Countdown to Cubs Cactus League Opener: 9 Days
The pitchers, catchers and position players have reported. The Cubs first full squad workout of Spring Training is today. Joe Maddon will address his players Wednesday morning prior to the first full practice.
Tom Ricketts is in Mesa and will speak with his team prior to meeting with the media and fielding questions from the press.
This is Addison Russell’s second Spring Training with the Cubs, but his first as the team’s starting shortstop.
Russell and Ben Zobrist worked Tuesday for the first time on double play feeds. Addison Russell said, “It was almost like a match made in heaven.”
Russell told the beat writers he would like to play some games at second base this spring just to stay sharp at the position. Joe Maddon said Russell will not be playing second, only shortstop, during the season, so there is no reason for him to play second base in spring games. If Russell says it is part of his routine to prepare for the season, Maddon would listen.
The Cubs view Russell as the team’s shortstop moving forward and based on how he played there and at second base last season there could be a lot of hardware in his future. Russell is already one of the best defensive shortstops in the National League.
Addison Russell said, “It’d be really nice to win a Gold Glove, I’m not going to lie, but I just want to make the plays.” Maddon said that not only is Russell a candidate to win a Gold Glove, he could see Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward also winning the fielding award.
Dexter Fowler reportedly agreed to terms on a three-year, $33 million contract with the Orioles on Tuesday. The Orioles have not commented on signing Fowler. The deal is expected to become official once he passes a physical.
According to Roch Kobatko, Fowler’s contract does not include an option or an opt-out clause. Fowler and the Orioles discussed a two-year contract with an option for a third year before Tuesday.
Once Fowler is official, the Cubs will receive a compensation pick but will have to forfeit it for signing Jason Heyward earlier in the off-season. The Cubs first pick in June’s Draft will be in the second round.
The Orioles deal with RHP Yovani Gallardo is on shaky ground due to an issue with his shoulder popping up in the physical. The Orioles reached an agreement with Gallardo on a three-year, $35 million contract on Feb. 20. Gallardo has not had issues with his shoulder over his career. Ken Rosenthal reported the Orioles could “try to restructure the contract or back out entirely.”
Dan Duquette hoped to sign Gallardo and Fowler. It’s believed that even if the agreement with Gallardo falls through, the Orioles will sign Fowler as long as he passes the physical. And that’s never a given when it comes to Peter Angelos’ team.
Lazarito Armenteros was expected to make a decision on his future two weeks ago (Feb. 10). MLB declared Lazarito a free agent and made him eligible to sign with a team on Feb. 10. Lazarito did not say he would sign the first day he could, but that he would let interested teams know his intentions.
The Cubs are believed to be one of many teams interested in the 16-year old Cuban outfielder.
Ken Rosenthal reported Tuesday Charles Hairston, Lazarito’s U.S. agent, dropped him as a client after receiving death threats “by the Dominican Republic-based investor who represents Lazarito.” Hairston told Rosenthal that his agency will no longer represent Lazarito.
Hairston declined “to identify the Dominican Republic-based investor, or ‘buscon,’ citing concerns for the safety of his co-workers.
According to Rosenthal, the issues between Hairston’s agency and the investor in the Dominican “arose from the buscon’s desire for Lazarito to sign with a team as soon as possible rather than wait until July 2, when international-spending rules would allow other clubs to enter the bidding process more aggressively.”
Hairston had an arrangement with a club for Lazarito “to attend a team’s Spring Training camp and meet with its General Manager and ownership, but that buscon withheld the travel documents for both the player and his parents, making such a visit impossible.”
Hairston is looking forward to working with Lazarito once he’s in the United States and “his situation is resolved.”
This entire report is a must read. Rosenthal and Morosi provided exceptional detail on this story.
News, Notes and Rumors
• The Sun-Times reported breaking records or windshields, the legend of Kyle Schwarber grows.
• According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, as the legend of Kyle Schwarber grows, Cubs slugger plans to stay true to himself.
• Rick Sutcliffe tweeted Tuesday, “It’s 9:00am and I’ve already got my MVP of Day 4. Strength coach Tim Buss!! Amazing the workouts I saw him put Rizz-KB-others thru.”
• David Kaplan announced Tuesday that Anthony Rizzo will be a weekly guest on Kap & Company (ESPN 1000) this season.
• Cliff Corcoran previewed the National League Central Division.
• FOX Sports posted three reasons to believe this finally will be the year for the Cubs … 1) Off-Season additions 2) The young core has playoff experience 3) They can pitch, too.
• Ken Rosenthal reported that it “sounds like Cliff Lee’s career is over.” Rosenthal spoke with Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker and he said, “We don’t anticipate him playing at this point.”
And last, but not least, Jake Arrieta called Jason Heyward’s retirement gift, a suite for every one of the road games this season, a big league move.
This Day in Cubstory
1981 – Rob Bowen, born
1907 – Earl Grace, born
1909 – Boston Doves selected Kirby White off waiver from the Cubs
1905 – Lynn Nelson, born
1899 – Pinky Pittenger, born
1892 – Wilbur Cooper, born