Baez Could See Time at Second Base Soon, Samardzija Rumors and Other Cubs Spring Training News

Javier Baez appears to be close to playing second base or third base in a Spring Training game. According to a report from ESPN Chicago, expect Baez to start at second base before long. And when he does, Darwin Barney will lineup at shortstop. Baez has been getting reps at both positions during morning practices.

Javier Baez told ESPN Chicago that he is ready for what the team wants him to do, but he thinks a transition to second base would be easier for him and he is “feeling more comfortable at second base.”

Jeff Samardzija

With the Braves in search of options to fill two spots in their starting rotation, the Cubs and Braves could re-open talks for Samardzija that began this winter.

CubsMesaLogo-pubIt is unlikely at this point the Braves would meet the Cubs asking price for Samardzija and may just wait until other options present themselves. Jon Heyman reported Tuesday the Braves “are believed to like Samardzija very much.”

The Braves were not believed to be one of the teams on hand to scout Samardzija during Monday’s start. According to the Sun-Times, scouts from at least a dozen teams including the Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Twins, Pirates and Orioles were in Scottsdale to watch Samardzija.

The Sun-Times reported the Cubs “are not involved in any trade talks right now.”

Edwin Jackson, James McDonald and Pitching Plans

The Cubs announced Tuesday a slight change in their pitching plans. Edwin Jackson and James McDonald are both schedule to throw Wednesday. Edwin Jackson will pitch either a ‘B’ game or a simulated game at the Cubs’ complex in Mesa while James McDonald will get the start in Peoria on Wednesday night against the Mariners.

A day after Rick Renteria said he would not share publically what he talked to Edwin Jackson about, Renteria said Tuesday that he has not spoken to Jackson yet in regards to his all-fastball start. Renteria is expected to be at Jackson’s outing Wednesday. Rick Renteria is going to keep everything close to the vest and in the clubhouse. The sooner the beat writers pick up on that the better off the team will be in the long run.

James Russell

James Russell is scheduled to make his Cactus League debut Wednesday night in Peoria. According to multiple reports, Russell’s bullpen Monday went “well enough” that he will pitch Wednesday.

Russell does not think his Major League leading 151 appearances for left-handed relievers over the past two seasons had anything to do with the way he pitched in the second half last season.

Starlin Castro

Starlin Castro is not expected back in the lineup until next week. Rick Renteria said Tuesday that Castro “did well on his first day of running and dry swings.”

Pierce Johnson

According to a report from the Sun-Times, Pierce Johnson “has been sidelined from workouts for much of the past week because of hamstring tightness.” The Cubs downplayed the injury according to the report. Jason McLeod said Johnson might be held back a week from making his Double-A debut when the season starts. McLeod does not think Johnson will have to be held back in Extended Spring Training to rehab the injury. He might just miss one start.

Anthony Rizzo

Jim Bowden reported that Anthony Rizzo is one of ten players that has impressed scouts this spring. Rizzo is going the other way again this spring (hitting to left field), something he must do in order to be successful. Bowden reported “there is a noticeable change in his maturity and mindset” this spring.

Pitching Rotation and Las Vegas Weekend

The Cubs announced Tuesday that Javier Baez and Kris Bryant will be among the players that make the trip to Las Vegas this weekend to take on the Mets. The Cubs are participating in Big League Weekend at Cashman Field for the tenth straight spring.

Carlos Pimentel is scheduled to start the Saturday game and Chris Rusin will get the start on Sunday. Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood will stay in the Phoenix area. Samardzija takes on the Royals in Surprise on Saturday and Wood is scheduled to face the Indians on Sunday at Cubs Park.

News and Notes

Comcast SportsNet announced Tuesday that CSN will broadcast its “first-ever commercial-free pro game telecasts this weekend.” WGN TV will broadcast Saturday’s game from Las Vegas and Comcast SportsNet will carry Sunday’s game from Mesa against the Indians. Instead of commercials, CSN will show “brand new, one-on-one player interviews with new and veteran players, along with in depth player profiles, numerous feature stories” and other coverage.

Welington Castillo wants to be a big part of the Cubs’ future according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.

Jesse Rogers posted a report on five things he’s learned about the Cubs in Spring Training. And, according to the report, Rick Renteria is speaking Japanese when it is needed this spring.

Arodys Vizcaino will not be rushed back according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.

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