Peter Gammons Day at Fitch Park
OK, so it wasn't literally "Peter Gammons Day" (per se), but the Hall of Famer was at Fitch Park today, as the Cubs continued their workouts in preparation for the 2008 season.
Jim Hendry (walking up to Sam Fuld and Peter Gammons behind the batting cage on Fitch Park Field #2): "So, Sam, is this your step-father?"
Peter Gammons (pointing at Fuld and smiling): "One of my all-time favorites..."
Peter seemed to have a really good time, watching the Cubs take "live" BP sessions on Fields #2 and #3. While he spent most of his time talking to Fuld, he also had a lengthy conversation with Cubs manager Lou Piniella and somewhat shorter on-field chats with Cubs GM Jim Hendry, 1B Derrek Lee, and OF Matt Murton.
Today was the day that the Squad "A" pitchers had their pitch counts extended to 35 (some of you may remember the Squad "B" pitchers did that yesterday), and after the usual pre-requisite calesthenics, a game of catch, baserunning practice, infield and outfield practice, and pick-off & "pickle" drills, the "A team" pitchers faced-off against the position players, and it made for some entertaining BP match-ups.
ON FIELD #2:
Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster threw 35 pitches each to a group consisting of Andres Torres, Micah Hoffpauir, Bobby Scales, and Josh Donaldson (with each hitter seeing five pitches before rotating out of the cage). "Z" and Demp both looked pretty good, which is to say they threw strikes and extended their pitch counts without injury (THE most-important thing right now).
Next on Field #2, Kerry Wood and Bob Howry went up against Kosuke Fukudome, Derrek Lee, Matt Murton, Sam Fuld, and Koyie Hill. Woody looked great, as he absolutely blew Fukudome away with fastballs (two takes, two swings and misses, and a feeble foul tip) And Howry threw the ball very well, too, throwing strike after strike.
And finally on Field #2, Michael Wuertz and Edward Campusano faced Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, and Felix Pie (who was absent yesterday but looked fit today, although his timing at the plate was a little off). Wuertz always looks like crap in Spring Training, and today was no exception, Bouncing his slider and getting his fastball turned into line drives to the outfield, Wuertz barely escaped with his life. And then Campusano (who underwent TJ surgery last April while with the Tigers) had what I thought was a very nice session, throwing 35 pitches. His fastball had some life on it, and although he couldn't find his breaking ball and seemed to tire noticeablly around pitch 25 (at which point Soto hammered a few of his offerings to the warning track), I thought he looked OK.
OVER ON FIELD #3:
First, Jon Lieber and Scott Eyre faced-off against Andres Blanco, Luis Figueroa, Casey McGehee, Tyler Colvin, and Josh Kroeger. Lieber doesn't have much juice on his fastball these days, and he looks a bit pathetic in PFP drills when he has to cover 1st base, but at least he is able to throw 35 pitches without having to get carted off the field. Scott Eyre threw the ball pretty well after Lieber's outing, but he wasn't exactly facing the "A" team.
Next came Carlos Marmol and Ted Lilly, facing Eric Patterson, Ryan Theriot, and Daryle Ward. As most of you know, Marmol reported to camp in virtual mid-season form (having come directly from winter ball), and he just sliced and diced E-Pat, The Riot, and D-Ward. Lilly looked pretty good, too, although he bounced a couple of breaking balls.
And finally, Jason Marquis and Adam Harben threw to Ronny Cedeno, Alex Cintron, J. D. Closser, Jake Fox, and Mike Fontenot (who seemed none the worse for wear after getting ding-donged yesterday during infield practice). Marquis looked very good, and Harben (who had TJ surgery in November 2006) finally got a chance to throw some "live" BP, although he wasn't particularly impressive.
Mark DeRosa took infield practice, but did not take "live" BP today, and I don't know why not. He did miss at least one other BP session earlier this week, too, so he must have some minor injury that keeps him from swinging the bat every day (possibly a wrist, shoulder, or oblique problem). Henry Blanco and Welington Castillo were the only other position players who did not hit, but they were busy catching in the bullpen and in the "live" BP sessions, and they never got a chance to hit. They did, however, take BP (with coaches throwing) on Field #2 at 12:30 after the "live" sessions were over.
Rich Hill, Sean Marshall, and Chad Fox also should have been scheduled to throw "live" BP today with the "A" Squad, but they did not. It's possible that one or more of them threw an early-morning "side session" in the pit (with a batter standing in the box but not swinging), but I can't confirm that. (Sean Gallagher and Kevin Hart did that yesterday). I do know there was some concern about Fox after his 25-pitch outing on Thursday, as to how his elbow would bounce back two days later. I guess we'll find out eventually.
Also, RHP Mike Smith is definitely not in camp, and never has been. Smith led the Venezuelan League starting pitchers in lowest WHIP for most of the VWL season and was signed to a minor league contract by the Cubs last November with an invitation to ST with the big club, and so he should be in camp right now, but he is not.
The three most-likely scenarios to explain Smith's absence are:
1) He changed his mind about continuing his baseball career and retired.
2) He suffered a significant injury (season-ending and/or career-threatening) while pitching in the VWL and failed his Fitch Park physical on 2/13 and got released (as happened to Bobby Hill a year ago).
3) He suffered a lesser injury (not season-ending or career-threatening) in Venezuela and was advised by the Cubs to report to minor league camp at Fitch Park on 3/1 instead of to the big league camp on 2/13.
Schwarber hurt, Heyward hurt, Szczur hurt. Let's see how many guys have to go down before Soler gets his job back.
RHP Jake Arrieta (5-0, 1.00)
Neat. This ought to be a good game.
Unless somebody goes on the 60-DL or ouright them they can't call up Shane he's not on the 40 man roster, he still on a minor league contract
Everytime I recall Szcur's bone marrow donation to a stranger, it makes me smile:
If Matt is out will Kawasaki get the call-up? Or "Shane"?
"Matt Szczur will undergo an MRI on his right hamstring on Tuesday."
One of the reasons I think Maddon is a great manager -- he has changed the conversation on Baez from HR & strikeouts to great defense, versatility and an all-around good ballplayer. He rarely talks about his offense, which is the only thing anybody used to talk about with Javy. He took a lot of pressure off the kid, and he seems to have responded.
Good pitching and some nifty D tonight -- nice win.
In case you didn't see it -- it was the Little League play where the guy on first gets caught in a rundown on purpose and the guy on third tries to score. It worked.
Gotta love the Pirates pitcher intentionally hitting Zobrist, then allowing Zobrist to score on a 2-out wild pitch.
Also, glad to see Zobrist coming around with RISP after my remarks last week. Heh!
ESPN reporting heyward day-to-day with an injured wrist
ESPN game tonight, btw.
Cardinal way #48
"negligent transmission of STDs"
Heyward getting the night off.
Grand Slammin' Sczcur in RF - La Stella batting 2nd
Twitterverse reporting that Heyward is dealing with a sore right wrist
Cardinal way #47
See ya on parrot chat