The Cubs’ shortstop is Starlin Castro and Iowa’s shortstop is Javier Baez at least that is what Jed Hoyer said Wednesday. But with every home run Baez hits and every play he makes in the field while Castro is out of the lineup, the noise from the fan base gets louder about Baez breaking camp with the big league team.
The Cubs front office has been consistent all winter that Baez will start the season at Triple-A Iowa. Baez has not played at the level and needs the development time. The Cubs could have a very good problem in the near future if Baez tears up Triple-A pitching and continues checking the boxes off of his player development plan.
Starlin Castro is only 23 years old; he does not turn 24 until March 24. And he has had to learn at the Major League level how to play the game, not in the minors where players are supposed to be developed.
Renteria defended Castro’s focus issues and pointed out there has been “a whole host of Major League Baseball players who caught balls with less than two outs and threw them into the stands and this and that and it wasn’t made so much of.” Renteria explained it is his job to make sure all of his players are focused and if he sees one not paying attention to make sure he corrects the problem.
Renteria feels Castro is driven right now to prove that he is the player that he thinks he is. Renteria called Castro a “great kid.”
As for Baez, once the Cubs feel like he is close to the majors they will address a possible position change. “In the spring we will be using him a little bit at second,” Renteria said of Baez. “And work him at third and things of that nature. But he is a shortstop and we will keep that in mind because it is great to have two shortstops quite frankly. So we will keep him [Baez] there as long as we have to and inevitably if something has to change, then we will deal with it and that point.”
Renteria explained, “There are still some things that he [Baez] has to clean up in his game. Defensively he still has to do some things. He had quite a few errors last year, I won’t throw out the number out there but he had quite a few errors. So there are still some things in his game that he has to clean up. But you can’t deny what that stick looks like.”
Position redundancy is a good thing, and something the Cubs have not had.
Starlin Castro and Javier Baez say they can work together. Maybe at some point this summer, everyone will get a chance to find out if they can.
Jake Arrieta completed his first bullpen session on Monday that reportedly impressed Chris Bosio. Arrieta threw off flat ground Tuesday. According to a report from the Sun-Times, Chris Bosio said Arrieta is “doing extremely well” but the Cubs are “not going to push him.”
The Cubs do not have a timetable on when he will be ready to start a Cactus League game. And the Sun-Times reported the expectation is that Arrieta will begin the season on the disabled list.
Jake Arrieta is scheduled to throw off a mound again Thursday morning.
According to multiple reports, James Russell “downplayed the dead arm that’s kept him out of games” this spring. And according to Russell, he’s gone through this before.
The Sun-Times reported it might be another week before Russell is back on a mound and he might not be ready to pitch in a Cactus League game for another week after that. Russell has not thrown off a mound since early in camp but says “he’s in no danger of missing the start of the season.”
Comcast SportsNet reported that Russell “thinks he needs to throw only five or six innings to be ready for Opening Day.”
Russell told Patrick Mooney that his workload over the past two seasons has not had an impact on his performance. Russell said he was not executing pitches.
Mike Olt had a good at bat on Tuesday and he could be manning the hot corner for the first time this spring by the end of the week, which would be at some point over the next three days.
Olt has reportedly been working at first base and at third base in practice.
News and Notes
C.J. Edwards is gaining weight according to a report from Jesse Rogers.
Arodys Vizcaino cannot remember the last time he felt as good as he has this spring. And he’s hitting triple digits again on the gun according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.
Minor League Spring Training gets going in full force Thursday with full squad workouts at the Cubs’ facility.