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In the first half of Wednesday's day/night Cubs exhibitiongameathon, Ryan Dempster gets the start at HoHoKam (2:05 Central Time), while in the second game, starting at 9:05 Central Time, Jon Lieber throws against the Giants.

If Lou Piniella sticks to his vow to name the five-man starting staff by the end of the week, this would be the last chance for Dempster and Lieber to make their respective cases. Jason Marquis, who allowed just one run in five innings against the Royals Tuesday, has made a pretty good case for himself already.

Miniscule sample sizes and spring training weirdness aside, here's how Dempster, Lieber, and Marquis stack up so far:

It's back to Cactus League play as the Cubs host the Royals at HoHoKam Tuesday afternoon at 3:05 Central.

Kosuke Fukudome will see some familiar faces in new Royals manager Trey Hillman, who managed the past five seasons in Japan, and righthander Yasuhiko Yabuta, who pitched the last 12 seasons for Chiba Lotte. Yabuta has given up 14 hits and 8 earned runs in 7 innings pitched and Fukudome is hitting .229--I wonder if they'll talk about the good ol' days.

In Hated Rival News, would-be Brewer trade bait Chris Capuano is now just another guy whose elbow needs watching. And while second baseman Rickie Weeks has been horrible in the field this spring, with a team-high five errors, at least it's deflecting attention from how awful Weeks has been at the plate: 20 strikeouts in 40 AB and a .125 average.

Through it all, the Brewers have gone 14-6 in exhibition play.

We just have to keep repeating:

Spring training records don't mean anything...

Spring training records don't mean anything...

Spring training records don't mean anything...

Roberts Rumor Process
"The first test of Andy MacPhail's authority as Orioles president of baseball operations will come if a rival club makes a strong push to acquire second baseman Brian Roberts.

"A year ago, Orioles owner Peter Angelos refused to allow his previous front office to trade Roberts...Orioles executives, however, say privately that they are not under orders to keep Roberts.

"The Mets and Astros were among the teams that showed interest in Roberts before signing free-agent second basemen Luis Castillo and Kaz Matsui, respectively.

"The next team to take a run at Roberts could be the Cubs, who failed to land Matsui."

-- FoxSports.com, 12/3/07

The Angels (10-6) visit HoHoKam this afternoon at 3:05 to play the Cubs (6-12). The game will be carried on WGN Radio, WGN-TV, mlb.tv and Gameday Audio, but no one will be tuning in, as the world's attention will be focused instead on the University of Illinois' attempt to secure an NCAA Tournament berth.

Carlos Zambrano starts for the fourth time this spring. He's yielded just one earned run and one walk in nine innings--with eight strikeouts.

Among the hitters, Micah Hoffpauir remains the hittingest one we've had--18-for-37 (.486!) with a slugging percentage of .811(!!).

On the other hand, Kosuke Fukudome is getting cranky.

Rich Hill (0-1/7.04) throws against Nick Masset as the Cubs make their only visit to Tucson Electric Park this Cactus League season. (The Sox will travel to Mesa next Saturday.) First pitch is at 3:05, and the game will be telecast in Chicago on WGN, though described by the insufferable White Sox announcing team. (Wild guess: at some point in the broadcast, lifetime .239 hitter Hawk Harrelson will talk about how much more fundamentally sound baseball players were in the Old Days.) Pat and Ron will also have the call on WGN Radio.

Another reason for a Cub fan to love, or at least be fond of, Lou Piniella, from Chris DeLuca in the Sun-Times:

Piniella feels compelled to bring a competitive team to Tucson today to face the White Sox, but Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Soriano will stay in Mesa, along with Henry Blanco and Felix Pie, to work on their hitting. ''We have to take a representative team over
there,'' Piniella said of the two-hour trip to Tucson. ''First of all,
we're playing the White Sox. Second of all, the game will be televised
back in Chicago.'

I have been unable to find any reports on the x-ray results following Alex Cintron's nasty encounter with that foul ball off the bat of Mark DeRosa yesterday. If you've heard or read anything, please post it in the Comments.

Update: According to cubs.com, neither Cintron nor Cedeno made the trip to Tucson. Piniella says Cintron "probably could've come today, He
was a little sore. He's fortunate that he didn't get hit a little
higher because it could've cracked his cheekbone." Cedeno stayed behind to rehab a tight hamstring.

 

The Cubs host old friend Greg Maddux and the Pads, Thursday at 3:05 in Mesa. With his family's welfare in the balance, Jason Marquis will start for the Cubs. Marquis has allowed seven hits and two walks in two starts (5 IP) so far this Spring.

The game will be carried live on mlb.com Gameday Audio.

Also, if you haven't placed your bid on any of the CBOE seats, act now. The bidding ends at 3:00 pm.

In the Comments last week, loyal TCR reader The Joe asked which Major Leaguer had the most at-bats without ever getting a hit. (The question stemmed from the fact that Cubs CF candidate Sam Fuld currently has the roundest of lifetime batting averages, .000, after his 0-for-6 showing last season.)

According to the Baseball-Reference.com Play Index, the answer is Mets pitcher Randy Tate, who had 41 at-bats in 1975 without once hitting his way on base. Among non-pitchers, the more interesting record, I think, Mike Potter ('76-'77) and Larry Littleton ('81) share the mark with 23 hitless at-bats for the Cards and Indians, respectively.

But what about the Cubs? I figured that an organization which has fielded so many craptacular teams with roster spots filled by so many never-developed young players and over-the-hill old players would have some worthy entries in a category like this one.

So I waded back into the B-R Play Index and changed the original search parameters a bit to find the 10 non-pitchers who accumulated the most AB's for the Cubs without getting a hit. Note: the players listed may have hit safely before or after they wore the Cub uniform; the point is, they were hitless while they were ours.

Anyway, here are the Top Ten Members of the Hitless Cubs Club:

The Cubs (4-7 in Cactus League play) meet the Royals (5-5) in Surprise, Arizona (which, if it had any real guts, would add an exclamation point after its name. "Surprise!, Arizona"--now that's a town with character).

Ryan Dempster starts against Brett Tomko. Making his third appearance of the Spring, Dempster comes in at 1-0/3.60.

Yesteday, the Cubs split the squad and beat the Diamondbacks 4-1 in Mesa, while losing 7-6 to the A's on the road. Jon Lieber's four shutout innings against the D-Backs were one of the day's highlights.

So far this Spring:

Cub starters--2-1/3.38 ERA; 22 K, 7 BB; 26 H in 29 1/3 IP.

Cub relievers--2-6/6.55 ERA; 38 K, 38 BB; 73 H in 67 1/3 IP.

The Cubs play the A's this afternoon at 2:05 Central Time in Phoenix. You can hear the game via the mlb.com Web cast.

Jason Marquis starts for the Cubs against former White Sox farmhand and non-roster invitee Gio Gonzalez. The lefty led all of minor league baseball in strikeouts last season and fanned three Giants over two scoreless innings in his Oakland debut last Saturday.

Marquis also threw last Saturday and, you may recall, pitched like hell.

The Cubs and Diamondbacks play in Tucson, their first meeting since the clubs matched up in last season's NLDS. (I don't recall who won.) Carlos Zambrano makes his second appearance of the Spring after pitching two scoreless innings against the Giants last Friday. Kosuke Fukudome had a big day in yesterday's loss to the Brewers, collecting three hits while batting in the two hole. Plus he has learned how to yank Bruce Miles's chain.

And what in the world is Jim Hendry talking about? He must not read Jeff Zrebiec.

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