It's Alive! It's Alive!
Twelve Cubs pitchers threw "live" BP at Fitch Park this morning, as Spring Training entered Phase Two.
Of the twelve, the three most noteworthy outings were the ones by Jeff Samardzija, Ken Kadokura, and Esmailin Caridad. Samardzija couldn't find home plate and almost killed Ryan Theriot with a head-shot, Kadakura shattered a couple of bats with his moving fastball (although he also got hit hard at other times), and Caridad continued to show excellent velocity and movement on his sinker-slider combo, just as he did in the AFL last October-November
All of the twelve pitchers who threw today were from Group Two (basically the Iowa squad or "second string"), with pitchers from Group One (or "first team") likely to get their first taste of "live" BP tomorrow.
In addition, Jake Fox once again took grounders at both 1st base and 3rd base (under the watchful eye of Alan Trammell and Ivan DeJesus, who hit dozens of grounders to him at 3B during pre-BP fielding practice), as the Cubs are apparently trying to find out if he has any aptitude for the hot corner. From what I have seen and continue to see, Fox tries hard, but he is probably at heart a 1st baseman and RHPH, or (better still) a platoon DH. He has outstanding power, but is defensively challenged no matter where he plays, although he seems to be most comfortable at 1B. Catcher is definitely a lost cause, and he apprarently is fairly lost in LF and RF, too.
Among the hitters taking swings against "live" pitching today, Derrek Lee and Micah Hoffpauir looked the sharpest, with D-Lee hitting line-drives all over the yard and Hoffpauir hitting one moon shot to the warning track that just missed going out of the park and onto 8th Street.
Each of the pitchers threw 25 pitches, with the position players batting in groups of three or four, and with the catchers alternating between catching the "live" BP, warming up the next pitcher in the bullpen, and taking BP.
All of the pitchers from Group Two threw "live" BP today except Jose Ascanio, Andrew Cashner, Marcos Mateo, David Patton, and Luis Vizcaino (who was a late arrival to camp because of visa problems), although Ascanio and Rich Harden (who is assigned to Group One) did throw a special session with a hitter in the batter's box (who did not swing) in front of Larry Rothschild on the half-field (Field #5) after the conclusion of the "live" BP session, indicating both may have been held back a bit because of arm problems. Also, the Cubs announced that NRI LHP Bill White (ex-TEX)failed his physical and has been released.
All of the position players took "live" BP except Aramis Ramirez, Jake Fox, Paul Bako, Mark Johnson, and Steve Clevenger, although Bako, Johnson and Clevenger did take extra BP with coaches throwing soft toss BP on Field #1 and Field #2 after the other players had finished their "live" BP sessions.
FIELD #3 "LIVE" BP
1. Jeff Samardzija
2. Matt Smith
3. Ken Kadokura
4. Mitch Atkins
5. Justin Berg
6. Vince Perkins
FIELD #2:"LIVE" BP
1. J. R. Mathes
2. Edward Campusano
3. Jeff Stevens
4. Esmailin Caridad
5. Rocky Roquet
6. Jason Waddell
The Group One pitchers will likely throw tomorrow, which means Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol, Kevin Gregg, Aaron Heilman, Neal Cotts, Chad Gaudin, Angel Guzman, Randy Wells, Kevin Hart, and Chad Fox should be on the schedule, Rich Harden is also with Group One, but since he had a special post-BP throwing session this morning with Rothschild, I doubt that he will throw tomorrow. He's probably on his own schedule right now.
And RHP Brian Schlitter ("A"-ball reliever acquired from the Phillies last August for Scott Eyre) has arrived at camp. He got a very late NRI, and so he is nowhere near ready to throw any "live" BP. He watched the Group One pitchers go through their PFP (Pitchers Fielding Practice) today, but he's a week behind the other pitchers and so I'm not sure why the Cubs invited him at this late date. Schlitter will likely battle Marcos Mateo for the closer job at AA Tennessee.
RHP Vince Perkins (prepping for the WBC, where he will pitch for Team Canada) also got a last-minute NRI to Fitch Park, but at least the Cubs gave him enough time so that he could report with the other pitchers last Saturday and get into a normal throwing routine. Perkins, a former top prospect with the Blue Jays back when Cubs Scouting Director Tim Wilken was the Jays Scouting Director, is trying to return from a near career-ending torn labrum & knee injury suffered back in 2006. He pitched in independent ball last year, and the Cubs signed him at the end of the 2008 season, probably on the recommendation of Wilken. Perkins is a long-shot to make the Iowa staff, so the WBC could be his last hurrah.