Countdown to Cubs Cactus League Opener: 11 Days
Pitchers and catchers will continue getting their work in Monday, the last day before position players have to report to the team’s facility. A majority of the players on the Cubs’ Spring Training roster, along with several minor leaguers, are already in camp and preparing for the season.
The first full-squad workout is Wednesday.
Jon Lester, John Lackey and Joe Maddon met with the beat writers Sunday after practice. And Maddon thinks having Lackey and David Ross around will help bring out the best in Lester.
Lester admitted he tried to impress last spring and it resulted in a poor start to his Cubs’ career. Lester is more relaxed this spring and is looking to be better the second time around. Lester should also benefit by having a season under his belt in the National League.
Joe Maddon feels the Cubs are lucky to have landed Lackey in the off-season. He thinks Lester and Lackey “are vibrating on the same level right now” according to Comcast SportsNet. Lester is helping Lackey get settled in at the Cubs facility.
Maddon knows Lackey from their days together with the Angels. Maddon thinks Lackey “has mellowed a bit as he’s aged.” Lester did not agree with Maddon’s assessment of Lackey. Lester does not think Lackey has mellowed at all.
- Report from the Tribune
- Report from Comcast SportsNet
- Report from ESPN Chicago
- Report from the Daily Herald
- Report from the Sun-Times – Lester
- Report from the Sun-Times – Lackey
David Ross confirmed Saturday that this season will be his last as a player in the big leagues. Ross is one of the team leaders. And as Joe Maddon has said on numerous occasions, Ross means more to the current Cubs and this group of players than his batting average.
Ross said that he would be keeping a daily journal throughout the season. Two of his teammates took it one big step forward.
Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant started an Instagram page to document his final season. The two All-Stars, also known as ‘Bryzzo’ will maintain the page throughout the season.
Follow along at grandparossy_3
According to a report from Jesse Rogers, the Cubs “have considered pairing Kyle Schwarber with a pitcher” during the regular season but “logistically it may not be possible.”
Kyle Schwarber caught Kyle Hendricks’ bullpen session on Sunday. When the season starts, David Ross will be behind the plate for Jon Lester. The Cubs will have Miguel Montero catch Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. And more times than not, Montero will also be the catcher on the days Jason Hammel starts.
That would leave Schwarber as a possibility to catch the fifth starter, either Kyle Hendricks or Adam Warren.
Maddon told ESPN Chicago, “We’ve talked about it but that would be at the expense of Montero. You have to be really mindful of how you do this.” Maddon said a decision has not been made yet on how to handle the catching rotation.
This is not the first time a report has suggested the Cubs could have Schwarber catch either Hendricks or Warren in the regular season. Using Schwarber would help give Montero a breather and at the same time continue Schwarber’s development behind the plate.
The Cubs made a low-risk, high-reward signing with RHP Aaron Crow.
The former All-Star and first round pick of the Royals was added to the organization on a minor league contract. Crow is in big league camp on a non-roster invite as he continues his rehab from Tommy John surgery. Crow was non-tendered by the Marlins after missing the entire 2015 season.
Crow had surgery last April and is looking to be ready for a return to the majors in June. Crow told Comcast SportsNet that he is excited to be with the Cubs and hopes he can get healthy and help the team.
According to the Tribune, Crow has already “picked up a few tips” from Chris Bosio. Crow is “relegated to limited work that includes working on his windup without throwing a baseball on days he doesn’t throw bullpen sessions.” Crow is throwing bullpens every four days, not every other day as he would be if not recovering from surgery.
Aaron Crow was very good pitching out of the Royals’ pen during the first three years of his big league career. If Crow is able to work his way back, he could give Joe Maddon another dependable option out of the bullpen.
News and Notes from Day Three of Cubs Camp
• Highlights from Sunday for Rick Sutcliffe: Kyle Hendricks, Pierce Johnson, Felix Pena. Sutcliffe said Schwarber’s BP was “sick” and “Contreras catching!!”
• Jake Arrieta completed his first bullpen session of the spring. Arrieta threw to Miguel Montero.
• ESPN Chicago reported Kyle Hendricks started working Sunday as he looks to keep his starting job this spring.
• Jorge Soler and Tommy La Stella reported Sunday. Soler worked in the outfield with a group that included Javier Baez.
• Bruce Levine reported that when Joe Maddon was asked about Hector Rondon being the Cubs closer, Maddon said he told Rondon he was proud of him but he has another level to achieve. Here’s more from Maddon on Rondon via the Tribune.
• Catchers Cael Brockmeyer and Ian Rice are in big league camp helping with bullpen sessions.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Matt Murton is hoping for one more shot with the Cubs according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.
• ESPN Chicago reported Matt Murton is not certain to make the Cubs, but is happy for the chance.
• The Angels hired Brendan Harris and Ben Francisco as pro scouts. Harris played three games for the Cubs in 2004 and was part of the four-team trade that brought Nomar Garciaparra and Matt Murton to the Cubs from the Red Sox.
• The Orioles continue to talk to Dexter Fowler about a two-year deal with a third year option. According to Jon Heyman, Baltimore is looking at a variety of players including Pedro Alvarez.
• The Rangers have also been connected rather heavily to Dexter Fowler. Texas’ GM Jon Daniels has shown interest in Austin Jackson and has “looked into” Shane Victorino, on a minor league deal, according to Chris Cotillo.
• No more facial hair for the Marlins … Hardball Talk reported Don Mattingly’s new team adopted a no facial hair policy.
• Leonys Martin issued a statement on the indictment of his former agent Bart Hernandez.
• Tim Lincecum is drawing a lot of interest around the league. Lincecum is coming off hip surgery and is expected to hold a showcase in either Scottsdale or Tempe in the coming week. The Padres are among the many teams that have expressed interest in the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner according to Dennis Lin.
• Craig Counsell told the Brewers’ beat writers Ryan Braun is moving back to left field. And Domingo Santana will play right field.
• According to Marc Topkin, Alex Cobb is pleased with the progress in his rehab from Tommy John surgery. Cobb is throwing at 120 feet and expects to be on a mound in mid-March. Cobb plans on rejoining the Rays rotation in late-July.
• Mark Melancon and Jared Hughes wore the new protective headgear … click here for photos.
And last, but not least, Jason Heyward posted this on Twitter …
This Day in Cubstory
2006 – Cubs signed free agent Bryan Corey
1965 – Eric Yielding, born
1938 – Steve Barber, born