Tuesday was a rather quiet day for the Cubs as to be expected, with a few exceptions. The Cubs signed veteran right-handed pitcher Joel Pineiro to a minor league contract. Pineiro will report to Mesa and workout for 10 days in extended spring training before reporting to Triple-A Iowa. It is unclear at this point the team’s plan for Pineiro.
Three of the top four teams in the Cubs’ system have released their initial Opening Day lineups. Iowa is expected to release their roster Wednesday. Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, Christian Villanueva, Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters are slated to be on Iowa’s roster along with starters Kyle Hendricks, Eric Jokisch, Dallas Beeler and Chris Rusin.
Paul Johnson provided excellent updates on the Kane County Cougars. Paul Blackburn will start the opener on Thursday night and for now will be followed by Tyler Skulina, Daury Torrez, Juan Carlos Paniagua and Jen-Ho Tseng in the Cougars’ rotation. Mark Johnson said the Cougars will switch to a six-man rotation eventually and Duane Underwood could be the sixth man. Underwood “tweaked his forearm” in Spring Training and is a little behind the other pitchers. Dillon Maples broke a rib in his upper back and is out for eight weeks. And the Cougars will begin the season with a starting outfield of Jacob Hannemann (CF), Trey Martin (LF) and Yasiel Balaguert (RF), Shawon Dunston Jr. will be used as “the swing man” in the outfield.
Budweiser, Weber and Target
The Budweiser sign in right field will not be up in time for the home opener on Friday. The Cubs and Anheuser-Busch have an exclusive marketing deal in place, and the see-through sign in right field was expected to be installed by the Cubs first home game. The sign would reportedly net the Cubs $140 million over ten years.
The Cubs and the Rooftops have not come to an agreement on the right field sign or the large video board in left field. But according to Jon Greenberg, the delay with the Budweiser sign “is for design reasons” and “doesn’t have to do with the rooftops.”
Jon Greenberg reported Tuesday the Cubs have a new multi-year partnership agreement with Weber Grills. The Chicago-based company “is getting ad placement on a small outfield door.” Greenberg also reported Target “is not returning as an outfield wall sponsor at Wrigley.”
A Positive, Winning-Type Environment
The Cubs spent Tuesday in Pittsburgh with the hype of Opening Day in the rearview mirror. While the offense could not string together any hits or deliver with runners in scoring position, the pitching staff had a good day with the one exception … that cost them the game.
As long as the weather cooperates, the players will soon settle into the routine of the season and focus on making adjustments so there are fewer days like Monday when the entire team had trouble putting the ball in play.
Theo Epstein spoke with the Sun-Times prior to Monday’s opener about the importance of the Cubs having a clubhouse in which the players can go through adversity, learn from it, adjust and thrive. The Sun-Times reported the Cubs “will measure this season just by the progress of our young players.”
Epstein told Gordon Wittenmyer the front office will focus on several areas. “Are they in an environment where they can go through some adversity, make adjustments and thrive? Are we putting them in a position to succeed, giving them the support system that they need and also hold them accountable, and holding them to high standards, and creating a winning-type environment?”
Cubs Park and the Sheraton Hotel Mesa
According to a report from AZ Central, the City of Mesa and officials from the Sheraton hotel chain broke ground Monday on the Sheraton Hotel Mesa, a four-story, 180-room hotel in the Wrigleyville commercial area within the Cubs complex.
The hotel is the “first component” of the commercial area and will “include a bar, pools, Jacuzzis, fitness center, among other amenities.” The report indicated, “Mesa-based project developer BCY LLC also has agreed to construct a minimum of 20,000 square feet of adjacent retail space and will be recruiting restaurants and other retailers.”
The hotel is scheduled to open in January 2015.
And speaking of the Cubs’ new Spring Training facility, according to Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal the Cubs averaged 14,254 per spring game and (now have the record for the 11 largest single-game crowds in Cactus and Grapefruit League history.)
News and Notes
According to Jim Callis, “MLB draft pools can still change if Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales sign” but for now the Marlins will have the top pool at $14,199,300 and the Orioles will have the lowest at $2,204,400. Callis also reported “the total of all 30 MLB draft pools are currently at $205,786,400. Last year the pool total was $202,501,600.” The Cubs’ bonus pool stands at $8,352,200 right now.
Mick Gillispie reported Tuesday night that Kris Bryant and the Smokies will face Mat Latos on Opening Day in Pensacola on Thursday night.
Chicago Cubs’ Lore ‘Joy in Wrigleyville?’ airs Wednesday night at 8:00pm CDT on Showtime’s 60 minutes Sports.
Theo Epstein told the Sun-Times he thinks “too much has been made about identifying core guys.” Epstein explained a player can be a good player without being a core guy.
Major League Baseball released a report Tuesday that 223 players born outside of the United States were on Opening Day rosters. And according to Carrie Muskat, the Cubs have the most players on their roster from the Dominican Republic. Seven players from the Dominican were on the Cubs first roster of the season: Emilio Bonifacio, Welington Castillo, Starlin Castro, Junior Lake, Pedro Strop, Jose Veras and Carlos Villanueva.
Cubs business needs to catch up to baseball according to the Sun-Times.
Robert Feder reported WGN-TV hired a new boss.