The Cubs won one and lost one on the first of back-to-back split squad days. And while half the roster picked up a win in Las Vegas, the other half struggled in Mesa and Tsuyoshi Wada left the game with an injury in the first inning. The Cubs play two more games Saturday before squaring off against the Reds on Sunday afternoon back in the valley.
Paul Sullivan caught up with Theo Epstein and asked for an update on contract extension.
Tom Ricketts was expected to extend Theo Epstein’s contract at some point during the off-season. The two reportedly talked about an extension right around the time the team hired Joe Maddon. Epstein’s current contract runs through the 2016 season.
Paul Sullivan asked Epstein about his contract. The Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations told the Tribune he knows where he stands with Tom Ricketts and he “couldn’t be happier.” Epstein thinks the family is happy with the way he and his staff have turned around the organization, on the minor league side, since October 2011.
Epstein indicated any discussion with Ricketts is “a private matter.” Epstein explained everyone involved “looks at it like this is going to be a longer-term marriage.”
Based on the report, he is not concerned about his contract. The same stance he had in the fall. Theo Epstein is focused on the team and not his own contract.
Tsuyoshi Wada did not have a good day Friday. Wada dealt with hamstring tightness early in camp and a groin injury further slowed him down. Wada pitched only one inning last Sunday after he was scheduled to follow Jake Arrieta and throw two innings.
Wada started Friday afternoon in Mesa and did not make it out of the first inning. Wada was lifted in the middle of an at bat with left groin tightness.
According to a report from Cubs.com, Wada went for a precautionary MRI and “the Cubs don’t expect the injury to be serious.”
Tsuyoshi Wada will be re-evaluated once they get the results from the MRI.
The Padres received bad news about catcher Tim Federowicz. San Diego planned for Federowicz to backup Derek Norris this season and what was believed to be routine arthroscopic surgery on his right knee turned into surgery to repair a complete tear of the lateral meniscus in his right knee.
Federowicz will be out three to six months.
Barry Bloom reported A.J. Preller may look outside the organization for a catcher. The Padres have Austin Hedges in camp, but he hasn’t played above the Double-A level and Wil Nieves signed with San Diego in the off-season.
The Padres were one of the teams linked to Welington Castillo after the Cubs acquired Miguel Montero and signed David Ross, despite the Padres pursuit of the veteran back-up.
According to Bob Nightengale, the Cubs are shopping Castillo and he suggested the Padres should look at Castillo with Federowicz on the shelf.
Two teams (Padres, Diamondbacks) that were connected to the Cubs and Welington Castillo this off-season now have holes behind the plate they need to fill.
LHP Dontrelle Willis announced Friday he plans to officially retire from the game. Willis tried to make another comeback this spring with the Brewers but he could not get beyond a stiff neck and decided to hang ‘em up.
The Cubs selected Willis in the eighth round of the 2000 draft and dealt him to the Marlins along with Jose Cueto, Ryan Jorgensen and Julian Tavarez for Antonio Alfonseca and Matt Clement on March 27, 2002.
Willis won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2003 and was an All-Star in 2003 and 2005, his best season. Willis posted a 22-10 in 34 starts in 2005 with a 2.63 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 2.99 FIP.
The D Train tried to make a comeback with the Cubs two years ago, but was unable to stay healthy enough to compete.
Dontrelle Willis last pitched in the majors in 2011 and finishes his career with a 72-69 mark in 205 games, 202 starts, with a 4.17 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 4.22 FIP.
News, Notes and Rumors
• According to a report from ESPN, “a revised form of head protection was approved Friday by Major League Baseball for pitchers to begin using immediately if they choose.”
• The South Bend Cubs made it official Friday, Theo Epstein will throw out the first pitch for the home opener at Four Winds Field.
• Jake Arrieta executed his plan against the A’s according to Carrie Muskat.
• Comcast SportsNet reported: Cubs confident they have right mix of youth and experience.
• Kris Bryant is making it hard on the front office, as promised, and he recently told the Sun-Times players don’t field their way to the majors.
• With the Cubs dividing up the roster and the coaching staff for the games in the valley and Vegas this weekend, Manny Ramirez coached first base on Friday night.
• Kris Bryant has impressed his soon-to-be manager this spring. Bryant plays the game and is humble. Joe Maddon thinks Bryant is going to be a good big leaguer.
• According to Jim Bowden, Addison Russell is part of the new wave of elite shortstops that are nearly ready for The Show.
• Cliff Lee is still dealing with discomfort in his left elbow.
• Tim Sheridan posted several excellent photos from Thursday’s game in Tempe … and the one of Will Ferrell coaching Addison Russell is priceless.
• Cubs’ pitching coach Chris Bosio said Friday night that each of the team’s relievers will make nine to ten appearances this spring.
And last, but not least, Go song go: Vote in the Tribune for the next Cubs’ hit.
This Day In Cubstory
1989 – Marwin Gonzalez, born
1957 – Ty Waller, born
1957 – Steve Lake, born
1950 – Dave McKay, born
1942 – Bob Raudman, born