The Cubs broke camp following Wednesday’s Cactus League finale against the Rockies, a 10-0 victory behind Jon Lester. The Cubs finished the Cactus League portion of the exhibition schedule 10-17-2. The team flew to Las Vegas and will practice against the Mets for the next two days at Cashman Field. After a day off in Anaheim on Saturday, the Cubs play their final Spring Training game Sunday afternoon (2:05pm CDT) at The Big A.
The Cubs open the 2016 season in Anaheim on Monday night (9:05pm CDT).
Javier Baez met with the beat writers prior to Wednesday’s game and admitted he “was angry about missing his first Major League Opening Day.” Baez jammed his thumb on a headfirst slide into first base and wasn’t able to play in a Cactus League game after March 20. Baez broke the ring finger on his left hand last year sliding headfirst into second base and it cost him a mid-season call-up.
The decision was made that Baez did not have enough time to prepare for the season after missing close to two weeks. Baez needs at bats and time in the outfield. Maddon confirmed Wednesday that Baez will see time in left field before he is activated.
According to the Tribune, Joe Maddon “will continue to talk to Baez about running through the bag on close plays at first base and siding feet first into the other bases.”
Bruce Levine reported that Baez has been cleared to resume baseball activities. Baez took batting practice Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Cubs are expected to backdate his DL stint to March 25 once he is officially placed on the disabled list. That would make him eligible to come off the DL on April 9. Baez said he will be ready when the Cubs return to Phoenix for the four-game series with the Diamondbacks (April 7-10). Multiple reports pointed to the possibility of Baez being activated by April 11 in time for the Cubs home opener.
Jon Lester saved his best outing of the spring for his last start in the Cactus League. Lester was at the top of his game on the mound Wednesday. Lester allowed one hit and walked a batter over five scoreless innings. Lester struck out 10 of the 18 batters he faced, six of them were called third strikes.
Lester’s pitching did not create the buzz, it was his bat after he hit a two-run homer, with David Ross along for the ride, in the fourth inning. Lester hit an opposite field shot, the first of his professional career. Lester admitted that was the first longball he’s hit since high school.
Lester is more comfortable this spring and it’s shown in his performance. Lester called the home run “a cool thing” and hopes he can “get one during the season” than means something. According to the Tribune, Lester and John Lackey have “a friendly wager” on which pitcher will hit better this season.
MLB and iPads
Major League Baseball and Apple announced Wednesday a partnership that will put iPad Pros in dugouts and bullpens this season.
According to Darren Rovell “a proprietary MLB dugout app gives those in the game a chance to look through statistics and video when making in-game decisions.” Teams will “be able to access their own data.” When in the dugout or bullpen, the iPads cannot be connected to WiFi/internet and all of the information must be loaded prior to the game.
Rovell explained “concerned that the integrity of the game would be compromised, Major League Baseball had previously forbidden use of technology in the dugouts. The league says the devices will be secure thanks to private networks installed in the clubhouses at all 30 ballparks this off-season.”
Joe Maddon fielded questions about have iPads in the dugout. Maddon is “not the biggest fan” of iPads in the dugout and thinks it “could slow things down” according to ESPN Chicago. Maddon thinks he can access the same information quicker from the info he keeps in his back pocket.
The Cubs broke their own single-season Spring Training attendance record that was set just last year.
The Cubs drew an all-time Spring Training record of 226,163 fans at Sloan Park, an average of 15,078 per game. The last 10 spring games at Sloan were sell outs, and only two dates did not sell out this spring.
The Cubs have set single-season Spring Training attendance records the last three years.
News and Notes
• Dexter Fowler is expected back in the lineup for Friday’s game with the Mets according to the Sun-Times. Fowler will take batting practice Thursday to test his left side.
• According to Comcast SportsNet, Cubs end Spring Training as the hunted.
• ESPN Chicago wrapped up the Cubs Cactus League season. Addison Russell was the spring MVP according to Jesse Rogers with honorable mentions to Munenori Kawasaki and Miguel Montero.
• Joe Maddon moves out of beloved RV as Cubs embark on their long journey according to a report from Paul Sullivan.
• Red Ivy is closing next month to make way for Addison and Clark according to a report from DNAInfoChicago.com.
• According to ESPN Chicago, the Munenori Kawasaki, Matt Szczur decision was a close one.
• The Cubs topped CBS Sports’ Power Rankings.
• Lou Piniella will throw out the first pitch for the Reds on Opening Day.
• Former Cubs’ prospect INF Ronald Torreyes spent the winter on the waiver wire earned a spot on the Yankees’ Opening Day roster.
• Clint Hurdle announced Wednesday that Juan Nicasio earned a spot in the Pirates’ rotation. Ryan Vogelsong will begin the season in the bullpen.
• Former Cubs’ prospect INF Casey McGehee re-signed with the Tigers on a minor league contract.
• ESPN posted the results of its 2016 MLB survey.
And lastly, two from the Cubs … the team posted a video on Twitter as a farewell to Sloan Park for the spring, click here for the video, and David Ross said good-bye to the last Spring Training locker he will have as a player.
This Day in Cubstory
2014 – The Cubs became the first team to use expanded instant replay in a game. Manager Rick Renteria challenged the umpire’s decision on calling Jeff Samardzija out on a close play at first base. Replay confirmed the call.
2012 – Cubs released Bobby Scales
2008 – The Cubs unveiled a statue outside of Wrigley Field honoring Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks.
2008 – Cubs signed free agent Mike Burns
2007 – Cubs released Val Pascucci
2006 – A three team trade between the Cubs, Athletics and Rangers landed Freddie Bynum with the Cubs. The A’s sent John Rheinecker to the Rangers. Oakland sent Freddie Bynum to the Cubs. The Rangers sent Juan Dominguez to the Athletics and the Cubs sent John Koronka and cash to Texas.
2005 – Cubs released Dave Hansen
2004 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Raul Valdes
1999 – Cubs purchased Dan Serafini from the Twins
1999 – Cubs selected Brad Woodall off waivers from the Brewers
1997 – Reds traded Curt Lyons to the Cubs for Jay Peterson and Ozzie Timmons
1992 – Cubs released Les Lancaster
1988 – Cubs signed free agent Angel Salazar
1988 – Cubs traded Mike Curtis to the Pirates for Mike Bielecki
1986 – Cubs released Reggie Patterson and Gary Woods
1984 – Cubs traded Alan Hargesheimer to the Royals for Derek Botelho and Don Warner
1972 – Cubs traded Ray Newman to the Brewers for Odis McCowan and Floyd Weaver
1970 – Tim Cossins, born
1961 – Cubs traded Moe Drabowsky and Seth Moreland to the Brewers for Daryl Robertson and Andre Rodgers
1946 – Gonzalo Marquez, born
1938 – John Herrnstein, born
1935 – Cubs purchased Kirby Higbe from Atlanta in the Southern Association
1882 – Big John Pfeffer, born