Cubs Head North

The Cubs moved their Spring Training operation a half-mile north up Center Street from Fitch Park to HoHoKam Park today, and as was the case each of the previous two years, Manager Lou Piniella once again eschewed the ubiquitous and traditional intrasquad game most MLB clubs play the day before Cactus League and Grapefruit League games commence. Lou just does not like to play any more games than necessary during Spring Training, even if it's an informal seven-inning intrasquad game.

With Stadium Operations crews busy accepting food deliveries and scrubbing the rest rooms in preparation for the Cubs Cactus League home opener versus the Dodgers at Dwight Patterson Field tomorrow, Manager Piniella, his coaches, and about a half-dozen Spring Training instructors (including Billy Williams, Ryne Sandberg, and Bob Dernier) ran the position players through a 2-1/2 hour general work-out (baserunning practice, fielding practice, and soft-toss BP) before about 300 enthusiastic Cubs fans under clear & sunny skies and 75 degree temperatures on the two fields at HoHoKam.

The position players were divided into two groups, essentially an "A" team and a "B" team. The "A" team held their work-out on Dwight Patterson Field (the "main" field), while the "B" team worked-out on the seldom-used back field behind the "Green Monster" (the CF hitting background). .

It's always fun to watch big leaguers take cuts against the slow BP slop of coaches throwing from in front of the mound, and today was no exception. It was Home Run Derby time, with Derrek Lee, Geovany Soto, Milton Bradley, Aramis Ramirez, and Alfonso Soriano taking turns slamming moonshots off the scoreboard and totally out of the park. Even Ryan Theriot hit a couple of dingers.

It also appears that Cubs fans may be underestimating the possibility that Luis Rivas will win the 25th slot on the roster. Lou seems to be pleased with what he has seen of Rivas, as the veteran utility infielder was assigned to the "A" team today, taking FP at 3B and SS, and BP in the same group with Soriano, Bradley, Ramirez, and Koyie Hill. (Micah Hoffpauir was assigned to the "B" squad on the back field). Lou specifically walked up to Rivas after his BP session, put his arm around him, and appeared to be praising his work.

I know there has been some talk in the early days of Spring Training about the Cubs going with only one back-up infielder (Aaron Miles) or maybe with an 11-man pitching staff and a six-man bench, but I strongly suspect that when push-comes-to-shove, Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild will talk Lou out of going with only 11 pitchers, and Lou will talk himself out of going with only one back-up infielder. This means that as of right now, Luis Rivas could very well be the front-runner for the last spot on the bench, even though Uncle Lou may not even realize it yet.

Of course, it's also quite possible that Jim Hendry will find a better second back-up infielder who can play SS and 3B at the end of Spring Training (preferrably a switch-hitter with the speed to be used as a late-inning pinch-runner, making Joey Gathright rather than Micah Hoffpauir the "odd man out"), just like he did last year when the right-handed hitting 4th outfielder Jimbo had been looking for the entire off season (one Reed Johnson) fell into his lap at the end of Spring Training 2008

It also appears that Paul Bako and Koyie Hill will be engaged in a fight to the death for the back-up catcher gig. Or at least there should be a spirited competition for the job, until the Cubs are faced with Bako's contract becoming guaranteed if he doesn't get released (probably around March 20th). Both Bako and Hill are in good physical shape, and either of the two could win the job.

Because of the World Baseball Classic, this will be the longest Cactus League season I can remember, with an extra week of games having been tacked onto the front of the schedule and a whopping 19 home games at HoHoKam. I imagine Lou and the boys will be really tired of the grind by the end of Spring Training.

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Comments

awesome as always Phil...and at least I thought Rivas might have a shot, but more if they went with a 6-man bench.

Now I'm guessing Hoffpauir is once again on the hot seat.

also, behind the scenes notes, you don't have to choose a category in the Wordpress category, just fill-in someting under the "site" text field. That's only there while I was importing our archives and I still have a few more to finish.

Thanks for the always-awesome update!

75 degrees ... totally jealous.

Gracias, Phil.

Looking forward to hearing your info on our prospects (and non-prospects, too!), as well as the ST attendance figures.

Hope you got a new speed gun for this year.

Thanks, Phil. Besides that knowledge that people are playing baseball in the U.S., you are the best part of Spring Training.

As far as Luis Rivas goes, I'm telling you, it's all about those two homers he hit against Ted Lilly.

great photo from yesterday's team photo session

is there somewhere i can find all of these pics compiled? thanks!

doubtful, I found that one at Vineline blog

http://vineline.mlblogs.com

he says it's for their gameday program

Yahoo has some from yesterday that the AP took..

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/teams/chc/photos;_ylt=...

thanks. i appreciate it. cubsaz.com has some good shots as well.

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/Create-a-Caption-Do-you-want-Greg-Maddux-s-auto?urn=mlb%2C143743

first comment is great...

"That's it: 5 2/3 balls and I'm done. "

Rascal Flatts also playing a Wrigley concert this year as well as two Joel/Elton concerts.

Some people aren't happy...

http://www.suntimes.com/news/cityhall/1447249,grou...

I'm not happy that they picked Rascal Flatts...

"two Joel/Elton concerts"

Is there enough wheelchair access at Wrigley to handle that crowd?

They really need to start getting some acts at Wrigley that people under 50 might want to go to. Jimmy Buffett was a great choice, and frankly should be there every year. But the fucking Police, Billy Joel/Elton John, and now Rascal Flatts? This is getting ridiculous.

I live in the neighborhood, and am seriously bummed about these concerts. I could not possibly be less excited about any of these.

what's wrong with The Police?

unless you hate music...

oh dear, I started something, didn't I?

Oh God, we're going to get into a really skinny thread. I'm not a music critic like some folks on this board, I just don't like The Police. I think Sting is a pretentious fuck, and their music hasn't been relevant in decades.

I think the acts that play Wrigley should reflect the atmosphere of Wrigley (Buffett was a good choice). When The Police played, it was like a convention for middle-aged suburbanites. I can only expect it to be worse for Elton John/Billy Joel. I don't know for sure, but I doubt I'm going to like the demographic that shows up for Rascal Flatts.

Now who wants to get this thread moving with a suggestion that Iggy Pop should play Wrigley?

I think the acts that play Wrigley should reflect the atmosphere of Wrigley (Buffett was a good choice).

drunks that don't care what's happening on the field?

oh dear, that was cliche

Sting is pretentious, but Police music has stood the test of time well. Obviously, this is all just my opinion.

The Police would've been a better choice in the 90s, but they are still okay, even if they are all pretty old now. Buffett fit the bill. Billy Joel sort of fit the bill, even if I don't like his music, and I guess Elton too, since they are crowd pleasers. But Rascal Flatts? Really? That's just confusing.

When The Police played, it was like a convention for middle-aged suburbanites.

And that is different than Jimmy Buffet how?

Are you kidding? When I was a senior in high school, we got two buses to take about 100 of us to a Buffett show. We continued this throughout college. And many, many others did the same thing.

This resulted in a large number of very attractive 18-22 y/o women in bikini tops and grass skirts getting plastered on Coronas and margaritas. If you can't get behind that, then your priorities are severely off.

Buffett concerts = hot, drunk chicks showing boobs.

Police concerts = menopausal women sipping chardonnay out of plastic wine glasses.

I'd get behind that, on top of it, beneath it, whatever it takes, especially if it was 18-22 and very attractive (female, of course)...

And Buffet's music IS relevant?

The Stooges in Wrigley would've been great. RIP Ron Asheton

We're probably set on the keeper league pending final vote. Thanks for all the interest.

Those who are signed up - stop by and make some recommendations. Possible Parachat about it if there's ample reason.

new post up...

Kelly Pickler was their next choice if Rascal Flatts decllined

--instead she'll be in the front row eating popcorn and crackerjacks

I don't feel like looking up other teams spring training ticket prices, but 26-16 dollars per ticket to see mostly backups playing in spring training. Is this the Cubs factor (because people will pay that much) or are all ST tickets pricey?

I figured they'd be like minor league tickets and range from 20-10 dollars or so. Just thought it was interesting.

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