Day One of Camp Lou IV got underway on Wednesday. The first day of Spring Training is typically just a meet and greet for the players as they get settled in … but not this year. After two weeks of between 35 to 45 players preparing for the beginning of camp, the players were on the field on Wednesday … a day before the first official on field workout. A report from the Sun-Times stated between 40 and 60 players are already at Fitch Park.
Lou Piniella and Jim Hendry met the media. Lou is happy with the early turnout and described the players as being “hungry” and “ready to go.”
Piniella’s message to his team on Wednesday, “Let’s get back on top. The message is we finished second in the division last year with a lot of things that went wrong. Let’s add another 10-12 wins this year and get back to the playoffs.”
Here is the update, including video, from Day One of Camp Lou IV … with good news and some not good news on the injury front. Ted Lilly
Ted Lilly was on the field Wednesday. Lilly ran laps and played catch. Lilly has not thrown off a mound yet but did throw from flat ground … about 150 feet.
Lilly is expecting to be back ahead of schedule … and Lou Piniella said getting Lilly back is a big key to the Cubs’ success this season.
Lilly is entering the final year of his contract and was asked about his status with the Cubs. Reports have indicated Lilly would like to return.
‘The Bulldog’ said he would prefer to “keep all negotiations between him and GM Jim Hendry private but said he hasn’t even approached the topic.”
“I haven’t even thought about it. The first thing that comes to mind when you talk about something like that is I’ve been on many teams and been in this situation before and been with a lot of players before and I think the best thing to do is not make it be about yourself. I don’t want to draw attention to myself in that way and distract from anything our club is trying to do. I dont think it’s all about me.”
Ryan Theriot’s arbitration hearing is scheduled for Friday in St. Petersburg, Fla. Jim Hendry is leaving camp on Thursday to attend and will be joined by Crane Kenney, Scott Nelson and Harry Zinn.
Theriot is expected in camp on time when position players are due to report on Monday.
While one of the Cubs’ top prospects will receive a lot of playing time this spring, it appears Starlin Castro will be Ryne Sandberg’s Opening Day shortstop.
According to a report from the Sun-Times, when Piniella was asked about Castro on Wednesday he “didn’t sound like he expected Castro to have a very good shot at making the club.”
Piniella acknowledged he’s heard good things about Castro but indicated Ryan Theriot will be the Cubs shortstop this year.
“Remember, Castro is young, and there’s nothing wrong with putting a good foundation under him at AAA.”
According to a report from the Sun-Times, the towel drill is back. Carlos Silva, returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined him last year, warmed up with a towel on one of the back fields at Fitch Park before playing catch.
One wild card this spring could be Thomas Diamond. The former Texas Ranger and member of the DVD Trio (John Danks, Edison Volquez and Thomas Diamond) spoke with the Rangers’ beat writer on Wednesday.
Diamond is going into camp with the mindset of a starter … and is looking forward to showing the Cubs what he can do.
Thomas Diamond signed a minor league contract with the Cubs that included an invitation to big league camp.
Two Minor Injuries
Two of the pitchers that figure into the Cubs’ bullpen plans this season hit minor setbacks … Angel Guzman and Jeff Gray.
Angel Guzman injured his knee in Venezuela last month and had his knee scoped two weeks ago. Guzman is expected to be ready for Opening Day.
Jeff Gray strained his groin during practice this week. Gray will take is easy for a couple of weeks.
Both pitchers are not expected to miss a significant amount of time.
Other Tidbits from Day One
- Piniella likes Ryan Theriot leading off and Kosuke Fukudome hitting second … with Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez in the three and four spots.
- Jim Hendry is still looking to add a right-handed reliever to the mix according to the Sun-Times. Hendry is not close on any deals.
- Nine to ten players will be competing for spots on the Cubs bench … those players include Micah Hoffpauir, Sam Fuld, Chad Tracy, Kevin Millar, Brad Snyder and Bryan LaHair.
- Paul Sullivan estimated Carlos Zambrano’s weight loss at between 20 and 25 pounds.
- Carlos Zambrano was humbled by last year according to Sullivan and is motivated to put together a great season.
- According to Sullivan, Geovany Soto “lost a whole person” over the winter.
- Sullivan described Rudy Jaramillo as a very serious and very intense individual. From Sullivan’s first impression the Cubs’ new hitting coach is “an ultra-serious kinda guy.”
- Tim Sheridan said, “Marlon Byrd is built like an NFL LB (linebacker) … the guy is ripped.”
- Soto and Zambrano attempted to teach Kevin Millar a little Spanish …
Boys of Spring
For excellent photos of Day One of Camp Lou IV … click here.
Video from Day One
Well, there’s the update … and I am sticking to it!
CCO Radio reports to Spring Training on February 23 with the first show of the new season.
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