On Wednesday, the Cubs cut the ribbon on the new facility in Mesa and began a new chapter for the team. And today, Cubs’ pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. The off-season is over, baseball is back.
Pitchers and catchers on the Spring Training roster must be in Mesa before the end of the day. Pitchers and catchers will take physicals and the first on field workout is scheduled for Friday where the forecast is calling for sunny and 86 degrees.
Tom Ricketts, Crane Kenney, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, Theo Epstein and Ferguson Jenkins were among those on hand Wednesday when the Cubs cut the ribbon on their new Spring Training home.
Cubs Park was opened to the public on Jan. 25 and has received rave reviews from everyone that has visited the Cubs’ new state of the art facility.
Tom Ricketts said his team’s new facility “brings us one step closer to playing meaningful baseball in October and maybe in November someday” while Darwin Barney called the facility a steppingstone to success according to the Tribune. And during Wednesday’s ceremony Theo Epstein said, “There are two things that all of our baseball operations people have been saying since we walked in for the first time a few days ago. One is no more excuses. This is as good as it gets. And the second is related to that. If we can’t get better here, we can’t get better anywhere. We will work extremely had to put that World Series flag on top of this complex to finish it off.”
The entire organization will be under the same ‘roof’ for Spring Training and the days of moving camp in the middle of Spring Training from Fitch Park down the street to HoHoKam Park before the Cactus League games began are over.
Baseball returns today. Position players report to Mesa on Feb. 18 with the first full squad workout scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 19. The Cubs kickoff their 2014 Cactus League schedule at Cubs Park on Feb. 27 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Rick Renteria and the Coaching Staff
Beginning Thursday, Rick Renteria and his coaching staff begin calling the shots, with help from the front office of course, for the big league team. Renteria and his staff began holding meetings in December to plan on how they will run Spring Training. Renteria has said all of the right things since he was named the 53rd manager in franchise history on Nov. 7. Renteria is bringing with him an excellent reputation as a communicator that has a positive influence on a clubhouse. Renteria has the task of reaching the young players currently on the roster, something the previous skipper reportedly had trouble doing, as well as the prospects in the system that will eventually be in the big leagues.
The Cubs moved Brandon Hyde from farm director into the dugout and he will spend the season as Renteria’s bench coach. And Chris Bosio returns for his third season as Cubs’ pitching coach. Lester Strode was retained as the Cubs’ bullpen/assistant pitching coach. But outside of Bosio, Strode, catching coach Mike Borzello and staff assistant Franklin Font, the players will have a new staff to learn along with the new skipper.
Bill Mueller and Mike Brumley, or “Bill and Brum” as Rick Renteria calls them, begin their first Spring Training as the Cubs’ hitting coaches.
Gary Jones and Eric Hinske will call the shots on the bases. Jones is the Cubs’ third base coach and will also handle the infield coaching duties. Hinske replaces Dave McKay at first base and among his other duties will be coaching the outfielders and baserunning. Renteria brought in Jose Castro as the team’s quality assurance coach and among his duties will be defensive positioning.
Rick Sutcliffe, Kerry Wood and Billy Williams will be instructors in Cubs’ camp this spring.
Cubs Pitchers and Catchers
The Cubs have not announced the signings of Jason Hammel or James McDonald yet, but once those two right handers are officially Cubs, the team will have 30 pitchers in camp and five catchers on the Spring Training roster plus minor league backstops Luis Flores and Will Remillard who are on loan from minor league camp to help with the workload early in camp. RHP Chang-Yong Lim is also expected to be added to the team’s list of non-roster invitees.
Here is the list of pitchers and catchers that will report to Mesa and begin their workouts on Friday:
Pitchers (40-man Roster)
- Jake Arrieta
- Dallas Beeler
- Alberto Cabrera
- Kyuji Fujikawa
- Justin Grimm
- Jason Hammel*
- Edwin Jackson
- James McDonald*
- Blake Parker
- Neil Ramirez
- Hector Rondon
- Zac Rosscup
- Chris Rusin
- James Russell
- Jeff Samardzija
- Pedro Strop
- Jose Veras
- Carlos Villanueva
- Arodys Vizcaino
- Travis Wood
- Wesley Wright
Pitchers (Non-Roster Invitees)
- Marcus Hatley
- Kyle Hendricks
- Tommy Hottovy
- Eric Jokisch
- Carlos Pimentel
- Armando Rivero
- Jonathan Sanchez
- Brian Schlitter
- Tsuyoshi Wada
Catchers (40-man Roster)
- Welington Castillo
- George Kottaras
Catchers (Non-Roster Invitees)
- John Baker
- Rafael Lopez
- Eli Whiteside
- Luis Flores*
- Will Remillard*
Jason Hammel and James McDonald
The Cubs have reportedly agreed to terms with two veteran right handed starters, Jason Hammel and James McDonald. The news leaked about both signings on Jan. 31 and the deals were expected to be announced as soon as both pitchers passed physicals.
Hammel will be added to the 40-man roster, which currently stands at 38 players after the Reds claimed RHP Brett Marshall and the Twins claimed LHP Brooks Raley off waivers from the Cubs on Wednesday. Hammel’s deal is a Major League contract that will pay the veteran up to $7 million for the upcoming season.
When the news surfaced about the Cubs adding James McDonald to the mix, it was reported at the time the team signed him to a minor league contract with an invite to big league camp. Reports surfaced on Wednesday that McDonald might have signed a Major League contract and that was the reason for losing two pitchers on waivers.
The Cubs adding McDonald on a minor league contract is a good signing. McDonald has struggled with injuries the past two seasons after a sensational first half of the 2012 campaign. McDonald is out of minor league options and unless there is language in his contract that allows the Cubs to send him down to the minors, inking McDonald to a big league deal is a questionable signing. And not because of the two pitchers that are no longer in the system but the lack of flexibility he would have on a Major League deal.
Both signings should be made official at some point on Thursday.