Saturday, March 23, 2013
Cubs still looking for infield help
By Jesse Rogers
MESA, Ariz. -- The Chicago Cubs are looking for infield help, but manager Dale Sveum says he and the front office are still discussing what their next move might be. Teams across baseball are cutting players heading into the final week of the spring, and the Cubs might pick one up. Maybe.
“We’re in no panic,” Sveum said Saturday morning. “We have a pretty decent situation. We’re covered in all positions.”
That may be true, but the injury to third baseman Ian Stewart -- he’ll begin the season on the disabled list -- has thinned out their reserves, especially at the hot corner. One name put to Sveum was former Mariner and Angel Chone Figgins. He was recently released by the Marlins.
“Figgins would be interesting just because he switch-hits, he can play the outfield, he can run, he can play the infield,” Sveum said. “He’s like a super-utility guy.”
And he’s played over 600 career games at third base. But he failed to hit .200 in each of the past two seasons, though his spring numbers were decent with Miami.
Analysis: Figgins isn’t really needed with Brent Lillibridge in camp, unless he can player every day -- which all signs point to him being unable to do.
If the waiver wire doesn’t work out then an emerging candidate to make the club is catcher/first baseman Steve Clevenger. He split time with Welington Castillo last season after Geovany Soto was traded, but Clevenger has been taking balls in the infield more this year. He was presumed to be Iowa-bound, but he’s still around and Sveum raved about him on Saturday.
“The thing about Clevenger is he’s like six for 14 off lefties this spring. He had a great at-bat yesterday [Friday] and lined one through the hole. That’s the kind of stuff you’re really looking for in the long run. Those consistent pinch hits and double-switch at-bats and keep the line moving.”
Analysis: Though Sveum made a case for Clevenger in the sense he can really help out with double switches and his ability to hit left-handed pitching, it’s still hard to see him making the roster. The Cubs don’t need him at first, even if it’s just late in games. And Dave Sappelt will be first off the bench to pinch hit against a lefty, so it’s hard to see where he fits in as a third catcher.
- Scott Baker says his elbow is feeling better after taking medication all week. He’ll see team Orthopedist Stephen Gryzlo on Sunday to determine a course of action. Baker was shut down after his first Cactus League start last weekend. He’s attempting to come back after missing last season due to Tommy John surgery.
“It’s hard not to feel OK about it because I’m feeling much better,” Baker said. “The medication is obviously helping. It feels a lot better, so we’ll see what the doctor says.”
- Sveum indicated outfielder Brett Jackson is doing better. He’s been out about a week with right shoulder stiffness. Sveum said Jackson threw and hit on Friday and hopes to play in a Cactus League game before camp breaks.
- Sveum said the final bullpen spot between Hisanori Takahashi, Cory Wade, Zach Putnam and Rafael Dolis is “completely undecided now. We’re not leaning one way or another.”
- “He’s so far away from the big leagues. The guy has to develop. He has a lot to learn yet. There was never a thought that he was ever going to be on this team.” - Sveum on 2011 first round pick, Javier Baez.