Cubs Spring Game Cut Short and Other News Bits

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.

Ian Stewart

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

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

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.

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  • calicub

    Video Staffer Nate Halm v. Blake Parker in the Elite 8 of the Bunting Tourney. A computer jockey has outlasted 48 PROFESSIONAL Baseball Players! Shame on those 48. And their families too.

    But seriously, at least Team USA is locked stocked and loaded to roll through the WBC. Oh…. awkward.

    • Tony_Hall

      Maybe he was a good bunter during his college career playing baseball at Miami of Ohio.

      I know so many people seem to have an issue with this bunting tournament, but bunting is a skill that needs practice. Just because someone has played baseball all their life, doesn’t mean they know how to bunt, many do not.

      • calicub

        My point exactly. I actually enjoy the tournement and if I had more Cub fan friends in real life I probably would have tried to do a bracket tourny of my own…
        I get where your coming from with Mr Halm having played baseball in college, but he graduated five years ago! It says more about how awful most of these players are at bunting than however good he may have been 5+ years ago

        • Tony_Hall

          Bunting is not easy, but once you know how to do it, it is easy. Let’s hope that over the years and as the roster turns over, that all of our players will be able to drop down any style of bunt that the situation needs.

          • Ray Ray

            “All of our players will be able to drop down any style of bunt that the situation needs?” Really? So Vogelbach will be able to lay down a drag bunt if the situation is needed. Again…..bunting is not for every player on the team.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            These guys are all competitors, of course they want to win. They want to be the best and win at anything they do. This tournament has a lot more to do with team-building, breaking the monotony, and competition than bunt practice. Think outside the box, it’s okay.

          • Ray Ray

            I understand about team building but bunting is not something EVERYONE on team does in a season. Boardrider….let me point out these stats so you understand what I am saying. Anthony Rizzo has ZERO sacrifice bunts in his entire major league and minor league career. Soriano has 1 sacrifice bunt since 2007. Starlin Castro has ZERO sacrifice bunts in over 1200 AB’s the last 2 years. Do you see my point? Players who are called upon to bunt in a season should practice. The Cubs were last in sac bunts and sac flies last year. How about a situational hitting drill where it would benefit EVERYONE on the team.

          • Tony_Hall

            Everyone should be able to do it. If we are in the 8th inning of World Series and the right play is a sacrifice, then I would hope we have players who can do that, you know to win a World Series.

            Do you know that they don’t work on situational hitting?

            Sorry but complaining about a bunt contest is just complaining to complain. Baseball practices have always had competition type contests built into them. It makes a long boring practice a little bit more fun.

          • Ray Ray

            C’mon Tony. If you have Anthony Rizzo up in the 8th in game 7 of a WS, tie game with a runner on 1st and no outs….are you going to have him sac bunt if he hasn’t had to in his entire career?

          • Tony_Hall

            Well you are assuming he won’t be asked during his career. If it is the right play, it is the right play and bunting the guy into scoring position is the right play, when you need 1 run and their are no outs.

          • Ray Ray

            It is never the “right play” for certain players. Let’s assume that you ask Rizzo to bunt in a WS and was never called to do this during the season. Do you think his chances are that much better because he practiced in ST and did a bunting contest? It is a completely different ballgame to do it in practice than against a pitcher throwing 95 with movement and mixing in a curve,slider or split.

          • Tony_Hall

            How do you he didn’t do it during the season, if the team makes the World Series? I will make the assumption that all players practice it, against live pitching so he can do it. Rizzo of all people should work on bunting, as teams like to shift LH power hitters more and if he can drop a few bunts down the 3B line, he can defend against this.

          • Ray Ray

            Re-read my post. I said ‘assume” I painted a scenario where he wasn’t asked to bunt the entire regular season. Would you really then ask him to bunt in this situation?

          • Tony_Hall

            If a team has been that unprepared, I would recommend them do a team building drill the next ST to work on bunting…

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            I think we understand what you are saying. From what I have witnessed first hand with the bunting tournament, it is more about team building than anything else. The players are cheering one another on and seem to be just having fun with the exercise. The other activities on the back fields had more sweat and work, than smiles … at least until the drills were over.

            So you know, I witnessed more activity and the team working on things, like situational hitting, this year than I ever have before, including last year.

          • Ray Ray

            That’s good to know Neil because their situational hitting was extremely poor last year. I understand about team building but as you can tell about my posts…I would prefer a better team building contest that would be more beneficial for the entire team. Thanks for all the reports.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            You’re more than welcome. I can say enough how pleasantly surprised I was to see all of the work being done.

          • Dorasaga

            I concur. It’s not about the bunting. One tourney doesn’t help with practice. It’s one of the many things the Cubs do at spring to make players look at things differently.

          • Tony_Hall

            It would be nice if they all knew how, but obviously the big lumberjacks are not going to try to do that. Did I really need to type out a long drawn out disclaimer to make that known…

      • Ray Ray

        Exactly. Bunting is a skill that needs practice and practice…..not this idiotic bunting tournament that doesn’t teach or improve any of the players skills.

        • Tony_Hall

          Ray, do you think this is all they are doing for bunting?

          Is that what you don’t like about it?

          There is absolutely nothing wrong with making a game out of a skill that is needed by every single player on the team.

          Most professional athletes are competitive in nature and would want to win at a ping pong tournament in the locker room. Having a contest that builds on the regular bunting skills and drills that they do, can only be a benefit and in no way can be a negative. Getting the players to work on bunting is never easy, but this is a very easy way to get them to do it.

          • Ray Ray

            I think it is a big waste of time. Do you think Soriano or Rizzo or Soler or Marmol care if he wins a bunt contest? Will any of these players ever bunt in a regular season game? Bunting is not something every member of the team will be called upon to do. The starting pitchers should be working on bunting, the positional players who will be called on to bunt during the season should be practing. Are you aware of where the Cubs ranked in sacrifice bunts last year? Didn’t they do this bunt contest last year? To answer my first question, the Cubs were dead last in sac bunts.

          • Tony_Hall

            So if a team is last in something they should stop practicing it?

            I think they should work on it more.

          • Ray Ray

            No of course not. My point is that this should be at the top of the priority for the players who should be bunting during the season. Are you not following me? Starting piitchers and the players on the roster who will be called upon to bunt. Not the Rizzo’s,Soler’s,Vogelbach’s,Soriano’s,Castro’s. etc

          • Tony_Hall

            I get your point, we obviously disagree on this. I believe everyone should be able to sac bunt when the time is right and the team needs a bunt.

          • Ray Ray

            You are right. Lets agree to disagree but I want you to look around the league and see how many sac bunts some of the better power hitters have in their careers. Look how many Prince Fielder has. PuJols etc. We have exhausted this topic :) Have a good weekend.

          • Ripsnorter1

            News Flash! Miguel Cabrera won the bunting contest for the Tigers. And Trout won the bunting contest for the Angels.

            Come on, Maude! Let’s put them at bunt positions in the batting order!

            How about a hitting contest instead?

    • BosephHeyden

      Are you shocked by this? For all the hype they gave last year’s tournament, the Cubs as a a whole sucked at bunting all of last year. I don’t know what happened, maybe they used all their good bunts in the tournament, but it certainly didn’t teach them anything last year.

      • paulcatanese

        Not shocked by that at all. If one can bunt, he can bunt, period. If a player does not sincerely believe in bunting, he will not do it well.

        Veteran players resort to what they think they do best, and if a bunt is called for and they don’t believe in it, they go so far as taking a pitch for a strike in the hopes of the count dictating they can swing away, anything to get out of doing it.

        Situational is the same thing for vets. Younger newer players try and do that, everything they can do to make an impression and the team, they are for.

        Vets take the same approach, try and do it in ST, but when the bell rings, the old style kicks in for them and they swing as they usualy do, and forget the situation.

        What is needed are players who believe in the approach that brings both bunting and situational hitting, sluggers don’t believe in either.

  • brent carmona

    A little late, happy belated bday Neil! just bought the new mlb the show 13, been distracted all day, created a pitcher (made the cubs squad as an 18yr old) and started a franchise. no matter how distracted I am, still tuned into the cco, thank you Neil and company.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thanks Brent, enjoy the game and by the way, I like your Twitter handle … very cool.

  • calicub

    Well that’s another cubs farmhand to bite the dust in the WBC. Negrin with 5 R and couldn’t make it through the third against Dom. Rep.

  • Frank Chance

    I’m disappointed in the MLBN. They advertise that they’ll show 150 ST
    games — which averages out to 10 games per team. So far, they’ve shown
    ONE (1) Cubs game (45 minutes later than scheduled). There’s another
    next week (at 4AM Eastern). Meanwhile, there is a boatload of Yankees
    games (including back-to-back games next week). It’s the ESPN bias all
    over again.