"I got it!! I got it!!... I ain't got it"

Ten Cubs pitchers threw their second "live" BP session at Fitch Park today.

Jeff Stevens and David Patton threw to James Adduci, Matt Camp, Tyler Colvin, Bryan Lahair, and Chris Robinson, Casey Coleman and Mitch Atkins threw to Starlin Castro, Steve Clevenger, Kosuke Fukudome, and Alfonso Soriano, and J. R. Mathes threw to Robinson Chirinos, Koyie Hill, Blake Lalli, and Josh Vitters on Field #2, while on Field #3, Blake Parker and Jeff Kennard threw to Darwin Barney, Welington Castillo, Sam Fuld, Bobby Scales, and Brad Snyder, James Russell and Thomas Diamond threw to Marlon Byrd, Brett Jackson, Derrek Lee, Xavier Nady, and Geovany Soto, and Marcos Mateo threw to Andres Blanco, Micah Hoffpauir, Kevin Millar, and Chad Tracy.

Players who didn't get to hit in a "live" BP session took BP on either Field #1 or Field #4, with coaches or machines throwing the BP.

With Greg Maddux standing behind him, Mike Parisi threw "live" BP in an early morning session prior to the full-squad workout. Vince Perkins was scheduled to throw today, and he may have thrown early, too, but I'm not sure.

This was the second "live" BP sesion for the pitchers who threw today (this group threw their first "live" BP session on Wednesday), and pitch counts were increased from 25 to 30, with all pitchers now throwing their full array of pitches (including breaking balls). The hitters know what's coming, so it's noteworthy when a pitcher has a dominating outing in one of these sessions.

No question the best pitcher today was LHP James Russell (he also had the best outing among the 12 pitchers who threw on Wednesday). Facing major league hitters like D-Lee, Byrd, Nady, and Soto (plus 2009 #1 draft pick Brett Jackson) today, Russell looked great, getting lots of swings & misses while breaking a couple of bats. Marlon Byrd let out a hoot on one of his whiffs.

The son of former MLB closer Jeff Russell and the Cubs 14th round draft pick in 2007 out of the University of Texas (the Cubs had to give him "3rd round money" to give up his senior season at Texas), the 24-year old Russell is one of 21 non-roster invitees (NRI) at Fitch Park. This is his first big league camp, and he got the NRI after a strong six weeks in the Arizona Fall League post-2009, where he was the AFL's #1 lefty reliever. Russell isn't really a LOOGY. He's probably more of a prototypical lefty starter, but for some reason, Russell just gets better results working out of the pen (like his old man). If the Cubs decide to move Sean Marshall to the starting rotation while Ted Lilly rehabs from off-season knee and shoulder surgery, Russell might be a candidate to replace Marshall as the other lefty in the pen (with John Grabow).

Two other pitchers who looked especially good today were RHPs Blake Parker and Thomas Diamond. Nobody hit the ball hard off either of them. The Cubs 2006 16th round pick out of the University of Arkansas, Parker (like Carlos Marmol and Randy Wells) is a former catcher, who was converted to pitcher during Extended Spring Training at Fitch Park in May 2007. Parker was a teammate of Russell's at Tennessee, Iowa and Mesa (AFL) in 2009 (Parker has been a closer since he made the conversion to pitcher), while Diamond (a former Texas Rangers #1 draft pick) threw in the AZ Instructional League and in the Mexican Pacific League post-2009 after being claimed off waivers by the Cubs last September. (Diamond pitched for Cubs Assistant GM Randy Bush when Bush was Head Coach at the University of New Orleans).

While Russell, Parker, and Diamond had plus-outings, David Patton (a Rule 5 player last year) struggled with his "out" pitch (spike curve), bouncing most of them in the dirt. It's a tough pitch to throw (and hit), so he might need some time to get it right.

Among the hitters, Bobby Scales mashed a couple of balls off the right-centerfield fence off Jeff Kennard, and Tyler Colvin absolutely ripped Jeff Stevens. Starlin Castro and Micah Hoffpauir also had some solid hits.

Prior to the "live" BP sessions, catchers, infielders and outfielders on Field #2 (Chris Robinson, Blake Lalli, Robinson Chirinos, and Steve Clevenger at catcher, Kevin Millar and Bryan Lahair at 1B, Darwin Barney at 2B, Matt Camp and Starlin Castro at SS, Josh Vitters and Bobby Scales at 3B, James Adduci in LF, Brett Jackson and Tyler Colvin in CF, and Brad Snyder in RF) and Field #3 (Geovany Soto, Koyie Hill, and Welington Castillo at catcher, Derrek Lee and Micah Hoffpauir at 1B, Jeff Baker and Andres Blanco at 2B, Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot at SS, Aramis Ramirez and Chad Tracy at 3B, Alfonso Soriano in LF, Marlon Byrd and Sam Fuld in CF, and Kosuke Fukudome and Xavier Nady in RF) spent about 30 minutes practicing calling for pop ups & (hopefully) catching a few of them. The balls were sent into the air by a pitching machine turned upward, and some of the infield pops were truly towering (I think one just missed hitting a low-flying aircraft).

With the big league club at Fitch Park, Cubs minor leaguers who have arrived early are having informal work-outs up the street at HoHoKam Park under the supervision of Boise manager Jody Davis. As the Boise manager, Davis will also be the manager of both the Boise/Mesa squad at Minor League Camp and the Extended Spring Training team that plays at Fitch Park during April-May-June.

Minor League Camp officially opens at Fitch Park next week, a few days after the big league club moves up Center Street to HoHoKam Park. (The big league club will probably relocate Spring Training operations to HoHoKam Park on either Tuesday or Wednesday).



I keep waiting for James Russell to breakout. I mean, with the plus change, good curve, and enough on the fastball, that's a solid starter's arsenal. I'm still not exactly sure what his issue is as a starter.

I'm hoping that Russell starts the season in AAA's rotation. There's enough lefty options (Gorzelanny could get the 5th job with Marshall in the pen along with Grabow, and Gaub will be in AAA) that I really would like to see if Russell can figure it out.

With Diamond, I'm curious on how the breaking ball looks and how good his control is. With Parker, the control's going to be interesting. All three could get big league time this year, depending on how things go.

Great job Phil...I'm especially interested in Thomas Diamond
this year...It's early...but the outings by Russell/Diamond/Parker are encouraging...
Keep up the good worl, Phil.

So is Russell's problem stamina?

That would be my guess. Other options would be brains (he cannot think his way through the lineup multiple times and won't trust his catcher) or deception, which I would think AZ Phil would have noted or concentration.

One thing I read somewhere once upon a time was that fastball location. Not an issue of control, as that's fine, but rather knowing how to attack with the fastball without throwing BP (that's not how it was worded, I can't think of another way to word it right now).

So he could only maintain his fastball location for a few outs? That sounds like it would fit into the general group of stamina or concentration.

"Russell stood out with his changeup but his other two pitches, an 84-88 mph fastball and a marginal breaking ball, didn't impress scouts. In the Texas Collegiate League, his fastball jumped to 88-92 mph and his curve was more usable. Russell's changeup is the best in the system and helps his other pitches play up. He throws strikes on a good downhill plane, and he has the know-how befitting the son of a former big leaguer." - Baseball America, 2/08

"his game is all about finesse and not power. His best pitch is his changeup, followed by a fringy 84-88 mph fastball and a marginal breaking ball." - 6/07

maybe he's got that FB in the 88-92 range again...

how did all that info come from a spreadsheet? they must have some fancy ones down there at BA.

there were reports on 88-92. Also, the breaking ball has, by most accounts, improved while he's been in the Cubs system. I think there was a report that said it was a now a solid pitch.

Love your daily coverage, Phil. For those of us in Mesa, I'd like to know which instructors are working when I watch. Could you provide us with the minor league instructor/manager spring uniform numbers? Thanks.

Submitted by Hook on Fri, 02/26/2010 - 6:21pm.
Love your daily coverage, Phil. For those of us in Mesa, I'd like to know which instructors are working when I watch. Could you provide us with the minor league instructor/manager spring uniform numbers? Thanks



23 Ryne Sandberg - AAA Manager
26 Billy Williams - Special Instructor
31 Greg Maddux - Special Instructor
77 Dave Bialas - Minor League Field Coordinator
80 Carmelo Martinez - Latin American Field Coordinator
81 Bob Dernier - Roving Outfield & Baserunning Instructor
82 Von Joshua - AAA Hitting Instructor
83 Franklin Font - Roving Infield & Bunting Instructor
85 Mark Riggins - Minor League Pitching Coordinator
86 Mike Mason - AAA Pitching Coach
87 Dave Keller - Minor League Hitting Coordinator
89 Dennis Lewallyn - AA Pitching Coach
90 Brad Kelley - Fitch Park Rehab Pitching Coach
91 Marty Pevey - Roving Catching Instructor
92 Tom Beyers - AA Hitting Coach
93 Bill Dancy - AA Manager
94 Woong Chun Cho - Special Instructor

Great! Now I'll get a much clearer idea on the day's activities. Thanks again.

Franklin "Gothic" Font?

/I'm so sorry


What would happen if Fergie Jenkins became an on-field instructor?

31 (maple leaf)

420 (drug reference)


don't see the Van Buren reference, a bit wild with his delivery but doesn't end up with his back to the batter.

he finishes his delivery with "kung fu ballerina" in a weird position to field the ball...i just think that's funky. he comes up with his right side square to the batter a lot, too.

the video is on the link, it's a bit odd no doubt, but nothing like Van Buren.

better than Kerry Wood, who ended up 3 feet towards the first base bag all the time and the only way he'd catch something up the middle is if he went behind his back.

yeah...they both have funky ends of their release...i didn't call him mitch williams or something.

a lot of people come off wide to 1st/3rd. it's not good, but they do it anyway. NOT doing it is what led randy johnson to spot his stuff better.

and the only way he'd catch something up the middle is if he went behind his back.

Which he got damn good at. But yeah, should've raised some eyebrows.

cards finally sign the 2nd baseman that couldn't...felipe lopez with a 2m deal + incentives (undisclosed as of yet).

not bad at all.

Can't Khalil Greene just chill the fuck out?

Looks like the Cardinals finally signed Lopez.


Neal: I think somehow you'd be able to discern Mad-Dog from Fergie on the field.


Asked about possible racial profiling among some media members in comparing Byrd and Bradley, Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee didn't mince words.

"It's ridiculous," Lee told Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood on ESPN 1000's "Talkin' Baseball" Saturday morning. "If it was a white guy who came over [to the Cubs] would he be [called] the 'anti-Milton Bradley'? It just makes no sense. Marlon's a completely different guy. He wasn't traded for Milton. He signed here as a free agent, so why even bring Milton Bradley's name into it? It really makes no sense and it's just, again, the media trying to make something out of nothing."

as far as i can tell...even the "pulse" of the fans seem to not connect byrd to milton even if he's the "replacement"

everyone is worried about other people and their performances it seems.

Starting to understand this team's lack of success in last two playoffs.

"If it was(sic) a white guy who came over [to the Cubs] would he be [called] the 'anti-Milton Bradley'?

Why the fuck not? Jason Bay is known as the anti-Manny in Boston.

You misunderstood the comments. He is actually affectionately referred to as Manny's Auntie.

That's incredible.

That's an "and you thought WE were bored" question. Not quite as stupid as the girl who asked the Nascar driver if he thought they should make it more dangerous, but it's right up there.

it's being asked, though.

as much as some press people took milton VERY VERY personally...as if the writers were a story...i'm not surprised.

some f'n drama queen writers spend so long along the game they think they are the game.

don mattingly at 2nd...ron guidry in CF...

lulz...the "pine tar incident game"

i've never seen this in it's entirety...AND they added the resumed game part i've personally never seen.

bwhaha...brett quoted on MLB Network about the incident "best thing that ever happened to me...before that i was known as the hemorrhoid guy...now i'm the pine-tar guy."

1979 PHI @ CHC "45 run game" on MLB Network


21-19 phi/chc in the 6th. the cubs might come back and win this one.

Marmol's wild in BP. Castro pays the price.


our closer...

also interesting:

Piniella said he’s looking for six players to stand up and take jobs this spring.

“Realistically, we’re looking for two starting pitchers, two relievers and two bench players. That’s about what we have open,” Piniella said.

So, for those of us trying to sort out allegiances: Marmol is on team Theriot, Dolis is on team Castro.

Did anybody else not know that Rammy never takes live BP? I'd think this would've come up in previous years.

just vs. teammates...it's common.

well, it's a lot more common for star/vet hitters to stand in and just not swing...giving the pitcher someone to look at...not as common to just not do it. still, it's not that unusual around baseball.

Obvious next question: Why?

it's been going on a long time. some players claim they dont want direct competition or risk injury on a pitcher still warming his location/velocity...it seems to be something vets take advantage of more often so it might be a reason to not stand around the batting cage waiting for their hacks, too. some will stand in the box, but not swing...basically just hanging out at the cage and giving the pitcher a chance to throw some riskier stuff or loosen up for the others taking real hacks.

yeah, it seems like it'd be fun...it is for some.

Also, some of the vets have a different routine for getting back to full game speed. Those young kids have to get in there and swing or else. The guys getting paid big money don't.

Kinda like crunch said, he doesn't need it. He doesn't need those hacks against the Cashner/Dolis/Gaub/Atkins of the world to be ready to go. He'll feast on another few days of 65 mph BP heaters and then start gearing up for full speed when the ST games start.

C. Karhl has a BP update on the NL Central. Not much interesting in her discussion of the Cubs. Same old back of the rotation and bullpen slots talk, 2B, Castro's arrival and Nady, yaketty-yak.


If Kevin Millar doesn't make the club, I'm thinking they will add him to the radio broadcast booth with a provision that he might get added later if injury permits (or at least a September roster callup).

I can see him hiding Santo's "gamer" on a regular basis. Probably hiding it in Pat's tuna fish sandwich.

BP's Marc Nomadin has 3B rankings. ARam's in the 4 star group with Sandoval, Reynolds, IStewart, Figgins, MYoung and Chipper.

The 5 stars are predictably, Zimmerman, Wright, Longoria and ARod.

Ramirez hit well in limited time last year, but his BABIP was a little too lofty for PECOTA and my liking given his history. Those R and HR totals seem a little low to me, but bumping him up for that doesn't do anything except keep him ahead of the guys I've listed after him.


another BP article on the NL Central, this time with a contract focus, by Jeff Euston:

The Cubs are likely to spend more in 2010 than every club but the Yankees and Red Sox, absent a multi-million addition by the Phillies. Chicago’s projected Opening Day payroll of more than $140 million dwarves the amounts spent by their division rivals: nearly $45 million more than St. Louis, $48 million more than Houston, $53 million more than Milwaukee, $69 million more than Cincinnati, and $103 million more than Pittsburgh. No pressure in Wrigleyville. Just win. Now.

Hendry has already committed more than $101 million in guaranteed deals for 2011, when as many as nine Cubs could be eligible for salary arbitration. He has a start on 2012, too, with $60.5 million on the books...


Now where did I put those razor blades...?

"Chicago’s projected Opening Day payroll of more than $140 million dwarves the amounts spent by their division rivals..."

Dwarves? Really? As in "Snow White and the 7 $20 million dwarves"?

"Dwarfs", BP. The word you were going for was "dwarfs". Try hard not to look like you need your mother to come down to the basement to check your grammar.

~rolls eyes~

"Dwarfs", BP.
A little HGH just might help them.

Recent comments

Subscribe to Recent comments
The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • Hopefully Pirates don't call up A. Lincoln.

    jacos 7 hours 15 min ago view
  • j.buchanan going friday...should be...baseball...or something like it.

    crunch 7 hours 23 min ago view
  • Wow. I didn't know they could do that.

    Nice for Willson, not so much for Addy.

    billybucks 7 hours 39 min ago view
  • Game is officially called...also officially a tie.

    Stats count, no make-up date of course.


    Rob G. 7 hours 41 min ago view
  • Yeah -- seeing the weather -- I hope KB and Rizz are inside, wrapped in blankets and drinking hot chocolate.

    billybucks 8 hours 27 min ago view
  • rain delay...thanks obama.

    crunch 9 hours 6 min ago view
  • Thanks again Phil. We actually were in Mesa and drove around. Hopefully, I am back for some Fall League. If not I have all of spring training (like the smart people who move here!)

    rvimpeny 10 hours 9 min ago view
  • What Rob G said.  I can't speak for Piittsburgh, but the other end of the state has had absolute crap weather for two days. Perfect day to take it easy.

    Transmission 10 hours 13 min ago view
  • tarp came off 10 minutes ago...let's do this.

    crunch 10 hours 27 min ago view
  • He will not pitch another game for Cubs

    /Unless injury in playoffs

    jacos 10 hours 44 min ago view
  • ~fart~

    jacos 10 hours 45 min ago view
  • Today is bullpen day

    jacos 10 hours 45 min ago view
  • 10/450 if they win WS

    jacos 10 hours 46 min ago view
  • Carrie Muskat [email protected]
    Even though Hammel is missing start, don't assume he'll not be on #Cubs postseason roster. Maddon says elbow problem isn't that bad

    Carrie Muskat [email protected]
    Maddon on #Cubs postseason rotation: "I don't want to announce anything. We haven't talked to anybody yet"

    Carrie Muskat [email protected]
    Maddon hopes Soler can take BP in Cincy, play in sim game Tue. "All of that should give us some kind of indication of where he's at"

    crunch 11 hours 3 min ago view
  • tarp on the field 40 minutes before gametime...meh.

    crunch 11 hours 6 min ago view
  • travel day + rain in Pittsburgh. Why risk injury?

    Rob G. 11 hours 9 min ago view