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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:
This time each year, I get stoked. It's automatic. It never fails. I'm in Arizona. The weather's great. It's time for Spring Training. But there's this one thing that gnaws at me, that keeps me from enjoying the experience quite as much as I would like to enjoy it. The start of Spring Training is fun, but there's this one memory from my youth--it's kind of a Long Sorrow--that I guess will be in the back of my mind for the rest of my life. For those of you who don't remember him or who aren't all that familar with his career, Ken Hubbs was born in Riverside, CA on December 23, 1941, and as a 12-year old, he led his Colton (California) Little League team to the Little League World Series championship game in Williamsport in August 1954. Colton lost the game to future Cub Billy Connors and his Schenectady (New York) team, but by the time he was a senior in high school (1959), Kenny Hubbs was nothing but a winner. President of his high school class and a star football, basketball, and baseball player, he could have followed his older brother Keith to BYU--where he probably would have been a two or three-sport star and BMOC. But Kenny instead chose to sign a professional baseball contract with the Chicago Cubs (yes, YOUR Chicago Cubs), all the more significant because this was before the amateur draft, and Hubbs had the option to sign with any of the then-16 MLB clubs.
The Super Bowl is over, March Madness isn't until next month, and the NBA and NHL regular seasons (AKA the playoffs) haven't started yet. So what time IS it? Well, it's time again for Spring Training, which is when professional baseball teams gather in Florida and Arizona to prepare for the coming season.
After what only seems likes months or perhaps years, the Chicago Tribune and numerous other Chicago media are reporting that the Cubs have (finally, at long last) signed FA OF Cliff Floyd. Terms are being reported as $3M for 2007 plus some type of mutual option for 2008. Although Floyd was rated an MLB Type "A" free-agent, the Cubs will not lose a pick in next June's Rule 4 Draft because the Mets declined to offer arbitration to Floyd.

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