Samardzija Set for Spring Opener, Baez Bashes a Window and News from Day Nine of Cubs Camp

The Cubs wrapped up the first full week of practice Friday, the Cactus League games begin in five days and Rick Renteria named his starter for the spring opener.

CubsMesaLogo-pubJeff Samardzija will be the first pitcher to take the hill at brand new Cubs Park in a Cactus League contest Thursday when the Cubs open their spring slate against the Diamondbacks. Samardzija also figures to start the regular season opener in Pittsburgh on March 31. But Renteria has not announced which pitcher will receive the honor of starting on Opening Day.

Rick Renteria did not announce yet which pitchers would follow Samardzija in his spring rotation.

Hector Rondon, Brian Schlitter, James McDonald, Tommy Hottovy, Jose Veras, Zac Rosscup and Tsuyoshi Wada were among the pitchers that threw live batting practice on Friday.

And speaking of batting practice, Javier Baez did some real damage in BP on Friday. Baez launched a ball out of Field 5 that broke a car window. The vehicle was parked too close to the field on ‘Cubs Way’.

The sound of the glass breaking reportedly became quite the buzz for the rest of the afternoon. Baez was asked about breaking the car window after practice and said, “It sucks for the person who parked there. They’re parking too close to the field.” Baez offered to pay for the window if he had to but asked for that person not to park there again.

Javier Baez reportedly hit several balls Friday that cleared the 40-foot netting behind the wall in left field.

According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Baez was not the only player to hit the ball out of the park Friday. Jorge Soler “launched a ball out of Field 5” and Mike Olt hit a couple out of the park as well. Logan Watkins said the group that included Baez and Olt were making the “field look real small.”

Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta did not throw off a mound Friday, as he was expecting to do. Arrieta remains optimistic he will be in the Cubs Opening Day rotation. But with another delay on him throwing off a mound, the chances of him breaking camp in the Cubs rotation are becoming slimmer by the day.

Arrieta is supposed to throw off flat ground Saturday and if all goes well he could throw off a mound at some point next week.

Jake Arrieta is already behind schedule, and the Cubs are handling Arrieta the right way. The team has slowed his preparation down simply due to the fact there is no reason whatsoever to rush him back. Arrieta has not ruled out being ready by Opening Day according to Mark Gonzales.

Junior Lake

Junior Lake took Starlin Castro’s advice and learned English during the off-season. Lake no longer needs an interpreter. Lake worked on being an outfielder all winter and according to a report from ESPN Chicago, Lake took fly balls everyday then spent time with his grandmother learning English.

The Cubs plan to give Junior Lake a lot of playing time this season. Lake should be in left field on Opening Day but said Friday he prefers centerfield to left.

Jed Hoyer spoke highly of Lake to ESPN Chicago. Hoyer said, “He’s really grown into himself as a player. His trajectory has been straight up the last two years. You really hope that continues in the big leagues. The tool set has always been there. He’s so athletic. He can run, throw, show power. I was pleasantly surprised that he bunted so well for hits. He did a good job laying off sliders and showing some plate discipline against righties as well.”

Nate Schierholtz

Nate Schierholtz was sent home early from practice Friday after he collided with Junior Lake during outfield drills. Schierholtz was checked out and is expected to be back on the field for Saturday’s practice.

Tyler Beede

One of the pitchers the Cubs could take with the fourth pick in June’s Draft had a very good outing Friday afternoon. Tyler Beede set a career-high with 11 strikeouts in six innings for the Vanderbilt Commodores. Beede allowed one run on one hit with one walk. Beede is a 6-foot-4, 215 pound right hander from Auburn, Mass.

News, Notes and Rumors

53 players are participating in Minor League mini-camp at Cubs Park.

James McDonald is thankful for the opportunity the Cubs have given him. McDonald said he learned a lot last season and admitted he wasn’t prepared the way he should have been.

Jesse Rogers posted video of Mike Olt swinging in the cage.

According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, Ryan Kalish is not playing what-if games.

Liam Hendriks has a new team. The former-Cub-for-a-minute was claimed by the Blue Jays off waivers from the Orioles. The Cubs claimed Hendriks off waivers from the Twins on Dec. 13 and Baltimore claimed him off waivers from the Cubs on Dec. 23 when the Cubs opened a spot on the 40-man roster for RHP Brett Marshall. Marshall has since been claimed off waivers by the Reds.

Jon Paul Morosi reported SS Aledmys Diaz worked out for the Yankees on Friday. The Yankees and Cardinals are thought to be very interested in signing the free agent middle infielder.

FanGraphs posted its annual report on the worst transactions of the off-season.

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Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver