Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cubs win 4-3 over Indians; Injury updates and Opening Day starting lineup

The Cubs won 4-3 over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday in Goodyear, Arizona.  Chris Rusin made the start for the Cubs and allowed two hits while walking three and striking out three over six innings pitched.

Chris Rusin allowed just two hits against the Indians on Sunday (photo from Chicago Tribune)
Michael Bowden replaced Rusin in the sixth inning and pitched 1 2/3 perfect innings.  Although Rusin was considered for a spot in the Cubs bullpen, the team decided that it would make more sense to keep Rusin at Triple-A Iowas as a sixth starter.

"You've got to stay positive,'' Rusin said.  "It's difficult not to make any team, but you just take it as a learning experience.  I'll go down and work on things I have to work on and be ready when they call.'' 

In other Cubs news, right handed starting pitcher Scott Baker will be shut down and out of commission for at least a month with a right elbow strain.  Baker is still recovering from Tommy John surgery that he had in April 2012.

Scott Baker is still recovering from Tommy John surgery (photo from Chicago Tribune)
The earliest third baseman Ian Stewart could play will be five weeks.  He has been sidelined with a sore left quad since February 21st and will start the season on the disabled list.  Stewart will stay in Arizona until the Minor League teams begin their seasons.  If things progress on track, Stewart could be ready to rejoin the Cubs around the end of April or beginning of May.

Starting pitcher Matt Garza is scheduled to have a bullpen session during the first week of April.  Garza suffered a lat injury this spring after he missed the last two months of the 2012 season with an elbow injury and will start the season on the disabled list.

Relief pitcher Rafael Dolis was optioned to Triple-A Iowa today, reducing the spring roster to 34 players.  Dave Sappelt was scratched from today's lineup since he suffered a bruised neck after being hit during the game on Saturday.  He is expected to be back in a few days.

On a lighter note, shortstop Starlin Castro turned 23 years  old today.  Happy Birthday, Starlin!

Tomorrow the Cubs will play the San Francisco Giants at 3:05 pm CST.  Travis Wood will make the start for the Cubs against Ryan Vogelsong.

Cubs uniforms being prepped for the season (photo by @CarrieMuskat on Twitter)
Manager Dale Sveum has set the starting lineup for Opening Day, which will include: David DeJesus leading off and followed by Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Alfonso Soriano, Nate Schierholtz, Welington Castillo, Luis Valbuena and Darwin Barney.  Only 8 more days until the Cubs open their season in Pittsburgh. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Cubs reduce spring roster to 35 players and win 4-1 over Brewers; 25-man roster announcements

The Cubs reduced their spring roster from 46 to 35, after cutting 11 players earlier today.  Among the cuts were the following pitchers that were sent to Minor League camp:  Jensen Lewis, Drew Carpenter, Blake Parker, Casey Coleman and Jaye Chapman.

Chris Rusin was optioned to Triple-A Iowa and the other players assigned to Minor League camp include Brian Bogusevic, Brad Nelson, Edwin Maysonet, Johermyn Chavez and Darnell McDonald.

Of the 35 players remaining on the spring roster, Matt Garza, Scott Baker, Ian Stewart and Arodys Vizcaino are expected to start the season on the disabled list.

Dale Sveum announced that Michael Bowden and Dave Sappelt have made the Opening Day roster, as have Brent Lillibridge and Luis Valbuena.  This leaves one spot in the bullpen and one infield spot still open.  The contenders for the final bullpen spot include Rafael Dolis, Zach Putnam, Hisanori Takahashi and Corey Wade.  James Russell, Carlos Marmol, Shawn Camp and Kyuji Fujikawa have already secured spots in the bullpen.  The infield spot is down to Steve Clevenger and Alberto Gonzalez.

"Those days you dread," Sveum said regarding the roster cuts.  "Especially a lot of those guys that went down today, they had good springs.  Bogusevic had a really good spring training.  The Colemans, the Parkers, they all threw the ball well." 

Earlier today, the Cubs were victorious against the Milwaukee Brewers by a score of 4-1 in Maryvale, Arizona.  Carlos Villanueva had his best outing of the spring as he allowed five hits over six scoreless innings, while walking one and striking out four.

Carlos Villanueva had his best outing of the spring against the Brewers on Friday (photo from
“I had that one walk and I’m furious about that,” Villanueva said after the game.  “You hate giving up those free runners.  I don’t know what the percentage is but usually they end up scoring.  You make them earn it.”

With the game tied at 1 in the top of the ninth inning, Darwin Barney hit a two-run, two-out home run that gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead.  Then Dioner Navarro immediately followed with a back-to-back homer which increased the Cubs' lead to 4-1, which also ended up being the final score.

There are just 10 more days until the Cubs open their 2013 season in Pittsburgh!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cubs win 5-2 against Padres; Spring roster cuts; Opening Day lineup

The Cubs won 5-2 against the San Diego Padres in today's spring training game at the Peoria Sports Complex.  Edwin Jackson was excellent as he allowed just one run on three hits with one walk and three strikeouts over six innings.

Dave Sappelt hit a three-run homer against the Padres on Monday (photo from
Dave Sappelt's three-run homer helped bring the Cubs their victory.  Utility player Brent Lillibridge (who played first base in today's game) had two hits, including a triple to lead off the seventh inning.

As expected, the Cubs reduced their spring roster from 53 to 46 players today.  Junior Lake and Josh Vitters were optioned to Triple-A Iowa, Christian Villanueva was optioned to Double-A Tennessee and Jorge Soler was optioned to Single-A Daytona.  Non-roster spring training invitees Barret Loux, Javier Baez and Rafael Lopez were assigned to minor league camp.

In other Cubs news, pitcher Scott Baker had soreness in his right elbow so he underwent an MRI today.  The Cubs will find out the results of the MRI on Tuesday.

Tomorrow, Chris Rusin will make his third start of the spring when the Cubs play the Texas Rangers at HoHoKam Stadium.  Manager Dale Sveum is planning on using his projected Opening day lineup in tomorrow's game, which will be: DeJesus (CF), Castro (SS), Rizzo (1B), Soriano (LF), Schierholtz (RF), Castillo (C), Valbuena (3B), Barney (2B).  The game can be heard on at 3:05pm CST.

Dale Sveum will use his projected Opening Day lineup in Tuesday's game against the Rangers (photo from Jesse Rogers,

And speaking of Opening Day, it's just 14 days away!  Go Cubs Go!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cubs win 8-1 over Dodgers; Dale Sveum announces starting rotation

The Cubs get a "W" in their exhibition game against the Los Angeles Dodgers this afternoon.  Chris Rusin had a great outing as he allowed just one hit and no runs while striking out one and walking one batter over five innings pitched.  The final score was 8-1.

Left handed pitcher Chris Rusin allowed just one hit over five innings against the Dodgers on Thursday (photo from
The Cubs bats returned today as Brent Lillibridge and Darnell McDonald had hits in their first two at-bats.  Welington Castillo also had a two-run triple and Brian Bogusevic had a two-run double.  Josh Vitters also made his first appearance in a spring training game since he was out for a quad injury.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum announced that the starting rotation at the start of the season will be (in the following order):

Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, Travis Wood, Scott Feldman and Carlos Villanueva.  Once Matt Garza and Scott Baker are healthy, they are both expected to join the starting rotation.  This means that the "Shark" will pitch when the Cubs open their season on the road in Pittsburgh on April 1st.  Edwin Jackson will get the call for the Home Opener at Wrigley Field on April 8th.  

Edwin Jackson will be the starting pitcher for the Cubs Home Opener on April 8th (AP photo)
Just 19 more days until Opening Day and 26 until the Home Opener!  Can't wait to sing "Go Cubs Go!"

Monday, March 11, 2013

David DeJesus defends Bunting title; Cubs reduce spring roster to 53 players; Injury updates

David DeJesus is the winner and defending champion of the 2nd Cubs bunting tournament.  Congrats to the Cubs outfielder, who beat Nate Halm, a video staffer, in the final round.

The first place prize was $3,400, of which $1,000 will be donated to the family of Tom Pratt, who is a longtime Cubs Minor League coach who passed away last December.

David DeJesus proudly wearing the Cubs bunting tournament championship belt

Since there are just a few weeks of Spring Training left, the Cubs made some roster moves today, which include:

Alberto Cabrera, Brooks Raley, Trey McNutt and Logan Watkins have been optioned to the Iowa Cubs.  Robert Whitenack has been optioned to the Tennessee Smokies and Nick Struck has been sent to minor league camp.  The current Cubs roster stands at 53 players, which includes 25 pitchers (nine non-roster invitees), five catchers (two non-roster invitees), 13 infielders (five non-roster invitees) and 10 outfielders (three non-roster invitees).

Last Friday, March 8th, the Cubs optioned Matt Szczur to the Smokies and assigned Dayan Diaz and Michael Brenly (both non-roster invitees) to minor league camp.

As far as the Cubs performance this spring, manager Dale Sveum isn't satisfied with the team's low on-base percentage.  "We've got to start kicking it in.  It's getting to that time in Spring Training where the core players will play quite a bit, longer innings and get more at-bats," Sveum said.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo will miss a few more days as he has been playing for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic and shortstop Starlin Castro is expected to return on Wednesday, after being sidelined since February 27th with hamstring tightness.

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has been playing for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic (Chicago Tribune photo)
Sveum is optimistic about the core starting players for the team and said, "You've got a lot of young kids, raw kids, who aren't very patient at the plate and making quick outs.  That's a concern for another day.  I'll be more concerned [if there are problems] when I'm putting my regular eight guys out there and Rizzo is here and Castro is here."

I definitely agree with him and am curious to see how the team does with the regular starting players.  Hopefully there will be more wins, even if they are exhibition games!

Utility player Brent Lillibridge is also expected to return Wednesday, after suffering a strained groin on February 27th.

Third baseman Ian Stewart, who left an intrasquad game on February 21st with soreness in his quad is expected to return and play this Thursday against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Glendale.

Sveum said the following about Stewart's chances to make the team, “He came in knowing it was a job he was going to have to play well and produce (to start).  There are still 16, 17 possible games left starting Thursday, so hopefully cram 30 at-bats into that, and some minor league at-bats, too.  Go down there and lead-off and get 7-8 at-bats in a day.”

Josh Vitters, who has also been sidelined with a quad injury will also return Thursday as a reserve.

Can you believe there are just 22 days until the Cubs open their season in Pittsburgh against the Pirates?  Go Cubs Go!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cubs agree to terms with 21 pre-arbitration eligible players; Starlin Castro to rest 4 more days

The Cubs signed all 21 of their pre-arbitration eligible players on the 40-man roster today.  Below are the players and their 2013 salaries:

Darwin Barney $562,000
Travis Wood $527,500
Michael Bowden $509,500
Welington Castillo $503,000
Anthony Rizzo $498,000

The league mininum salary is $490,000.  Other players who the Cubs signed include:

Alberto Cabrera
Steve Clevenger
Rafael Dolis
Brett Jackson
Junior Lake
Trey McNutt
Brooks Raley
Hector Rondon
Chris Rusin
Dave Sappelt
Matt Szczur
Christian Villanueva
Josh Vitters
Arodys Vizcaino
Logan Watkins
Robert Whitenack

Cubs players in the dugout during a Cactus League game (Chicago Tribune photo)
Shortstop Starlin Castro reportedly will not play for at least four more days in order as a precaution for his strained left hamstring, which happened on February 27th when he was running out a ground ball.  Manager Dale Sveum said, "If it was the regular season, he'd probably be playing."

Starlin Castro won't be taking part in Cactus League action for at least four more days as a precaution (Chicago Tribune photo)
The Cubs announced yesterday that Jeff Samardzija will the the team's Opening Day starting pitcher when the team opens the season on the road in Pittsburgh on April 1st.  The projected rest of the rotation at the start of the season includes Edwin Jackson, Travis Wood, Carlos Villanueva and Scott Feldman, but could still change.  Matt Garza and Scott Baker are expected to start the season on the disabled list.

Jeff Samardzija has been named the Cubs' Opening Day starter (photo from Chicago Tribune)

Only 29 more days until Opening Day!  I can almost smell it!