Jeff Samardzija was satisfied with the start he made in a B game against Rangers’ minor leaguers on Wednesday. The Cubs decided to have Samardzija pitch in a minor league game instead of facing the big league team … and that decision could have to do with Texas making a trip to Wrigley in the middle of the first month of the season (April 16 – April 18).
Samardzija allowed five runs on six hits in four innings, and served up a three-run home run. Samardzija reportedly had one bad inning and three okay ones. The Cubs’ Opening Day starter threw 66 pitches. According to the Tribune, Samardzija was working on things he would not have in a regular Cactus League game. Dale Sveum indicated that Samardzija’s secondary stuff was good but he probably got too much of the plate with his fastball. Sveum was pleased with his outing, despite the numbers.
The B game apparently began 30 minutes before it was scheduled (10:00am instead of 10:30am), and Samardzija was rushed onto the field. Samardzija said the outing was hard to evaluate, and he planned to take it “with a grain of salt.”
Hisanori Takahashi is a candidate for the Cubs’ bullpen but according to the Tribune, one of the reasons he signed a minor league deal with the Cubs was a chance to be a starter. The Cubs apparently do not view Takahashi as a starter. Dale Sveum said if he makes the team, he would be the “long guy”
With only three spots available in the bullpen, Takahashi is on the short-list right now. Hector Rondon figures to fill one of the spots with the way he has pitched, that is if he stays healthy. Michael Bowden is also a strong possibility and has not done anything to hurt his stock this spring.
According to the Tribune, add Zach Putnam to the shortlist of candidates to break camp on the active roster. Putnam has thrown the ball well this spring (no runs, one hit, no walks and one strikeout in three innings), but there is still plenty of games left on the Cactus League schedule. Putnam is in camp on a non-roster invite. Putnam was impressive in his first two outings. He has an easy delivery and he threw strikes while keeping the ball down.
Jon Heyman is hearing that the Tigers have an All Points Bulletin out in search of a closer, but could turn to Jose Valverde and re-sign him to a one-year deal. While the mainstream media has connected Carlos Marmol to the Tigers, for every report that says Detroit is interested in trading for Marmol, there is one that says the report is inaccurate.
As the Tribune pointed out, the Marmol trade speculation continued on Wednesday and many questioned what the Tigers would actually give up for Marmol.
The Cubs have been trying to pry Rick Porcello from the Tigers since Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took over baseball operations. If the two teams discuss a trade, Porcello figures to be the first player the Cubs try to land in a deal for Carlos Marmol.
Brent Lillibridge strained his groin right around the time that Starlin Castro hurt his hamstring … and the mainstream media just missed it. Sveum was asked about Lillibridge on Wednesday and updated his status. The injury will not hurt his chances of making the team according to the Tribune. Sveum and the Cubs like what they saw from Lillibridge prior to the “minor” injury and are glad they were able to see him play first, second, third and short. Lillibridge could return next week.
Cubs News Bits
Darwin Barney was a late scratch on Wednesday, but not due to injury according to multiple reports. Barney picked Wednesday as his day off and there was a mix-up with the lineups released to the media.
Matt Szczur is hoping to speed up the learning curve.
Starlin Castro is looking to return to the lineup this weekend … but with rain in the forecast, the Cubs might want to hold him out until Monday.
Matt Garza might try to play catch this weekend.
Ian Stewart and Josh Vitters are making progress according to a report from Carrie Muskat, and could be ready to play in Cactus League games next week.
James Russell still has an itch to be a starter, and thinks he could still be a successful starter in the big leagues … exactly what he said during the off-season on MLB Network Radio. Russell is happy with his current role. His goal is to help the Cubs win games and to be one of the best lefty relievers in the league.
Patrick Mooney spent time in a Rangers’ clubhouse full of former Cubs on Wednesday. Randy Wells joked that they were the “Cubs Castaways”. The Rangers’ clubhouse in Surprise on Wednesday included Wells, Geovany Soto, Jeff Baker and Jim Adduci. Wells told Patrick Mooney that he has no hard feelings towards the Cubs.
Will Dale Sveum and the coaching staff alter their plans for the next two days? Rain and cool temperatures are in the forecast for Friday (61, 80% chance of rain) and Saturday (62, 30% chance of rain) in Arizona. The Cubs are scheduled to face the Reds in Goodyear on Friday night (8:05pm CST first pitch), then host the Indians on Saturday afternoon (2:05pm CST first pitch).