Off Days, Matchups, a Rumor and Cubs Big League and Minor League News and Notes

With Monday’s off day in the rearview mirror, the Cubs begin a stretch Tuesday night of six games in a row against the Pirates and Cardinals. Following next Monday’s day off, the Cubs will spend two days in the Bronx facing the Yankees. The Cubs have two more off days over the next 10 days before beginning a stretch of 13 games in a row before their next day off (May 1).

Jed Hoyer said that the Cubs will play Mike Olt against right handers and they do not view him as strictly a platoon player. The Cubs will play the matchups with Olt and start him against right handers they feel he will have the most success against. The Cubs are also being cautious with Olt’s shoulder to make sure he does not have any setbacks.

The Cubs do not figure to have an everyday lineup and will continue to play matchups while using the platoon advantage as often as possible.

And the Cubs could be looking to add a catcher to the mix.

Chris Gimenez

According to a report from Chris Cotillo, the Cubs are on a list of teams interested in signing catcher Chris Gimenez. Cotillo reported the Athletics, Rays and Rangers have made Gimenez an offer. The Rangers designated Gimenez for assignment on April 1 and outrighted him to Triple-A Round Rock two days later (April 3). Gimenez elected for free agency instead of accepting the assignment.

The 31-year old right-handed hitting catcher spent the spring with Oakland and Texas. In 26 games this spring, Gimenez hit .265/.342/.353 with three doubles. Gimenez can also play left field and first base.

Reports have suggested Gimenez is hoping he can re-sign with the Rays where he spent the last two seasons. Gimenez hit .224/.350/.305 in 95 games for Triple-A Durham last season after putting together a .260/.315/.330 line in 42 games with the Rays in 2012.

The Cubs interest in Chris Gimenez speaks to the lack of catching in the organization.

Justin Grimm

Tony Andracki caught up with Justin Grimm and Grimm “has his sights set on a rotation spot down the road.”

The Cubs asked Grimm to report to Spring Training ready to compete for a spot in the rotation. But the team changed their plan with Grimm and moved him to the bullpen. Grimm broke camp as part of a seven-man bullpen after a shaky end of the spring. Grimm has thrown the ball well but would like to eventually return to a starting role.

Grimm admitted that a relief role fits where he is at in his development. “From my standpoint, I value myself as a starter in the future,” Grimm told Comcast SportsNet.

As Peter Gammons pointed out Monday, the young right handers in the Cubs pen have performed rather well. After six games, Justin Grimm, Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop and Brian Schlitter have allowed one run on seven hits with five walks and 12 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings (1.63 ERA, 0.81 WHIP).

Minor News

Christian Villanueva launched his first Triple-A home run on Monday night, a three-run shot in the sixth inning.

Kris Bryant was held out of Monday’s lineup with a little discomfort in his ankle according to a report from Mick Gillispie. Buddy Bailey, the Smokies’ manager, said Bryant could have played if needed but he wanted to give Bryant an extended break with Tuesday’s off day prior to the Smokies’ home opener on Wednesday.

Arodys Vizcaino pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning on Monday night while his fastball sat in the 96-97 mph range and topped out at 98 mph. Vizcaino showed off his breaking stuff, which was described as “nasty” on Monday.

Josh Vitters was lifted in the fourth inning of Monday’s game after tweaking something in his knee according to a report from Tommy Birch. Vitters made an awkward catch on a ball hit to left field before falling on the warning track. Marty Pevey said Vitters is day-to-day. Vitters apparently tweaked his knee before the mishap on the fly ball.

News and Notes

The Cubs are feeding off Ryan Kalish’s all-out approach according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.

For those that might have wondered if John Baker has a sense of humor, the Cubs backup catcher told Carrie Muskat the reason he picked No.12 with the Cubs is that he thought there might be a few No. 12 shirseys left over from Dusty Baker’s days as the Cubs’ skipper.

Patrick Mooney asked if the Cubs can salvage the Edwin Jackson contract.

Ryan Roberts signed a one-year Major League contract with the Red Sox on Monday. Roberts spent the spring with the Cubs and almost made the Opening Day roster. Boston agreed to pay Roberts $1 million, plus a $250,000 incentives package, for the season and he will share time at third base.

And last, but certainly not least, 40 years ago (April 8, 1974) Hank Aaron hit a long drive to left off of Al Downing over the head of a young Bill Buckner, as he climbed the wall in left, and Aaron became the All-Time Home Run leader in Major League Baseball. Aaron ended up with 755 home runs and he was not only a Hall of Famer on the field, he is one off the field as well.

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Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver