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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:
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BP GROUP 3:
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.