Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Dodgers – 02/25/13

Spring Training Game Three: Cubs (2-0) vs. Dodgers (0-1-1)

  • Game Time – 2:05pm CST
  • Coverage – TV: MLB.TV (Dodgers) – Radio: Cubs.com
  • Location – Camelback Ranch, Glendale

Carlos Villanueva (0-0, -.–/-.–) vs. Chad Billingsley (0-0, -.–/-.–)

Dale Sveum and the Chicago Cubs make the trip from Mesa to Glendale to face the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. The Cubs will shoot for their third win in as many Spring Training games this afternoon behind Carlos Villanueva.

The Cubs have begun the exhibition season on a positive note. While wins and losses are not important, the team as a whole has played good ball. The pitching staff has thrown strikes, for the most part, and the defense has been very good.

It is still very early in the spring and there is a long way to go before Opening Day, but the performances over the first two games have been encouraging to say the least. Again, the wins and losses do not matter, but the way the Cubs play the game this time of year does.

Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie will call this afternoon’s game on Cubs.com.

This afternoon all starts with Carlos Villanueva …

Carlos Villanueva makes his Cubs’ debut this afternoon. Villanueva signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Cubs in the off-season with the thoughts of becoming a full-time starter. Villanueva is reportedly battling Travis Wood for the final spot in the Cubs rotation, but Wood appears to be the favorite for the final spot due to the way he finished last season and Villanueva’s experience pitching out of the bullpen.

With the uncertainty surrounding Matt Garza, Villanueva could end up in the starting rotation at the beginning of the year if Garza does not return soon from his strained lat.

Carlos Villanueva was 7-7 in 38 games, 16 starts, for the Blue Jays a year ago with a 4.16 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP (122 strikeouts, 46 walks).

Dale Sveum will run out the following lineup behind Villanueva this afternoon.

  1. Luis Valbuena – 2B
  2. Darwin Barney – DH
  3. Nate Schierholtz – RF
  4. Scott Hairston – CF
  5. Brad Nelson – 1B
  6. Darnell McDonald – LF
  7. Welington Castillo – C
  8. Junior Lake – 3B
  9. Alberto Gonzalez – SS

The Cubs will face Chad Billingsley, who will be making his first start since last August. Billingsley was in the middle of a solid season (10-9 in 25 starts with a 3.55 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP) before a partial ligament tear in his elbow ended his year. Billingsley opted not to have Tommy John surgery and elected instead to have platelet-rich plasma injections … and the procedure appears to have worked.

Chris Capuano will piggyback Billingsley this afternoon. Capuano is fighting for a spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

Spring Training News Bits

Dale Sveum told the media on Sunday that with the way his Opening Day lineup appears to be stacking up, Starlin Castro will likely hit in the two-hole behind David DeJesus. According to multiple reports, Sveum is leaning toward a top four of DeJesus, Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Alfonso Soriano to start the season. Sveum told the Sun-Times that is how he plans to go through the season … unless there is a trade.

Matt Garza has not thrown since last Sunday and was shut down exactly seven days ago. The Cubs have not scheduled any throwing sessions for Garza and are awaiting medical clearance. Chris Bosio told the Sun-Times that Garza is doing much better, and Sveum said Garza is getting better every day when he was asked about his progress on Sunday. The Cubs are still not anticipating Garza missing the start of the season.

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …

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Quote of the Day

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." - John F. Kennedy

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  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Bowden did not balk, bad call

  • Tom U

    Here’s a link to an article by John Sickels about SS Javier Baez

    johnsickels @MinorLeagueBall
    Prospect Smackdown: Javier Baez vs. Xander Bogaerts http://sbn.to/V0QvQO

  • Michael G

    I dont know if anyone else heard this today during the game. Vin Scully said that Soriano had in fact been traded to the Nationals?
    Did I hear this wrong?
    Anyone….?

    • Aaron

      I heard it too…Scully was drunk. I was like, “What?!?!?” I thought I heard wrong, but definitely did not…I looked everywhere online, so I can only assume too much booze, or Alzheimers catching up with him

      • Michael G

        Ok. I’m glad I’m losing it. That’s odd he would say that out of the blue, we will see I guess…

      • 07GreyDigger

        I’m guessing he saw Rafael Soriano was on the Nationals and got confused. I mean he is pretty close to a hundred at this point. Harry wasn’t very sharp towards the end either.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Just got back, will have recaps up as soon as possible.

  • Aaron

    couple of thoughts on the game….Neil, you’ll probably post this, but for the “fastest guy in the system”, Szczur looked pedestrian getting caught by an average catcher today.

    Willis is done.

    Whitenack will be DFA’d before the season is over. He wasn’t even close with most of his pitches. He’s just not the same pitcher after TJ surgery, and sometimes that happens….look how they’re handling Vizcaino right now. They will put him on the 60-day DL to open another spot out of Spring Training, because they want him to take it slow, which is the exact opposite of what happened to Whitenack, and Rhee before him, where they were rushed.

    Loux, Parker, Schierholtz, Hairston, Lillibridge, Valbuena, Castillo, and Clevenger all improved their stock in my opinion.

    But this is the stat that stood out the most to me (nothing changed from last year apparently), and that’s NINE to TWO…..9 walks vs 2 for the Cubs….that’s not going to cut it. Now, I realize Whitenack, Lewis, Schlitter, etc. had no shot at making it, but it wasn’t like the Dodgers pitchers were overwhelming, and yet just 2 walks?!?!? WOW

    • triple

      3 games: 2 decent, 1 bad…. very small sample size on the walks issue, but I hear ya loud and clear.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Aaron, take a look at the last two games. The hitters are taking pitches and working counts. I have seen a lot of difference here, today was not good from a pitching standpoint, but there are very few first pitch swings,

      Things have changed … and Szczur did get a bad jump and looked like he was running in sand.

    • paulcatanese

      Agree with you on Szczur as the fastest in the system. As I recall in football camp wasn’t he clocked at 4.6 in the 40? That is by no means a speed burner. 4.3 /4.4 and he is picking it up and laying it down.