Chicago Cubs: 2013 Spring Training

Cubs' 2013 spring wrap-up

March, 28, 2013
3/28/13
7:12
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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MESA, Ariz. -- Let’s put a lid on the Chicago Cubs' 2013 spring training, their last at HoHoKam Park (which the Cubs have called their spring home since 1997) and the longest in history due to the World Baseball Classic.

There were some mundane days, but even for a team coming off 101 losses, there were plenty of storylines, players and moments of interest. Here’s the wrap-up:

Spring record: 16-18-1
Batting average leader (min. 20 at-bats): Brian Bogusevic, .410
HR leader: Alfonso Soriano, 5
RBI leader: Dioner Navarro, 16
ERA leader (min. 10 innings): Chris Rusin, 1.93

Most impressive veteran: It was close between David DeJesus and Starlin Castro; the latter missed two weeks but never missed a beat. DeJesus gets the nod simply because he was consistently good at the plate from day one to the end. He finally went a game without a hit because he got only one at-bat on the final day. Before that he was on fire, hitting in 14 straight and batting .364 in Cactus League play overall. And many of his outs were hit as hard as his hits.

Most impressive prospect: It’s closer than you might think between Jorge Soler and Javier Baez. Baez was simply better later in camp so that’s what people remember. Asking the experts, Soler is more refined at the plate and perhaps in the field as well -- but Baez has more flair. Soler did more of his damage in batting practice before games while Baez did it in games, so we’ll give the nod to him. The instincts in both players were impressive.

Best off-field moment: When Baez’s name “came up” a little too much in meetings, as one player put it, Cubs veterans decided to pull a fast one on him by dressing up his car with a major league logo and a large bumper sticker that said “Rookie on Board.” The 2011 first-round pick took it all in stride -– and had to drive with it on his car for a day.

Best on-field moment: Baez gets the nod here as well. His four home runs on seven pitches over two days broke up the monotony of camp and created a buzz. They were also rocket shots. Honorable mention goes to Jeff Samardzija, who hit two home runs in his first four at-bats of the spring.

Best quote: This goes to Dale Sveum, when he called a back-of-the-shoulder ailment to Junior Lake a “trapeze” injury. He was trying to say “trapezoid.” He was wrong there, too.

Strangest spring moment: It didn’t occur on the field, but a massive hailstorm that also brought snow caught everyone off guard. Samardzija was pelted while putting on the 12th hole, while players’ cars were covered in the wintry mess. The fields and grass parking lots the next day were soaked.

Rapid Reaction: Mariners 6, Cubs 4

March, 28, 2013
3/28/13
6:32
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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MESA, Ariz. -- Here's quick look at the final Cactus League game for the Chicago Cubs, a 6-4 loss the Seattle Mariners on Thursday. It was also the final home game ever at Hohokam Park in Mesa. The Cubs will open a new facility next year:

The good: Cubs regulars didn't play much but Alfonso Soriano managed his fifth home run of the spring before leaving ... On the mound Carlos Villanueva's final tune-up before the season consisted of just one earned run in five innings.

The bad: Hisanori Takahashi -- the favorite for the last bullpen spot -- gave up five hits and three runs in three innings as he continues to be stretched out.

What we learned: Takahashi gave up his three runs in his third inning of work. It's pushing it to expect him to go that long during the season but he may have to as the lone long man in the bullpen ... Soriano has been steady most of the spring but now the Cubs go from hot Arizona to cool Pittsburgh to open the season, that's not the type of situation in which he excels. David DeJesus' 14-game hitting streak was snapped -- though he only had one at-bat. He finished with a .364 average, second only to Starlin Castro (.378) among regulars.

Up next: The Cubs play two exhibition games against the Astros in Houston on Friday and Saturday then it's on to Pittsburgh and a day off on Sunday before opening the regular season on Monday at 11:35 a.m. CST.

Video: Rogers wraps up Cubs camp

March, 28, 2013
3/28/13
2:48
PM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com


ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers leaves Cubs spring training with more questions than answers.

Is all play, no rest best for Castro?

March, 27, 2013
3/27/13
4:38
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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Starlin CastroAP Photo/Morry GashStarlin Castro has missed just four games in his two full major league seasons.
MESA, Ariz. -- Should Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro play all 162 games again this season?

Manager Dale Sveum has the definitive view on the topic.

"When you're thinking about winning the division by one game or getting in the wild card by one game and give those guys too many days off and you lose that one game (it's not good)," Sveum said on Tuesday. "That's the mentality that goes into it. Guys play the game, if they're not hurt they play."

Castro played in all 162 games last season so it stands to reason Sveum will send him out there for all of them again. But is it a good idea?

(Read full post)

Cubs claim reliever Moscoso off waivers

March, 27, 2013
3/27/13
3:24
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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MESA, Ariz. -- The Chicago Cubs claimed right-handed reliever Guillermo Moscoso off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays, the team announced on Wednesday.

Moscoso, 28, pitched for the Colorado Rockies last season. He was 3-2 with a 6.12 ERA in 23 appearances including three starts. He started 21 games with Oakland in 2011 with an 8-10 record.

Moscoso will battle lefty Hisanori Takahashi and righty Cory Wade for the final bullpen spot. Moscoso could fill the void left by Carlos Villanueva, who was promoted to starter this spring. With Villanueva in the rotation, the Cubs don't have true long reliever on the roster.

The Cubs also placed pitcher Arodys Vizcaino on the 60-day disabled list to make room on their 40-man roster. The Cubs likely will have to make one more move before the regular season to accommodate the addition of the final reliever and non-roster invitee Brent Lillibridge.

Rapid Reaction: Reds 11, Cubs 1

March, 27, 2013
3/27/13
12:17
AM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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MESA, Ariz. -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Cubs’ 11-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night:

The good: Starter Jeff Samardzija sailed through five innings, giving up just one run. He didn’t walk anyone; it was his second straight start without giving up a free pass. David DeJesus extended a hitting streak to 13 games. Reliever Hisanori Takahashi struck out the side in the sixth inning. Once again, Steve Clevenger came in cold off the bench and drove in the Cubs’ lone run with a double.

The bad: Carlos Marmol deserves to take up this whole section. He came in with one out in the ninth and promptly gave up four hits and a walk. And all four were drilled to the outfield. It led to a nine-run inning, exacerbated by prospect Michael Hamann, who also got rocked after Marmol. Darwin Barney went 0-3 leaving four men on base and saw his average dip to .213 this spring. Nate Schierholtz went 0-4 leaving four on, as well. Takahashi gave up a home run in his second inning of work.

What we learned: Samardzija is as ready as he’ll ever be to open the season next Monday. He got hit hard at times -- 20 hits given up in 20 innings -- but his control was good, and he grinded through some innings when required. The spring is over and Marmol is no more reliable than he ever has been. He simply can’t start the season as the closer; it will derail any morale or momentum in April. On the opposite end is DeJesus: He’s ready for the season and, to go along with his hit streak, he hasn’t struck out in the last 15 Cactus League games.

Samardzija confident heading into season

March, 27, 2013
3/27/13
12:09
AM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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MESA, Ariz. -- One of the major question marks for the Chicago Cubs as they begin a new season is whether opening day starter Jeff Samardzija can be a leader of a rotation that has a lot to prove in 2013.

The 28-year-old pitcher will get that opportunity with both Scott Baker and Matt Garza on the disabled list for at least the first month of the baseball season.

(Read full post)

Cubs tell two more they're out

March, 26, 2013
3/26/13
7:40
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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MESA, Ariz. -- The Chicago Cubs unofficially trimmed their roster by two on Tuesday, informing pitcher Zach Putnam and infielder Alberto Gonzalez they wouldn’t be making the 25-man roster.

Both players will stay with the team through the end of the exhibition season, which concludes on Saturday in Houston. The moves mean Cory Wade, lefty Hisanori Takahashi or an “outside option” will make the squad as will catcher/infielder Steve Clevenger.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Giants 9, Cubs 3

March, 25, 2013
3/25/13
6:52
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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MESA, Ariz. -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 9-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Monday.

The good: Catcher Dioner Navarro's fourth spring home run was the lone highlight for the Cubs at the plate. ... Shawn Camp struck out the side in the eighth.

The bad: There was plenty of it. Brent Lillibridge may have had the single worst individual performance of the spring. He went 0-for-4 at the plate and made two critical errors at shortstop on very playable balls. ... Overall the Cubs defense was abysmal with mistakes at every infield position except first, while right field was a bit of adventure for Nate Schierholtz. ... Starter Travis Wood didn’t help himself by walking four in four innings. ... Cory Wade gave up four hits and a walk and four runs (two earned) in two innings of work.

What we learned: It was one of the worst games of the spring for the Cubs on defense and Wood wasn’t able to pitch over the mistakes made behind him. Neither was Wade, who may have pitched himself into the minor leagues. The defensive woes highlight the fact the Cubs aren’t as deep as they would like to be and stresses the need for players like Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo to play just about every day. Lillibridge simply had an off day, but it’s a reminder the Cubs are short on starters and depth.

The Dunstons: Shawon Dunston Jr. went 1-for-2 in front of his dad, the former Cub and current coach with the Giants. The two embraced on the field before and after the game.

Surprise of Cubs' camp? Clevenger

March, 25, 2013
3/25/13
4:30
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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Travis WoodAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhNot many teams keep three catchers, but Steve Clevenger is giving the Cubs something to consider.
MESA, Ariz. -- Guess who has impressed Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum the most at the plate this spring? It's not who you might think.

Steve Clevenger.

Yes, that Steve Clevenger. The one who hit .186, .162, .132 and .107 in months June-September last year. He's hitting .395 this spring.

“You can't take away the guy has swung the bat better than anyone in camp,” Sveum said Monday morning.

And the Cubs manager was quick to point out Clevenger's struggles last year came after an oblique injury. Now he's healthy and hitting.

“When you come off the bench and you're swinging the bat good, good things happen,” said Clevenger, who was the Cubs' seventh-round pick of 2006.

And that might be the most impressive thing about Clevenger lately. He hasn't been starting most days -- though he did Monday against the San Francisco Giants -- his damage has come as a late game replacement.

“The thing about Clevenger, you can't say he's hitting spring training pitching or early spring training pitching. Yesterday (Sunday against the Indians) he takes a 96 mph and hits it off the wall.”

He did similar earlier in the week against the Mariners and Brewers.

“I think I showed them a little last year coming off the bench,” Clevenger said. “In spring training I think I've shown them I can come off the bench.”

Clevenger is as surprised as anyone he's still around in camp. Once the team signed catcher Dioner Navarro and handed Welington Castillo the starting job behind the plate he knew he might be ticketed for Triple-A Iowa. Rarely do teams keep three catchers. And most of the time spring training does little to dissuade a team of its plans -- but that's not the case for Clevenger. He's changing minds.

“He came into spring training in the best shape he's ever been in,” Sveum said. “The guy is a big league hitter.”

To be more valuable Clevenger has been taking ground balls at first and third though Sveum said it would only be in emergency type situations he would play there. For now the manager says he'll take advantage of the versatility having three catchers on the roster provides.

“We can do more with double switches and stuff like that,” Sveum stated. “It's all come together where it makes it very versatile for me.”

This is all predicated on him making the team. The Cubs still might look to the waiver wire for a more versatile left-handed infield bat but if they don't find one by Sunday Clevenger is the guy

“I'm still in the mix, we'll see what happens over this next week,” he said.

Baker optimistic despite latest setback

March, 25, 2013
3/25/13
12:01
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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Scott BakerAP Photo/Morry GashScott Baker said he's glad that at least he knows what he's dealing with.
MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs pitcher Scott Baker is taking a positive approach to his latest setback after being diagnosed with a muscular problem in his surgically repaired right elbow.

"Knowing what we're dealing with helps me deal with it better obviously," he said Monday morning. "Doc kind of likened it to a scab, you can't keep picking at it. You have to let it heal and rest."

Baker is confident if he listens to the medical people he can still contribute this season after missing all of 2012. He pitched in one Cactus League game a week ago before being shut down with soreness in the arm.

"I'm trying to be a good patient and listen to what they say," Baker stated. "With a muscular type thing there really isn't much you can do but rest and let it heal ... I was relieved it was nothing that had to do with the ligament. Everything is still ‘A ok' as far as the surgical procedure went."

Baker signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract this past offseason. He'll be paid to rest over the first month of the season then begin throwing again. It means the earliest he'll be on the mound for the Cubs is two months into the season.

Baker is taking the positive approach, at least it's not a season ending situation.

"It eliminates you trying to figure things out," he said. "It's happened and you try to do the best you can with where you are right now."

Rapid Reaction: Cubs 4, Indians 3

March, 24, 2013
3/24/13
6:22
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 4-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday.

The good: Once again Chris Rusin had an effective start. He went 5.1 innings, giving up no runs. His spring ERA is a sparkling 1.93. ... For the third straight game he’s appeared in, Steve Clevenger came off the bench and delivered, this time a run-scoring double in the eighth inning.

The bad: Welington Castillo was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. His average for the spring is just .175 and he’s struck out in a quarter of his at-bats. ... Brent Lillibridge and Starlin Castro had a rare day where neither got a hit, dropping their respective averages to .441 and .406.

What we learned: Rusin solidified his role as the “next guy up” if there is another injury in the starting rotation. He threw well against decent spring lineups and though he walked three on Sunday he used it to his advantage, throwing “effectively wild,” as he put it. He had a solid spring. ... If Castillo struggles in the regular season, Dioner Navarro could see more plate appearances. He can hit from both sides, has been adept behind the plate and has more experience with pitchers. He’s hitting .262 and has shown the same pop with his bat as Castillo. But there is no change in the offing, at the moment. ... Clevenger just might be hitting his way onto the roster. His ability to come off the bench and deliver hasn’t gone un-noticed by manager Dale Sveum.

Garza injury toughest on Cubs

March, 24, 2013
3/24/13
5:54
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Of the numerous spring training injuries the Chicago Cubs have suffered this year there’s one that bothers manager Dale Sveum more than the others.

“The one disappointment was (Matt) Garza,” Sveum said Sunday before his team played the Cleveland Indians. “Right now Garza is the one, if we had him opening day, that changes things around a little bit. We’d have three guys like that at the top.”

Garza has been out with a lat injury on his left side since early in spring training. This, after missing time in the second half last year due to an elbow strain.

(Read full post)

Castro Q&A: Baseball beats birthdays

March, 24, 2013
3/24/13
5:38
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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MESA, Ariz. -- The Chicago Cubs' best player turned just 23 on Sunday, but Starlin Castro is already a two-time All-star and hoping for even bigger and better things for himself and his team in 2013. With a week left before opening day, Castro spoke with ESPNChicago.com about his big day and the upcoming season:

Jesse Rogers: Your birthday is always in spring training. Do you ever get to really celebrate?

Starlin Castro:
No, I’m not celebrating. It’s baseball time. I’ll celebrate a lot in the offseason in the Dominican. I think one of those days I’ll say "It’s my birthday, today," but now, I don’t have time for celebrating.

JR: Why do you think this is going to be such a big year for you? Mostly because your contract situation is behind you?

SC:
It’s not that. That’s a small part of it. Just because the team we have right now. Everybody is together, everybody is happy. I just feel like it’s going to be a big year for me. Not just for me, but everybody is ready to go.

(Read full post)

Anthony Rizzo takes his job seriously

March, 24, 2013
3/24/13
4:59
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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Anthony RizzoScott Rovak/USA TODAY SportsAnthony Rizzo helped Team Italy advance farther than expected in the WBC.


MESA, Ariz. -- Signing autographs for 20 minutes before the game on Saturday? Just part of the responsibility of being a young Chicago Cubs leader, according to Anthony Rizzo.

“Putting on this jersey with the nationwide fanfare we have is a big responsibility no matter who you are,” Rizzo said. “I am aware I represent the Ricketts family, our front office and the terrific fan base every time I am out in public.”

Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney and Jeff Samardzija are the faces of the future for the rebuilding Cubs. The 24-year-old first baseman is entering his first full year in the major leagues with expectations of stardom.

(Read full post)

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jason Hammel
WINS ERA SO IP
8 2.98 104 108
OTHER LEADERS
BAS. Castro .278
HRA. Rizzo 20
RBIS. Castro 52
RA. Rizzo 61
OPSA. Rizzo .886
ERAJ. Samardzija 2.83
SOJ. Hammel 104