Countdown to Opening Night: 6 days
A lot of questions will be answered this week as the Cubs prepare to leave Arizona and the start of the season with the Cardinals. And based on reports Sunday night, the Cubs appear to have decided to go with a traditional five-man rotation with Travis Wood taking the last opening.
According to multiple reports, the Cubs have decided to fill the final spot in the rotation with one pitcher and have abandoned thoughts of Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson sharing time in the backend of the rotation. And it appears Travis Wood, not Edwin Jackson, will start the season in the rotation.
With Wood in the rotation and a pinch-hitting option for Joe Maddon, Jackson moves in to the middle relief role that was vacated when the Cubs did not re-sign RHP Carlos Villanueva.
The Sun-Times reported the team had internal discussions throughout the winter about Jackson filling a relief role this season. With Tsuyoshi Wada sidelined and Travis Wood not doing anything to lose a spot in the rotation, Jackson will take one of the spots on Maddon’s 12-man pitching staff.
According to ESPN Chicago, the Cubs plan on announcing the order of the starting rotation after Jon Lester completes Tuesday’s start in minor league camp. Based on reports, Maddon is likely to split up his lefty starters. If that’s the case, Maddon’s Opening Day rotation is LHP Jon Lester, RHP Jake Arrieta, RHP Jason Hammel, LHP Travis Wood and RHP Kyle Hendricks.
Joe Maddon also said Sunday he will not skip starters even with three days off in April. Maddon thinks the extra days early in the season could be beneficial late in the year.
- Full Report from the Sun-Times
- Full Report from ESPN Chicago (1)
- Full Report from ESPN Chicago (2)
- Full Report from Comcast SportsNet
Joe Maddon told the beat writers Sunday that this week he plans to start using players in the roles he sees them filling at the beginning of the year. In other words, Maddon is going to start managing the spring games the same he would a regular season game.
“I really do have a better feel and understanding of our players now than I did when we walked in the door. I think that first month of the season, you get an even much better feel or taste based on a real game that matters and beyond that, the bullpen. I’ve always felt that first month is when the bullpen defines itself, and I’m looking forward to that.”
Jason Motte has had a rough spring. Motte has not looked good in his eight outings. Motte’s command has been off, the velocity down and he’s appeared to battle himself every time he’s taken the mound.
Spring numbers are not a good way to evaluate a player’s performance. With that said, Motte’s numbers kind of illustrate his struggles. Motte has given up 11 hits with five walks and four strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. His stuff has appeared flat and there could be a reason for it.
Joe Maddon told the beat writers Sunday the coaching staff thinks they discovered something wrong with Motte’s mechanics. According to a report from ESPN Chicago, Chris Bosio found the problem.
The adjustment has apparently been made because Maddon said he’s “eager to see his next time out.”
The Futures Game at Sloan Park between the Cubs system and the Rangers organization is Monday night (7:00pm Arizona, 9:00pm CDT).
Corey Black is scheduled to start for the Cubs and C.J. Edwards is scheduled to pitch after Black.
News, Notes and Rumors
• The players that will be with the team on Opening Night are scheduled to leave Arizona on Saturday morning. The last exhibition game of the spring with the Diamondbacks at Chase Field will be played by minor leaguers. The Cubs have not decided if a starter will say behind to get his work in during that game according to a report from Carrie Muskat.
• Rick Sutcliffe has really liked what he’s seen from the Cubs minor league pitchers this spring. Sutcliffe tweeted that he is amazed “how the talent and potential has risen since 2015.” Sutcliffe responded to a question on Twitter about RHP Jake Stinnett. Sutcliffe saw him for the first time Sunday and said he’s delivery reminds him of the Indians’ Corey Kluber.
• The Cubs are expected to start the season with a 12-man pitching staff, Maddon said as much Sunday. Carrie Muskat reported it’s likely the team begins the year with a 12-man staff and there are spots to still be filled in the bullpen.
• Jon Heyman basically confirmed what Keith Law said, LHP Brady Aiken will probably be selected in the first round of June’s draft. A team will take a big risk that could provide a big reward down the road. Aiken was the No. 1 overall pick for a reason.
• Jim Bowden posted a report as to why he thinks the Cardinals and Nationals are the two best teams in the National League.
• Feast or famine … the Cubs creating an offensive identity according to Comcast SportsNet.
• David Wright has the Mets adopting some Cardinal rules this spring according to Joel Sherman.
• Cardinals ready for Wrigley Field opener, Cubs rivalry to heat up according to a report from the Tribune.
• Former Cubs RHP Scott Baker was released by the Yankees.
And last, but not least, the Braves released LHP James Russell. Russell struggled this spring with command and diminished velocity.
This Day In Cubs History
2014 – Cubs signed free agent Joel Pineiro
2013 – Cubs released Dontrelle Willis
2010 – Cubs released Kevin Millar
2009 – Cubs released Paul Bako
2009 – Cubs released Mike Stanton
2007 – Cubs released Jason Anderson
2006 – Cubs released Mark DiFelice and John Ennis
2005 – Cubs released Steve Randolph
2004 – Cubs signed free agent Nate Bland
2003 – Cubs released Trent Hubbard and Mickey Lopez
2002 – Cubs released Bryan Ward
2001 – Cubs traded Oswaldo Mairena to the Marlins for Manny Aybar
1999 – Cubs released Marc Pisciotta
1998 – Expos selected Mike Hubbard off waivers from the Cubs
1997 – Cubs signed free agent Bry Nelson
1994 – Cubs traded Jose Vizcaino to the Mets for Ottis Smith and Anthony Young
1993 – Cubs signed free agent Eric Yelding
1992 – Cubs released Jamie Moyer (Note: Moyer made the Rockies Opening Day roster on this day in 2012, the oldest starting pitcher to ever make an Opening Day roster, 49 years old)
1992 – Cubs traded George Bell to the White Sox for Ken Patterson and Sammy Sosa
1987 – Cubs traded Thad Bosley and Dave Gumpert to the Royals for Jim Sundberg
1983 – Cubs purchased Thad Bosley from the Athletics
1979 – Cubs signed free agent Jim Willoughby
1968 – Indians traded Bobby Tiefenauer to the Cubs for Rob Gardner
1966 – Cubs traded Vic Roznovsky to the Orioles for Carl Warwick
1958 – Braves purchased Dick Littlefield from the Cubs
1956 – Cubs traded Hank Sauer to the Cardinals for Pete Whisenant and $10,000
1951 – Cubs released Johnny Vander Meer
1904 – Ripper Collins, born
1897 – Ed Sicking, born
1866 – George Van Haltren, born
1857 – Tom Burns, born