Countdown to Cubs Cactus League Openers: 2 days
Rain shortened the Cubs workouts Monday. The outdoor drills Joe Maddon had planned were pushed to Tuesday as the players took advantage of the indoor facilities at the Cubs complex. And photo day was a huge success on Twitter.
Jorge Soler spoke with the beat writers Monday with help from Franklin Font. Soler said he’s put on 25 pounds of muscle since this time last year. Soler reportedly checked in at 242 pounds this spring after being listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds last season.
Soler said he’s ready to play 162 games, which would be almost twice as many games as he played a year ago (86 games). Joe Maddon said 130-140 games would be “a nice number for him.”
Even with building up his playing time and monitoring him closely throughout the spring, according to the Sun-Times, Maddon said Soler would probably receive, best case, a day off a week once the season starts.
Jorge Soler was confident Monday that he would have a good season. And while he admitted he does not think about being the NL Rookie of the Year, Soler told the media he feels great, he’s going to continue to work hard and he thinks he has a chance to take off.
Joe Maddon answered a few of the team’s pitching questions Monday. The Cubs’ skipper announced his rotation for the first six Cactus League games and officially named Jon Lester his Opening Night starter. Maddon also said Kyle Hendricks was all but locked into the fourth spot of the rotation.
Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson
If everything goes as planned this spring, the first four spots in Maddon’s Opening Day rotation are filled. Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks will follow Jon Lester in the Cubs’ rotation. And that leaves quite the competition, as expected, for the fifth spot in the rotation.
With the way the roster is currently constructed, the main competition for the fifth spot will be between five pitchers: LHP Travis Wood, RHP Edwin Jackson, LHP Tsuyoshi Wada, LHP Felix Doubront and RHP Jacob Turner.
Patrick Mooney reported Travis Wood is believed to “have the inside track for the fifth spot” and the Sun-Times indicated that Wood is expected to take the last spot in the rotation unless there is a trade, an injury of an “out of whack spring.”
Edwin Jackson reported to camp in good shape after beginning his off-season program earlier than normal. According to the Sun-Times, Jackson is throwing the ball well so far in camp.
A combination of Jackson, Turner, Doubront and Wada could end up in the bullpen. Turner and Doubront are out of options and would figure to be moved as opposed to released.
According to a report from Carrie Muskat, it’s a big spring for Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson. Joe Maddon has been upfront with everyone. Maddon said that all of the players know what is going on and there “are no dummies” in camp.
The front office built depth for the rotation and it will be interesting to watch the performances throughout the spring.
Mike Olt would appear to have the inside track to be at third base on Opening Night. But Olt knows he has a lot to prove this spring, plus according to Comcast SportsNet, Tommy La Stella has received good reviews at third base.
Olt could end up giving Joe Maddon another versatile player if he can show he can make enough contact to stay in the big leagues. Olt confirmed to the Tribune that he will see time at third base, first base and in the outfield this spring.
The key to Olt making the team will be applying the adjustments he’s made to his swing. Olt told the Tribune he “had a long swing, but in a very short way.” Olt has applied the adjustments he made this winter and feels good about the way he’s hit in live batting practice. Olt explained to Mark Gonzales that “his bat path is more direct to the ball” and the leg kick which was screwing him up last year isn’t as high.
There is always room for a player on a big league roster with the type of power that Olt possesses. And if he can show he’s more than an all or nothing player, Mike Olt could be a factor for the Cubs this season.
Spring Training Notes
- The split squad assignments were announced Monday for Thursday’s openers. Joe Maddon will stay in Mesa and watch Travis Wood face Barry Zito. Dave Martinez and Rick Sutcliffe will make the short trip to Scottsdale with the other half of the roster and play the Giants.
- Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, C.J. Edwards and Edwin Jackson are among the pitchers scheduled to throw live BP on Tuesday.
- Maddon would like to see the Cubs “be less mechanical and more mental in our approach and have a better plan at the plate” according to Carrie Muskat.
News, Notes and Rumors
• According to Jesse Rogers, Joe Maddon will not make the trip to Las Vegas in the middle of the month (March 13-14). Maddon wanted to stay in Mesa to be close to his daughter who is pregnant and is due that weekend. Dave Martinez will call the shots for the Cubs during ‘Big League Weekend’ at Cashman Field.
• ESPN Chicago had fun with Jorge Soler’s numbers.
• Tony Andracki reported that if the Cubs win the World Series this season, Volo Auto Museum will give away their 1981 DeLorean, a replica of the DeLorean that was used in the Back to the Future Trilogy. The contest begins March 21 and any visitor to the museum is eligible to win. The DeLorean will be at Harry Caray’s for the Worldwide Toast to Harry on March 12.
• Randy Wehofer is putting together the I-Cubs media guide … and the mound of information about Kris Bryant is rather involved.
• According to the Sun-Times, Jon Lester and David Ross figure to be quite a pair for the Cubs.
• John Baker set the story straight with Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk.
• The Sun-Times took a look at prospect rankings the stuff of hype, hope and Hail Marys.
• FanGraphs/RotoGraphs examined The Soler-Powered Cubs Outfield.
And last, but not least, Tim Sheridan posted more Spring Training photos on Boys of Spring.
This Day In Cubstory
1895 – Joe Jaeger, born
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