Countdown to Cubs Cactus League Openers: 1 day
Baseball games were played Tuesday, and while they were just Spring Training or exhibition games, it was nice to see a box score again after such a long winter.
The Cubs were able to get back on the practice fields and hit at Sloan Park as the players and coaching staff prepare for the start of the Cactus League.
Joe Maddon announced Tuesday that David Ross would be behind the plate when Jon Lester faces the Reds on Friday afternoon. Maddon has not decided if Ross will catch Lester on Opening Night much less if the two will be paired together all season. Lester will throw to all of the catchers in camp according to Jesse Rogers. Plus, Maddon told ESPN Chicago that he doesn’t want to catch Ross too much because it’s not good for him or the team.
Welington Castillo is working hard and has impressed Maddon with his work ethic. The front office is expected to trade Castillo before the end of Spring Training. Teams are reportedly interested in trading for Castillo but Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer like the depth Castillo gives the Cubs right now. And there hasn’t been a team step up and give the Cubs what they are looking for in return for Castillo.
The Cubs are waiting for the Welington Castillo situation to play out according to Patrick Mooney. But Castillo has been paying attention to the way Miguel Montero and David Ross “communicate with teammates and he’s finally asserting himself” according to the report. Maddon has noticed how Castillo is going about getting his work in and told Mooney he really likes what he’s seen.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have said publicly they are willing to start the season with Castillo on the active roster. But Maddon doesn’t know how that would work. Maddon explained to Carrie Muskat it would be difficult for Castillo to get playing time.
Wrigley Field Restoration Update
According to a report from the Sun-Times, Mayor Rahm Emanuel turned down two requests by the Cubs on Tuesday to extend the work day at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs tried to get special permission to work around the clock (24 hours, seven days a week) in order to hopefully catch-up time lost on the construction project due to the weather. The Mayor denied that request Tuesday morning and later in the day, according to the Sun-Times, turned down the Cubs proposal to extend the work hours from 8:00am – 8:00pm to 6:00am – 10:00pm, Monday through Saturday.
It is against city ordinance to have construction crews working 24 hours a day and “exemptions to city limits on construction hours are confined to emergencies and certain public improvement projects like roads and other infrastructure projects in the public way.” And Wrigley Field “does not fit any of those criteria, that means an exemptions could only be granted by the City Council.”
Ald. Pat O’Connor told the Sun-Times he understands why the Cubs made the request but it “was politically untenable and poorly timed.”
Albert Almora feels he had a great year last season. And while his numbers have been scrutinized and dissected all winter, few paid attention to the backstory that the 20-year old Cubs’ prospect had weighing on his mind a year ago.
Almora, who turns 21 in April, explained in detail to Carrie Muskat what he went through while his father was dealing with prostate cancer. His father had surgery last April and he’s doing great now.
Albert Almora realizes he has things to work on and areas he has to improve this season. And he’s looking forward to just concentrating on baseball this year.
C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson
C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson are in big league camp for the first time. Edwards is on the 40-man roster while Johnson received a non-roster invite to Spring Training. Edwards and Johnson are considered the top two pitching prospects in the system.
Both pitchers should be among the first roster cuts of the spring. Edwards and Johnson will be used as starters this season and must be stretched out properly. The innings just won’t be there for them in big league camp.
Chris Bosio told the Tribune he plans to use them early in the spring games “and try to get them off to good starts for the 2015 season.”
C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson will likely be rotation mates all season as long as both pitchers stay off the DL on their current development path.
Spring Training Notes
- Joe Maddon told the beat writers Tuesday that he plans to use a designated hitter in Cactus League games until the middle of March.
- For those that missed any of the video that was sent out of Mesa on Tuesday … click on this link, turn the sound up, scroll down and enjoy.
News, Notes and Rumors
• According to Joel Sherman, LHP Felix Doubront and RHP Jacob Turner are two of the several players that could get traded during Spring Training. Doubront and Turner are competing for the fifth spot in the Cubs rotation and both pitchers are out of minor league options.
• Edwin Jackson checked in at No. 16 on Jon Heyman’s list of the 20 most untradeable contracts in baseball.
• Kyle Hendricks is not taking anything for granted. He’s thankful of the support and confidence that Joe Maddon has shown in him by saying he was all but a lock for the fourth spot in the rotation. Hendricks has set a goal of pitching 200 innings in the big leagues this season.
• And Joe Maddon has labeled Kyle Hendricks as ‘The Technician’ according to the Sun-Times.
• Anthony Rizzo answered questions on Twitter for ESPN Chicago.
• Javier Baez is trying unique ways to improve his offensive approach according to Tom Verducci.
• Bruce Levine reported Hector Rondon is confident in the closer’s role for the Cubs.
• Tommy La Stella has glove and will travel according to the Sun-Times.
• Alec Dopp cautioned, elevate to Jorge Soler at your own risk in 2015.
• Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that LatinWorks was named its creative agency to reach Latino fans.
And last, but not least, Scott Boras said it’s up to his client whether to go to free agency or not. Boras pointed out to Barry Rozner that several of his players have signed long-term extensions.
This Day In Cubstory
2003 – Cubs signed free agent Trent Hubbard
1999 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Hee-Seop Choi
1917 – Clyde McCullough, born
1890 – Earl Tyree, born
1886 – National League met and adopted the stolen base but retained the rule it took seven balls for a walk and rejected the batter being awarded first base if hit by a pitch.
1884 – Red Murray, born
1884 – National League owners agreed to provide two separate team benches to minimize fraternizing among opposing players during games.
1874 – Jim Korwan, born