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.
Travis 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 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 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 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 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 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.