Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cubs to play two intrasquad games at HoHoKam; Bunting Tournament Round 2 Results

The Cubs will play two intrasquad games this Friday and Saturday at HoHoKam Stadium.  Travis Wood will pitch opposite Randy Wells on Friday and Andy Sonnanstine and Casey Coleman will pitch in relief that day.

Jay Jackson (a non-roster invitee) will pitch against another non-roster player, Chris Rusin on Saturday.  Trey McNutt and Alberto Cabrera will pitch in relief.  The intrasquad games will start at 1pm and will last five or six innings and are free and open to the public.

Round 2 results of the Cubs Bunting Tournament are:  Steve Clevenger, Wellington Castillo, Chris Rusin, and Casey Coleman advanced, while Bryan LaHair, Brett Jackson, Dae-Eun Rhee, and Scott Maine were eliminated.

Only 4 more days until the first Cubs spring training game!  Meanwhile, here's a photo of a shirt I saw when I was shopping near Wrigley Field earlier this year:


Can't wait to see what impact Theo Epstein will continue to have on the 2012 Cubs!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cubs to play intrasquad games Friday and Saturday; Bunting tournament moves into 2nd Round

Paul Maholm, recovered from the flu, was victorious against Rodrigo Lopez in the Cubs Bunting Tournament today (photo from Chicago Cubs)
The Cubs Bunting Tournament continued into he 2nd round today.  Adrian Cardenas, Blake Lalli, Jeff Beliveau, and Trey McNutt advance, while Matt Szczur, Jonathan Mota, Lendy Castillo, and Rafael Dolis were eliminated.

The Cubs will play intrasquad games this Friday and Saturday at HoHoKam Park.  The games will be free and open to the public.

It looks like the 2012 Cubs have good team chemistry (photo from Chicago Cubs)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 4 results of Cubs bunting tournament; Cubs get their baseball card photos taken

The Cubs had their 4th day of their bunting tournament.  Carlos Marmol, Ryan Dempster, Dale Sveum, Geovany Soto, Jeff Baker, Marlon Byrd and David DeJesus advanced, while Matt Garza, Trever Miller, Kerry Wood, Blake DeWitt, Alfredo Amezaga, Reed Johnson and Alfonso Soriano were eliminated.  The matchup between Paul Maholm and Rodrigo Lopez was delayed due to Maholm's illness (he was sent home early from camp today).

Kerry Wood competing in the Cubs bunting tournament today (photo from Meghan Montemurro)

Carlos Marmol celebrates after edging out Matt Garza in the bunting tournament (photo from Paul Sullivan)

Cubs manager Dale Sveum prepares for his turn in the bunting tournament (photo from Chicago Cubs)

The Cubs also had their photos taken for their Topps baseball cards today.  Following are some photos of the action:

Marlon Byrd getting his photo taken for his baseball card (photo from Rafer Weigel)

Matt Garza getting his baseball card photo taken (photo from Rafer Weigel)

Starlin Castro poses for his baseball card photo (photo from Rafer Weigel)

Ryan Dempster poses for his baseball card photo (photo from Rafer Weigel)

Alfonso Soriano getting his baseball card photo taken, possibly his last one as a Cub? (photo from Rafer Weigel)

Manager Dale Sveum announced the starting pitchers for the first three Cubs spring training games:  Lopez, Dempster, and Garza.  He says not to read too much into this starting rotation, because they will be setting the regular season rotation later.

Today, the Cubs announced the details for purchasing single-game tickets.  Details can be found here: http://www.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120227&content_id=26878324&vkey=pr_mlb&c_id=chc&partnerId=aw-4989702543269674948-1023

On another note, former Cubs reliever Sean Marshall signed a three-year, $16.5 million extension with the Reds.  "I'm super excited," Marshall said. "Since day one when I came to the new facility here and got to meet my Reds teammates and staff, and got to be back with Dusty [Baker] and the coaches I was with, they were all very welcoming. I've been very excited so far in Spring Training."  Marshall's contract carries a partial no-trade clause and he can earn up to $1 million in bonuses for games finished as a closer, and $1 million for games started should he ever become part of the rotation.  I'm happy for Marshall, who is very deserving of the extension, but am a little bummed since he won't be returning to the Cubs anytime soon.

There was a small scare this morning when Kerry Wood drilled Starlin Castro's right wrist during batting practice.  Thankfully, Castro was ok and was able to continue with practice.  Phew!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cubs Bunting Tournament 3rd round results; Maholm out with flu; Soto still out with groin injury

The Cubs held the third round of their bunting tournament today.  Advancing were:  Joe Mather, Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro, Ian Stewart, Travis Wood, Jeff Samardzija, Randy Wells, and Andy Sonnanstine.  Eliminated were:  Edgar Gonzalez, Bobby Scales, Jaramillo, Matt Tolbert, Esmailin Caridad, James Russell, Chris Volstad, and Manny Corpas.  The tournament is expected to last through mid-March.

Starlin Castro in today's 3rd round of the bunting tournament (photo from Chicago Cubs)

Jeff Samardzija's bunt wins over James Russell in the bunting tournament today (photo from Chicago Cubs)

In other Cubs news, Cubs beat reporter Carrie Muskat tweeted, "Paul Maholm has been MIA because of flu. He's day to day. "  Hopefully Maholm will be back to spring training soon.

Manager Dale Sveum is apparently an early riser (usually leaving his home early enough to arrive at the ballpark by 4:45am and start working out at 5:00am).  He's followed this routine since he's been a coach.  “As a manager I’m getting here a little earlier,” he said. “I used to start working out around 5:30 or something.”

Catcher Geovany Soto sat out again today due to his groin injury, but Sveum said, "It’s not that big of a deal, just a very minor thing. But this time of spring you don’t want to mess with that.”

One week to go for the Cubs' first spring training game; 2nd round of bunting tournament results

Only one more week until the Cubs' first spring training game!  The team bunting tournament continued yesterday, with Szczur, Cardenas, Mota, Lalli, B. Jackson, W. Castillo, Clevenger, and LaHair advancing and Lake, Vitters, Brenly, Adduci, Ha, Sappelt, Campana, and Rizzo being eliminated.  There's even an entire article from the Chicago Tribune about projected winner Campana's early elimination by Steve Clevenger.  Manager Dale Sveum said it was, "A huge upset, no doubt about it."
Tony Campana prepares to lay down a bunt in the 2nd round of the Cubs bunting tournament (photo from Chicago Cubs)

Even teammate Matt Szczur tweeted yesterday, "Great day at work. Sorry to see take a LOSS!" Meanwhile, outfielder David DeJesus tweeted, "First day was awesome!!! Can't wait to get to wrigley for opening day."

In other Cubs news, catcher Geovany Soto missed Saturday's practice due to a sore groin.  "He went through the calisthenics and stretching, and it was OK," Dale Sveum said. "You can't really catch without using your groin quite a bit, so we gave him the day off."  Hopefully we'll see him back soon.

The Cubs are scheduled for practice at 9:30 today, according to a tweet from @Cubs.  However, if you're in Chicago (like myself), today's the last day the Rink at Wrigley is open for ice skating from 10am-8pm.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cubs had their first full squad spring training workout today

Today was the first full squad spring training workout for the Cubs, which took place around noon, after Tom Ricketts addressed the team.  Here are some photos from today:

New Cubs 3B Ian Stewart

Darwin Barney and Alfonso Soriano (photo from Tim Sheridan)

A clean-shaven Randy Wells (photo from Tim Sheridan)

Ryan Dempster used his time before today's practice to prepare for the bunting tournament (photo from Bruce Miles)

Paul Maholm tweeted tonight, "Had a great first full squad workout. Looking forward to the GRIND with all the guys. "  You can follow Maholm as @paul_maholm on twitter.  Only 9 more days to go until the Cubs' first spring training game!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cubs bunting tournament gets underway; DeJesus driving a monster truck; and more Cubs updates

The inaugural Cubs bunting tournament officially started today.  Jeff Beliveau, Lendy Castillo, Trey McNutt, Rafael Dolis, Dae-Eun Rhee, Chris Rusin, Scott Maine, and Casey Coleman all advanced, while Alberto Cabrera, Casey Weathers, Marco Carrillo, Jay Jackson, John Gaub, Tim Bussy, Blake Parker, and Marcos Mateo were eliminated.

Lendy Castillo during the bunting tournament (photo from Chicago Cubs)

Here is a short video from Comcast SportsNet featuring Kerry Wood and Randy Wells' thoughts on the bunting tournament: http://soc.li/4Y6yt8Y

David DeJesus has been attracting some attention from the vehicle he's been driving to spring training.  His wife, Kim DeJesus even tweeted, " im not allowed near this thing," in reference to the monster truck pictured below.

David DeJesus has been sporting this ride to spring training (photo from Paul Sullivan)

Cubs manager Dale Sveum is currently leaning towards DeJesus for the leadoff spot and Bryan LaHair for the cleanup spot.

LHP Paul Maholm tweeted today, "Looking forward to tomorrow and first full squad workout. Get to sleep in a lil but then get after it. "

Cubs fan Brian Pasnik made it to the top 30 finalists for the MLB Fan Cave contest.  That just goes to show what a powerful group Cubs fans are (especially on twitter) to elevate Pasnik to the next round! 

Only 10 more days until the Cubs first spring training game!  Ahhh, what I'd give to be in Mesa right now (instead of the 4-6 inches of snow we're projected to get in Chicago tonight!)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dale Sveum to hold bunting tournament; 11 more days until the Cubs first spring training game

The Cubs' first-ever bunting tournament will officially start tomorrow.  The tourney is set up bracket-style, with a total of 64 competitors, including Cubs manager Dale Sveum and conditioning coach Tim Buss, who is taking over Chris Carpenter's spot. 

The half field that the bunt tourney will take place on will be marked with a grid that will give each bunt between 10-40 points (depending on location).  Sveum started the tourney when he managed in the Minor Leagues with the Pirates.  “I always remembered it and always wanted to do something like that if I took over as manager,” Sveum said. “I thought it would be fun for the team and break things up a little bit and have a little fun with it. It’ll be fun as we go along, especially when we get to the sweet 16.”

The official bunting tournament bracket (Photo from Paul Sullivan)

Chris Carpenter, who was traded to the Red Sox yesterday as part of the Theo Epstein compensation package tweeted yesterday, "Want to thank the cubs organization for the very memorable 4 years, met alot of great people. Will never forget you guys."  Best of luck to Carpenter in Boston!

Sveum said once he figures out the Opening Day lineup, he plans on sticking with it.  “[Playing time] is all left up to them and how they are doing at the time,” Sveum said. “But there is no platoon situation in mind for anybody at all.”

Tomorrow is the official reporting day for Cubs position players and Friday will be the first full squad workout.  Only 11 more days until the Cubs have their first spring training game against the Oakland A's!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Theo Epstein compensation is finally resolved; Cubs pitchers and catchers (and some infielders) continue to train in Mesa

Today was the third official workout for Cubs pitchers and catchers.  Here are some photos:

Darwin Barney and Ian Stewart heading out to take batting practice (Photo from @Cubs on twitter)

Dale Sveum throws batting practice (photo from Tim Sheridan)

Randy Wells (photo from Tim Sheridan)

Anthony Rizzo (photo from Tim Sheridan)

123 days after Bud Selig gave Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts permission to talk to Theo Epstein about a job, the compensation between the Cubs the Boston Red Sox for Epstein was finally resolved.  The Cubs sent 26 year old RHP Chris Carpenter to the Red Sox, and will also send a player to be named later (PTBNL).  In return, the Red Sox will also send the Cubs a PTBNL.  Carpenter said, "If you're going to pick two teams to play for, why not be the Cubs and the Red Sox."

Happy Paczki Day/Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Day 2 of Cubs pitchers and catchers at Fitch Park

Although today was President's Day, Cubs pitchers and catchers still had their second workout at Fitch Park.  Here are some photos of early-reporting position players from today:

Reed Johnson and Ian Stewart


David DeJesus - photo from Tim Sheridan

Darwin Barney - photo by Tim Sheridan

New Cubs pitcher (and projected #3 starter) Paul Maholm tweeted today, "When I get to 20k followers I will do a lil give away of a few signed things. Almost there. Suggestions on how to pick the winners?"  Gotta love Maholm's consistent interaction with his fans!

The Cubs are also having an ongoing bunting contest during spring training, where apparently Kerry Wood is the early favorite.  The field is marked with a point system, so bunts are worth between 10 to 40 points, depending on where they end up. There's also a 100-point bull's-eye, but a player has to call the shot.  A winner will be declared among the pitchers and the position players, and after two weeks, there will be a championship game.  "The guys really get into it, and it just makes them focus a little more," Sveum said.  Will there be a prize for the winner?  "There might be," Sveum said, smiling.

Jeff Samardzija admitted that he has not focused as much as he should have during past seasons while competing for a starting pitching role.  This year he is determined to crack the starting rotation.  We'll see what happens....

Ryan Dempster sounded bought into the "Cubs way" when he said, "You look at teams that have had success they have that kind of philosophy. You can feel it."  Let's hope he's right!

Blake DeWitt accepted his non-roster invite to spring training after being designated for assignment and clearing waivers.

Carlos Marmol said he will no longer be throwing his cutter, and will be focusing on his slider.  I agree with manager Dale Sveum that this is the way to go to get the old Marmol back.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cubs pitchers and catchers had their first workout today

Cubs pitchers and catchers had their first official workout this afternoon in Mesa.  New manager Dale Sveum was especially excited for the season to begin.  "It seems like I got hired two years ago," he said. "Just waiting for this day to come finally, getting on the field, and it took to the late afternoon to get on there and do it. When you do this for so many years, the most comfortable spot you're in is when you're on that grass and spring training (begins) and when the balls are being hit and caught and thrown, and to be able to talk to everybody."

Paul Maholm tweeted today, "Great first day. Gotta love getting back on the field with the guys and running around. First bullpen tomorrow. "

Paul Maholm in the locker room in Mesa today. Photo from Rafer Weigel.



 Here are some photos from Mesa today:

Matt Garza in the Cubs locker room in Mesa today. Photo from Rafer Weigel.


Cubs pitchers and catchers during their first official workout in Mesa today. Photo from Chicago Cubs.

Ryan Dempster in Mesa today. Photo from Rafer Weigel.

In other news, the Cubs signed 34-year old, left-handed pitcher Nate Robertson, who has pitched for the Marlins, Tigers, Phillies, and Mariners in his career.  He spent the entire 2011 season pitching for the Mariners' Triple-A team. 

Cubs reporter/blogger Carrie Muskat tweeted today, "Garza also says Theo's arrival has resulted in upgrade in clubhouse. "We've got better cooks."  Hopefully the improved food will lead to an improved Cubs team in 2012!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cubs pitchers and catchers have officially reported to Spring Training!

Today was the official reporting date for Cubs pitchers and catchers to Spring Training.  Finally, it's baseball season again!  Jed Hoyer, Dale Sveum, and Theo Epstein also met with the media this afternoon. 

Theo Epstein mentioned a manual that he authored called "the Cubs Way."  Apparently the manual is a few hundred pages.  Epstein said the Cubs Way includes approaching everything about the game the same way, from the Dominican Summer League through A-ball, Double-A, Triple-A, and the big leagues.  There was no update on the Theo Epstein compensation with the Boston Red Sox.  Epstein mentioned that the Cubs hope that Blake DeWitt will accept the chance to be outrighted to Triple-A Iowa and compete for a job during spring training, since he cleared waivers.  DeWitt has until Wednesday to make his decision.

Jed Hoyer, Dale Sveum, and Theo Epstein talk to the media today, which is also the official reporting date for Cubs pitchers and catchers to spring training.
Theo Epstein hasn't read or seen "Moneyball" and doesn't care to.  He said he didn't like the book/movie exposing the strategies for everyone to absorb, especially other MLB teams.  Epstein said, “I wasn’t a huge fan when certain proprietary information was made available to the public in the first place instead of a handful of clubs knowing certain things,” he said. “Within a year or two 30 clubs knew it.”

New Cubs pitcher Paul Maholm tweeted today, "While I can't wait for the start of baseball tomorrow, today im gonna spend my last baseball free day w/ mini me & BWE"  He also posted the following photo on his twitter account:


The first official workout for pitchers and catchers will take place tomorrow afternoon, with the players receiving physicals in the morning.  I'm really looking forward to the beginning of the "Cubs Way"/Theo Way of baseball!  Bring it!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cubs pitchers and catchers report tomorrow, DeWitt to Iowa, and Wrigley's right field bleacher renovations have begun

Tomorrow is the official reporting date for Cubs pitchers and catchers to spring training.  However, Carrie Muskat tweeted that early arrivals to camp are Kerry Wood, Travis Wood, Marlon Byrd, Darwin Barney, Geovany Soto, David DeJesus, Randy Wells, and Matt Garza.  She also posted the following photo on twitter:

Kerry Wood throwing at Fitch Park today (photo from @CarrieMuskat on twitter)



Cubs new third baseman Ian Stewart tweeted this morning, "Beautiful Scottsdale...oh how I missed you."  Kerry Wood also tweeted this morning, "2 more days til starts!!! Who's ready?"  Now I (as are all Cubs fans) am getting extra excited for the Theo era to begin!  The first workout for pitchers and catchers will be Sunday afternoon, with physicals taking place Sunday morning.

Cubs.com has an article about the team's 2012 pitching depth, which they didn't have last season.  Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster seem to be the only 2 starting pitchers from last season that will have a "guaranteed spot" in this year's starting rotation.  Other pitchers competing for the remaining 3 spots in the starting rotation are:  Paul Maholm, Chris Volstad, Travis Wood, Randy Wells, Rodrigo Lopez, Casey Coleman, Jeff Samardzija, Andy Sonnanstine, Jay Jackson, and Trey McNutt. 

Randy Wells, who was limited to 23 starts because of a forearm strain injury after his first start said, "It was competitive last year in Spring Training, although not quite to this extent," he said. "At the same time, it was fun to go in there and earn your keep. Things didn't work out for me like I wanted them to last year. I felt good in Spring Training and felt good in camp. I got hurt and had to overcome adversity there. I think I pitched good enough in the second half to at least put my name in the mix for competition." Wells was 4-0 in August with a 3.32 ERA in six starts.  We'll see what new pitching coach Chris Bosio thinks as we start spring training.

Here's a link to Carrie Muskat's article on Cubs.com: http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120217&content_id=26727412&vkey=news_chc&c_id=chc








In other Cubs news, Blake DeWitt, who was designated for assignment on 2/6/12, has cleared waivers and was outrighted to the Iowa Cubs on 2/16/12.

Back in Chicago, renovation of the right field bleachers has started at Wrigley Field.  The Cubs are planning to build a patio in the right field corner and install a 75-foot-wide and 7-foot-high LED sign, which will display game statistics and advertising.
An aerial view of the construction work on Wrigley Field's right field bleachers. This photo was taken Thursday. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Tribune photo)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cubs baseball is just around the corner!

Just 2 days until Cubs pitchers and catchers report for spring training in Mesa!  Here's a photo of Fitch Park from Tim Sheridan's twitter account (he writes the highly informative Boys of Spring blog and is also the Cubs PA Announcer at HoHoKam Park):

Fitch Park Complex in Mesa, Arizona

I had the pleasure of meeting Tim at the Cubs Convention this year and always look forward to reading his blog, especially during spring training.  You can find his blog at: http://journal.boysofspring.com/
The Cubs front office is having organizational meetings in Mesa today and tomorrow, and the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers is Saturday, 2/18, with their first workout on Sunday, 2/19.  Position players report on Thursday, 2/23 and the full team's first workout will be on Friday, 2/24.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day - 4 more days until Cubs pitchers and catchers report to Mesa!

Something sweet for Valentine's Day....






But more importantly, Cubs pitchers and catchers report to Mesa for spring training in 4 days!  Baseball season is literally just around the corner!

Kosuke Fukudome has signed with the Chicago White Sox, so he'll just be across town and is reportedly going play "any outfield position."  He will make a guaranteed $1MM, of which half will come in the 2012 season.  If he does well this season, he could make $3.5MM in 2013.

Also, the Cubs will not be moving into U.S. Cellular Field for the 2013 season while Wrigley Field is renovated.  There hasn't been an official timeline or detailed plan set yet for Wrigley's renovation.  So for now, U.S. Cellular just gets Kosuke!

Happy Valentine's Day to all the Cubs fans out there!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday's Cubby News

Kerry Wood honored at CSN's Sports Awards tonight

Kerry Wood during the Wood Family Foundation's Woody's Winter Warm-Up Fundraiser in January 2012

Kerry Wood was honored as the Cub of the Year at the March of Dimes Comcast SportsNet Awards tonight in Chicago.  Here's a link to a video from the event:  

http://www.csnchicago.com/blog/cubs-talk/post/Wood-honored-at-CSNs-Sports-Awards?blockID=650730&feedID=10336 

The Cubs are also expected to add 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler.  Here's a link to the Chicago Tribune article:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/ct-spt-0214-cubs-chicago--20120214,0,5338208.story

 

Since pitchers and catchers report in 5 days to spring training, 

Click here for a link to Bruce Levine's preview of the 2012 Cubs Starting Rotation  


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cubs players are tweeting about spring training (less than 9 days away!)

Technically, there are 9 more days until Cubs pitchers and catchers report to Mesa for spring training, however, there are already a lot of players in Mesa.  Newly acquired Cubs pitcher Paul Maholm tweeted today, "Ready for the season! T-minus 4 days till I touch down in AZ " along with the following photo: