Results tagged ‘ spring training ’
Throughout the offseason, Cubs baseball president Theo Epstein repeatedly talked about growing the Cubs “core” of talented, young players—players the organization can count on for the long haul and who can help bring winning baseball back to Chicago. In the year-plus Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer have been with the team, that core has grown dramatically through savvy trades and smart draft picks.
“That core, at least in my mind, went from one player to half a dozen,” Epstein said shortly after the 2012 season ended. “If we can do that again in 2013, and we look up and we have close to a dozen players in our core, I’ll feel great about the overall health of the organization.”
At the major league level, the Cubs foundation now includes talented shortstop Starlin Castro, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson, and Gold Glove-winning second baseman Darwin Barney. Vine Line sat down with the some of this talented group at Spring Training to see what their expectations are for the coming season.
The Cubs season is officially underway. After a few weeks of workouts, batting practice and bullpen sessions, the team cranked it up to game speed in a blue vs. white intrasquad matchup Thursday afternoon at HoHoKam Stadium. The veteran-laden white team took down the top prospects in the system 7-3 in a five-inning affair.
After a rainy day yesterday in Arizona—it even snowed in some areas—the grounds crew spent most of the morning getting the HoHoKam field back in playing shape. But by game time, things had dried out.
The white team got off to a fast start off blue team starter Chris Rusin in the first. After a David DeJesus groundout, Starlin Castro doubled, Anthony Rizzo walked and Alfonso Soriano singled to load the bases. New Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro followed with a single, and third baseman Ian Stewart laced a ringing double to left center to put the white team up 4-0.
Shortstop Starlin Castro, who many expect to have a big year in 2013, got off to a good start with the bat, going 3-for-3 with a double and three runs scored.
“Castro put two good swings and then just missed another really nice swing down the right field line,” said manager Dale Sveum. “That’s obviously one guy we really don’t have to be concerned with when the numbers are all done. That guy can just hit.”
Though the white team boasted most of the projected Opening Day starters, the blue team might have been the more interesting group, as it was loaded with many of the organization’s top prospects, including Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, Junior Lake and Brett Jackson.
And Soler didn’t disappoint. The left fielder gave Cubs fans a glimpse of the future when he crushed a soaring home run to left off minor league pitcher of the year Nick Struck in his first at-bat of the game. Soler also walked and made a good play coming in on a ball in left. Mind you, it was only an intrasquad, five-inning game and he was hitting off a minor league pitcher, but Soler certainly made a good impression.
“Pretty nice bat speed you saw,” Sveum said. “Those were some good at-bats—took a walk. … That guy following him up (Baez) had some pretty good bat speed going through the strike zone too—as well as Lake. There are some guys who are on that radar right now that could possibly be impact players some day.”
Top-ranked shortstop prospect Baez, who batted in the seven hole, had a little more of an up-and-down game. He struck out in the second and was robbed by Castro, who ranged to his left for a diving catch, in the fourth. On defense, he made a diving play of his own to rob David DeJesus of a single, but also got eaten up by Navarro’s single in the first.
“Baez was a little shaky today,” Sveum said. “Kind of some young stuff that’s still there that’s got to be cleaned up. [There's] a lot of stuff, even stuff that’s behind the scenes that everybody else doesn’t see, that we have to change—some instinctive stuff.”
New Cubs right fielder Nate Schierholtz homered in the bottom of the third inning and had an RBI sac fly for the white team. Brian Bogusevic, an Oak Lawn, Ill., native who spent the last three years with the Houston Astros, also homered for the blue team.
Following the game, Sveum announced that third baseman Ian Stewart, who was pulled from the game in the second inning, was day-to-day with a mild—emphasis on mild—left quad strain. Josh Vitters is also day-to-day with the same injury.
“It’s an epidemic,” Sveum joked.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
After a rain out yesterday, the first round of the bunting competition resumed on Thursday prior to the intrasquad game.
The day’s only controversy came in the Matt Garza vs. Zach Putnam section of the bracket. The matchup was delayed because Garza is still sidelined with a mild strain of his left lat. It has not yet been determined if Garza will have to forfeit or if the competition will simply be delayed.
In other Thursday first-round matchups:
Scott Hairston defeated Christian Villanueva
Logan Watkins defeated Nate Schierholtz
Chris Rusin defeated Scott Feldman
Scott Baker defeated Dayan Diaz
Hisanori Takahashi defeated Brooks Raley
Ian Stewart defeated Javier Baez
Anthony Rizzo defeated Johermyn Chavez
Think you know everything there is to know about the 2013 Cubs? Think again.
Did you know Edwin Jackson could have been a real estate agent, Anthony Rizzo feels a kinship with Justin Timberlake, and Dave Sappelt has a little crush on a cartoon character?
Thanks to the World Baseball Classic, Spring Training is a few weeks longer than usual this season. As the spring slate drags on, everyone needs to blow off some steam. After a rain-shortened workout Wednesday, even manager Dale Sveum said, “It’s not bad to have a little breather,” from time to time.
Vine Line had some fun with the team to dig up a few facts you won’t find on the back of a baseball card. Check back later this week for more in our Kicking Back video series.
A steady rain drowned out most of the final day of Cubs baseball at Fitch Park on Wednesday, but there was still a little news.
The Cubs announced the starters for the opening games of their Cactus League slate, which kicks off this weekend. Travis Wood will get the Saturday start against the Los Angeles Angels in Tempe, and Jeff Samardzija will pitch the Sunday home opener against the San Francisco Giants. Carlos Villanueva will pitch Game 3 on Monday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Edwin Jackson will start on Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies.
Matt Garza’s debut has been pushed back due to a mild lat strain on his left side. It was announced Tuesday that he’ll likely be out about a week before resuming baseball activities.
Manager Dale Sveum also held his daily presser, despite the lack of on-field action. Here are Sveum’s best quotes from the day:
Then vs. Now
“We have a lot of the same guys in camp [from a year ago] that ended getting some time in the big leagues. But like I said yesterday, there’s just a whole different look in their eyes. Having that experience and going through some adversity with some of the young guys, it’s a whole lot different. There’s just so much more talent in camp this year than there was last year—and also depth. Guys that are very capable of pitching in the big leagues or guys that are on our radar getting really close to the big leagues. … There’s just more playable talent in camp this year.”
“Spring Training is what it is in any park. Here it’s a little bit unique because you have to move [from Fitch to HoHoKam]. Probably my first memory here is when I had to come over here 25 years ago and rehab my leg clear across from Peoria [in extended Spring Training]. We shared it with the Cubs at that time.”
Prospect Watch (Javy Baez, Jorge Soler, Junior Lake, etc.)
“We have so many split-squad games they’re going to get quite a few games in before being sent down. There are a lot of at-bats out there.”
“I’m very anxious [to see them]. Those are the guys you talk about that are on your radar in the minor league systems that have all those God-given tools—the speed, the arm, the power, hopefully the hitting ability, meaning OPS and those things. A lot of that stuff comes a little bit later in careers. But it’s pretty special talent and bat speed those guys have. You want to see it in person and at game speed.”
“We do have some personalities that are able to fill those [leadership] roles. I think [Anthony] Rizzo is one of those guys. I think [Darwin] Barney is ready to be that guy. Obviously Rizzo’s rookie year and Barney winning a Gold Glove—those kinds of things give you added ability to be a leader in the clubhouse because people look up to people like that. We have [Alfonso] Soriano, and [Jeff] Samardzija is going to take on that role, as well as [Matt] Garza and Edwin Jackson. So we have plenty of personalities that can do that.”
Building for the Future
“Going into this last year, you knew the plan we had, and we weren’t going to take any shortcuts to vary from it. Within a year, the whole organization has changed so dramatically for the good. You just get better players in the organization, and you create an atmosphere where people want to play here, and they want to come to this ballpark and work. That’s all you can do. That’s the transformation we’re trying to do all the time here. And it’s changed a ton in a year.”
(Photo by Stephen Green)
The Chicago Cubs today announced their 2013 regular season television broadcast schedule. For the fifth season in a row, all 162 games will be available in high-definition in the Chicago area.
WGN will televise the Cubs’ Monday, April 1, season opener at the Pittsburgh Pirates at 12:35 p.m. CT, and Comcast SportsNet will have its first broadcast the next game, Wednesday, April 3, in Pittsburgh at 6:05 p.m. WCIU will televise its first game on Friday, April 19, when the Cubs play at the Milwaukee Brewers at 7:05 p.m.
Cubs games have been televised by WGN since 1948 and by WCIU since 2000. This will be Comcast SportsNet’s ninth season with the team.
Len Kasper returns for his ninth season in the Cubs’ television booth and will be joined by Jim Deshaies, who comes to the Cubs after 16 years in the Astros television booth. Former broadcaster Bob Brenly took a TV job with the Diamondbacks this offseason.
The Cubs will also be broadcasting 36 0f 39 spring contests on either WGN Radio, MLB.com, WGN Television, CSN or MLB Network. You can find the spring broadcast schedule here.
The first televised spring game, featuring Deshaies’ debut, will be Saturday, March 16, when the Cubs host Kansas City on WGN. Comcast SportsNet’s first game will be Monday, March 25, vs. San Francisco.
Cubs TV play-by-play announcer Len Kasper will again join Mick Gillispie, radio broadcaster for Chicago’s Double-A Tennessee affiliate, for most of the cubs.com internet radio broadcasts
The Cubs spent a quiet, rainy last day at the Fitch Park practice facility on Wednesday. A steady drizzle and gray skies limited the team to a few rounds of batting practice in the cages. After workouts, the players grabbed their gear and headed over to HoHoKam Stadium, where they’ll spend the rest of Spring Training.
The first spring game of the season, an intrasquad matchup between the blue and white teams, gets underway tomorrow at 1 p.m. local time. Prospects Chris Rusin and minor league pitcher of the year Nick Struck will start tomorrow’s game. Rusin will be backed up by Cory Wade, who spent the last two years with the Yankees, and Trey McNutt. Struck will be folowed by Robert Whitenack and Rafael Dolis.
Here are the lineups for tomorrow’s game:
RF B. Jackson
(Photo by Stephen Green)
New Cubs reliever, Japanese import Kyuji Fujikawa, dials it up at Fitch Park in Mesa, Ariz. Fujikawa, who tallied 220 saves and a 1.17 ERA in 12 seasons with the Hanshin Tigers of the Nippon Professional Baseball league, signed a two-year, $9.5 million deal with the Cubs in December. He became the second Japanese player in Cubs history, following Kosuke Fukudome, who was with the Cubs from 2008-11.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
New Cubs outfielder Scott Hairston tracks down a ball at Fitch Park in Mesa, Ariz., on Monday afternoon. Hairston is one of five members of his family to play in the major leagues and is the third member of his family to play for the Cubs. His uncle, Johnny, was with the Cubs in 1969, and his brother, Jerry, played for the Cubs from 2005-06.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Tuesday was the second-to-last day for the Cubs at the Fitch Park practice facility. The team will move over to HoHoKam Stadium after practice tomorrow, and they’ll move into their new complex in the Riverview section of Mesa, Ariz., next year. Manager Dale Sveum jokingly said he’d likely shed a tear for Fitch when the team packs up tomorrow.
There was good news this morning, when General Manager Jed Hoyer announced that an MRI showed Cubs pitcher Matt Garza has only a mild lat strain on his left side and shouldn’t be shut down for more than about a week. There was also much talk today about (and by) Starlin Castro.
Here are some select quotes from Tuesday’s action.
Hoyer on Garza
“We’re probably going to let him rest for about a week—make sure he’s pain-free—at which point he can ramp back up his throwing. It’s safe to say it pushes back his first Cactus League start. What it means for the regular season, it’s clearly much too early to say. But we felt like it was really good news. It’s just a mild strain, and we think it’ll be about a week until he should be pain free based on the MRI. Matt is in good spirits. He felt much better yesterday. We’re optimistic. It was certainly a positive read from our standpoint.”
Sveum on Garza
“[It was] probably about as good as we could get out of the MRI. He’ll set back maybe five or seven days without throwing. Then we’ll get him back out there. Obviously, it affects probably his first outing—for sure his first outing. But everything else from there hopefully is fine for the start of the season.”
Sveum on Castro
“I like the way he’s been going about his business for the first three days in camp defensively. It’s one thing I challenged him to do. [I said], ‘Your next step now in all this is to win a Gold Glove.’ Obviously, that takes a lot of focus and hard work and being focused for 150 pitches a game and 162 games. He’s got the ability to do it. The rest is up to him.”
“I think the next step for him is to become more of a winning-type hitter. Just understanding any situation about driving runs in. It’s having great at-bats in those key situations and not trying to do too much when the game is on the line. Grinding out at-bats and not making quick early outs on pitcher’s pitches.”
“Besides obviously a couple lapses … He improved tremendously throughout the season. I saw it, so hopefully he keeps improving. That’s all we’re asking for out of a guy like him because the upside there just keeps growing. The rest of it now is pretty much up to him with the experience he already has in the big leagues.”
Castro on Castro
“Some people think that our team is not very good, but we think that this team is very good because we’ve got four good starters. If you’ve got four good starters, you can compete with whatever team.”
“I know that God gave me [the ability to] hit. That’s why when I went to the Dominican, I worked very hard every day on my defense. I want to be like [Darwin] Barney and win a Gold Glove. It’s going to be fun to win a Gold Glove at shortstop, second base and first base. It’s going to be fun because [Anthony] Rizzo is very good too. … It’s good motivation for me. I know I can be like those guys and play very good defense.”
“[If the team is winning], I’m going to be even more of a superstar than I am supposed to be in the future. I know I can be very good because I’ve never been lazy with my work habits. I work hard to be better every day.”
“[Getting the long-term contract] didn’t change anything, but you feel a little more relaxed because my family is going to be good now. I can just play baseball and forget about everything.”
“This year, I concentrated more on my game plan. It’s going to be perfect.”