agreed to terms on a two-year deal with Scott Hairston in January, the Cubs needed to create two spots on their 40-man roster … at the time the contract with Carlos Villanueva was not official. The Cubs had several options to create those two spots but only two moves made the most sense. The Cubs designated Lendy Castillo for assignment to make room for Villanueva, and as expected, he cleared waivers and was outrighted to Iowa. Castillo will likely begin the year in the Smokies’ rotation.
The team that always wanted to be more left-handed under the previous administration now has a roster full of left handed hitters … and that is what pointed to Tony Campana as being the odd man out when they agreed to terms with Scott Hairston.
Tony Campana has a valuable tool that can help teams win ballgames, his speed. Campana would benefit from regular playing time to work on his defense and his approach at the plate. Campana must figure out how to take pitches in order to get on base to utilize his best asset. Defensively, Campana needs time to work on reading balls off the bat and the routes he takes in the outfield.
Hairston’s two-year contract is very club friendly and does not block anyone from the system from coming up and playing every day … plus he gives the Cubs another short-term asset they could turn into a long term asset.
Javier Baez will begin his first big league camp next week but Epstein, Hoyer and Sveum reiterated he will not break camp on the Cubs’ roster. Baez is in camp to gain experience and to see how things work in the big leagues. Baez is ticketed to begin the year on the D-Cubs roster in High-A ball, a level in which he struggled at last year.
As has been reported, Baez will remain at shortstop this season and will see a majority of his playing time while in camp at short. Dale Sveum said Sunday that Baez could see time at second base or at third base while he is in camp but that would only be the case if the Cubs’ need numbers … not because they would like to see him play another position.
Spring Training News Bites
Jorge Soler is in big league camp as part of the Cubs’ 40-man roster and like Baez, Soler is in camp to gain experience and does not have a shot of making the team. Soler is likely ticketed to begin the year at Kane County but there have been rumblings that he could join Baez in Daytona.
Jeff Samardzija looks better this year than he did when he reported for camp a year ago according to Chris Bosio. Samardzija has kept up the Ryan Dempster-training program of running up Camelback Mountain and according to a report from ESPN Chicago, Samardzija is poised for another rise.
Dale Sveum will announce his Opener Day starter mid-way through camp. Edwin Jackson, Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija are in line for the honor.
According to Dale Sveum, Matt Garza looks good in early workouts. Sveum said, “The ball is coming out of his hand really well. He’s in great shape, great attitude.”
Carlos Marmol is expected to report to camp on Sunday night … and every piece of information the Cubs have been able to gather backs Carlos Marmol’s story that he is guilty of no wrongdoing whatsoever.
The fourth and fifth spots in the rotation are wide open and will be decided in camp.
Luis Valbuena is expected to push Ian Stewart for the third base job in camp.
The Cubs released their Spring Training rosters to the media on Sunday … and Carrie Muskat posted the numbers the new players to the 40-man and non-roster invitees will wear this spring.
Tony Campana was told over the phone that he had been designated for assignment. Campana was one of the position players that reported early to camp.
Theo Epstein spoke about the patience the Cubs are receiving from the fan base. Epstein said, “It’s a bit of a covenant. We ask for their patience and understanding … in return we promise to work our tails off so we can build something really special. And reward the fans with October baseball year in and year out.”