Happy St. Patrick’s Day
The Cubs have two games on the spring schedule today, a ‘B-Game’ against the Rockies (12:00pm CDT) in Scottsdale and a Cactus League matchup with the Diamondbacks on National TV (ESPN – 6:05pm CDT). Joe Maddon is running out a majority of his regulars against the Diamondbacks.
Barring injuries or a trade, the Cubs have only a couple of open spots on the projected Opening Day roster. And Neil Ramirez has pitched his way into the conversation to be with the Cubs in Anaheim on April 4.
Ramirez has not allowed runs in three of his four Cactus League appearances. Ramirez gave up two runs on three hits to the Rockies on March 7. In the other three games Ramirez has allowed one hit and no walks while striking out four batters. Ramirez struck out the side in order Tuesday.
Joe Maddon admitted to the Tribune that Ramirez “looked sharp Tuesday but is only a part of the roster conversation.” And the Sun-Times reported that Ramirez is “vying for what would be an eighth bullpen job.”
Maddon is expected to begin the season with Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, Adam Warren, Trevor Cahill, Clayton Richard and Travis Wood in the bullpen. The Cubs have not decided whether they will begin the season with seven or eight relievers in the pen. The roster spot could be used for another bat/defensive replacement on the bench.
The Cubs could carry a fifth outfielder (Shane Victorino, Matt Szczur) or Neil Ramirez on the Opening Day roster according to the Sun-Times. If Tommy La Stella is not healthy enough to play that could create an opportunity for Munenori Kawasaki.
Neil Ramirez is out of options and will not clear waivers. Maddon likes what he’s seen from Ramirez this spring and pointed out that he is pitching and not focused on the radar gun.
A majority of the Cubs roster was set before Spring Training started. It will be interesting to see which direction the team goes in for the few remaining spots on the 25-man roster.
Cubs ‘B-Game’ vs. Rockies
The Cubs added a practice game to the spring schedule last week. The Cubs and Rockies will square off Thursday (12:00pm CDT) in a ‘B-Game’ in Scottsdale at Salt River Fields.
Adam Warren, Trevor Cahill and Stephen Fife are scheduled to pitch in the ‘B-Game’ with Jason Hammel on the hill at Sloan Park against the Diamondbacks on Thursday night (6:05pm CDT).
The Rockies have RHP German Marquez scheduled to start the ‘B-Game’ against the Cubs.
Cubs Spring Rotation
The Cubs announced the starting pitchers for the Cactus League games this weekend leading up to the only day off of Spring Training.
Kyle Hendricks gets the ball on Friday in Glendale against the White Sox. Pierce Johnson will start Saturday night’s game versus the Indians in Goodyear. Jake Arrieta will pitch in a ‘B-Game’ on Saturday morning at the Cubs’ complex to stay on schedule.
Jon Lester is scheduled for Sunday’s Cactus League matchup with the Royals at Sloan Park.
Shane Victorino, Tommy La Stella, Matt Szczur
Shane Victorino, Tommy La Stella and Matt Szczur are making progress but are not expected back in the lineup before the weekend. Joe Maddon told the beat writers “nothing is horribly wrong” that the Cubs are just being cautious.
Victorino is dealing with a tight right calf and is expected back this weekend according to multiple reports. La Stella is taking grounders. And Szczur is “progressing” from the oblique injury that has sidelined him since Feb. 19.
The City of Chicago banned smokeless tobacco at sports venues Wednesday. Players will no longer be allowed to use smokeless tobacco at Wrigley Field or U.S. Cellular Field. The law goes into effect in 90 days.
According to the report from Jesse Rogers, Chicago is the fourth city to ban smokeless tobacco in sports venues joining San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston. New York votes Tuesday whether or not to ban smokeless tobacco in sporting venues.
Joe Maddon and John Lackey voiced their displeasure over the new law. Not because they use smokeless tobacco but because they think adults should be able to decide whether or not to use a legal substance.
ESPN Chicago posted the fines for breaking the law: first offense is a fine of not less than $250, $500 for a second violation and not less than $2,500 for each additional violation that occurs within one year of the first offense.
Joe Maddon does not agree with the ban but “was adamant that his players follow the new rules.”
The White Sox released INF Mike Olt.
Olt was designated for assignment when the White Sox signed OF Austin Jackson. Olt cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Charlotte on March 6. The White Sox decided Tuesday just to cut all ties with him.
Mike Olt struggled at the plate during his time last season with the Sox after he was claimed off waivers from the Cubs. Olt hit only .203/.267/.316 with a .584 OPS in 24 games. Olt’s time with the Southsiders figured to be over after Rick Hahn traded for Todd Frazier.
Mike Olt is a good first baseman and might be able to help the Cubs at the Triple-A level on a minor league deal. Between the time the Cubs designated him for assignment last summer and he was picked up by the White Sox, Olt worked out at the Cubs’ complex.
News and Notes
• According to Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs might finally have the perfect World Series recipe … already loaded with talent and adding more in free agency, Chicago has an answer to just about every potential problem it might face. On paper.
• Jason Hammel told Rick Sutcliffe that he is scheduled to pitch five or six innings of Thursday’s game against the Diamondbacks.
• The Diamondbacks had Rubby De La Rosa on the schedule to face the Cubs on Thursday night. According to Nick Piecoro, De La Rosa will pitch in a minor league game instead. The Cubs and Diamondbacks play during the first week of the season and the Chip Hale would rather the Cubs not see him in a Spring Training game. Archie Bradley will start Thursday’s game instead of De La Rosa.
• Mark Gonzales reported Dexter Fowler believes playing shallow actually prevents runs.
• Patrick Mooney talked to Dale Sveum about the differences between the Cubs and Royals, Ben Zobrist and beating the Mets in the World Series.
• ESPN Chicago pointed out Hector Rondon’s disturbing trend.
• The Mets officially released Ruben Tejada on Wednesday afternoon.
• Bronson Arroyo was diagnosed with an 80 percent tear of the labrum in his right shoulder. The veteran right hander’s career is likely over.
And last, but not least, those that would like to see what the 2016 World Series logo looks like … click here.
This Day in Cubstory
1995 – Cubs signed free agent Paul Abbott
1993 – Cubs signed free agent Ed Vosberg
1988 – Cubs acquired Dave Meier and Greg Tabor from the Rangers for Ray Hayward
1984 – Ferguson Jenkins announced his retirement from baseball. Jenkins won the 1971 NL Cy Young Award and posted a career record of 284-226 with a 3.34 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 3.28 WHIP. Fergie struck out 3192 batters while walking only 997 over a 19-year career (4500 2/3 innings). During his two stints with the Cubs (1966-73, 1982-83, Jenkins was 167-132 with a 3.20 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 3.06 FIP. Jenkins completed at least 300 innings in five different season, including four years in a row from 1968-71. Jenkins was elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA in 1991.
1976 – Scott Downs, born
1971 – Bill Mueller, born
1952 – Jerry Tabb, born
1939 – Cubs purchased Charlie English from the Reds for $10,000
1917 – Hank Sauer, born
1899 – Charlie Root, born
1893 – Colts signed free agent Bob Caruthers
1873 – Bill Gannon, born
1860- Fred Pfeffer, born