Countdown to Cubs Cactus League Opener: 10 Days
It’s reporting day for Cubs position players, well at least those that are not in camp yet. Based on the reports, just about all of the players on the Spring Training roster have reported to the team’s facility in Mesa. The Cubs first full-squad workout of the spring is Wednesday.
One of the questions the Cubs have to answer during Spring Training is who will hit leadoff this season. Joe Maddon said that Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward are two of the candidates to bat at the top of his order.
Heyward has asked not to hit leadoff in the past. And Mike Matheny stayed away from hitting Heyward first last season at his request. Heyward has a career slash line of .280/.354/.427 with a .782 OPS in 126 games leading off a ballgame in the majors.
Joe Maddon hasn’t decided if he’s going to bat his starting pitcher eighth or ninth this season. Maddon said Monday he has to talk to the Cubs “geeks” about the batting order. Maddon still likes the idea of hitting Addison Russell ninth. But he has to make sure he’s not missing something.
“I need to get together with our geeks and talk about the batting order,” Maddon told the beat writers. “ I really want to specifically know what they think about the one-two spot and what they think about Addy hitting in the nine-hole again this year. Last year, a lot of that had to do to benefit him, and I thought it worked out pretty well. I need more thoughts.”
The front office liked Maddon hitting the pitcher eighth last year according to a report from ESPN Chicago, but “they aren’t sold on either strategy.”
Jed Hoyer said to Jesse Rogers, “I went back and forth over the course of last season. I don’t think you can be dogmatic about it. You do it based on your personnel.”
Anthony Rizzo talked about two of his former teammates Monday and shared his thoughts on the upcoming season being the last for David Ross as a player.
On David Ross’ retirement, Rizzo said he’s going to be “emotional all year with him.” Rizzo called David Ross his older brother/dad.
The Cubs inked veteran southpaw Manny Parra to a minor league contract. Parra was in camp Monday and will compete for a spot in the bullpen this spring.
According to Jon Heyman, Parra has a $520,000 base salary if he’s in the majors and will receive a $1.28 million roster bonus if he makes the team. Parra’s contract includes an incentives package based on games pitched.
Chris Bosio is very familiar with Parra from their days together in the Brewers’ organization. Bosio spoke highly of Parra, according to ESPN Chicago, and Maddon thinks he could help.
The Cubs continue to monitor the free agent market, and could make more signings like Parra.
Jed Hoyer said, “There are good player available right now. Because of that we’ll bring in some guys, get to know them and see if there is potential for a good relationship down the road.”
With Manny Parra in the fold on a minor deal, the Cubs Spring Roster officially stands at 62 players (full 40-man roster, 22 non-roster invitees). LHP Jack Leathersich, RHP Jonathan Pettibone and RHP Aaron Crow are not expected to participate in the spring games. All three pitchers are recovering from surgeries.
News and Notes from Day Four of Cubs Camp
• Rick Sutcliffe really likes what he is seeing at Cubs Camp. The pitchers from the first day threw again on Monday, but backed off a little to get ready for live batting practice. Sutcliffe exclaimed, “The vibe is confident!” In a later Tweet, Sutcliffe said he could not wait to get to the park tomorrow (Tuesday) and that he is trying to explain “how much fun this Spring/Summer are going to be for the Cubs.”
News, Notes and Rumors
• Jason Heyward gave David Ross one awesome retirement present. Heyward is paying for Ross to have a hotel suite for every road game this season.
• According to the Tribune, a healthy Addison Russell is ready to take more responsibility as a player and a father.
• The Cubs are 4-1 favorites to win the World Series at the Westgate SuperBook according to a report from ESPN. The Cubs are the only team with odds in the single digits.
• Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown thinks the Cubs would be a good fit for OF Shane Victorino. The veteran outfielder is still looking for a Major League contract according to Chris Cotillo. Brown seemed to be trying to match players and teams, not that the Cubs have expressed interest in signing Victorino.
• It appeared late Monday there would be a three-team deal that involved Reds’ OF Jay Bruce. The Reds, Blue Jays and Angels discussed a trade that would have sent Jay Bruce to the Jays, Michael Saunders to the Angels and the Reds would have received two minor leaguers, believed to be ‘B-level’ prospects. The deal fell apart due the medicals on Michael Saunders according to Jerry Crasnick. There is concern about Saunders’ knee. Jeff Passan posted a report with information from his sources and he is unclear which player’s medicals stopped the three-way trade from going through.
• The Orioles are also interested in trading for Jay Bruce and have been linked rather heavily to him. According to Roch Kubatko, the O’s like Bruce but are much more focused on Dexter Fowler.
• The Yankees hired six new scouts that are former Major Leaguers … Aaron Holbert, Shawn Hill, J.T. Stotts, Alex Sunderland, Pat Murtaugh and former Cubs’ right-hander Kevin Hart. The Cubs acquired Hart from the Orioles for Freddie Bynum in December 2006. Hart was one of the Cubs top pitching prospects before he was dealt to the Pirates along with Jose Ascanio and Josh Harrison for Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow in July 2009.
• According to Jon Heyman, the Cardinals plan to “take it slow” with Yadier Molina to make sure “there isn’t a third thumb surgery.” The Cardinals think they will know by mid-March if Molina will be ready for Opening Day.
• Ken Rosenthal reported the Astros talked to the Brewers about Jonathan Lucroy a month ago … but there was no match between the two teams.
• The White Sox signed former NL MVP Jimmy Rollins to a minor league contract. Rollins rejected offers from two other teams that offered “super-utility jobs and guaranteed deals for more money.” Rollins has a chance to break camp as the White Sox’s starting shortstop. Rollins will be paid $2 million if he makes the roster.
• The Brewers claimed LHP Sean Nolin off waivers from the A’s.
• Casey McGehee signed a minor league contract with the Tigers according to Jon Heyman.
And last, but not least, a reminder the MasterCard Pre-Sale for Single Game Tickets at Wrigley for the 2016 season begins at 12:00pm CST (Noon) on Tuesday (today) … click here for more info. Single game tickets for the upcoming season go on sale Friday, Feb. 26.
This Day in Cubs History
2007 – Cubs signed free agent Hector Almonte
2007 – Rangers signed free agent Sammy Sosa
2000 – Cubs manager Don Baylor named four team captains: Sammy Sosa, Mark Grace, Kevin Tapani and Rick Aguilera. The first time the Cubs had captains since Ron Santo in the 60s and early 70s.
1988 – Facing the possibility of losing the 1990 All-Star Game and future post-season games, Chicago Aldermen, by a vote of 7-2, allowed the Cubs to play 18 night games at Wrigley Field. The old ballyard became the last Major League Ballpark to add lights. Owner P.K. Wrigley planned for Wrigley Field to be one of the first ballparks in the majors to have lights in 1942, but the idea was abandoned when the materials were needed for the war effort.
1979 – Cubs traded Greg Gross, Dave Radar and Manny Trillo to the Phillies for Henry Mack, Derek Botelho, Jerry Martin, Barry Foote and Ted Sizemore
1972 – Rondell White, born
1939 – Cubs purchased Woody English from the Brooklyn Dodgers
1937 – Cardinals purchased Dick Siebert from the Braves
1932 – Jim Bolger, born
1868 – Lew Camp, born