Countdown to Cubs Cactus League Openers: 4 days
Based on the volume of reports from Mesa, it’s been a good start to the spring for the Chicago Cubs. Jon Lester commented Saturday how impressed he’s been with Joe Maddon and pointed out that his new manager is as advertised. Maddon has set a positive tone according to Lester. And the veteran lefty appreciates Maddon’s no nonsense approach.
Jon Lester has also noticed how the young players have gone about their business and gotten their work in.
Joe Maddon said the Cubs have set their rotation for the first round of spring games, but he wasn’t ready to announce it on Saturday. The Cubs open Cactus League play with two games on Thursday. Half of Joe Maddon’s roster will host the A’s while the other half makes the short trip to Scottsdale to take on the Giants. Bob Melvin announced Saturday that LHP Barry Zito will start Thursday’s game against the Cubs.
According to ESPN Chicago, Maddon could announce the pitching rotation Sunday or Monday. Maddon has to talk to the pitchers first.
Jon Lester met with the beat writers Saturday and said he felt fine after completing his first live batting practice session. Lester told the beat writers he’s “all-in and there’s no in between” with the Cubs. And he promised to be as honest with the media as he can.
Lester said David Ross being his personal catcher is “overblown.” According to Patrick Mooney, Lester talked about Ross with a smile on his face, showing a sense of humor. Lester added that the talk of Ross being his catcher makes it sound like he cannot throw to another catcher. Lester pointed out he had a “pretty good career before he came along.”
LHP Tsuyoshi Wada returned to action Saturday and completed a live batting practice session. Wada was slowed by hamstring tightness early in the week. Maddon thought Wada threw the ball well and he looked good.
Tsuyoshi Wada is competing for a spot in the backend of the rotation and could end up in the bullpen if he can’t crack the starting five.
The top prospect in baseball has not forgotten where he came from. According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Kris Bryant donated cleats and two sets of uniforms to Bonanza High School in Las Vegas.
Bryant graduated from Bonanza High and he said he wanted to do something special for the team. Bryant told Carrie Muskat the school doesn’t have the same resources as others in the area and he wanted to help.
As it’s been said before, Kris Bryant gets it.
According to Baseball America, the Cubs signed non-drafted free agent 1B Shane Kennedy.
Kennedy attended Clemson for his junior and senior years and struggled last year at the plate in 41 games. Kennedy hit only .218/.266/.301 with six doubles, a triple and a home run. In 2013, Kennedy batted .317/.408/.445 in 62 games with five doubles, four triples and five home runs for a .853 OPS.
Over four seasons, Shane Kennedy walked 92 times with 107 strikeouts and finished his college career with a .406 OBP. Kennedy bats and throws from the right side and is 6-foot-2, 165 pounds.
MLB Network’s Top 100 Players
The network ranked the top 100 players in the game based on performances over the last several years with an emphasis placed on 2014. And Jon Lester (43), Anthony Rizzo (53) and Jake Arrieta (89) made the cut.
The top 10 players in baseball according to MLB Network: Clayton Kershaw, Mike Trout, Felix Hernandez, Giancarlo Stanton, Chris Sale, Andrew McCutchen, Miguel Cabrera, Buster Posey, Jose Abreu and Robinson Cano.
Spring Training Notes
- A day after having his right index finger wrapped and Joe Maddon suggesting he trim his nails, C.J. Edwards completed a bullpen session.
- Donn Roach, Anthony Carter, Blake Parker, Gonzalez Germen, Joseph Ortiz and Francisley Bueno are among the pitchers scheduled to throw batting practice Sunday.
- Weather permitting … players are scheduled to take batting practice at Sloan Park, and on Fields 1/2.
- Stars on the players or coaches hats are given out by Dave Martinez and a star represents a player or coach of the day.
- Enrique Rojas was at Cubs camp on Saturday and Joe Maddon talked to Rojas about Arismendy Alcantara. Maddon said, “A different baseball player. Small force that runs and plays several positions. I love.”
- Dexter Fowler’s timing early in camp has impressed Maddon according to a report from ESPN Chicago.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Major League Baseball is starting to push for an international draft according to Jon Paul Morosi, but MLBPA has reservations.
• The Rays dedicated Don Zimmer Way on Saturday and there is talk the Rays will retire Zimmer’s number.
• From Ace of MLB Stats: Mike Trout has a .460 OBP leading off innings since 2013, best in baseball. Dexter Fowler is second with a .448 OBP.
• According to the Sun-Times, this is the season for Starlin Castro to prove he’s the Cubs shortstop.
• The Cubs don’t care one way or the other if Adam Wainwright starts on Opening Night according to a report from the Sun-Times.
• Sean McAdam reported the Indians, Brewers and Angels are possible landing spots for Allen Craig if Ben Cherington decides to trade him.
• Jim Duquette thinks LHP Cliff Lee, RHP Jonathan Papelbon, RHP Dillon Gee, OF Andre Ethier, OF Carlos Quentin and OF/1B Allen Craig are the six players that could be traded by Opening Day.
• Jason Motte could add veteran leadership in the Cubs bullpen according to Bruce Levine.
• According to Comcast SportsNet, Miguel Montero brings an edge to the Cubs’ clubhouse.
• Cubs’ single game tickets go on-sale Friday, March 6 … but the MasterCard Pre-Sale begins Tuesday, March 3 at 10:00am CST and ends Wednesday, March 4 at 10:00am CST.
And last, but not least, the San Diego Union-Tribune uncovered John Baker’s source for the news that Baker broke on Twitter during the off-season. John Baker found out from his wife who had talked to Chris Denorfia’s wife and found out that he had agreed to terms with the Cubs … a 31 Flavors had to be involved somewhere in the story.
This Day In Cubstory
2005 – Cubs received approval to expand the bleachers and build an additional 1,790 seats at Wrigley Field. The construction project began at the end of the season in order for the project to be completed by Opening Day 2006.
2003 – Cubs signed free agent Javier Cardona
1980 – Micah Hoffpauir, born
1969 – Doug Creek, born
1948 – Cubs traded Bobby Sturgeon to the Boston Braves to Dick Culler and Walt Lanfranconi
1918 – Hank Wyse, born
1914 – Harry Caray, born
1855 – Paul Hines, born