Samardzija Gets the Opening Day Nod and Other Cubs Spring Training News

The Cubs made it official Friday. Jeff Samardzija will get the ball on Opening Day in Pittsburgh. Unless something happens before the first game of the season, Samardzija will make his second consecutive Opening Day start. And thanks to the schedule makers, Samardzija will become the first pitcher to make back-to-back Opening Day starts at PNC Park. Samardzija will face lefty Francisco Liriano on March 31.

CubsMesaLogo-pubTravis Wood follows Samardzija in the rotation with Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel penciled in as the third and fourth starters in Rick Renteria’s Opening Day rotation. With Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood and probably Edwin Jackson pitching the three games in Pittsburgh, it sets up for Jason Hammel to get the ball for the home opener against the Phillies on April 4.

According to reports, four pitchers are in the mix for the fifth spot in the rotation. Carlos Villanueva, Chris Rusin, and James McDonald are three of the four along with Jake Arrieta. It does not appear Arrieta will be an option for the fifth spot.

Starlin Castro

Starlin Castro is dealing with fluid in his hamstring. The Cubs do not have a date set on when Castro will be back in the lineup. But the team is hoping he will be able to return to action next week. Castro said Friday that he is running at about 40 percent.

Paul Sullivan reported Castro hit in the batting cage Thursday, the first time Castro has been in the cage since he injured his hamstring on March 2.

Rick Renteria told the beat writers that Castro is “progressing well.” Castro missed time last spring with a left hamstring injury. Castro has missed 12 days so far this spring dealing with a right hamstring injury.

Starlin Castro is expected to be ready for the opener in Pittsburgh on March 31.

Mike Olt

Mike Olt is in the starting lineup for Saturday’s game against the Royals … but at first base, not third base. Olt is expected to move to the hot corner soon. If Olt can continue hitting the way he has and can show he can make the throws from third base in a game, it appears Olt has a very good chance of breaking camp on the big league roster.

According to a report from ESPN Chicago, Olt practiced at third base Friday. Olt told Jesse Rogers the next seven days is a “big week” for him.

Jake Arrieta

According to reports, Jake Arrieta is hoping to face hitters during his next bullpen session. Arrieta threw a side session on Wednesday and has “been frustrated at being sidelined” according to a report from Carrie Muskat. The team has not announced a timetable for Arrieta pitching in a Cactus League game. And while it is not official, the likelihood of him beginning the season on the active roster is approaching slim to none.

The Cubs are being cautious with Jake Arrieta, which is the right move.

Chris Bosio

Chris Bosio returned to the Cubs’ dugout Friday after missing several days “getting medical care for his ailing foot” according to the Sun-Times. Bosio wore a boot on his left foot after having complications from when he broke it last year.

Tyler Beede

Tyler Beede shut down LSU for seven innings on Friday night. Beede threw his fastball in the mid-90s and he left with one out in the eighth inning to a standing ovation from the Vanderbilt crowd. Beede tossed 7 1/3 innings and was charged with two unearned runs on three hits with a walk and seven strikeouts. Both runs scored after he left the game in Vandy’s 4-2 loss to LSU.

News and Notes

According to a report from Carrie Muskat, recently returned Marcos Mateo reported to Cubs Park on Friday. Mateo spent the day getting settled with his new-old organization.

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Quote of the Day

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

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  • SuzyS

    I never heard of “fluid on the hamstring”. It sounds like something else is involved. Can anyone shed any light on this?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil
    • paulcatanese

      Suzy, another article from Cubtex a few days ago in the same realm was very helpful about Hamstrings and the extent of them. If you get a chance go back and find it.
      :) it includes “water on the brain” also:):)

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    Wood had a better year and was an all star…Shark hasnt earned opening day honors, imo.

  • cubtex

    Neil posted Tyler Beede’s stats from last night so I thought I would post Jeff Hoffman. As you can see….he has not had a good start. I really think there is a good chance Beede won’t be there when the Cubs draft.

    Jeff Hoffman vs Tulane(there you go Paul)

    6.1 IP 7 hits 6 R 5 ER 2 BB 5 K’s and 103 pitches

    • cubtex

      Carlos Rodon took the loss vs Florida State.

      6.2 IP 5 hits 2 R 2 ER 4 BB and 12 K’s and 125 pitches

      Trea Turner was 1-4

      Turner is hitting .344 on the season with only 1 extra base hit on the season……. A double. He is hitting .286 in the conference.

  • cubtex

    Andrew Cashner is 2-0 this spring and hasn’t allowed a run or walk in his 3 starts.

    • Tony_H

      Chris Archer is 1-0 (W-L means little during the regular season, but means absolutely nothing in ST) and has a 0.90 ERA with only 1 walk in 10 innings, oh and that means only 1 R.

      • cubtex

        wow! a little touchy. I was just looking at the spring training stats and Cashner was at the top. Decaf Tony.

        • Tony_H

          LOL, why is everything I say to you mean I am touchy.

          I just thought it was ex-Cub pitcher day that we wish we still had.

          • cubtex

            as you can see. I am looking at some stats this morning. Not to debate this…but to say that wins don’t mean much for a starter is absolutely hogwash. It shows that a guy knows how to limit damage and hold a lead. How many starters have you seen have a 2 run lead in the middle part of a game and give up the lead? That shouldn’t matter? Good pitchers know how to win games. Don’t want to get into a debate about this this morning. Some of this saber stuff makes me laugh.

          • Tony_H

            Now whose touchy!

          • cubtex

            I am responding to your statement….not a stat about a former Cub to discredit it.

          • Tony_H

            Even touchier! Is that even a word?

            I was just giving you another ex-Cub that I wish we still had in our rotation. Wasn’t discrediting Cashner, he is having a great spring.

          • daverj

            Ray –

            Cliff Lee won 14 games in 2011, 6 games in 2012 and 17 games in 2013.

            Did he forget “how to win” in 2012 and then suddenly remember “how to win” in 2013? The Phillies team won more games in 2012 then 2013 so it wasn’t a case of the team being worse in 2012.

            There are many more examples of this.

            Wins are not worthless, but there are a very poor indicator of a pitcher’s skill level.

          • cubtex

            go back and look at his starts in 2012 and prove to me how well he pitched that year.

          • Tony_H

            LOL!

          • cubtex

            how many poor pitchers have won 20 games in a season?

          • Tony_H

            There have been some, but that is not the point. Poor records don’t mean the pitcher had a bad year, anymore than a great record means the pitcher was great all year. Pitcher’s W-L record is a stat to look at just not near the top.

          • cubtex

            He probably won’t make the Hall but Jack Morris is a guy who knew how to win. He kept his team in the game without having his best stuff and did enough to win the game. That means a hell of a lot. Guys like EJax are the complete opposite. The team will give him the lead and he gives it right back the next inning. You can tell this about a pitcher. Ozzie Guillen was very critical about EJax because of this.

          • Tony_H

            I think their are far better ways to compare Jack Morris and EJAX than W’s and L’s and they would show that Morris was a better pitcher.

            You keep missing the point, a pitcher can’t get a W, without run support.

          • cubtex

            I totally get that. But should it not matter that a pitcher has a lead and gives it up and gets a no decision? Say EJax has a 4-2 lead going into the 5th and gives up a 2 spot. That is a W that he should have had a good chance of getting. I am sure if you ask Cliff Lee if he blew some W’s that he should have had in 2012….he would be the 1st to say that he didn’t pitch as well as he should have

          • Tony_H

            And I say that that will come out in worse overall numbers, when a player doesn’t perform up to their normal abilities in times like that. But all a player can do is perform up to their abilities.

          • Tony_H

            This notion that some players can turn it up during key points in a game or in pressure situations is just ridiculous. Players are who they are, if they could make themselves better, they would do it all the time. The difference isn’t in the players who turn it up a notch in pressure situations, it is in the players who don’t turn it down in those situations. The best players still before up to their abilities when the game is on the line.

          • cubtex

            so you think it is luck? so to walk the leadoff hitter to start the next inning after the team gives you the lead is just part of the game?

          • Tony_H

            Not sure where you got that. I said players can only perform up to their abilities, not sure where you get that I said it (whatever it is you are referring to) is luck.

          • cubtex

            I have played with and I am sure you have seen pitchers who have “it” You know if you get them the lead they will hold it(in most cases) and others you just know will give it up. Intangibles. Make Up. Whatever you want to call it. Some have it and many don’t

          • Tony_H

            So do you think that they just miraculously become better, because they have the lead?

            Or that they are just good and over the course of time will perform to their normal level?

            What I think is that the players who don’t have it, get worse in those situations and the players who have it, perform up to their normal levels.

          • cubtex

            No. Their focus and competitive edge does. They smell victory and amp up. They don’t let up with a lead and lose focus and give up a lead off walk or lay a fastball down the middle.

          • Tony_H

            So you think they perform better in pressure situations. They are truly amazing that they can increase their abilities, because of a tight game.

            I have not looked, but we all know that Jordan was one of the best at winning games with a game winning shot. But I bet his shooting percentage was far less on those shots. Because even the best feel pressure, but it effects them less.

          • cubtex

            Hell yes. How can you disagree with that? Some pitchers perform better in presure situations than others??? You disagree? I have some land to sell you in south texas if you do.

          • Tony_H

            Yes I believe some players perform better in pressure situations then others, but not because they become better, but because others fold.

          • cubtex

            so when Verlander amps it up to 100 miles an hour in the 8th smelling victory when he was at 96 during the entire game….what is that Tony? He didn’t smell victory and perform at his max? Cmon dude.

          • Tony_H

            No, that is him turning up his velocity after being completely loose. He does it every game, his MPH goes up throughout the game.

          • cubtex

            hahahahaha. sorry but I had to laugh at that.

          • Tony_H

            It is true. He does it even in the games it which he blows a lead. I guess he must not have smelled victory that game and smelled what was really causing his coaches gut feeling.

          • cubtex

            I am done with this for today. But it is called competitive juices. Wanting to win. Sometimes a hitter will win the battle but that doesn’t mean the pitcher is just going about the game in the 8th inning of a tie game the same way as the 3rd. Do you know any pitchers who played in the majors or minors? Ask them. They will tell you.

          • Tony_H

            I do and most every athlete thinks they can do it, doesn’t mean it is true. What is true is that most athletes get worse in pressure situations.

          • Bredstik

            So you’re subscribing to Hawk’s TWTW theory?

          • Tony_H

            Here is an article showing Verlander’s increase in velocity inning by inning. Nothing to do with the score of the game.

            http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/justin-verlanders-ninth-inning-heat/

          • cubtex

            but what happens at the end of the game? Getting closer to the outcome or final score. Do you think his velocity just increases because he is looser? Cmon man. Why can he do it while others can’t? He starts out pitching and not giving max effort in the game so he will have that in the tank when he smells victory. Have a good day!

          • Tony_H

            Have a good day! If you had actually read the article, it showed a gradual increase in his MPH for his fastball. The total was just 1 MPH though. I guess he really saved it up early!

          • cubtex

            He even talks about how he gets amped up to try and get his team the W. He says he saves it to dial it up late when he needs that key out. Again. I am not saying that Wins mean everything for a starting pitcher but they do mean something. I wish they had a stat showing what starting pitchers did when they were given a lead or tied games. Bob Gibson was great in close games. Fergie was great in close games. Got to go.

          • Tony_H

            Now you are getting it, that is how stats evolve to show things that people want to see.

            And like I said, all athletes think they can do it, yet his avg MPH gradually goes up by a total of 1 MPH all game.

          • Tony_H

            And if you spent some time on some of those stat sites, like baseball reference, fangraphs, etc, you would find this and many other stats.

          • cubtex

            what is this “normal” level? You got to quit with this computer baseball stuff :)))

          • Tony_H

            Over time and larger sample size of numbers, you can see a players normal level. SP with a lead versus tied, versus ahead. Timeframe of a game. All of these things will show you what you think you know about a guy like EJAX versus Morris.

            You really should try using some of these advanced stats, they could actually help your arguements.

          • cubtex

            no thanks. lol. As a player or manager you know who is a winner and who isn’t

          • Tony_H

            LOL! That is so funny that all the MLB teams are giving their managers all of this info to help them and really they should just trust their managers gut.

            And yes I have seen some players get opportunity after opportunity, because some manager knew that one player was a winner and another wasn’t, even though the stats showed differently. Yet when the non-winner got a real opportunity, they showed they were the better player as the stats had shown all along.

          • cubtex

            no sense going any further after that statement.

          • Tony_H

            I agree, you are way off base!

          • cubtex

            Many time you just shock the hell out of me.

          • Tony_H

            I can’t believe you still believe things like this.

            You can bad mouth and throw jabs at me and many others about using stats all you want. They are not going away and teams are using them more and more and getting rid of old school thoughts like yours that keep getting proven wrong by more and more advanced stats that are designed to answer many of the questions you raise with just thoughts and what you think. Some are proved right and some are proved wrong.

          • cubtex

            I used to play with this guy in college who had great stuff. Got drafted high but never made it. He used to pace the dugout when we were batting constantly pleading for us to get him more runs. He used to always say…”get some runs fellas” He hated pitching in close games and more times than not would always give up a leadoff walk or make a mistake and not get the W.

          • Tony_H

            So he performed worse in those situations. That is what I have been saying. Thanks for the example.

          • daverj

            I agree that some players are better in the clutch than others. And over a large sample size of a career, pitchers who are better in the clutch will win more games on average than pitchers who are not good in the clutch but have similar stuff. However, that does not mean that over the course of a season, Wins is a stat with meaning. Many variables influence a Win total which are unrelated to how “clutch” a player is (and most of those variables have a greater influence on whether a pitcher Wins).

            Next thing I’ll see is you arguing that RBI’s over a couple seasons is a meaningful stat … oh wait, you’ve done that already :)

            Cubtex – my last bit of sarcasm is all in good fun because I know you can take it!

          • cubtex

            You are right about wins not meaning everything but it does mean something. Is it coincidental the EJax has never been a big winner even though he played on a lot of winning teams?I will say this about RBI’s. RISP is a great clutch indicator on how a batter performs and usually the high RBI guys are very good with RISP.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            cmon Tony…that’s not true. Momentum + Confidence + Focus can really elevate a player, group of players, or a team.

            Think White Sox championship run in 2005…those pitchers got on a roll. You can say it was luck, but I think they fed off each other…as a result, they all rose to the challenge.

            Part of it is playing up to your competition…competition tends to be better in “big” games or playoff games, as you should be playing better teams.

            If I played pool, racquetball, basketball against someone not nearly as good as me, my focus wanes. If I play someone as good, or better, I focus more and my play improves. I think this is common among many humans.

          • Tony_H

            We are talking about the best players in the world. They are more than capable of going on a hot streak. All players will go through a period where they are seeing the ball better, throwing the ball better, etc, but if they are able to do it because of the situation, they would always do it to this higher level in these situations.

            And I would hope that professional baseball players don’t wane against lesser competition like you do playing recreational sports.

          • cubtex

            They don’t wane but players and people in all walks of life get up or more pumped against different teams or different circumstances. Human nature. You get more amped up against pitchers you don’t care for or want to kick their teeth in( a Garzaism) Cashner’s last start against the Cubs as another example. Happens all the time.

          • Tony_H

            Yes in short sample sizes they can do it But it is not something they can do all the time in pressure situations. The more pressure situations they get in, the more their performance will fall in line with the rest of their career.

          • cubtex

            I don’t know if you played high school baseball but…..did you have a rival? Did you ever play against a team or player you didn’t like? Were you a little extra focused and wanted to perform at your max? Do pitchers ever feel a batter shows them up? Does a batter ever feel a certain pitcher showed them up? Players have long memories and want payback. Do players have chips on their shoulders? They are not robots. Emotion is a huge part of the game.

          • Tony_H

            I get that, but if you faced your rival over 100 AB’s would they not be just as pumped as you? Do you not think that over enough sample size, the numbers would be what they are going to be for both players?

            In short sample size you can see anything you want to see, it is over bigger sample sizes that the numbers will even out to players norms or if you would like a different word, averages.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            see also: Will Clark and Mark Grace in 89 playoffs. Going 6-7 or whatever they did is not normal…

            There are countless examples…especially with QB’s in football. Couple years back, Kurt Warner’s last year with Cardinals I think, he and Aaron Rodgers had epic playoff game. You “knew” each time they got the ball they were going to score…it was like watching Tecmo Bowl for real.

            Over time, everything averages out…it doesn’t mean you don’t see greatness rise to the occasion…it often does.

          • Tony_H

            The W-L record that would make more sense for people to know, would be what is the team’s record in games a SP starts, but even that wouldn’t say one pitcher, pitched better than another pitcher, just because his team had a better record.

  • cubtex

    Vitters and BJax getting a start today vs Royals. Good

  • paulcatanese

    As I had said a few days ago, pre picked pitching staff, at least with the first three, and the rest by committee. Why have spring training? The rest of the pre picked roster will follow, nothing new here.

    • Tony_H

      With Arrieta not going to be ready for the beginning of the season, there is a 4 way race for the 5th spot between McDonald (likely to be cut), Hendricks and Rusin and Villaneuva. Not sure how you can say this is pre-picked as I really think Hendricks could get the spot. The bullpen is a pretty good battle as well, with many different scenarios.

      I also see good competition for the roster and for starting positions.

      3B – Olt or Valbuena/Murphy
      2B – Barney or Bonifacio or Valbuena/Murphy
      OF – The main 4, Lake, Sweeney, Schierholtz, Ruggiano are fighting for playing time and many are fighting for the 5th OF spot.
      2nd C – Kottaras and Baker

      So, I don’t see it at all, what you are talking about.

      • paulcatanese

        Wait and see:). I did mention after the first three it would be by committee, just as it has been.

        • paulcatanese

          To follow up. We all have been around Theo the last couple of years, and to me, it’s been transparent as to what he is trying to do.
          Other than the minors and the thought of building backup and a constant flow of talent would be what I am talking about.
          Theo brings in players with the major thought of,,, trading them off to begin it all over again.
          Maybe he catches one that will really click, but more often than not, it wasn’t his intention.
          They are brought in to flip, hoping to climb the ladder with talent to flip higher.
          His goal and only goal, is to see the prospects mature and bring about continued success, that’s his baby.
          Nothing wrong with that, commendable in fact.
          But if one thinks that Theo is actually trying to win at the Major League level (as that would only happen as a miracle with what is there)
          he is not.
          What is happening is the buying of time until the prospects develop.
          He only constructs a roster with the sole intent of trade’s.
          I see this logically and not as a dream that just isn’t there.
          I really (exception Rizzo) no one that he has brought in
          (Major Leagues) that have been difference makers.
          Theo hasn’t done anything wrong, I hope he succeeds, but if anyone feels that he is not waiting for the prospects to take over and treading water, then they are not reading Theo.

          • TheWrongGuy

            Very good “reading” of Theo Paul.
            I have said some thing of this before, but I believe as most of the reporters are getting info from agents. Theo is against the agents trying to “run” the game.
            If you look at the free agents and the pricing of FA going through the roof, you would build your team now from the minors as well. The cost of free agents for the return play of said free agents is super poor over the last several years. So what Theo is doing is IMO good for the Cubs very late in the making but it is good for the future.

      • paulcatanese

        And where did Hendricks go today?
        Any of these guys will not be up until it fits Theo’s time frame, no one else’s.

        • Tony_H

          Back to AAA. And why would any player move outside of Theo’s time frame? He has every player on a player development plan, until those plans are met, they don’t move up to the next level. The speed is up to the player.

          I thought Hendricks might get a shot, since he will be added to the 40 man at some point this year and that they would take the opportunity to give him a handful of starts in the majors to see what he needs to work on.

          • paulcatanese

            I guess the point was not whether Hendricks stayed now, but that it was pre ordained that he would not.
            As I mentioned, the roster right now is filled with trade bait, and
            until the prospects are ready the musical chairs will continue, guys brought in to trade.

          • TheWrongGuy

            One of Theo’s mentors is known as “The Gunslinger” aka Kevin Towers current GM of D’backs.

  • cubtex

    A little football news. Julius Peppers signed with the Packers. Ouch!

    • Tony_H

      Or good! We all saw how he has lost his explosiveness that he had in his previous years with the Bears.

      • cubtex

        Just hope he doesn’t do damage against Cutler and the Bears

        • Tony_H

          I agree, and the motivation will be there, but don’t see him, at this point of his career moving to a 3-4 defense.

  • Tom U

    First practice run for the Race to Wrigley this morning. 3 1/6 mile in 18.34 in controlled conditions.

    • cubtex

      what’s controlled? You can really run a 6 minute mile for a 5K? You are a stud Tom. That is flying for a guy your age.

      • Tom U

        Indoor flat track. Knee was a little wobbly but held up. Legs strong but still a little winded. Need to work a little more on conditioning.

        By the way, thanks for the “stud”. Hope my wife is reading!

        • cubtex

          I would enter the timed division Tom. 18:34 for a 5K is damn good for anyone(especially over 40 years old) I am guessing your age

        • cubtex

          FYI. Shows how you rank with your time and age.

          http://www.runbayou.com/Wavacalc.htm

    • daverj

      Very well done … i haven’t run 6 minute splits in a 5K since I was in high school. I’m embarrassed to say it’s about 8:30 minute splits these days … shows you what 20+ years can do to you.

      • cubtex

        I am at 8 min pace at age 50. My daughter who is a junior and runs a 5:12 mile runs a 5K during cross country at 18:30 and she is one of the better runners in the area. That is not easy.