While the focus Monday was on prospects and the battle with the rooftops, the Cubs released their Spring Training broadcast schedule. Pitchers and catchers report to Mesa on Feb. 13, position players on Feb. 18 and the first full squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 19. And a little more than a week later, Rick Renteria’s team will take on the Diamondbacks at the first game at Cubs Park on Feb. 27.
WGN TV will carry the first game of the Cubs’ 2014 Cactus League schedule on Feb. 27 with Smokies’ play-by-play man Mick Gillispie calling the game on Cubs.com. Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer call their first game from Tempe on Feb. 28.
33 of the Cubs’ 36 Spring Training games will be available either on WGN Radio, WGN TV, Comcast SportsNet, Cubs.com or MLB.com. WGN TV is scheduled to broadcast four games and Comcast SportsNet will televise six more spring games. Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer call the play-by-play on eight games this spring while the audio for 23 games will be available on Cubs.com with Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie calling the action.
Cubs Park had its Grand Opening over the weekend and more than 30,000 people showed up to ‘Double Play at the Park.’ The City of Mesa and the Cubs have received rave reviews for the new facility from the fans and the players.
Pitching, Pitching and More Pitching
The Cubs are expected to sign at least one starting pitcher before Spring Training begins. According to Patrick Mooney, the Cubs “have essentially checked in with every free agent pitcher this winter.” The Cubs are reportedly interested in Paul Maholm and Jason Hammel and are still believed to be interested in a reunion with Scott Baker despite a report last week. The Angels are also interested in Jason Hammel according to Mike DiGiovanna and “seem to be leaning toward Hammel or Chris Capuano more than Bronson Arroyo or Paul Maholm.”
Jed Hoyer said the Cubs are looking for “innings” and an option for the fifth spot in an Opening Day rotation that is likely to include Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta.
Darwin Barney and Bill Mueller
Darwin Barney mentioned during the convention he had already spent time in Mesa this winter working with Bill Mueller and Mike Brumley. According to a report from Mark Gonzales, Barney “believes he might have found the remedy to cure his hitting struggles.”
Barney worked with Mueller and Brumley and said their “ideas are simple.” The Cubs’ new hitting coaches want Barney to be “the same every at bat.”
The Cubs could be one of the teams interested in Cuban RHP Odrisamer Despaigne.
Jesse Sanchez was told that several of the teams that were interested in signing Masahiro Tanaka have also expressed interest in RHP Odrisamer Despaigne. Sanchez questioned if teams are viewing him as Plan B.
The OFAC cleared Despaigne and he is free to sign with a Major League team. Despaigne held two showcases in Mexico this month and might have another one before he signs according to Sanchez.
Despaigne is 26 years old and throws a fastball in the low 90s that maxes out at 94 mph. Despaigne also features a curveball, a 12-6 curveball, slider and change-up. Despaigne reportedly grew up idolizing Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez.
The Cubs have not been connected to Odrisamer Despaigne yet.
The Cubs could be interested in signing Cuban catcher Yenier Bello. Jesse Sanchez reported last week the Cubs are one of three teams (Dodgers and Blue Jays) that have shown interest in Bello and Nick Cafardo linked the Cubs to Bello in his Sunday column along with the Dodgers and A’s.
Bello has been cleared by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and can agree to terms on a contract with a Major League team. Bello defected from Cuba in early 2013 and established residency in Mexico. MLB has declared Bello a free agent.
News, Notes and Rumors
According to another report from Korea, Chang-Yong Lim will be added to the Cubs’ non-roster invitee list to big league camp and report to Spring Training soon.
The Cubs were one of the teams interested in signing RHP Suk-Min Yoon earlier in the winter but have not been connected to the free agent of late. Yoon is looking to sign with a big league team before Spring Training begins and is back in the states. According to a report from Korea, Yoon has at least one offer from an unidentified Major League team on the table. The Twins and Mariners are believed to be two of the teams interested in signing Yoon.
Chris Cotillo reported Sunday night the Cubs have inquired on Ervin Santana. Santana is tied to draft pick compensation after rejecting the Royals’ qualifying offer. If the Cubs were to sign Santana it would cost them their second round draft pick and the draft pool money attached to the pick. Santana does not fit the Cubs’ plan and is likely not an option.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Diamondbacks “are more inclined to revisit a trade” for Jeff Samardzija than sign either Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez.
Stadium Journey ranked Wrigley Field as the 30th best experience they had during 2013.
720 WGN came in third among Chicago radio stations in total revenue in 2013.