Cubs Announce Starting Rotation, Soriano Back in the Rumor Mill, Update on Almora and Other News Bits

Prior to Thursday’s game in Glendale against the Dodgers, Dale Sveum announced his starting rotation for the opening week of the season. Jeff Samardzija gets the ball on Opening Day in Pittsburgh followed by Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood. Scott Feldman and Carlos Villanueva will pitch the first two games against the Braves with Samardzija closing out the series in Atlanta. Edwin Jackson will start the home opener at Wrigley against the Brewers on April 8.

The Cubs are targeting mid-April for Scott Baker to join the rotation with Matt Garza hopefully not far behind. How Wood, Feldman and Villanueva pitch early in the season figures to determine which pitchers ends up in the pen once Baker and Garza are ready to go.

Alfonso Soriano

According to Nick Cafardo, the Cubs feel the presence of teams watching Alfonso Soriano. Cafardo reported that no substantive talks have taken place yet but both the Yankees and Phillies have Soriano on their radar.

The news from Cafardo came shortly after it was announced the Yankees had signed Brennan Boesch to a one-year contract.

The Soriano rumors figure to be constant throughout the season, especially if the Cubs get off to a bad start.

Albert Almora

Less than 24 hours after announcing on Twitter that he broke the hamate bone in his left hand, Albert Almora let everyone know, via Twitter, that the surgery to remove the hamate bone was a success. Almora added it is time to rehab and get back to his team.

The Cubs think recovery time for Almora will be around six weeks.

Dale Sveum called Almora’s injury “more of a pain in the butt type thing that happens to quite a few hitters over the history of the game” and said, “It’s just that little bone that doesn’t mean anything or you don’t need.”

Ian Stewart

Ian Stewart said Friday he was very encouraged with the way he felt in the box during Thursday’s game against Cubs’ minor leaguers. According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, Stewart went 2-for-5 with a home run on Thursday. Stewart was sore after the game and did not play on Friday. Stewart reportedly felt fine on Friday and is expected to play in another minor league game on Saturday. The Cubs would rather Stewart play in minor league games right now so they can monitor his running.

Patrick Mooney reported that Stewart has been taking groundballs and hitting in the cage but he has not tested his reflexes at third, or started running hard yet.

Ian Stewart said his confidence is sky-high right now because his wrist is no longer holding him back.

Cubs News Bits

Anthony Rizzo is expected back in the starting lineup on Saturday when the Cubs take on the Royals at HoHoKam Park. The Cubs believe Rizzo will be better for the WBC experience.

According to Baseball America, the Cubs released RHP Carlos Severino. Severino was 6-1 last year in 18 games for Cubs-1 in the Dominican Summer League with a 2.79 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP.

Dale Sveum said Friday that he is not taking any player north that is not 100 percent healthy.

Brett Jackson was scratched from Friday’s lineup with soreness in his right (throwing) shoulder. Jackson has been dealing with this injury, but it is not affecting his hitting. Jackson took himself out of Friday’s lineup.

According to Carrie Muskat, Junior Lake was assigned to minor league camp on Friday. Lake is expected to be out four to six weeks with a fractured rib. The Cubs have not announced the roster move. Lake would have to be optioned to minor league camp, not re-assigned, because he is on the 40-man roster. Bruce Miles reported that Lake is rehabbing the rib injury in minor league camp.

Matt Garza tweeted Friday that he “took it a little further today!”

Chris Rusin is stating his case to stick around.

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