The Cubs received good news on the injury front on the day the team announced Junior Lake would be out four to six weeks after an MRI revealed a stress fracture at the back of his top right rib.
Scott Baker will make his first Cactus League start on Sunday against the Athletics. Baker felt good following his start on Tuesday in a minor league game at Fitch Park. According to a report from ESPN Chicago, Scott Baker will throw 40-50 pitches in Sunday’s game … which will be broadcast on WGN-TV.
The Cubs are happy with the progress Scott Baker has made this spring, and he is on track to join the Cubs’ rotation in mid-April.
Starlin Castro and Brent Lillibridge played in Wednesday’s loss to the Rockies. Castro went 1-for-1 with a walk in his two plate appearances while playing a solid shortstop. Brent Lillibridge replaced Darwin Barney at second base in the sixth inning, and went 0-for-1 at the plate.
Matt Garza and the Cubs are pleased with the progress the right-hander has made over the past week. Garza is optimistic that he could be ready to join the rotation closer to mid-April than at the end of the month … or early May. Dale Sveum is not sure if Garza’s timetable is realistic but according to a report from the Sun-Times, Sveum is “very encouraged with the way Garza’s lat injury has responded this week.”
Garza played catch on Sunday and Monday then resumed his rehab on Wednesday. Garza threw on flat ground from 45 feet and threw his last 10 balls from 60 feet.
The Sun-Times reported that Garza’s stress reaction injury to his elbow appears long gone. Garza is shooting to make at least one start in the Cactus League, if not one of the two games in Houston at the end of the month.
Dale Sveum’s timetable for his return is a little different from Garza’s … right now the Cubs’ manager is still looking at the end of April or early May.
Ian Stewart and Josh Vitters
Ian Stewart and Josh Vitters are expected to make their spring debuts on Thursday … but their first appearances could be a minor league game. Stewart and Vitters have been out with sore left quads since February 21. Reports earlier this week suggested that both players would be used in reserve roles in the Cactus League game in Glendale.
Junior Lake’s injury woes continued this spring. Junior Lake missed time last Spring Training with an ankle injury then lost the first month of the season with a back injury. Lake is expected to out at least four to six weeks with a stress fracture in the top rib on his right side. Lake will rehab for the remaining of Spring Training, then begin the year on the DL.
According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, Lake felt something on a swing during last week’s rain-shortened game against the Reds in Goodyear
Dale Sveum liked what he saw from Lake this spring, but would have liked to see more of him in the outfield. Sveum said that Lake is a “premeditated swinger” at the plate, but he has “all of the tools,” he just needs time to develop.
Cubs News Bits
The Cubs are expected to announce the third round of spring roster cuts on Thursday.
Javier Baez was a victim of a classic spring prank.
Scott Feldman is scheduled to face Gavin Floyd and the White Sox on Friday afternoon at Camelback Ranch in Glendale.
The Cubs announced the starting pitchers for the weekend split squad games. Hisanori Takahashi will take the hill for Saturday’s game against the Royals at HoHoKam Park. Scott Baker starts Sunday against the Athletics in Phoenix. Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Villanueva will take the hill against the Rangers at Cashman Field in Las Vegas … Samardzija on Saturday and Villanueva on Sunday.