Ben Zobrist’s first Spring Training with the Cubs has gone really well. Other than an ingrown toenail, he has stayed out of the headlines and quietly prepared for the season.
Ben Zobrist played shortstop for the first time Monday, hitting leadoff for Joe Maddon he went 1-for-3 with a RBI double, a walk and a run scored.
Zobrist is 11-for-36 with four doubles, eight walks and four strikeouts (.306/.432/.417) for a .848 OPS. From the right side, Zobrist is 4-for-11 with three walks and two strikeouts. And from the left side, he is 7-for-25 with four doubles, five walks and two strikeouts.
Joe Maddon has talked about hitting Zobrist in the three-hole when the season starts. Zobrist certainly grinds out every at bat and could extend an inning for either Anthony Rizzo or Kris Bryant.
With the Cubs exploring options in the event Javier Baez begins the season on the disabled list, Zobrist should see time in the outfield and possibly first base over the five games of the exhibition season.
Dexter Fowler is not worried about the mild tightness in his left side. Fowler addressed the injury with the beat writers Monday. Fowler was taken out of Sunday’s game in the second inning for precautionary reasons. Fowler said Monday if it was the regular season he would not have left Sunday’s game and would have played against the Angels.
Fowler felt “something” in his side when he jumped into an outfield wall a couple of days ago.
Maddon told ESPN Chicago that he thinks Fowler “is in line for a big year after being spurned during free agency this past winter.” Maddon pointed out that Fowler appears stronger than last year and that he “did a lot of good work in the off-season.”
Cubs Spring Rotation
The practice games are almost over. Monday is Opening Day for the Cubs and when the season starts, Maddon’s rotation will be Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks.
There are exhibition games remaining on the Cubs schedule. And here’s the starters, plus Lackey’s minor league outing, for the last five games:
- Tuesday vs. Athletics at Sloan Park – Jake Arrieta
- Wednesday vs. Rockies at Sloan Park – Jon Lester
- Thursday vs. Mets at Cashman Field – Ryan Williams
- Thursday – Minor League Game – John Lackey
- Friday vs. Mets at Cashman Field – Jason Hammel
- Saturday – Day Off
- Sunday vs. Angels at Angel Stadium – Kyle Hendricks
News, Notes and Rumors
• Tom Verducci explained how Jake Arrieta developed from a struggling pitcher into a Cy Young Award winner.
• Kyle Hendricks was hit hard for the first time in spring but used his outing as a learning experience according to ESPN Chicago.
• Spring Training is just the right length for David Ross according to the Tribune.
• Patrick Mooney explained how Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant and the Cubs can help a ‘tired’ sport.
• ESPN: Is the secret to Kris Bryant’s success … his dad?
• Spencer Patton spoke with ESPN Chicago after he was optioned to Iowa on Monday. Patton explained the adjustments he made with Chris Bosio.
• Hector Rondon is a big believer in the towel drill according to the Tribune.
• Former Cubs’ right-hander Dan Straily was traded Monday from Houston to San Diego for catcher Erik Kratz. Straily is out of options and expected to begin the season in the Padres’ pen. Straily could slide into Andy Green’s rotation if a trade opens a spot for him. The Cubs traded Straily, along with Luis Valbuena, to the Astros for Dexter Fowler. The Cubs acquired Straily in the Addison Russell–Billy McKinney deal with Oakland.
• The Red Sox released RHP Carlos Marmol on Monday.
• Tony Campana was reassigned to Nationals minor league camp on Monday.
• According to Ken Rosenthal, the Rangers are “trying to add both a starting pitcher and a catcher before Opening Day.”
• Jim Bowden took a look at which performances to buy into … or not buy into … from this spring.
• Pablo Sandoval is drawing interest according to Nick Cafardo. The Red Sox might be able to unload Sandoval and his contract to the Padres. The Red Sox are believed to be interested in James Shields, which would reunite Shields and David Price. The Padres had a scout at Sox camp looking at Sandoval. San Diego is looking for a third baseman and finished second to Boston for Sandoval’s services now 18 months ago.
• The Braves released OF/1B Nick Swisher.
• 3B Casey McGehee was released by the Tigers.
• OF Will Venable signed a minor league contract with the Phillies on Monday that included a non-roster invitation to Spring Training. Obviously at this late date, Venable will be will the Phillies on Opening Day. The minor league deal is believed to just be a formality and he will be added to the 40-man roster soon.
This Day in Cubstory
2014 – Cubs released Mitch Maier
2008 – Cubs released Ryan O’Malley
2007 – Cubs sent Tomas Perez to the Dodgers
2007 – In a split squad game between the Cubs and Diamondbacks at HoHoKam Park, Ria Cortesio became the first female umpire to work a Major League exhibition game since Pam Postema in 1989.
2005 – Cubs acquired Cliff Bartosh from the Indians for Bear Bay
2004 – Cubs returned John Foster to the Brewers
2003 – Cubs released Eliezer Alfonzo
2003 – Cubs released Felix Martinez
2001 – Cubs sent Trace Coquillette to the Indians
2001 – Cubs released Brian McNichol
2000 – Cubs opened the Major League season in Japan at the Tokyo Dome against the Mets. The Cubs topped the Mets, 5-3 in the first Major League Opening Day played outside of the United States, Canada or Mexico. Jon Lieber picked up the win, Mike Hampton the loss. Shane Andrews and Mark Grace went deep for the Cubs.
1999 – Cubs selected Curtis Goodwin off waivers from the Rockies
1994 – Cubs released Brendan Donnelly
1994 – Cubs traded Travis Willis to the Pirates for Scott Bullett
1991 – Cubs traded Gary Varsho to the Pirates for Steve Carter
1988 – Cubs traded Wade Rowdon to the Orioles for Tom Michno and Nicolas Ramirez
1975 – Cubs released Billy Grabarkewitz
1970 – Cubs traded Randy Bobb to the Mets for J.C. Martin
1964 – Cubs purchased Joey Amalfitano from the Giants
1958 – Domingo Ramos, born
1955 – Karl Pagel, born
1954 – Manager Phil Cavarretta told reporters and owner P.K. Wrigley his feelings about the team’s chances for the upcoming season. Wrigley fired Cavarretta and replaced him with Stan Hack. Cavarretta became the first manager in the history of the game to lose his managerial position in Spring Training.
1946 – Cubs selected Emmett O’Neill off waivers from the Red Sox
1933 – After missing half of the 1932 season with a broken leg, OF Kiki Cuyler broke his other leg and missed nearly three months of the season.
1855 – Bill Harbridge, born