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Pitchers & catchers and a number of position players have reported to Cubs Spring Training Camp at Fitch Park in Mesa.
So far the pitchers are just throwing bullpen sessions (each pitcher usually throws off a mound every-other day) and participating in PFP drills (Pitchers Fielding Practice), while the position players who have reported are taking batting pratice (with coaches throwing soft-toss BP) and taking infield practice or tracking fly balls in the outfield.
The pitchers will start throwing "live" BP to the hitters next week.
Among the position players who hit today, Geovany Soto put on the best power display, crushing a number of dingers onto Center Street. And NRI 3B Josh Vitters (Cubs 2007 #1 draft pick) also had an impressive BP session, mashing balls all over the place. Vitters will likely begin the 2011 season back at AA Tennessee.
INF Darwin Barney added some muscle to his frame during the off-season, and looks like he could perhaps provide a bit more power than he has displayed so far in his pro career.
Fernando Perez (acquired from Tampa Bay in the Matt Garza deal) is back to switch-hitting again (at least he was today), after batting exclusively right-handed last year while recovering from a broken left wrist suffered in Spring Training 2009. The speedy 27-year old Perez hit a paltry 223/280/299 at AAA Durham in 2010 (career 234/301/351 in 41 MLB games 2008-09), but he is a good defensive outfielder with a plus-arm, and he can play all three OF positions. He will be battling Reed Johnson, Lou Montanez, Brad Snyder, and Jim Adduci for a back-up OF spot. And Perez does have one minor league option left, in case he fails to win a big league job in Spring Training.
BP GROUP 1:
BP GROUP 2:
BP GROUP 3:
Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, AJackson, Montero, Castro, Hendricks, Russell
I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.