Countdown to Opening Night: 2 days
The Cubs still have business to take care of before the team makes its way from Arizona to Chicago to open the 2015 season on Sunday night against the Cardinals.
The Cubs have two exhibition games with the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Edwin Jackson starts Friday night, Travis Wood and Kyle Hendricks are scheduled to pitch Saturday in a game that will be played by minor leaguers and could include Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Javier Baez.
At some point today the Cubs are expected to announce the first roster of the season and the order of the starting rotation.
If Travis Wood is in the rotation, which appears to be the case, Joe Maddon could line up his starting five as Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, Travis Wood and Kyle Hendricks. Reports have suggested the Cubs would like to split up the lefties which would slide Hendricks to the fifth spot in the rotation.
The Cubs have 28 players still on the Spring Training roster not dealing with injuries. RHP Jacob Turner, LHP Tsuyoshi Wada, RHP Dallas Beeler and OF Chris Denorfia are expected to begin the season on a disabled list.
The bullpen appears to be set with Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Neil Ramirez, Justin Grimm, Jason Motte, Phil Coke and Edwin Jackson. LHP Drake Britton is believed to be on the outside looking in at a spot in the pen.
Three players are reportedly being considered for the last two spots on the roster … INF Jonathan Herrera, OF Ryan Sweeney and OF Matt Szczur.
The Cubs have reportedly been trying to trade Sweeney and the $2 million guaranteed on his contract. Sweeney is believed to have the upper hand for one of the two spots. If that’s the case, it will come down to whether the Cubs’ brass would like an extra infielder or outfielder on the roster.
Matt Szczur has played his way on the team. Szczur has a minor league option left and that could work against him. A wild card in the decision could be Chris Coghlan, because if his neck isn’t feeling any better, the Cubs shouldn’t send out Szczur and would be better off taking both Sweeney and Szczur to Chicago with the rest of the team on Saturday morning.
It should be a very interesting Good Friday for the Chicago Cubs.
Jake Arrieta stayed on schedule by pitching for the Iowa Cubs in a minor league game against the Giants’ Triple-A team, the Sacramento River Cats on Thursday.
Jake Arrieta threw to Miguel Montero and was reportedly sharp. Arrieta completed five innings and is ready for his next start which will be Tuesday at Wrigley Field against the Cardinals.
Kris Bryant spoke with the media Thursday for the first time since he was re-assigned to minor league camp. Bryant decided to talk about being demoted with a small group of the beat writers that was at the field to watch Jake Arrieta make his final spring start.
Bryant admitted he was disappointed because he felt he played well enough to earn a spot on the roster. Bryant plans to use the demotion as even more motivation to succeed.
“I’m excited to see what comes out with this motivation. I’ve never been in this situation before. Maybe my game will go to another level.”
The I-Cubs played the Giants Triple-A team (Sacramento) Thursday and Iowa’s lineup consisted of Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Jake Arrieta and Miguel Montero.
Kris Bryant hit another home run Thursday. Bryant walked twice and singled in three other at bats.
RHP Arodys Vizcaino was suspended without pay for 80 games for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. According to Jeff Passan, Vizcaino “had thrown significantly harder this spring than he had in recent seasons.” Vizcaino tested positive for Stanozolol
The Braves optioned down the right hander to Triple-A on Monday.
The Cubs acquired Vizcaino from the Braves, along with RHP Jaye Chapman, for Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson and cash on July 30, 2012. Vizcaino was recovering from Tommy John surgery at the time of the trade.
Vizcaino finally made his Cubs debut at the end of last season and appeared in five games.
The Cubs shipped him back to Atlanta last November along with International slot money (No.2, No. 3 and No. 4) for Tommy La Stella and International slot money (No. 4).
John Hart told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the Braves “are obviously very disappointed” and he hopes Vizcaino “will use this time to reflect, and to prepare for his eventual return to play.”
News, Notes and Rumors
• According to Carrie Muskat, LHP Tsuyoshi Wada pitched in a minor league game Thursday. Wada struck out seven batters in three innings and “all went well.”
• Jason Hammel apologized for his comment about Wrigley looking like Baghdad and he meant no disrespect at all.
• According to Jon Heyman, the Tigers are trying to lock up LHP David Price, but the two sides are believed to be far apart and not close to a deal.
• The Braves acquired RHP Trevor Cahill and cash from the Diamondbacks for minor league Josh Elander. According to David O’Brien, the D-Backs are paying around $6.5 million of the $12 million Cahill is owed for this season.
• According to Patrick Mooney, the Cubs will have to prove they’re not all talk.
• On or off the field, Jon Lester wants to win according to Carrie Muskat.
• Ryan Spaeder (Ace of MLB Stats) made 10 bold predictions for the upcoming season.
• According to the Sun-Times, Joe Maddon is the right man at the right time for the Cubs.
• Bob Nightengale talked to Jeff Samardzija about the ending with the Athletics, the White Sox and being traded from the Cubs.
• Jesse Rogers went over the Cubs’ endless spring storylines … and confirmed in his report, Rob Manfred is expected to announce his decision in the Joe Maddon tampering case prior to Opening Night.
• Cubs’ futility can be traced to a promise, not a curse according to Billy Witz.
And last, but not least, Al’s Beef in Lakeview (3420 N. Clark) is giving away 500 hardhats to show their support of the Cubs prior to the opener on Sunday.
This Day In Cubstory
2013 – Cubs signed free agent Donnie Murphy
2005 – Cubs released Peter Bergeron and Robinson Cancel
2004 – Cubs sent Todd Dunwoody to the Indians
2004 – Cubs released Trent Hubbard and Craig Wilson
1993 – Cubs signed free agent Doug Jennings
1990 – Cubs released Greg Booker
1989 – Marco Carrillo, born
1987 – Cubs traded Dennis Eckersley and Dan Rohn to the Oakland Athletics for Brian Guinn, Mark Leonette and Dave Wilder.
1978 – Bobby Hill, born
1968 – Cubs purchased Dick Nen from the Washington Senators
1967 – Cubs traded Don Bryant to the Giants for Dick Bertell
1964 – Cubs purchased John Flavin from the Reds
1964 – Cubs released Ken Aspromonte
1963 – Chris Bosio, born
1958 – Cubs traded Bob Speake to the Giants for Bobby Thompson
1888 – Boston Beaneaters purchased John Clarkson from the Chicago White Stockings for $10,000.