Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Starlin Castro leaves today's game against Dodgers early with hamstring tightness; Cubs announce single-game ticket sales

The Cubs lost 11-7 to the Los Angeles Dodgers today at HoHoKam Stadium.  Not only did they lose their exhibition game, but Starlin Castro left the game in the fourth inning after injuring his left hamstring when he was running out a ground ball.  His injury has been referred to as hamstring tightness and his status will be day-to-day.

Starlin Castro bats during Wednesday's game against the Dodgers in Mesa (Chicago Sun-Times photo)
Starting pitcher Matt Garza, who has been out with a lat strain could start throwing again by Thursday, depending on how his workout today went.  Manager Dale Sveum is thinking that Garza should have enough time to recover by Opening Day, which is April 1st.

Third baseman Ian Stewart, who is sidelined with a left quad injury, was still able to participate in the bunting tourmanent today, but lost to first baseman Anthony Rizzo.  Stewart and Josh Vitters are rehabbing together, since they both have the same injury.  "Me and Ian are basically doing the same routine," Vitters said.  "We push each other."

Ian Stewart is rehabbing from a left quad injury, along with Josh Vitters (photo from Chicago Sun-Times)
Others that advanced in the bunting tournament today were Logan Watkins, Chris Rusin and strength coach Tim Buss, who beat pitcher Scott Baker.

The Cubs announced that single game tickets will go on sale at the ticket office at Wrigley Field on Friday, March 8th at 8am CT, with online and phone sales following at 10am CT.  Fans who wish to purchase tickets in person at Wrigley Field between 8-10am on March 8th must obtain a wristband, which will be available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Sunday, March 3, from 10 am to 6 pm, and Monday, March 4, from 7 am to 7 pm, at the Captain Morgan Club on the corner of Addison Street and Sheffield Avenue. 

The winning numbers will be chosen two days in advance of the on-sale date so fans can plan to be at Wrigley Field for Friday's general on-sale event.  Winning numbers will be announced on WGN Radio (720 AM) and Wednesday, March 6, at 8 am.  Winners of the wristband drawing will be able to purchase single game tickets in person at Wrigley Field on Friday, March 8th starting at 8am.  There is a limit of one wristband per person.  Fans will be required to show two forms of identification when picking up their wristband, one of which needs to be a valid government-issued photo ID.  Wristbands must be unaltered, intact and worn until the buyer has made their ticket purchase.  The same form of identification used to obtain a wristband must be presented at the time of purchase.  For more details on single-ticket sales, please visit this link.

Just 34 more days until Opening Day!
after pulling up lame running out a ground ball to short.

Castro was trying to beat out an infield single to short in the fourth inning when he grabbed his leg halfway down the line and began limping toward first.

After meeting with the trainer, Castro was removed from the game. The Cubs said the injury was left hamstring tightness. - See more at:,0,6552536.story#sthash.lWvTgSJQ.dpuf
after pulling up lame running out a ground ball to short.

Castro was trying to beat out an infield single to short in the fourth inning when he grabbed his leg halfway down the line and began limping toward first.

After meeting with the trainer, Castro was removed from the game. The Cubs said the injury was left hamstring tightness. - See more at:,0,6552536.story#sthash.lWvTgSJQ.dpuf

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cubs beat Rockies 4-2 to win third spring training game: Bunting Tournament down to Sweet Sixteen

The Cubs won their third spring training game this afternoon at HoHoKam Park when they defeated the Colorado Rockies 4-2.

Edwin Jackson made his pitching debut with the Cubs and gave up a pair of two-out hits over two scoreless innings.  Jackson said, "Today was pretty much evaluation, and see where I am.  It's all mental.  You keep the ball down and you execute pitches, and everything is pretty much good.  And you can have a lot of success with the ball down in the zone."

Here are the scores from the other Cubs spring training games so far this year:

2/25 - Cubs lost 7-6 to Dodgers
2/24- Cubs win 4-3 against Giants
2/23 - Cubs win 11-2 against Angels

Here are some photos from some of the spring training games:

Jeff Samardzija pitched the Cubs to a 4-3 win against the Giants on Sunday (photo from Chicago Tribune)

Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus in the outfield during Sunday's win against the Giants (Chicago Tribune photo)
An update on the Cubs' Bunting Tournament:

Brent Lillibridge, Michael Brenly, Jeff Samardzija and Blake Parker advanced on Tuesday.  The players who have reached the sweet 16 and their next match is listed below:
Travis Wood vs Nate Halm (video guy)
Jeff Samardzija vs Blake Parker

Position players:
Brent Lillibridge vs Michael Brenly
Edwin Maysonet vs Andy Lane (bullpen catcher)

On Wednesday, left-handed pitcher Brooks Raley will start for the Cubs against the Dodgers at HoHoKam Park.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Matt Garza to get MRI; Tony Campana is now a Dback; Cubs Bunting Tournament Underway

Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza suffered a mild lat strain during his first live batting practice session on Sunday at Fitch Park.  He will have an MRI to see how everything looks, but there's a good chance he will miss the start of the season.

Cubs starter Matt Garza will have an MRI to determine the extent of his lat strain (photo from Chicago Tribune)
The right hander was on the disabled list the last two months of the 2012 season with elbow soreness.  General Manager Jed Hoyer said, "The good news is his arm felt really strong.  It's unfortunate for sure and it's going to set him back a little bit.  But we're still really confident.  Our concern obviously was with the elbow injury that shut him down last year."

Since newly acquired pitcher Scott Baker is expected to start the season on the DL, that means that Travis Wood and Carlos Villanueva both have a good chance of starting the season in the rotation, even though manager Dale Sveum says he won't have to have his starting rotation pinned down until around March 20th. 

As expected, the Cubs traded outfielder Tony Campana to the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league right handed pitchers Erick Leal and Jesus Castillo.  Both Leal and Castillo are 17-years old.  Hoyer said Leal is likely to pitch in the minors this year, while Castillo probably will pitch in the Dominican.  “Both of them we like a lot,” Hoyer said. “Both of them are projectable (as future major leaguers).  We did a lot of work with our scouts down in the D.R. and we feel very good about getting two projectable arms for Tony.”

Campana tweeted earlier today, "Thanks to the and fans for a great time and support... Really excited to get started with the ! "  It's too bad the Cubs didn't have a spot for the speedy Campy, who quickly became a fan favorite, but we wish him the best in Arizona.

On a lighter note, the Cubs second bunting tournament started today and bullpen catcher Andy Lane upset outfielder Dave Sappelt in the first round.  The competition has pitchers in one bracket and position players in another and has 64 players.  David DeJesus was the winner of last year's inaugural bunting tournament.

The bunting tournament field
Here are some photos from Spring Training:

First baseman Anthony Rizzo on photo day (photo from Chicago Tribune)

Alfonso Soriano and Jeff Samardzija on photo day (photo from Chicago Tribune)
43 more days until Opening Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Photos of Cubs pitchers and catchers getting to work in Mesa

Cubs pitchers and catchers had their second official workout of spring training today at Fitch Park in Mesa.  Here are some photos from yesterday and today:

Darwin Barney prepares to enter the batting cage as Anthony Rizzo finishes on Tuesday (photo from @RaferWeigel on Twitter)

Scott Feldman is sporting Ryan Dempster's old number 46

Cubs players and staff at a team meeting before the team's first workout for pitchers and catchers on Tuesday (photo from @Cubs on Twitter)
The field is set for the second Cubs Bunting Tournament (photo from @CarrieMuskat on Twitter)
Any guesses as to who will win the second Cubs bunting tournament?  My early predictions are Travis Wood, Darwin Barney or David DeJesus.  I'd love to hear YOUR guesses in the comments section.  Anyway, it sure is nice to have baseball to get excited about again, isn't it?  Only 48 more days until Opening Day, Cub fans!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pitchers and catchers in Mesa; Scott Hairston deal is official as Tony Campana is designated for assignment

Today is finally the day when Cubs pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Mesa.  Hooray!  But along with the good comes some change.  The Cubs announced today they have made the two-year contract (which was first announced towards the end of January) with outfielder Scott Hairston official.  In a corresponding move, they have designated fan favorite Tony Campana for assignment.

Cubs fans will miss Tony Campana's speed and diving abilities
Many of Tony's fans are very upset at this news, which I can completely understand.  However, I think the Cubs are still hoping that Campana doesn't get picked up (especially by a contender) so that he can return to camp as a non-roster invitee.  I say this because why else would the Cubs wait this long before officially announcing the Hairston deal and Campana DFA news?  At this point, it's likely that most teams' 40-man rosters are set, so even if they wanted to, it would be tough for them to pick up Campana.  Of course, there are always exceptions to this, which we will know soon if Campana is claimed off waivers.

In the meantime, here's a list of Cubs uniform numbers for the new players on the 40-man roster and also for the non-roster invitees (as posted by Cubs beat reporter Carrie Muskat):

40-man roster
32 – Scott Baker
46 – Scott Feldman
71 – Trey McNutt
56 – Hector Rondon
57 – Carlos Villanueva
41 – Arodys Vizcaino
67 – Robert Whitenack
4 – Dioner Navarro
61 – Christian Villanueva
74 – Logan Watkins
19 – Nate Schierholtz
68 – Jorge Soler

Non-Roster Invitees

76 – Drew Carpenter
77 – Dayan Diaz
60 – Jensen Lewis
85 – Barret Loux
50 – Blake Parker
63 – Zach Putnam
81 – Nick Struck
47 – Hisanori Takahashi
59 – Cory Wade
79 – J.C. Boscan
78 – Michael Brenly
82 – Rafael Lopez
70 – Javier Baez
6 – Alberto Gonzalez
20 – Brent Lillibridge
65 – Edwin Maysonet
75 – Brad Nelson
66 – Brian Bogusevic
80 – Johermyn Chavez
16 – Darnell McDonald

It sounds like most of the pitchers are already in Mesa and have reported to camp.  The first official workout for pitchers and catchers will take place on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, here's a pic of Darwin Barney and Anthony Rizzo at Fitch Park  taken by Tim Sheridan on February 8th.

Darwin Barney and Anthony Rizzo at Fitch Park on February 8th (photo by Tim Sheridan)
For more pics and spring training info, you can check out Tim's "Boys of Spring" blog at:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

28th Annual Cubs Convention a success at new venue (recap and exclusive photos)

A couple of weeks ago, I attended my sixth consecutive Cubs Convention and I wanted to share my experience with everyone.

Although this was the 28th Annual Cubs Convention, this year was unique because of the new venue at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers.  Personally, I welcomed the new location and thought the space was nicely laid out, even though at times there were bottlenecks when trying to get into the autograph/photograph ballroom.  I'm pretty sure this is something that will be remedied by the 2014 Convention.

Before the opening ceremonies started on Friday, January 18th, the two huge screens in the ballroom were set up to display people's tweets that included the #CubsCon hashtag.  Of course, I had to try it out and alas, it was pretty cool to see my tweet posted on the screens and then to have people around me say, "Hi, Karen!" as they recognized me from my Twitter profile picture.

My tweet posted on one of two screens at the 2013 Opening Ceremonies
When the players were introduced during the ceremony, they walked in from the back of the room and down the red carpet as they high fived and interacted with fans on their way to the stage in the front of the ballroom.  This was a nice touch - and mental note: Try to get a spot by the red carpet next year! 

Here are some photos I took during the Opening Ceremonies:

Here's a link to a video of highlights from the 2013 Opening Ceremonies from WGN-Radio.  There's always a warm, fuzzy feeling to see former players interact with current players and coaches and also when they look genuinely happy to be at the Convention with their teammates and fans.

On the second day of the Cubs Convention (Saturday, January 19th), I was able to get both autographs and photographs with many players.  One new thing this year for the photograph line was that fans received a free 4x6 photo of them with the player, which had "28th Annual Cubs Convention, January 18-20, 2013" printed at the bottom of the photo.

This was a noticeable improvement from former conventions, where you had to either give your camera to a Cubs staff member to take a pic of you, or if you wanted a professional photo, you had to pay $15 to get a cardboard photo jacket (which the player would also sign).  Something about having to pay $15 for the photo jacket and a photo that wasn't usually be best quality just bugged me.  Anyway, kudos to whoever thought of the complimentary photo idea.  And these photos were also very high quality, which was great!  The line also moved much faster with the new setup and there were no stairs to climb, which also saved time.

My photo with former Cub catcher Jody Davis, which I also got signed in an autograph line later
The Cubs also had preprinted backdrops at all of the autograph and photo stages/lines, which made for better looking photo ops.  Also new this year, there were two lines at every autograph stage.  Line 1 was usually for the current player signing and Line 2 was for the upcoming signing.  15 minutes or so before the player was due to sign, the Cubs staff would hand out a limited amount of vouchers good for "one autograph with XX player."  This way, fans had to remain in line and present this voucher in order to obtain an autograph.  This prevented line hoppers who were just there to get as many autographs as possible (mostly for resale purposes, I'm guessing.)

Autograph voucher for Jeff Samardzija
For some reason, the staff working the convention seemed a lot friendlier all the way around than in previous years.  I don't know if they had a more stringent screening process to determine which staffers would work the convention, or if they emphasized the importance of having a good attitude to the employees.  Either way, it made for an enjoyable weekend!

Here are some more photos I took over the Convention weekend:

Outfielder David DeJesus signing autographs

First baseman Anthony Rizzo signing autographs

Third baseman Ian Stewart at an autograph table

Outfielder Tony Campana signing autographs

We ran into Crane Kenney getting coffee in the Sheraton

Shortstop Starlin Castro signing autographs for fans
There were also numerous panels and presentations throughout the weekend, as well as vendors.  The Cubs museum display room was really enjoyable and it would be pretty exciting if they opened a Cubs museum near Wrigley Field (they were getting signatures to support this).  Here's a look at some of the displays in the "museum" room:

All in all, the 2013 Cubs Convention is now a fond memory.  Only 8 more days until Cubs pitchers and catchers report to Mesa!  Time to look ahead to Spring Training!  Let's get 'em in 2013!