Practice, Practice, Practice and News from Day 11 of Cubs Camp

The Cubs completed their last weekend for seven months without an actual game. Rick Renteria’s team squares off Wednesday at Cubs Park in an Intrasquad game and the team begins play in the Cactus League on Thursday.

Mike Olt is off to a good start this spring. According to a report from Gordon Wittenmyer, Mike Olt could be the teams answer at third base. Olt is seeing the ball well in live batting practice, which is a very good sign for him and the Cubs based on Jason McLeod’s comments last month.

CubsMesaLogo-pubWittenmyer reported Sunday that Olt was in the outfield Saturday “during a casual round of batting practice, shagging flies with a bat.” Wittenmyer explained Olt “gave chase to one ball slicing away from him in left field, reaching out one-handed, on the run, with a lunging swing that connected with the ball.” Wittenmyer added if anyone in camp needed proof that his “ability to see the ball was back at full strength, there it was.”

Mike Olt told Wittenmyer he thinks he is ahead of schedule for this time of the spring. Olt credits the progress that has been made with his new eye drops and he remains confident in his ability. Olt said he knows he belongs in the big leagues, he just has to be sure he stays healthy.

According to a report from Carrie Muskat, the Intrasquad game at Cubs Park will begin at 1:00pm MST (2:00 CST) on Wednesday afternoon. Kyle Hendricks and Eric Jokisch are scheduled to start the game which will only be six innings … and not a full nine.

The Cubs kickoff their 2014 Cactus League schedule the next day … Jeff Samardzija will square off against Bronson Arroyo and half of the Diamondbacks’ spring roster. First pitch at Cubs Park is 1:00pm MST, 2:00pm CST.

Armando Rivero

Armando Rivero is creating quite the buzz at Cubs Camp according to Patrick Mooney. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer watched Rivero’s live BP session Saturday. And he caught the attention of his future manager and the skipper’s bench coach.

Rick Renteria likes the adjustments Rivero has made and not only is he listening to Chris Bosio but he is taking “any tweak or suggestion in” and is able to execute them. Renteria told Mooney he’s been “impressive.”

Welington Castillo

Patrick Mooney reported the Cubs are waiting for answers on the new collision rule, which is supposed to be announced at some point early this week. Mooney reported Mike Borzello is working with Castillo on how to cover the plate without knowing what the new rules will allow.

The Cubs know the importance of keeping Castillo on the field. Castillo is viewed as one of the core players moving forward and he needs to stay on the field for a full season. Castillo ended last year on the DL after undergoing knee surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his right knee. Castillo played in a career-high 113 games in 2013 due to injuries he’s dealt with throughout his pro career.

As previously reported, the Cubs “are monitoring” Castillo closely and will “manage his workload” this spring to make sure there are no lingering effects from the knee surgery.

Jesse Rogers caught up with Castillo and asked him which pitchers have stood out to him so far in camp. Castillo said Edwin Jackson and Arodys Vizcaino. And Pedro Stop has also impressed Castillo in camp according to Bruce Levine.

Castillo wants to be among the best catchers in baseball according to Jesse Rogers. And Castillo has photos in his locker of some of the best catchers to ever play the game … Gary Carter, Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Carlton Fisk, Roy Campanella and Mickey Cochrane.

News and Notes

Mark Gonzales spoke with Javier Baez about the report that surfaced Saturday night about Baez shopping around for a new agent. Baez told Gonzales that KPS is still his agent and he is not looking to change. Baez said he is “aware of the reports” but called them “lies.”

Blake Parker, Wesley Wright, Carlos Pimentel, Eric Jokisch, Jonathan Sanchez, James Russell, Chris Rusin and Kyle Hendricks were among the group of pitchers that threw live BP on Sunday.

Junior Lake fouled a ball off his left leg Sunday that did not feel too good according to the beat writers. Lake was not wearing his shin guard … but was able finished his BP session.

Kyle Hendricks will be blogging about his Spring Training experiences on ESPN Chicago. Hendricks’ first entry, Rocking with the Rookies, is a very good read. Plus, he formed a band with Eric Jokisch, Carlos Pimentel and John Baker called ‘Cubs and Roses‘.

Kris Bryant spent time on his defense with a couple of the coaches Sunday.

The Cubs are counting on new leaders to step up according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.

Pedro Strop will battle this spring to be the primary set-up man to Jose Veras according to Bruce Levine.

The team will begin using the main field at Cubs Park beginning Monday for parts of workouts.

Eric Hinske offers a fresh perspective to the young Cubs and coaching staff according to a report from Carrie Muskat.

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Quote of the Day

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." - John F. Kennedy

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  • paulcatanese

    Castillo has some great idols to follow with the pictures in his locker.
    And this is one time that any language barrier gives the advantage to the reader. Baez may have not used the right analogy about the new agent, but he said it correctly and perfectly, they are lies, cannot mis interpet that. Perfect, more players should have that problem, writers too. Liked it.

    • Tony_Hall

      Yes he does and it is great that Borzello is helping him learn about some of the great catchers that have played MLB.

      Baez could very well be shopping for a new agent, but just like when shopping for a new job, you don’t announce it your current one and definitely don’t tell the press.

  • triple

    That’s some great news about Olt… hopefully his ability to make contact with fly balls will translate to hitting in the batter’s box.

    • Ripsnorter1

      The real test is the batter’s box. He played 3B after his concussion in 2013. The “hot corner” is a much more severe test of his fielding prowess than LF, imo. So we know he can catch the ball post injury.

      I hope he can hit as well. But right now nothing has been proven despite what Mr. Gordon Wittenmyer writes.

      • Tony_Hall

        I actually agree with you on this, but so far the reports are good on Olt.

        I have said this last fall, they are not going to hand Olt the 3B job, he is going to have to earn it, but if he is healthy he has a very good chance of doing that.

        • jtrain23

          I really like the fact that he does have something to prove to management.

          Although there is no really “good” competitor for the job, Olt knows that the Cubs have no problem going into the year with Valbuena as their starting 3rd baseman.

          Anyone has to know that they hope Olt wins the job because if he does that means he might produce close to his prospective level, but knowing he must earn it and seeing all the talent in the minors just steps away could light the fire within him that he needs.

  • BigJonLilJon

    Happy with the early reports on Olt. I know he has to earn it, but its his to lose. Ive said all along, I have a good feeling about him. I hope he finally performs to expectations… I think he will

  • John G

    Why does this make me think of Allen Iverson?