The Cubs made the trip from Mesa to Goodyear on Friday afternoon to take on a Reds split squad. After a 16-minute delay, the teams took the field as it started to rain again. Scott Hairston gave the Cubs a brief one-run lead in the top of the first with what would have been his second longball of the spring. Nick Struck pitched out of a bases loaded, one-out jam with allowing only one run. But the game was called after the Cubs went down in order in the top of the second inning. Friday’s Cactus League game will not be made up.
The Cubs announced the first round of roster cuts on Friday. Matt Szczur was optioned to Double-A Tennessee and both Michael Brenly and RHP Dayan Diaz was reassigned to minor league camp. The Cubs spring roster officially stands at 59 players with the second round of cut expected mid-week.
According to a report from ESPN Chicago, Ian Stewart is close to making his spring debut. Stewart told Jesse Rogers that he thinks he is just days away from playing in a game … possibly by the middle of the week. The Cubs thought Stewart would be ready to go around March 15, so if he returns by Wednesday, he would be two days ahead of schedule.
When Stewart is ready to play he will see a lot of time in big league games and minor league games in a short amount of time. The Cubs appear to be willing to let the first deadline pass (March 16) but have until March 31 to either keep him on the roster or release him and pay 1/4, or $500,000, of the $2 million contract he signed in the off-season.
Ian Stewart feels he still has time this spring to make team.
Carlos Marmol is not paying attention to all of the trade rumors. Reports earlier this week indicated that Marmol could be traded by Opening Day, and several teams, including the Tigers, are taking a hard luck at Marmol.
Marmol did not help his trade value on Thursday. Marmol labored through a 25-pitch outing, and recorded only two outs in the seventh inning. Marmol said he was working on certain things on Thursday and was happy with the way the ball came out of his hands.
According to ESPN Chicago, the Cubs do not have to ask Marmol which teams he would approve a trade to. Marmol said the front office knows, there are a couple of teams … “like five teams.”
Scott Baker completed a 31-pitch simulated game on Thursday and said he was pleasantly pleased with the way he felt on Friday. Reportedly Baker hit the upper 80s with his fastball in the second inning of his sim game.
Baker does not have a timetable on when he will be ready to pitch this season, but is on schedule to make his Cubs’ debut in mid-April … reports before camp began pointed to early May as a possibility for Baker to join the Cubs’ rotation.
Baker is scheduled to throw in a minor league game at Fitch Park on Tuesday, and if all goes well, the next step would be for Scott Baker to pitch in a Cactus League game.
Cubs News Bits
The Cubs see Dale Sveum as the right man for the job.
Edwin Jackson stayed on his pitching schedule on Friday. Jackson threw a bullpen session indoors and out of the rain.
Brian Bogusevic might be this spring’s Joe Mather but he could end up starting the year in Triple-A because he is not a right-handed hitter. According to a report from ESPN Chicago, the way the Cubs outfield is setup, the fifth outfielder’s job is down to Dave Sappelt and Darnell McDonald. David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz hit from the left side. Alfonso Soriano is the Cubs’ left fielder as long as he remains healthy and Scott Hairston was signed to platoon with Schierholtz and spell DeJesus in center from time to time. Bogusevic could make the roster, depending on what happens with Ian Stewart. But right now, the Cubs have a full 40-man roster and would need to create two spots to add both Bogusevic and McDonald … the Cubs figure to use the spot on Brent Lillibridge they create by placing Arodys Vizcaino on the 60-day DL.
Tim Buss had an emergency appendectomy this week but reportedly is doing well and is expected back with the team soon.
Matt Garza could play catch on Sunday or Monday, depending on how he feels.
Scott Feldman is scheduled to face Jason Marquis and the Padres on Sunday at HoHoKam Park.
The Cubs were one of several teams that scouted Scott Kazmir earlier this week. Kazmir signed a minor league deal with the Indians in the off-season but can opt out of the contract if he is not on the big league roster by April 2. According to multiple reports, Kazmir has thrown the ball rather well this spring.