The Cubs received a little breathier on Wednesday when rain and bad weather in the Phoenix area shortened practice. Wednesday was the big league team’s last full day of Spring Training at Fitch Park. The Cubs moved down the street to HoHoKam Park to prepare for the start of the Cactus League schedule.
The organization will continue to use Fitch Park until their new Spring Training home is ready later this year. But Wednesday was the last full squad practice for the big leaguers and will be the last time the Cubs have to ‘move’ during Spring Training.
Dale Sveum announced his starting pitching rotation for the first four Cactus League games. Travis Wood will face an Angels’ split squad in the opener on Saturday in Tempe. Jeff Samardzija will follow and start the Cubs’ home opener against the Giants on Sunday. Carlos Villanueva will face the Dodgers in Glendale on Monday with Edwin Jackson squaring off against the Rockies on Tuesday at HoHoKam Park.
What little work took place on Wednesday was indoors. The forecast looks to improve and while it will be a little cool, the upcoming week is rain free for the start of the Cactus League games.
Cubs vs. Cubs
There will be baseball at HoHoKam Park for the next two days. The Cubs have a pair of five-inning intrasquad games scheduled for Thursday and Friday … with first pitch around 1:00pm Arizona time. Dale Sveum released his lineups for Thursday’s Blue vs. White game on Wednesday afternoon.
- David DeJesus – CF
- Starlin Castro – SS
- Anthony Rizzo – 1B
- Alfonso Soriano – LF
- Nate Schierholtz – RF
- Dioner Navarro – C
- Ian Stewart – 3B
- Darwin Barney – 2B
- Scott Hairston – DH
- Luis Valbuena – 2B
- Dave Sappelt – CF
- Welington Castillo – C
- Brad Nelson – 1B
- Jorge Soler – LF
- Javier Baez – SS
- Junior Lake – 3B
- Brett Jackson – RF
- Brian Bogusevic – DH
All eyes will be on the bottom of the Blue Team’s lineup with Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, Junior Lake and Brett Jackson following one another in the batting order.
Chris Rusin, Cory Wade, Trey McNutt, Nick Struck, Rob Whitenack and Rafael Dolis are scheduled to pitch in Thursday’s intrasquad contest while Brooks Raley, Drew Carpenter, Hector Rondon, Dayan Diaz, Alberto Cabrera, Michael Bowden, Blake Parker and Jensen Lewis are slated for Friday.
Cubs Broadcast Schedule
The Cubs released their 2013 broadcast schedule on Wednesday. WGN TV will air 67 regular season games, including Opening Day on April 1 in Pittsburgh. WCIU will carry eight more games with the remainder of the season being on Comcast SportsNet, FOX and ESPN.
Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies will call their first game on Saturday, March 16 on WGN and the Cubs’ first game of the spring will be shown on tape delay on the MLB Network on March 3.
Josh Vitters explained why he played in only two games during his time in the Venezuelan Winter League before he returned home for the off-season. Vitters said that when he showed up the third baseman on the team was playing really well and they did not have a spot for him on their team. Vitters was able to practice and called it a good experience for him. Vitters mentioned he would be playing third base for the Cubs during the Cactus League schedule but will also see time at first base and in the outfield … Vitters indicated ‘corner’. Vitters said he is trying to increase his versatility in order to be more valuable to the team.
Spring Training News Bites
Back in 2001, the Cubs had a young Carlos Villanueva throw for them at Fitch Park. According to a report from Cubs.com, Sammy Sosa helped Villanueva get an audition with the Cubs and Jim Hendry was one of the Cubs’ baseball people that saw him throw. Villanueva even stuck around and watched a Spring Training game from the dugout while sitting next to Kerry Wood. The Brewers signed Villanueva a year later.
Dale Sveum is very anxious to see Jorge Soler and Javier Baez in games this spring. Sveum said that Soler, Baez, Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters will get extended playing time this spring with all of the extra games. Sveum told the media with the 39 games and five split squad days there will be plenty of at bats for them over the first 10 days (or so) of games.
Junior Lake will spend time at third base and in the outfield this spring.
Hector Rondon’s first throwing session of the spring was delayed by the weather on Wednesday. The Cubs are hoping their Rule 5 Draft pick will be able to throw early on Thursday. Hector Rondon is competing for a spot on the roster and was late reporting to camp due to visa issues.
Anthony Rizzo is ready to play to Team Italy in the WBC.
Edwin Jackson told Jerry Crasnick that it was down to the Cubs and Indians before Jackson decided to sign with the Cubs.
Dontrelle Willis’ career has come full circle. Dontrelle Willis settled into the Fitch Park clubhouse on Wednesday to prepare for minor league camp. Willis signed a minor league deal with the Cubs last month and he is expected to see time in Cactus League games as part of the daily “call-ups” from minor league camp.
Spring Training for the Cubs’ minor leaguers officially begins on March 2 at Fitch Park.
Len Kasper will join Keith Moreland in the Cubs’ radio booth on Saturday to call the spring opener against the Angels in Tempe on 720 WGN.
… And according to WAR, only the Blue Jays improved more this off-season than the Cubs.