The countdown to the Cactus League is over, the games begin today for the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs open the exhibition season with a split-squad day for the first time in over a decade. Half of the spring roster with Joe Maddon calling the shots hosts the Oakland A’s at Sloan Park while the other half makes the short trip to Scottsdale to take on the San Francisco Giants with Dave Martinez at the helm.
Wednesday was a short day, Maddon ended practice around 10:30am local time (11:30am CST) with the two games on the schedule for Thursday.
The stars on the players’ hats stayed in the news Wednesday and Carrie Muskat provided a little more background information on player of the day reward.
According to the report, the stars being handed out at the end of each day by bench coach Dave Martinez is pumping up the players. Martinez is recognizing a player and/or a coach each day this spring “by giving him a small shiny star to stick to his baseball cap.”
This is something new for Dave Martinez and Joe Maddon and it’s “to help promote winning atmosphere with the Cubs.” Martinez told Carrie Muskat he came up with the idea as a fun way to have the players or coaches “always competing for something.”
The stars on the players’ caps is something different for Martinez and Maddon and not a carryover from their days in Tampa.
Spring Training Notes
- Pitchers scheduled to throw against the A’s at Sloan Park include Travis Wood, Anthony Carter, Neil Ramirez, Drake Britton, Francisley Bueno, Donn Roach and Gonzalez Germen.
- Jacob Turner, Corey Black, Pierce Johnson, Blake Parker, Joseph Ortiz, Hunter Cervenka and Jorge De Leon are scheduled to face the Giants on Thursday in Scottsdale.
- Rick Sutcliffe will help Dave Martinez in Scottsdale on Thursday in the game against the Giants. Sutcliffe thinks the Cubs bullpen will be one of the strengths of this year’s team with all of the options and Joe Maddon’s history of success with running a bullpen.
- Maddon said that he doesn’t rely on a radar gun “to determine how well pitchers are throwing.” For Maddon a pitcher’s velocity does not matter. He wants his pitchers just to throw strikes and record outs. Maddon said hitters will let the coaching staff know how well a pitching is throwing.
News, Notes and Rumors
• According to Mark Gonzales, the Cubs have scheduled a B-game versus the Angels on March 19 at 3:00pm CDT. The Cubs square off against the Diamondbacks under the lights on March 19 at 8:40pm CDT at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
• Patrick Mooney broke down how James Shields almost wound up with the Cubs. According to the report, the Cubs first offered Shields $60 million for four years. Over the course of conversations, the Cubs offer changed to three years and $60 million with a significant amount of deferred money and a vesting option. The overall value of the deal would have been less than $80 million. Shields signed with the Padres for four years, $75 million with the club option for a fifth season would max the contract out at $91 million.
• Drake Britton thinks the Cubs provide a “great opportunity” for him. Britton described the competition between the lefty relievers “friendly.” Britton, Joseph Ortiz and Zac Rosscup are trying to pitch their way onto the Cubs Opening Day roster.
• Patrick Mooney talked in depth about the future of offense in the game with Joe Maddon.
• The Wrigley Blog posted photos of the LED ribbon video boards down the first and third baselines … and both of them are installed.
• Addison Russell is in Cubs camp for the first time. He’s taken grounders at shortstop and third base and he’s looking forward to the season ahead with his new organization according to a report from Carrie Muskat.
• And speaking of top prospects, Kris Bryant answered several questions for ESPN Chicago … and for Bryant, nothing beats hitting the ball on the fat part of the bat.
• According to Mark Gonzales, the Cubs are seeking the hot hand for the final rotation spot.
And last, but not least, MLB officials Joe Garagiola Jr. and Steve Palermo met with Joe Maddon and his staff Wednesday to discuss the new pace of play rules.
This Day In Cubstory
2008 – Cubs signed free agent Ryan O’Malley
1981 – Francisley Bueno, born
1966 – Marvin Miller was elected as the first full-time executive director of the Major League Players’ Association. Miller led the players association from 1966 to 1982.
1950 – Doug Bird, born
1912 – Dick Errickson, born
1912 – Jim Gleeson, born