Starlin Castro is already in Mesa preparing for the start of Spring Training. According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Castro is healthy and the hamstrings that have limited him the past two springs are strong. Castro’s ready to go and he’s already hitting balls out of the park after a rough winter.
Castro has not decided yet where he will move his family permanently to next off-season. He’s thankful he is safe after the off-season in his hometown. Castro and his family have been in Arizona since Jan. 4 so he could begin preparing for Spring Training.
In regards to the two shootings in the Dominican Republic, Castro reiterated he was in the wrong place at the wrong time on both occasions.
“We tried to get away from the problem. I don’t want my name all over the place with those kind of things. It was wrong time, wrong place. People who know me know I’m a really humble man, I’m a happy man. Wrong time, wrong place. Those kind of things, I think God put those kind of things in my life to tell me how important I am and to get out of the bad things that affect my name, my career, my family. Those are the kind of things I don’t want to happen again.”
Castro has been catching footballs as part of agility drills with Tim Buss, the Cubs’ strength coach. Castro said he’s ready to “start hot right away” and nothing is going to stop him.
INF/OF Logan Watkins announced on his twitter account that he tore his Achilles on Wednesday while working out in Arizona. He is devastated and sad that he will not be part of the “great season the Cubs are prepared to have.”
Watkins was expected to be in big league camp on a non-roster invite. The Cubs designated Watkins for assignment on Dec. 19 to make room on the roster for either C/1B Ryan Lavarnway or OF/1B Shane Peterson. Watkins cleared waivers and was outrighted to Iowa three days later.
Logan Watkins played in 31 games for the Cubs last season and batted .246/.269/.338 with three doubles and a home run for a .607 OPS.
Rob Bradford caught up with new Cubs’ reliever LHP Drake Britton and he admitted he was caught off guard by the Red Sox decision to cut ties.
The Cubs claimed Britton off waivers from Boston on Wednesday and he received the call from Ben Cherington to tell him that he was no longer in the organization. Britton stayed in Boston throughout the winter to prepare for the season. And to make sure he could show the Red Sox that he belonged in the majors.
Britton told Rob Bradford, “That’s why it was such a big shock to me because I made a lot of sacrifices to stay up here and workout like I did. I was excited to go into Spring Training with the Red Sox just to show them that they should keep me and prove to them I made the proper adjustments and the things I needed to do to stand out. I didn’t get that opportunity with them but now I have the opportunity to go over to Chicago and show them what I got.”
Britton is excited about the opportunity he’s going to have with the Cubs. And he’s obviously familiar with the front office. Britton said he has a lot of respect for Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.
Drake Britton will compete with Zac Rosscup, Joseph Ortiz and Pedro Feliciano for one of the lefty roles in Joe Maddon’s bullpen.
The St. Louis Cardinals announced Wednesday the team signed veteran RHP Carlos Villanueva to a minor league contract. Villanueva received a non-roster invitation to big league camp and will compete for a spot in the Cardinals’ bullpen during Spring Training.
Villanueva spent two years with the Cubs and became a free agent at the end of last season. Villanueva signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Cubs that paid him $5 million per year.
Carlos Villanueva was 12-15 in 89 games, 20 starts, over the two seasons with the Cubs. Villanueva allowed 100 runs, 98 earned, on 206 hits with 59 walks and 175 strikeouts in 206 1/3 innings (4.27 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 3.59 FIP).
It’s highly unlikely Villanueva will make a comment about the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.
Mark Prior and Moises Alou
The former Cubs are teammates once again, well at least in the Padres’ front office.
Mark Prior was named the Padres’ Minor League Pitching Coordinator and Moises Alou is the new Special Assistant to Player Development.
The Padres announced several changes Wednesday to its minor league staff.
Mark Prior was an assistant in the team’s baseball ops department last season and is really looking forward to his new role.
Pick up a piece of history with the limited edition Cubs Wine Collection, honoring the Wrigley Field 100th Anniversary. The perfect gift this Valentine’s Day for the ultimate Cubs fan. For more information, visit mlb.com/wine.
News, Notes and Rumors
The Brewers and Phillies continue to talk about a Jonathan Papelbon deal according to Jon Heyman. Ruben Amaro Jr. wants a nice package of players from Milwaukee and there is a “gap in thoughts about the player compensation” the Phillies would receive. The Brewers are also interested in a reunion with Francisco Rodriguez.
While the Brewers wait to possibly work out a deal with the Phillies, RHP Chris Perez signed a minor league contract with Milwaukee. Perez received a non-roster invitation to camp and will compete for a spot in the Brewers’ pen. Perez’s contract includes a $1.5 million base and he can earn $3 million if he hits all of his incentives.
Ryan Ludwick signed a minor league contract with the Rangers and will have a chance in Spring Training to not only make Texas’ Opening Day roster but to punish Cubs’ pitching for at least one more time. Ludwick can earn $1.75 million base if he makes it to the big leagues. In 49 career games at Wrigley Field, Ludwick batted .301/.378/.546 with 13 doubles, nine home runs and a .924 OPS.
Peter Gammons: A Dozen Starting Pitching Questions
Saving the best for last … the first steel columns were installed at Wrigley Field on Wednesday.
This Day In Cubstory
2005 – Cubs signed free agent Jeromy Burnitz
1993 – Shawon Dunston Jr., born
1980 – Cubs released Derek Botelho
1977 – Rangers traded a PTBNL and cash to the Cubs for Darold Knowles. Texas sent Gene Clines to the Cubs on Feb. 15, 1977 to complete the trade.
1941 – Roberto Rodriguez, born
1931 – Cubs signed Hack Wilson to a one-year contract for $35,000. Wilson set the National League record for home runs (56) and the all-time record for RBI (191) in 1930.
1928 – Don Hoak, born
1916 – Dewey Williams, born
1890 – Max Flack, born
1856 – Harry Smith, born