Cubs Spring Training

The Cactus League season begins with its newest member, the Los Angeles Dodgers strolling into HoHoKam Park. Jeff Samardzija and Mitch Atkins are set to go for the Cubs. The Dodgers will trot out Claudio Vargas to start the game.

Feel the excitement!


Lineups from Sullivan:

Dodgers: Pierre LF, Ausmus C, Ethier RF, Loney 1B, Blake 3B, Kemp CF, DeWitt 2B, Young DH, Abreu SS
Cubs: Soriano LF, Theriot SS, Lee 1B, Hoffpauir DH, Soto C, Fontenot 2B, Johnson CF, Robnett RF, Scales 3B

 

The Cubs moved their Spring Training operation a half-mile north up Center Street from Fitch Park to HoHoKam Park today, and as was the case each of the previous two years, Manager Lou Piniella once again eschewed the ubiquitous and traditional intrasquad game most MLB clubs play the day before Cactus League and Grapefruit League games commence. Lou just does not like to play any more games than necessary during Spring Training, even if it's an informal seven-inning intrasquad game.

Twelve Cubs pitchers threw "live" BP at Fitch Park this morning, as Spring Training entered Phase Two.

Some of you may wonder how a Spring Training roster is constructed.

The template generally looks like this:

Ryan Dempster's final tune-up before he's unleashed on the National League. The Mariners send out Jarrod Washburn which should give us an idea on the type of lineup the Cubs will send out versus lefties.

Two more games before they count...Ted Lilly vs. Carlos Silva tonight in Vegas. Cubs were down 5-0 as soon as I flipped it on and Theriot grounded into an rally-crushing double play. We sure we don't Soriano batting leadoff?

The Cubs final game in Arizona this spring, as they'll hop on a plane to Vegas to finish off the spring training schedule this weekend versus the Mariners. With the Brewers and Cubs set to play next week, both managers go with minor league pitchers, Cory Bailey versus Mark DiFelice.

The Cubs travel to Tempe today to face the suddenly depleted Angels. Carlos Zamrbano's final tune-up before Opening Day and he'll be opposed by Jered Weaver. The game is on MLB.tv.

The Cubs also settled on their position players to start the season, choosing the lefty bat and infield abilities of Mike Fontenot over the superior righty bat of Matt Murton's. A difficult, but understandable decision on the Cubs part. While Murton is the better hitter, the addition of Fontenot gives the Cubs two lefty bench bats and someone besides Ronny Cedeno to back up the middle infield. The bench will consist of Henry Blanco, Daryle Ward, Ronny Cedeno, Reed Johnson and Mike Fontenot. I can't say I'm thrilled, but I do hope that if Soriano or Fukudome go down with an injury that Murton is still the top choice to replace them on an everday basis. The Cubs also released non-roster invitee Alex Cintron.

Finally, a loyal reader has four tickets for the April 2nd game at Wrigley versus the Brewers. I'm not too interested in becoming a ticket exchange or broker, but he's offering them at below face value, so I thought I'd pass along the note. Drop me an email and I'll forward it to him if you're interested. They're in Aisle 434, Row 2 and retail for $23 each. He's willing to break them up into pairs and is only asking $20 for each ticket. In other words, $40 or $80 instead of $46 or $92. I take no responsibility for their authenticity and don't think I'll do this for everyone.

Rich Hill's last or second to last chance to straighten things out before the Cubs start the regular season. He'll battle fellow south-paw Jonathan Sanchez.

The Cubs announced more roster cuts today with Eric Patterson and Sam Fuld being optioned to Triple A and Micah Hoffpauir, Casey McGehee and pitcher Les Walrond being assigned to minor league camp. With the addition of Reed Johnson, that leaves 32 in camp with 2 non-roster invitees (Alex Cintron and Chad Fox). Angel Guzman was also put on the 60-day disabled list.

I've updated our 40-man roster page and our new Cubs Depth Chart to reflect the changes.

Ryan Dempster takes the mound today to celebrate his appointment to the starting rotation. The Rangers counter with lefty Kason Gabbard.

In site news, I've added the TCR blogroll  which you can access via Quick Links on the left sidebar or under TCR Junk Drawer up top. I'm sure I missed a few Cubs blogs, so drop me a note if you want yours added.

Happy Easter to all!

Jason Marquis hopes for a few goose eggs in his basket in his last opportunity to impress the coaches before the rotation is announced Monday. Everyone's favorite Mad Dog goes for the Padres in Peoria.

The Cubs return to Mesa to take on their city rivals. Ted Lilly goes for the Cubs versus Javier Vazquez.

The Cubs complete their home and home series with the Rockies today, as they travel to Tuscon. Sean Marshall will go for the Cubs against fellow south-paw, Mark Redman. Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to throw against some minor leaguers in Mesa.

UPDATE: The Cubs trimmed their roster down to 36 by optioning Neal Cotts to Triple-A and assigning Koyie Hill to minor league camp. That leaves 5 non-roster invitees still left in camp: pitchers Chad Fox and Les Walrond and position players, Micah Hoffpauir, Casey McGehee and Alex Cintron.

The Rockies visit HoHoKam this afternoon at 3:05 Chicago time. It's Rich "89.4 MPH" Hill vs. Franklin Morales.

And Lou Piniella confirms: when he said he'd have a rotation announcement by Friday, he meant it, dammit.


In the first half of Wednesday's day/night Cubs exhibitiongameathon, Ryan Dempster gets the start at HoHoKam (2:05 Central Time), while in the second game, starting at 9:05 Central Time, Jon Lieber throws against the Giants.

If Lou Piniella sticks to his vow to name the five-man starting staff by the end of the week, this would be the last chance for Dempster and Lieber to make their respective cases. Jason Marquis, who allowed just one run in five innings against the Royals Tuesday, has made a pretty good case for himself already.

Miniscule sample sizes and spring training weirdness aside, here's how Dempster, Lieber, and Marquis stack up so far:

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