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.
crunch 1 hour 20 min ago (view)
cubs game totally not a delay broadcast for ESPN...thanks for that gem heyward.
dunno if they'll be printing up any "You better have your shit in line" t-shirts, but it's as least as good as "Try not to suck"
Sonicwind75 2 hours 4 min ago (view)
Thanks Phil, these pitching summaries are great!
Eric S 2 hours 47 min ago (view)
Thanks, AZ Phil. Looks like a better use of the off-season by Maples than Carl Jr's hop-in-delivery was a few years ago - and not against the rules either.
Arizona Phil 3 hours 23 min ago (view)
Even though he is signed to a minor lesague contract and is not on the MLB 40-man roster right now, I would think Eric Sogard is a virtual lock to make the Cubs Opening Day Active List 26-man roster.
The Cubs were reportedly looking to sign a left-handed hitting second-baseman, and Sogard certainly fits that description. And unlike Jason Kipnis, Sogard has the versatility to play 3B and SS as well as 2B.
Arizona Phil 3 hours 47 min ago (view)
ERIC: Just as you said, the short-arm technique can improve command, hopefully without impacting the quality of a pitcher's stuff.
Based on what I saw yesterday, Maples' stuff is as good as ever, and his command was better, too. Hopefully it will continue, because he probably has the best pure stuff on the staff. Command has always been the problem.
Arizona Phil 3 hours 54 min ago (view)
CUBSTER: Unless there is a wave of pitcher injuries in Spring Training I would think Shelby Miller will probably begin the season at AAA (or at the ATS, since the start of the AAA season is supposely going to be delayed) where he can get stretched out.
Eric S 4 hours 54 min ago (view)
Ha! I wish that was the case!
Dolorous Jon Lester 6 hours 24 min ago (view)
Eric S.... you wouldn't happen to be new Cubs NRI Eric Sogard would you????
Cubster 6 hours 34 min ago (view)
I read that Shelby Miller is now using a new slider to help out his other pitches (FB, curve). AZ Phil, any thoughts about Miller making the team possibly as a swing guy out of the pen/spot starter?
Eric S 7 hours 32 min ago (view)
AZ Phil - Saw a report that Maples is using a short arm delivery now. I can't recall his prior delivery but perhaps the short arm delivery may be more repeatable and lead to better command (perhaps minus a few mph on the fast ball, etc). Thanks so much for your on-site observations - my favorite part of Cubs spring training.
Hagsag 11 hours 51 min ago (view)
Arizona Phil 23 hours 14 min ago (view)
Neither Robert Stock nor Duane Underwood Jr have the right to elect free-agency if outrighted, although both will be minor league 6YFA at 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the 2021 World Series if the player is either not added back to the 40 or signs a 2022 minor league successor contract prior to the deadline.
Arizona Phil 1 day 5 min ago (view)
Here are some pitching info from today's game for those of you who didn't see it:
COMMENT: Threw mostly FB and looked sharp... thought he might go two IP but it was at least a good start..
COMMENT: Lots of FB and he got good results with the limited arsenal he showed today..
COMMENT: Nothing special but got a 1-2-3 inning...
crunch 1 day 2 hours ago (view)
looked sharp as hell today with a groundout to 1st and a couple Ks.
crunch 1 day 2 hours ago (view)
odd with JD in the booth without len...nice to see the cubs back in action.
sciambi is a nice replacement. can't complain.
crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
maples, the unpolished diamond...maybe he'll figure it out in his 5th year of trying...
so far he's dollar store discount bin carlos marmol.