Countdown to Cubs Cactus League Opener: 1 Day
Joe Maddon spent close to 20 minutes talking to the beat writers and assembled media prior to Tuesday’s practice. Maddon announced that Jake Arrieta will be the Opening Day starter on April 4 against the Angels. Maddon did not say if Jon Lester or John Lackey will follow Arrieta in the rotation.
“Everybody’s here to win,” Maddon said. “There’s one objective here, and that’s to win.”
According to the Sun-Times, there will be tough decisions at the end of the roster for the Cubs.
The Cubs have not decided whether or not they will begin the year with a 13-man pitching staff (five starters, eight relievers) or with 12 pitchers (five starters, seven relievers) and have a five-man bench.
The Sun-Times explained the bench “for now” would be David Ross, Kyle Schwarber/Jorge Soler (depending on which player is in left field), Javier Baez and Tommy La Stella. And seven relievers “are locked in.” Depending on how the rotation shakes out, the seven relievers are Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill, Clayton Richard and Adam Warren.
Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks would make up the starting five. And the other seven position players are Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Dexter Fowler, Jason Heyward and Miguel Montero.
Based on the Sun-Times report, the Cubs have one spot open, either a relief pitcher or a position player, as the spring games are set to begin.
Joe Maddon told the Sun-Times, “It’s a depth issue. We have depth everywhere. It’s so unusual.”
Matt Murton has been sidelined after undergoing an appendectomy. The Cubs have not given a timeframe for his return.
Murton is in camp on a non-roster invite after signing a minor league contract to return to the organization he broke in with more than a decade ago.
Murton participated in batting practice last weekend. Reports did not indicate when Murton had the procedure.
Notes from Cubs Spring Practice
A majority of the Cubs regulars, including Jorge Soler, Addison Russell, John Lackey and Jon Lester practiced Tuesday morning on the big field at Sloan Park. Field 1 was where a lot of the action was with Javier Baez, Albert Almora Jr., Jeimer Candelario and Kyle Schwarber taking live BP. Adam Warren was first up Tuesday and Aaron Brooks followed.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer spent the morning on Field 1 watching both Warren and Brooks.
Adam Warren threw his session/simulated game to Kyle Schwarber. Warren looked good as would be expected. Consistent delivery, arm angle and release point. Good breaking stuff, appeared to throw a slider and a change along with his fastball. Warren kept the ball down, with one exception to Javier Baez and the Cubs utility man did not miss the mistake.
Schwarber caught Warren and used a setup that was reminiscent of Tony Pena in what was considered the first session of the sim game. Schwarber gave Warren a low, consistent target and did not stab at the ball as much. Schwarber kept pitches in the dirt in front of him. In the second session of the sim game, Schwarber used more of a traditional setup for the most part. He slipped down on several occasions.
Warren threw both sessions/innings entirely from the stretch.
Aaron Brooks also pitched a sim game and both sessions he threw to Tim Federowicz. Kyle Schwarber joined the hitting group. Brooks appeared to have a lot of movement on his slider and fastball. Brooks kept the ball down with a rather simple delivery that he repeats extremely well. Brooks’ fastball appeared to have a little extra on it. Not knowing what to expect, would have to say Brooks had a surprisingly good sim game.
Major League Baseball handed down a 30-game suspension to LHP Aroldis Chapman for violating the league’s domestic abuse policy. Chapman is not going to appeal the Commissioner’s decision.
According to Joel Sherman, Chapman cannot participate in minor league games during his suspension. In other words, Chapman cannot go out on a minor league assignment before he is eligible to return. Unless the schedule is changed by a rainout or another postponement, Chapman will be eligible to return on May 9 when the Yankees take on the Royals in the Bronx. Chapman’s 30-game suspension cost the pitcher $1,857,377.05 of his $11.325 million salary for the 2016 season.
News and Notes
• ESPN Chicago reported Dexter Fowler is the latest veteran to take less money to play for the Cubs.
• The Royals and Salvador Perez restructured his contract and inked the catcher to a five-year, $52.5 million extension that begins in 2017. Perez’s contract was considered the biggest bargain in the game. Perez signed a five-year, $7 million extension in February 2012 that included club options for 2017, 2018 and 2019. Perez’s salary for the 2016 season, $2 million. Ken Rosenthal examined six contracts that could be candidates to be restructured: Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Altuve, Chris Sale, Madison Bumgarner, Chris Archer and Anthony Rizzo. The Cubs’ first baseman is entering the fourth year of the seven-year, $41 million extension he signed in 2013. Rizzo will be paid $5 million this season.
• Joel Sherman took a look at what separated baseball’s winner from losers this off-season. Sherman really liked what the Cubs did during the winter and that includes his three favorite deals … signing John Lackey, re-signing Trevor Cahill and signing Dexter Fowler. And Sherman also liked “turning an expensive spare part, Starlin Castro, into the versatile Adam Warren.”
• Addison Russell was included in the DirectTV ad for the Extra Innings package … Click here for the ad that also includes Buster Posey, Lorenzo Cain and Jacob deGrom. It’s pretty cool.
• Reminder: MLB Network’s 30 Clubs in 30 Days stops at Cubs camp on March 5.
• Rick Sutcliffe is excited about the changes RHP Aaron Brooks has made in a short time with the Cubs.
• RHP Ryan Williams posted the latest edition to his Spring Training diary on ESPN Chicago … Time to face live hitters.
• Fun time’s over for the Mets according to a report from Hardball Talk. Terry Collins said it’s time for the Mets to prep for baseball.
• MLB and the Tampa Bay Rays announced Tuesday the Rays will play the Cuban National Team in an exhibition game on March 22 at Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana. ESPN and ESPN Deportes will carry the game live. This is the first trip to Cuba by a MLB team since the Orioles in 1999. Click here for the statement released by Major League Baseball.
• Rick Renteria is happy to be back in baseball according to a report from Bruce Levine. The Cubs are still paying Renteria, the last season of the three-year contract he signed in October 2013. He’s looking forward to the challenge that a new team brings and working with the White Sox.
This Day in Cubstory
2011 – Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Silva got into altercation in the dugout during a Spring Training game against the Brewers in Maryvale. And the embarrassment in the dugout carried onto the field with another lopsided loss.
2006 – Cubs signed free agent Mark Watson
1992 – Ryne Sandberg signed a four-year, $28.4 million extension with the Cubs, the $7.1 million average annual value was the largest salary in baseball.
1966 – Leo Gomez, born
1950 – Pete Broberg, born
1913 – Mort Cooper, born
1906 – Woody English, born
1901 – Butch Weis, born
1899 – George Stueland, born
1898 – Rip Wheeler, born
1891 – William Fischer, born