As most of you know, Cubs pitchers and catchers have reported to Fitch Park, and a number of infielders and outfielders are also in camp.
The pitchers are presently working in four groups, with the four groups rotating periodically from the batting cage, to the ten pac (pitch and catch), to Field #2 for PFP (Pitchers Fielding Practice), and to Field #3 for pick-off drills. A loud blaring horn alerts the pitchers when it's time to move to another location.
J. R. Mathes
Jeff Gray (strained groin), Angel Guzman (knee surgery rehab), and Ted Lilly (shoulder surgery rehab and a sore knee) did not participate in drills today.
And Carlos Silva is hopelessly out of shape, barely able to move, although he is participating in PFP & pick-off drills. I suspect Silva might end up spending much of the next two seasons on the 60-day DL.
The seven catchers in camp (Geovany Soto, Welington Castillo, Koyie Hill, Robinson Chirinos, Steve Clevenger, Blake Lalli, and Chris Robinson) spend most of their morning catching pitchers throwing in the ten pac pit (six or seven pitchers throw simultaneously), and then after the pitchers have completed their work, the catchers break up into two groups and take BP (with coaches throwing) on Field #3 (Soto, K. Hill, W. Castillo, and Chirinos) and Field #2 (Clevenger Lalli, and Robinson). So far, Geovany Soto has been the Star of Camp, hitting a number of balls out onto 8th Street in BP. He also has lost a lot of weight and looks to be in great shape
Meanwhile, the non-catcher position players who have arrived take BP and fielding practice on Field #1. Non-Roster Invitee 1B-OF Bryan Lahair (ex-SEA) has been wowing Fitch Park onlookers with prodigious BP power demonstrations, and NRI 1B-3B Chad Tracy (ex-AZ) looks to finally be 100% healthy after battling knee problems (including microfracture surgery) the last couple of years. Tracy has been taking lots of grounders at both 1B and 3B and shows good mobility. (Tracy is also one of the best pinch-hitters in baseball). New hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo has been spending a lot of time working with "pet project" Andres Blanco.
In addition to the big league coaching staff in camp, a number of minor league managers and coaches and Spring Training instructors are also present, including Special Instructor Billy Williams, Special Instructor Greg Maddux, Minor League Field Coordinator Dave Bialas, Latin American Field Coordinator Carmelo Martinez, Minor League Hitting Coordinator Dave Keller, Minor League Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins, Minor League Infield & Bunting Instructor Franklin Font, Minor League Outfield & Baserunning Instructor Bobby Dernier, Minor League Catching Instructor Marty Pevey, Iowa Manager Ryne Sandberg, Iowa Pitching Coach Mike Mason, Iowa Hitting Coach Von Joshua, Tennessee Manager Bill Dancy, Tennessee Pitching Coach Dennis Lewallyn, Tennessee hitting coach Tom Beyers, and Fitch Park Rehab Pitching Coach Brad Kelley.
And veteran SK Wyverns (KBO - South Korea) reliever Woong-Chun Cho is a Special Guest Spring Training Instructor at Fitch Park. (The Cubs might be checking him out to see if they want to hire him as a full-time minor league coach, since the Cubs have signed a lot of the best young players out of South Korea the past couple of years).
Also, note that there has been one late Spring Training number change, as NRI 1B-OF Kevin Millar has been assigned #15, bumping Bobby Scales to #19. Otherwise the Spring Training numbers remain the same as they have been for the past few weeks (see right side-bar).
Meanwhile on the SouthSide
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?