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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  • GaryLeeT

    Yikes, even considering the rebuild, that is one pathetic looking starting day rotation. I hope the rehabbing starters, and better options, play their way in, sooner rather than later.

    • Tony_Hall

      Take 2 above average veteran SP’s out of any rotation to start the year and any rotation won’t look as good.

      Also, look at this rotation, it makes our opening rotation look pretty good…

      Wood, Germano, Berken, Rusin, Raley

      • GaryLeeT

        There was definitely only one way to go from there.

        • Tony_Hall

          That is a fact.

    • SuzyS

      I don’t expect a lot out of Feldman…I expect him to be replaced by the trade deadline…and not in a good way.
      On the other hand, I’m hopeful that Baker will put together a decent season….and that Travis Wood may finally begin to come into his own….much like Maholm.
      Garza is in danger of becoming a lost cause due to injuries…one more injury and the Cubs will be in a quandry…he won’t bring much in trades…AND I’d be hesitant to resign him as an injury-prone player. Time will tell on him.
      There should be a few more potential starters emerging as the season goes on…Unheralded pitchers like Ryan Searle/Austin Kirk etc….someone should step forward this season.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Feldman = Chris Volstad

  • Tom U

    According to Baseball America, the Cubs released pitchers Arturo Maltos-Garcia, Austin Urban, and Tony York among others…

    http://bit.ly/15a8Yuo

  • Ripsnorter1

    Sveum’s statement agrees with Bruce Levine’s statement that he expects Stewart to start the year on the Cubs’ DL….which agrees with my thinking that Stewart is going to dog it to aggravate Mr. Sveum for as long as he can….

    • 07GreyDigger

      I’m not sure why a player would dog it just to annoy a manager who holds your playing time in his hands. Seems pretty silly.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Javier Baez….a Mr. Jim Hendry signing…..is hammering the ball in AZ……the talk is he may land in Daytona and not Kane County…

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      The Cubs have said pretty much all off-season that Baez would be starting the year in Daytona. The media is the only ones saying Kane County. McLeod is on record stating that Baez has already torn up that level, there is no reason for him to repeat it.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Did you hear Levine today talk about Vitters?

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Yes I did. Let me say this, what Levine said today is something I have been told in the past from people within the organization.

          • Ripsnorter1

            I had heard the same–not from within the organization, but from some scouting reports I had read.

        • SuzyS

          I missed it…what did Levine say?

          • Ripsnorter1

            A caller asked Bruce Levine on Talking Baseball why would Sveum play Luis Valbuena at 3B after they called Vitters up in 2012.

            Levine’s response was:

            That Vitters got off on the wrong foot with Sveum by being 20 minutes late to the very first meeting Sveum ever gave. Add in a sloppy work ethic, a prima dona attitude, and below ML minimum fielding and hitting, and he expects Vitters to be in another organization after this year if Vitters does not make “marked improvement.”

          • SuzyS

            Thanks, Rip. “Marked Improvement” is the key. It’s no secret that Vitters is on the cusp of being labeled 4A if he doesn’t put it all together this season.
            With all the prospects coming up behind him…it might already be too late for Vitters to get another opportunity here with the Cubs.
            Too bad he po’d management with attitude and work ethic…in his situation,
            he needs management’s good graces.
            All winter, I wondered what adjustments he might make to turn things around…it will be interesting to watch.

          • Ripsnorter1

            With Vitters poor strike zone command and plate discipline, matched with warming track power–he’s not going to make it.

            If he hits .330 with 25 HRs in AAA in 400 AB, he could make it. But…ahem….I don’t see it happening.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      And Tim Wilken should be mentioned as well if you are going to bring up the previous regime.

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