Cubs Pitchers Stretch Out at Fitch Park

Randy Wells, Travis Wood, Andy Sonnanstine, Trey McNutt, Lendy Castillo, Marcos Mateo, Trever Miller, and Rodrigo Lopez threw "live" BP at cool & blustery Fitch Park today, before a sparse crowd under partly cloudy skies.

Wells, T. Wood, Sonnanstine, McNutt, and Lopez threw 45 pitches each, while L. Castillo, Mateo, and Miller threw 30 pitches a piece.

This is somewhat of a change from past years, as the pitchers who are prepping as starters are throwing more pitches per outing earlier than before. I can't remember the last time I saw any pitcher throw 45 pitches in a pre-Cactus League "live" BP session at Fitch.

Lopez has (apparently) been tabbed to start the Cactus League opener versus the Oakland A's at HoHoKam Park on Sunday, and it appears he has a reasonable shot to win the 12th man slot (long reliever/spot starter/garbage man) on the pitching staff. Lopez isn't Cy Young, but he does have the proverbial "rubber" arm and doesn't really need a lot of extra side-work to stay stretched out enough to be able to give his team four passably-decent innings (five tops) when needed.

Best performance at the plate today in "live" BP was by Junior Lake, who hit a couple of balls off the outfield fence, and Josh Vitters peppered Rule 5 draft pick Lendy Castillo's offerings with line-drives back through the box. Otherwise, there were no dingers, as the pitchers appeared to be mostly ahead of the hitters.

1B Anthony Rizzo (acquired from the Padres during the off-season) took some extra ground balls at 1st base after BP. He is a hard worker and the coaches really seem to like him a lot.

Steve Clevenger, battling Welington Castillo and Jason Jaramillo for the back-up catcher job, had an extensive work-out at 3B with the "B" team on Field #2 prior to the "live" BP session. Clevenger played SS in college and was moved to 2B after signing with the Cubs in 2006, before being converted to catcher at Instructs post-2006. Clevenger still has work to do to make himself a major league backstop, but he has the knowledge and aptitude to play anywhere in the infield in a pinch. He's gotten a bit bottom-heavy over the years and he has little range, but having a left-hand hitting back-up catcher who can play other positions in an emergency is a definite plus.

Clevenger has a short stroke that allows him to hit "cold" off the bench without needing a lot of regular playing time to stay ready, and he also is an excellent bunter. He might not have been an Academic All-American (he transferred to Chipola JC after being declared academically ineligible at the U. of Texas), but he has a high "Baseball IQ" and probably will be a manager someday. He understands the fundamentals of the game very well. (The Cubs minor league coaches LOVE Clevenger).

With Geovany Soto unable to do much while rehabbing a groin injury, the Cubs have brought 2010 3rd round draft pick Micah Gibbs (LSU) down to Fitch Park from Minor League Mini-Camp at HoHoKam as a 6th catcher. (See kids? It pays to report early!). Gibbs is probably the best receiver in the organization (albeit with just an average arm), but he has struggled offensively over his first two seasons in pro ball. However, the switch-hitting Gibbs showed tremendous improvement (and an outstanding eye) at the plate at Instructs post-2011, and should be the #1 catcher at Daytona in 2012.

The new regime has demonstrated little patience with mistakes and poor play so far at Fitch Park. Several coaches have stopped work-outs mid-stream to provide a "teaching moment" when a player's performance is not up to par. The players all seem to be enthusiastic and loose, but there is zero tolerance for f*ck ups. And that's kind of refreshing.


Phil, have you heard anything regarding Gerardo Concepcion? Thanks for the report.

Tue, 02/28/2012 - 4:39pm — Hagsag New
Re: Cubs Pitchers Stretch Out at Fitch Park
Phil, have you heard anything regarding Gerardo Concepcion? Thanks for the report.



It's been about a month since he was reported as having signed, and even if they were waiting for him to take a physical to make it all official, that's long time to wait.

"Big Cubs press release. They signed Bryan Robinson as VP of Human Resources. "

wow, they hired someone who didn't used to work for the RSox...wonder if he interned there =p

Didn't he play third for the Orioles?

i think that was boog robinson

And that's kind of refreshing.
Glad to hear some positive comments from you on the management team.

have the astros lost their f'n minds?

they're moving their #2 starter, brett the pen...assuming he's the new closer.

lol wut?

have more starters than relievers and Myers was open to it. Maybe Astros think he's more valuable as a upper end reliever than fringe starter in the trade market.

"From my standpoint, we have some depth in the rotation between Duke, Livan, Happ, Sosa and Harrell and all the young guys," Luhnow said. "We feel like we're in pretty good shape there and have some choices. We felt like we were a little exposed in the bullpen, and having a guy who's been successful in that role and who's got the mentality and stuff to do well takes pressure off Brandon Lyon coming off an injury and doesn't put pressure on young kids like David Carpenter and Wilton Lopez."

it certainly wasn't forced upon him....

i think he'll be a good closer...and hitting closer to 95 rather than 90mph should help things...but with his price tag (and 2013 option for 10m vs 3m buyout) i just think it's a bad allocation of their available resources.

What's going on with Soler?

And where's my World Series ring, Mr. Epstein?

No new rumors ? Haven't heard anything in two weeks

Soler has not yet been given resident status in the DR. Until that happens, he can not be declared a free agent by MLB. And until that happens, no one, including the Cubs, can officially sign him.

Cleveland Indians reunion involving an old Negro League player it looks like.

Get ready to feel old-

on the Magic Johnson post-retirement diet I see

heavy drinking for the win.

he liked speed in his days, too...probably didn't help his attitude.

Shiraz Rehman gonna be live streamed in the next few minutes, whatever BWBCHI is...president of Bloomberg Sports too

they're past talking about the Front Office fantasy app now, talking about Bloomberg's professional app.

25 teams use it at the moment...

Software is a fancy database but can quickly get to information and every pitch is linked to video of that pitch which is neat. Mostly demo'd on Garza, showing his pitch sequences and so forth...

Shiraz talking now.
(paraphrase)"how can we get all the information we use to make a decision in one place and get to it fairly quickly"

"all scouts enter their analysis into the app"

old news, but Ipad "advance scouting" app they sell to players with video

Garza can get all videos of him pitching to Brewers or just swing and misses and so on...

Q&A now, everyone there gets a free login to Bloomberg Front Office. *damnit*

what is it with bloomberg/cubs?

they are shilling the hell out of bloomberg products this offseason. maybe they got some free services or something.

Garza open to extension

"It's awesome," he said. "What player doesn't want the front office to commit to them? For me, it's nothing but compliments. The way it goes is the way it goes. It'll be behind closed doors. It's huge for me. It would be huge for my family...I'm ready to help the Cubs win."

sadly I couldn't listen to all of it, the Q&A seemed the most interesting...

Shiraz on free agents (paraphrase):
"winner's curse, if you're system evaluates Pujols worth 8 years at a certain dollar amount, you have to pay 9-10 years to get him...then the question is how much are you willing to overpay?"

Lendry Castllo. Looks like he belongs, or will be going back to Philly when time allows?

i think he's headed to the 60-day DL with "suck fatigue."

what does he throw besides the mid-90s fastball, btw? i nearly forgot about the guy.

Tue, 02/28/2012 - 9:38pm — crunch

what does he throw besides the mid-90s fastball, btw? i nearly forgot about the guy.


CRUNCH: L. Castillo throws a low-to-mid 90's fastball and a breaking ball. Profiles as a reliever.

Yesterday he gave it a little bit of that Jose Valverde thing where he jumps & spins after the pitch. Either that or he got spun around by one of Vitters line drives.

Tue, 02/28/2012 - 9:09pm — tim815

Lendry Castllo. Looks like he belongs, or will be going back to Philly when time allows?


tim815: I would be very surprised if Lendy Castillo makes the Cubs Opening Day roster.

The Cubs might try and work out a trade with the Phillies to keep him if he clears waivers (which he should). He probably should be pitching at Daytona in 2012.

"Right now it's a concrete plan to just let Rizzo have another season in Triple A and let him be comfortable instead of moving him up and down and all that stuff," manager Dale Sveum said. "It's Bryan LaHair's job. It's not his to lose."

Makes sense to me, but if LaHair dominates, and Rizzo knocks around AAA pitching, which corner outfield spot does LaHair take? I have a gut feeling Rizzo is going to be putting pressure on LaHair to actually turn his 4A story into a cinderella success story very quickly, no matter what Sveum says.

If both do well, LaHair resembles a flip candidate.

That seems the general consensus here, but it doesn't sound like what he's being told, and as lousy as Trib reporters can be, they're pretty consistently reporting he'll be moved into the outfield if things move along as the team hopes.

I think the question will be how much of Soriano's contract will they need to eat versus what player(s) they will get back in return for moving LaHair.

good point

Yeah. I'm sure other teams' level of interest (in either LaHair or Soriano) could change everything.

updates on and mlb at-bat apps...

Last year, Premium users were required to pay the $124.99/season fee, as well as buying separate iPhone and iPad apps for $14.99 each. This year, subscribers with iOS devices will save $30 by having the apps unlock automatically with a login. Additionally, Premium users will get access to out-of-market game broadcasts on the Apple TV. MLB tells MacRumors that the Apple TV is receiving an updated interface for 2012 as well.

New for this year is an additional Premium purchase option: a $24.99/month in-app subscription that gives all the same access as buying through the MLB website, but with the convenience of charging the service to an iTunes account. Across the whole length of the season, the $24.99/month charge will be more expensive than the full season charge of $124.99, but it is nice to have the option.

...and something new:

MLB told us about a new "At The Ballpark" app coming on Opening Day 2012. The app will expand on the features offered in the At Bat app last year and will offer maps to concession stands, emergency exits and more at ballparks, as well as a geolocated check-in service. Individual clubs can offer seat upgrades, special offers and food discounts to app users. Some clubs even offer mobile food ordering from the app, and can deliver food right to your seat.

the Apple TV interface last year worked pretty great, better than the Roku. Wonder what they're doing?

also rumors of a new Apple TV, announcement would be March 7th with the Ipad 3.

for this year, says Rosenthal, official announcement tomorrow.

MLB - 33% make playoffs
NFL - 37.5% make playoffs
NBA - 53.3% make playoffs
NHL - 53.3% make playoffs

let's hope it stops there...

nba/nhl playoffs are a joke...some people don't even start watching until the playoff chase heats up...that goes on with baseball, too, but meh...

they play 162 games...let that sort it out more than letting 14-16 teams in for short series playoffs.

they should go back to just a world series of the best record NL vs AL

...the 16 team playoffs should be a bunting tournament.

(and we've got CLEVENGER!!!)

get rid of the DH, bring back segregation and day games and .10 hot dogs while we're at it!!!!!!!!

Rob, I disagree with you about segregation.

I don't think the guy who just banned the homophobe is actually racist. ;)

I disagree with you about Jon Stewart.

We shall duel at dawn with pistols to settle these very important matters.

blah, blah, blah, obviously I was joking as I'm sure you are...

Lawrie, Garza, Trout for Heyward?

Hmmmmm....what you offer intrigues me. I'm more or less looking at it as Lawrie for Heyward since I don't expect Trout to get significant playing time. Lemme ponder. I will, however, allow you to pursue other trades while I ponder.

And, yes, I was joking and knew you were. But I wanted to see who didn't know that I was joking about not knowing you were joking. And it worked. Like a snake charm.

It's 3 for 1, Phil Rogers would do it.

"get rid of the DH, bring back segregation and day games and .10 hot dogs while we're at it!!!!!!!!"

What I hate about this is that it forces me to choose whether I'd be willing to put up with the segregation in order to have the day games, 10 cent hot dogs & no DH.

fine, keep your desegregation, just know Obama is your fault.

/dripping with sarcasm, #sarcasm, flashing sarcasm font


/dripping with sarcasm, #sarcasm, flashing sarcasm font
TCR readers could use one of these...

sarcasm detector...more boobs...TCR 2013 is going to be interesting.

and the return of ryan flaherty!

The Orioles selected Flaherty, a first-round sandwich pick of the Chicago Cubs' in 2008, in December's annual Rule 5 draft, which allows teams to select certain players not protected on other teams' 40-man rosters. The club paid $50,000 for Flaherty's rights, but if the Orioles don't keep Flaherty on their 25-man roster for the entire season, the Cubs could buy him back for $25,000 — almost a certainty in Flaherty's case.


Before any Rule 5 player can be offered back to his former team, he must first clear Outright Assignment Waivers, where any club can claim him (and assume the Rule 5 roster obligations) for $25,000.

If he is not claimed, THEN his former club can buy him back for $25,000. This is the point when trades invloving Rule 5 players are sometimes made, with the player's former team receiving a different player and/or cash in return for allowing the drafting club to keep the player and send him to the minors,

This will be true for RHP Lendy Castillo (selected by the Cubs from the Phillies AAA Lehigh Valley club in the Major League Phase of last December's Rule 5 Draft), too, if the Cubs choose not to keep him on their Opening Day MLB 25-man roster or DL.

that's a weird starts with explaining how it's pretty much a given he's not going to make the O's...then follows with a dozen paragraphs featuring praise from various members of the O's organization.

it was written by a baltimore sports writer, though... *shrug*

Cut the season to 154 games, get rid of about four teams.

Better competition and you won't have to invite all those teams to make it exciting.

I'm sure you meant the nba/nhl seasons are a joke. The playoffs are quite exciting.

then of course, people that aren't avid baseball fans think the MLB season is a joke and too long. To each their own...

162 games at 2-3 hours a pop. I've never had a hard time understanding why some people think baseball is a boring sport.

WGN's national coverage of so many games and the long, summer season are also probably 2 and 3 on the list of reasons I learned to love the Cubs as a kid, though.

and there were 24....

Coleman over Mateo, W. Castillo over B. Jackson, Clevenger over LaHair, Rusin over Rhee

Sweet 16 so far
(1) Beliveau vs. (12) McNutt
(2) Coleman vs. (14) Rusin
(4) Lalli vs. (9) Cardenas
(3) W. Castillo vs. (10) Clevenger

plus 8 more 2nd round matchups to go....

get rid of the DH, bring back segregation and day games and .10 hot dogs while we're at it!!!!!!!!
and for God-sakes, thaw out Ted Williams head.

because i'm bored...

we got 8.5 years of aram...1 season was a 1/2 season thanks to health...and 3 were semi-shortened seasons where he saw 500-550ish PAs (rather than 600+)...and 4.5 he pulled pretty much full-time work.

all-in-all he averaged about 135 games a season (560 PA) and put up a .294/.356/.531/.887 line.


I'm still pissed I only got to see three years of Madlock in blue pinstripes. Wrigley was a skin-flint jagoff.

He was also a key part of the only Cubs playoff series win in the last 104 years. #depressing

I liked Aram, all n all. Although, I didn't mind him being shown the door. Sometimes, you really need to just vacuum up a team. Plus, he was getting a bit slow at third - but at the beginning it was a lot of fun to watch him change at 3rd. I remember when he first started with the Cubs and he had this weird foot shuffle to his left when a ball was hit at him. Somebody worked with him because it went away after a few months. And there was that double clutch when he threw, which never completely disappeared but also got better. For a few years he even seemed like a pretty decent fielder, although some stats head will probably punch up a few numbers saying I'm wrong. And his hitting, well, that's a good reminder up there. One of Hendry's good moves, for sure. I bet he's gonna kill us when we play them. His thing, like all seasons for him, is, did he have a good workout regimen during the offseason so he can avoid those pesky injuries.

"Somebody worked with him because it went away after a few months"

Santo I believe

Really? Good ole Ronnie.

It was pretty awesome that Santo, who had no feet, worked w/ Aram to get his footwork straightened out.

I guess that would be a classic case of, "do what I say, and not what I do."

I'll remember ARam's time fondly. Never really bought the "he doesn't hussle" stuff, given his injuries. Plus, he always seemed to me like he really wanted to win. I remember how pissed he was at a game the Cubs blew in 06. Loved the dramatic late-inning homers. I even have a jersey.

I wish him well. I'd wish him weller if he weren't in the division.

Recent comments

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  • Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.

  • My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
    1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.

  • Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.

  • Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.

    How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?

    Call me lost.

  • Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.

  • Unbeleivable Dodgers:
    I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
    Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:

    Some "Highlights"
    Carl Crawford $20MM
    Brandon McCarthy $17MM
    Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
    Darwin B $2.2MM
    Dan Haren $10MM
    Matt Kemp $18MM
    Brian Wilson $10MM
    Ryan Webb $2.2MM
    Dee Gordon $2.5MM

  • So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.


    And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):

  • i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.

    there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.

  • I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.

  • O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already. 

  • I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.

    I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.

  • Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.

  • With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined). 

  • BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.

    If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).

    As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).