Chicago Cubs: Angel Guzman
They also signed left-handers Tsuyoshi Wada and Tommy Hottovy along with outfielder Mitch Maier to minor league deals with spring training invites.
Sanchez, 31, will be invited to spring training as a reliever while Wada will come as a starter. Sanchez won 13 games with the Giants in 2010 before pitching for Kansas City, Colorado and Pittsburgh over the last two years. He has a career record of 39-58 with a 4.70 ERA.
Wada, 32, was most recently in the Baltimore Orioles organization recovering from Tommy John surgery performed in May 2012. He went 5-6 with a 4.03 ERA in 19 starts for Triple-A, Norfolk last year.
Hottovy, 32, bounced around the minor leagues last season after pitching for Boston and Kansas City in 2011-2012. Maier, 31, has spent his entire six year career with the Royals producing a .248 batting average with 10 home runs and 93 career RBI.
The Cubs also announced their minor league coaching staff for 2014, adding eight new coaches including former Cubs pitcher Angel Guzman. He'll be the pitching coach in the Venezuelan rookie league. Former major league pitcher Bruce Walton was named pitching coach at Triple-A Iowa.
And now his Cubs days are over. After missing all of last season with another shoulder injury, Guzman accepted a non-roster invite to Dodgers camp this season.
Beginning his career as a starter, Guzman battled injuries to even make it to the big leagues in 2006 and saw limited time for the next few seasons before having a breakout year as a reliever in 2009. He appeared in 55 games that season and had a 2.95 ERA.
Guzman was expected to compete for the setup role in 2010 but was shut down before the season began with a serious shoulder injury. That injury came after his brother died in a shooting and he suffered a knee injury that required surgery.
Guzman didn’t pitch in the major leagues last season, splitting his time in the minors between Peoria and Daytona.
Guzman pitched two shutout innings for Class A Peoria on Friday. He struck out two hitters and threw 21 pitches. It was the first time he had seen game action since 2009.
Cubs assistant GM Randy Bush said there was no time table for Guzman’s return.
“I would not say that we are shocked,” Bush said. “I would just say we went into it with no expectations. So we felt if this guy wants to rehabilitate we want to help him. He is one of our favorites. We knew his work ethic going into it. So again I can’t say we are shocked simply because we didn’t have any timetable for him.”
Guzman had come on and pitched well for the Cubs in 2009 before injuring his shoulder. He missed the entire 2010 season after having arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. The procedure was performed by famed surgeon Dr. James Andrews. It was the second time Andrews had performed shoulder surgery on Guzman.
Guzman originally signed as a free agent with the Cubs in 1999. He has a 3-10 record with a 4.82 ERA and one save in 88 major league games. The 29-year-old was once considered among the top prospects in the organization.
The procedure performed Tuesday by noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews was not as extensive as the Cubs anticipated, meaning he has a better chance to pitch again than first expected.
Guzman had several screws inserted to repair a torn ligament, another in a series of injuries for the right-hander since he debuted in 2006. The Cubs were hoping he'd be their right-handed setup man after he pitched in a career high 55 games last season and posted a 2.95 ERA.
Manager Lou Piniella and his staff have told the former Notre Dame All-American wide receiver that he has as good an opportunity as any of the other candidates vying to win the fourth or fifth starting slot.
The problem for the Cubs management group is figuring out a way to plug in the rotation holes until Ted Lilly gets back, as well as solidifying a somewhat iffy bullpen after the loss of Angel Guzman and the slow recovery of Jeff Gray.
Samardzija understands the Cubs’ needs might find him filling either role.
“I’m just going to go by what they tell me,” Samardzija said. “If they keep running me out there as a starter, I’ll assume I’m a starter. It is unfortunate what’s going on with [the bullpen], but injuries happen and we have a lot of good arms in camp and there’s always an opportunity.”
With all that in mind, Samardzija still knows that there are still plenty of roles to be won on the Cub 12-man pitching staff.
“I want to pitch and I think I can be pretty versatile,” Samardzija said. “Right now, I feel good starting. Next time it will be good to come out and have a starter’s approach instead of coming in in the fifth inning.”
The Indiana native is a much more polished pitcher than he was when he made his major league debut in 2008. At that time, all that Samardzija features was a plus fastball and a splitfinger pitch. Spending a month in winter ball, Samar worked hard at establishing his slider and commanding a curve ball.
“I think I have the confidence that I could do it,” Samardzija said. “It’s hard. Everybody’s out there cut-throat trying to play for a job and once you realize that, once you realize what you need to do to accomplish what you want to accomplish, it’s a little easier. That takes time.”
The Cubs’ quandary is that Samardzija may, indeed, be a strong starting pitcher for the 2010 team, but his powerful arm might be necessary in the bullpen unless the team pulls off a deal for a veteran reliever.
Samardzija threw two shutout innings on Monday against the Oakland Athletics in Phoenix, allowing one hit, one walk while hitting a batter. It was actually a good day for the entire pitching staff. Ryan Dempster in his first spring outing retired all six batters that he faced. Sean Marshall and Tom Gorzelanny both got in two innings as well. The only blemish was a solo home run that Marshall surrendered to Kurt Suzuki and a two-run home run that Gorzelanny gave up to former Cub minor leaguer Josh Donaldson.
Esmailin Caridad pitched the final inning for the Cubs as he continues to try and hammer down the eighth-inning setup role in the bullpen.
- Second baseman Mike Fontenot played his first game at shortstop this spring, entering the game as a replacement for starter Ryan Theriot. Fontenot went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and handled the position flawlessly. Piniella said that with Andres Blanco down for the next two weeks that Fontenot will continue to have more playing time at short.
Guzman's choices are to either elect to have surgery or try to build the muscles around the tear and continue to pitch.
Read the full story.
Guzman threw 30 pitches on flat ground March 1 and was scheduled to continue his throwing program early next week, but that’s out for now.
Manager Lou Piniella, like most of the team’s front office, is frustrated by Guzman’s current injury.
“It doesn’t look good,” Piniella said. “It really doesn’t look good. We’ve known for a little bit now that coming out of spring training was very little or no chance of him being ready. Hopefully, that’s all it is. We’ll see.”
Piniella went on talking about the bad luck that Guzman has faced coming into camp.
“He comes into spring training and before you know it, first the knee and after that it’s the shoulder,” Piniella said. “It seems like the kid is jinxed. What this does, basically, is open the door for somebody else.”
Right-handed pitcher Jeff Gray is also behind schedule and has yet to pitch off of the mound this spring.
Piniella said on Friday that Gray still has some soreness in the groin area. Gray strained his groin in Mesa working out before spring training began.
The Cubs manager said Esmailin Caridad is the leader on the team for the right-handed setup role in the bullpen. At this point, Piniella isn’t ready to look at any of the rotation hopefuls as bullpen possibilities. However, with injuries to Gray and Guzman it’s inevitable that two of the four pitchers vying for rotation spots -- either Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Silva, Sean Marshall or Tom Gorzelanny -- will be directed to the bullpen.
-- Silva will pitch against the White Sox on Saturday at Hohokam Park. The White Sox will start rookie Daniel Hudson. This is the first spring training game between the two teams in 2010. They will play four more times, including two next weekend in Las Vegas. Piniella has decided not to go with the team on the trip next weekend, opting to stay back in Mesa and manage the split squad games Friday and Saturday. Piniella said he wanted to spend some time with his wife, Anita, who will return to the couples’ home in Tampa on March 14.
-- The hunt for other pitching help continues as the Cubs are watching the San Diego Padres and Blue Jays this spring. Both of those teams have surplus bullpen pitchers to deal. “I know [Cubs GM Jim Hendry] has told me that he has scouts following a couple of teams in particular,” Piniella said. “We’ll see where that goes. If not, we’ll have to do it with what we have.”
-- Piniella continues to be impressed with outfielder Tyler Colvin, who had a cup of coffee with the Cubs last September. Colvin added 20 pounds of muscle to his frame in workouts over the winter. The Cubs No. 1 pick in 2006 has five hits in six at-bats so far in his first two Cactus League games. “It’s good to see,” Piniella said. “I saw him in BP earlier this spring and the ball was jumping off of his bat pretty good. It’s carried over into the games early in the spring.”
MESA, Ariz. -- The Chicago Cubs are shutting down right-handed pitcher Angel Guzman pending an exam, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Guzman was recovering from left knee surgery when he began to experience soreness in his right shoulder at the start of spring training on Feb. 17.Read the full story.
Gray, recovering from a strained groin, may be ready to throw some time next week, according to pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
Guzman, however, is still not ready to start throwing off a mound. The righty, who is recovering from surgery to repair his meniscus and an achy shoulder, was supposed to start throwing off a mound next Tuesday or Wednesday. That seems optimistic right now.
Jetsetters: Cub team owner Tom Ricketts and team president Crane Kenney will fly into Mesa on Friday to watch the team play their second exhibition game and then return to Chicago Friday night.
He's no Ricky Vaughn: After starting the exhibition season opener, Randy Wells talked about being prescribed glasses after a general eye test detected a deficiency in his vision. The problem is for Wells’ seeing distances and seeing at night. The Cub second year pitcher isn’t sure whether he’ll wear glasses during games.
“I’m not going to wear them until I throw a couple of bullpens [with them on] and see if it helps,” Wells said. “I can see fine. [The media is] making a bigger deal out of it than it really is.”
Injury news continues to dominate the early part of Chicago Cubs camp. On Thursday it was revealed that right-handed pitcher Angel Guzman, already on the shelf due to knee surgery, has come up with an achy right shoulder. Guzman tried to throw and get loose on Wednesday during pregame drills but complained to trainer Mark O'Neal about pain in his shoulder.
"He had some discomfort in his shouldfer," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "We just felt coming off of the [arthroscopic meniscus surgery] he's had on and off difficulties in the past, so we thought that we were just going to take the precautionary route."
Guzman said he expected to be ready to go on the field in a week to 10 days.
"I still think I will be back in a week or week and a half," Guzman said. "My knee is the main thing. I don't think the shoulder is anything I have to worry about."
The Cubs are still pursuing other veteran pitchers such as the Toronto Blue Jays' Jason Frasor and San Diego Padres' Luke Gregerson to help out their paper-thin bullpen. The Padres will trade closer Heath Bell at some point during the season, but the combination of Bell's upper echelon salary and the Cubs' lack of money available make trading for him remote.
Guzman would have been one of the top candidate for the Cubs' eighth-inning setup role if he hadn't been injured again. He has had nothing but injuries during his Cubs career.
Other injury updates: Right-handed reliever Jeff Gray still has no exact timetable to return to pitching. Gray incurred a groin strain early in camp. Hendry said he expects him to be ready to pitch sometime next week.
The Cubs hope Lilly will be in camp Friday or Saturday to throw again.
Like most Cubs players we’ve talked to in spring training, Soriano feels a stable franchise with hands-on owners is a good thing.
Soriano was also very happy to have Marlon Byrd in camp. Byrd and Soriano were teammates during the 2006 season. Soriano said that Byrd and former teammate Milton Bradley are both nice guys, but that Byrd doesn’t bring with him the baggage that Bradley did.
- Canada’s 5-3 loss to the United States in Olympic hockey cost native Canadian Ryan Dempster big time. The glib Cub pitcher referred to his losses as “peanut butter sandwiches” in reference to his wagers with teammates. Dempster kidded that he’ll be paying off teammates in those sandwiches for a long time. Needless to say, Dempster was a popular figure among teammates in the clubhouse on Monday.
- Manager Lou Piniella is unsure who will back up Byrd in center field this season. In discussions with the front office and other coaches, Piniella said they’re trying to decide whether to go with an offensive backup or defensive backup. Among the players being considered are Sam Fuld, Brad Snyder and Tyler Colvin. Piniella said he may use Kosuke Fukudome at times in center again in 2010. Fukudome had 105 starts in center field last year for the Cubs. The Japanese outfielder in his third year with the Cubs had difficulty recognizing the slide of the ball in center field last season. Fukudome is an above average right fielder who is more comfortable in this spot.
- The Cubs missed out on signing the versatile Chan Ho Park to a contract on Monday. The veteran pitchers signed a one-year, $1.2 million contract with the New York Yankees with an opportunity to make another $1.3 million in performance bonus incentives. Due to a locked-in payroll around $142 million, the Cubs were unable to match the offer.
- In his media session on Monday, Piniella said the Cubs would continue to seek a relief pitcher during spring training. The Cubs’ ranks have been weakened due to injuries to right handed pitchers Jeff Gray and Angel Guzman. Both will be anywhere from 10 days to two weeks behind the rest of the bullpen. As reported here ad nauseam, the Cubs will continue to monitor right handed pitcher Luke Gregerson from San Diego and Toronto’s Jason Frasor as part of their spring training must-see list for their scouts.
Gray has a groin strain, while Guzman had an operation on his knee to repair a meniscus.
Guzman’s injury probably tells you why the Cubs have not been able to move on a deal to obtain another relief pitcher. Guzman is high on the list of the San Diego Padres, who are looking to replace some bullpen parts.
Lou Piniella said hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo will work with his hitters every day at 10 a.m.
“We’re not going to mess with what Rudy’s done in the past,” Piniella said. “He’s been very successful with it.”
While celebrating a come-from-behind, ninth-inning win over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, the Chicago Cubs couldn't avoid yet another "Cubby Occurrence."
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