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I wasn't at the game, but the Cubs dropped a 4-2 decision to the Colorado Rockies today at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson. box score After the game, the Cubs announced several roster cuts, optioning C Geovany Soto to Iowa, and sending NRI LHP Ryan O'Malley and Carmen Pignatiello, C Jake Fox, 3B Casey McGehee, and 1B Micah Hoffpauir to the minor league camp at Fitch Park. The Cubs have also released RHP Eli Diaz and Alfredo Francisco, LHP Nate Bland, C Kevin Ciarrachi, 1B Jason Hart and Luther Murphy, INF Derek Wathan, and OF Tony Miller and Nate Price from minor league camp, and OF Davy Gregg has retired. Diaz was a 2006 40th round draft pick out of Texarkana JC who pitched at AZL Mesa last season, Francisco was a one-time hot-shot Dominican 3B prospect who received a big bonus from the Cubs five years ago, but was converted to a pitcher when he couldn't learn to hit curve balls and sliders, Murphy was a 2005 "draft+follow" JC player (selected in the 46th round out of Palm Beach CC) who signed with the Cubs prior to the 2006 Rule 4 Draft and then was assigned to AZL Mesa, Price was a '06 NDFA (University of Iowa) who hit a combined .263 as a "4th OF" at Peoria and Daytona last year, Ciarrachi was signed last December after playing in professional independent leagues the previous five seasons, and Bland (ex-HOU) , Hart (ex-TEX), Wathan (ex-FLA), and Miller (ex-COL) were minor league FAs signed to minor league contracts during the off-season by the Cubs. Gregg was a speedy CF selected in the 27th round of the 2005 draft out of the University of South Carolina who played at Boise in '05 and at Peoria last year.
A day after they were shutout on two hits by a trio of Angels pitchers at Diablo Stadium in Tempe, a Cubs split squad exploded for 22 hits, defeating a Seattle Mariners split squad 16-4 before a crowd of 8,625 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa today. box score - CUBS VS SEA at MESA
Jose Cruz, Jr and Kevin Kouzmanoff each hit two-run home runs, as the San Diego Padres defeated the Cubs 7-3 before a capacity St. Patrick's Day crowd of 12,764 and an international WGN-TV audience at extremely hot (record-setting mid-90's) and sunny Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa today. box score
This time I'm SURE the game was on WGN-TV (because that's how I watched it), so I'm not going to go into a complete review of the game, but the White Sox defeated the Cubs 7-6 yesterday at VERY hot (upper 90's) Tucson Electric Park. box score
Cliff Floyd hit a three-run homer and doubled, Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run home run, Alfonso Soriano went 3-3 with two singles, a triple, a stolen base, and a run scored, and Jacque Jones (a single and a double and two runs scored) and Matt Murton (a single and a walk) reached base twice, as the Cubs defeated the S. S. Mariner (that's "S. S.," as in "Split Squad") before a capacity crowd of 12,771 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa today. box score
Almost every year, one or two Non-Roster Invitees (NRI) contend for a spot on the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster. This year, it appears that veteran utility INF Tomas Perez has the best shot among the NRI to make the Opening Day 25, since Manager Lou Piniella says he believes the Cubs will need two utility middle-infielders. Ryan Theriot is definitely one, and unless the Cubs go outside the organization and make a trade for somebody like Marlins supersub (SS-2B-CF) Alfredo Amezaga, Perez would seem to be the logical front-runner to become the Cubs second utility infielder. But who are the other candidates, and if Perez does get the job, who gets dropped from the Cubs 40-man roster?
The Cubs announced 14 roster cuts after today's game in Scottsdale, bringing their Spring Training roster down to 44 players. OPTIONED TO IOWA (AAA): Scott Moore, IF-OF Clay Rapada, LHP OPTIONED TO TENNESSEE (AA): Brian Dopirak, 1B OPTIONED TO DAYTONA (Hi-A) : Jeff Samardzija, RHP SENT TO MINOR LEAGUE CAMP (NRI) Jason Anderson, RHP Tyler Colvin, OF Sean Gallagher, RHP Adam Harben, RHP (rehabbing at Fitch Park after off-season TJ) Ben Howard, RHP Mike Kinkade, IF-OF (broken hand, out 4-6 weeks) Eric Patterson, 2B Chris Walker, OF John Webb, RHP Randy Wells, RHP Also, the Cubs defeated the Giants 10-5 today at Scottsdale Stadium, as Carlos Zambrano narrowly avoided a serious injury to his shoulder (non-throwing) when he fell running the bases. Derrek Lee also tweaked a groin on an awkward slide into second base, and Henry Blanco was forced to leave the game after suffering a bruised knee from a foul tip. Other than the injury report, there will be no game report from me, because I wasn't there. box score
For the first time since 1996, the MLB Playing Rules Committee has voted in several rules changes for 2007, including a couple of changes to MLB Rule 10 (official scoring).
The smell of freshly-cut grass, and temperatures in the 60's with nary a cloud in the sky. A smilin' Lou Piniella strolling from field to field, bantering with the fans and signing autographs. The sound of bat on ball, and pitchers practicing covering first on a ball hit to the first-baseman. Ah, yes. While it might not be absolutely as good as it gets, it's pretty close. Your pal AZ Phil and about 100 hopeful Cub fans attended the Cubs first Spring Training workout of 2007 this morning at Fitch Park in Mesa. It was a mandatory work-out for the Cubs' 30 pitchers and six catchers, but six position players (infielders and outfielders) who were not required to report showed up anyway.
The rain has stopped, skies have cleared, Kerry Wood is a lean, mean, fighting machine, and with pitchers, catchers, and a few of the position players having reported to Fitch Park yesterday (minus Carlos Zambrano, whose arrival was delayed), and with the first offical Spring Training workout scheduled for this morning, here is the up-to-date Cubs 40-man roster and ST NRI list, the contract status and minor league option status for all players on the 40-man roster, the list of Cubs minor league players who will be eligible to be free-agents after the 2007 season and those who will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft next December, and AZ Phil's pre-ST Cubs organizational depth chart:

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