The first pitch of the Cubs’ 2011 Cactus League Schedule is four days away …
Tuesday was photo day at Fitch Park as Q’s crew prepares for the start of the exhibition season. According to a report from Carrie Muskat, the Cubs roster is nearly set and there are only two spots, among the position players, that need to be filled … backup infielder and fifth outfielder.
Fernando Perez, Reed Johnson and Brad Snyder are among the players the Cubs will look at for the fifth outfielder’s spot. Augie Ojeda and Darwin Barney are among the candidates to be the Cubs extra infielder. The competition for both spots could last for the duration of camp.
Carlos Zambrano talked to the media Tuesday for the first time after finding out he would not be starting on Opening Day. Zambrano discussed the anger management sessions he completed last October and declared himself “cured.”
Here’s the update from Mesa … Carlos Zambrano
The Big Z spoke with the media a day after he found out he would not get the ball on Opening Day. Carlos Zambrano was disappointed but handled Mike Quade’s decision professionally.
From Carrie Muskat:
“My problem [doesn’t have to do with] being a good person. The problem I have to solve is when I get upset on the field. I think my problem is after I cross those lines. When somebody makes an error or I make an error, that’s my problem. I have to focus on that this year. Off the field, I consider myself a nice guy and people can talk about that. I don’t like to talk about myself.”
Zambrano completed his anger management sessions last October and admitted that they helped.
“It did work, and believe me, that was an experience that I can take through the years. Maybe in the future, I can be a pitching coach or whatever, 20 years from now, and I can speak to young kids about what happened in my career and the experience.”
Chattin’ with Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his Tuesday chat on ESPNChicago.com. Here are the highlights …
- Carlos Zambrano has shown all positive signs in camp so far and has been supportive of his teammates.
- The Cubs talked about trading Marlon Byrd over the winter. The Cubs “are paper thin” in the outfield and Levine does not think the Cubs will move an outfielder right now.
- The last two spots in the rotation is an open tryout. Casey Coleman is in the mix and everyone will get an opportunity. Levine likes Coleman but feels he’ll have to pitch almost perfectly to get a rotation spot.
- Andrew Cashner is definitely not starting the year in the minors. Cashner will get stretched out as a starter. The Cubs want Cashner’s arm in the big leagues either as a starter or as a reliever.
- Levine would go with Randy Wells and Carlos Silva in the rotation to start the year. He would send James Russell to Iowa to start and put Cashner in the pen.
- The Cubs plan to use Tyler Colvin and Jeff Baker as backups for Carlos Pena with Baker and Blake DeWitt slotted as the backups for Aramis Ramirez. Darwin Barney or Augie Ojeda will begin the year as Starlin Castro’s backup.
- Right now, the Cubs do not have any money for another veteran infielder.
- Levine thinks the Cubs can win 85-88 games this season.
- The Cubs feel D.J. LeMahieu will be a Major League second baseman in the net few years.
- Scott Maine makes the team out of camp if James Russell is in the rotation or is sent to Triple-A.
News, Notes and Tweets
Rudy Jaramillo sees progress in hitters according to a report from ESPNChicago.com. Jaramillo thinks Alfonso Soriano has a better foundation this year that will hopefully lead to more consistent production at the plate. Soriano is “definitely going in the right direction” according to Jaramillo.
Bruce Levine reiterated Tuesday that Derrek Lee did not work with Rudy Jaramillo at any point last season. Aramis Ramirez was not receptive to Jaramillo’s tutledge until the second half of last season. Ramirez is working with Rudy Jaramillo this spring.
Tyler Colvin continued working at first base Tuesday and will work both in the outfield and at first when the games begin. Mike Quade said Colvin could invest as much time as he would like at first base as long as Colvin does not let his defense in the outfield suffer. Colvin could play first base at least once a week, if not more, this spring.
Carlos Zambrano, Matt Garza and Kerry Wood are scheduled to throw batting practice Wednesday. Zambrano and Garza are expected to pitch in the Cactus League opener.
Reed Johnson faced Carlos Marmol in batting practice Tuesday. Marmol plunked Johnson on his left elbow last Sunday. Johnson wore an elbow guard during BP Tuesday … Marmol did not hit his teammate this time around.
Fernando Perez’s speed grades as an “eight” on baseball’s scouting scale according to Mike Quade. Perez is trying switch-hitting again after hitting only from the right side last year.
Tim Sheridan (Boys Of Spring) posted a few pics of photo day at Fitch Park. The team wore the dress whites for the first time this spring.
Randy Wells liked the message Tom Ricketts delivered to his team last Saturday.
Dusty Baker made headlines for all the wrong reasons Tuesday. While Mike Quade is excited about being the Cubs’ manager, Dusty Baker said he was “dumped on” during his last season with the Cubs. Click here for the entire report from Jon Paul Morosi.
According to a report from the East Valley Tribune, the Cubs plan on building their new Spring Training complex before the commercial district that is a part of the project.
Todd Ricketts told the Tribune that the stadium is the team’s first priority. Construction is expected to begin late this year. The Cubs are targeting opening the facility in 2013. Recent reports have indicated that the Cubs’ first Spring Training games in the new complex would not be until 2014.
The family would like the new complex to feature the same dimensions as Wrigley Field but it will not be a replica. Todd Ricketts told the Tribune that the Cubs new facility might not be as lavish as the newer parks in the area “because the Cubs want to focus more on the fundamentals: training the team to win.”
Video from Mesa
Well, there’s the update … and it’s almost time for the exhibition games to begin.