Chicago Cubs: Eli Whiteside

Series preview: Cubs at Marlins

June, 16, 2014
Jun 16
8:00
AM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
The Chicago Cubs open a three-game series with the Miami Marlins on Monday night.

The series: Monday, 6:10 p.m. CT, Jason Hammel (6-4, 2.81 ERA) versus Tom Koehler (5-5, 3.68).

Tuesday, 6:10 p.m., Jeff Samardzija (2-6, 2.77) versus Jacob Turner (2-4, 6.38).

Wednesday, 11:40 a.m., Jake Arrieta (2-1, 2.09) versus Nathan Eovaldi (4-2, 3.71).

Road win: The Cubs just won their first road series of the season in Philadelphia -- a milestone that comes as they close in on the halfway point of their road schedule. After this set in Miami, the Cubs will have 40 games left on the road and 52 at home, where they are 15-14. They’re just 13-25 on the road after taking two of three from the Phillies.

Scouting: Scouts wanting to see both Samardzija and Hammel for the next few weeks will have an easy time of it as they pitch one after the other in the rotation. There might be a few less at Wednesday’s matinee, with Arrieta not expected to be moved before July's trade deadline.

Who’s hot/who’s not: Starlin Castro has gotten hot again. After a 3-for-4 effort Sunday he’s 10-for-25 (.400) on the current road trip, with 6 RBIs in seven games. ... Neil Ramirez earned saves in both wins in Philadelphia and has three on the season while sporting on 1.06 ERA. ... Without Welington Castillo, Cubs catchers have struggled. Combined, John Baker and Eli Whiteside are 3-for-26 (.115) on the road trip so far.

Cactus League rotation set through 5 games

February, 24, 2014
Feb 24
4:12
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria announced his initial pitching rotation for Cactus League games following Thursday's opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Jeff Samardzija will take the mound that day as the Cubs open their new spring stadium.

[+] EnlargeChris Rusin
AP Photo/Rick ScuteriChris Rusin will get the second start of spring on Friday against the Angels.
Then lefty Chris Rusin will pitch Friday against the Los Angeles Angels while Travis Wood takes on San Francisco in a matinee game on Saturday. Edwin Jackson throws in the nightcap against the Diamondbacks. Jason Hamel makes his Cubs debut on Sunday when he faces the Kansas City Royals.

Renteria hasn't committed to an Opening Day starter yet, and although Rusin gets a start the first week of spring play, there's no indication he has the inside track to be in the rotation if Jake Arrieta isn't ready to pitch in April. Rusin, along with James McDonald and Carlos Villanueva, will be vying for that role if Arrieta isn't fully recovered from the shoulder stiffness he experienced over the winter.

Intrasquad on Wednesday: Before starting the long Cactus League schedule, the Cubs will play each other in their new stadium on Wednesday afternoon. Minor league pitchers Eric Jokisch and Kyle Hendricks are slated to start the game, which is open to the public.

The Cubs say stadium access will begin at 12:30 p.m. local time, with first pitch about 1 p.m. The game will last six innings.

New collision rule: The Cubs are still digesting the new collision rules at home plate between the catcher and baserunner, though they've been working with it in mind on things like positioning and sweep tags. Some still don't know how they feel about the rule changes.

The new MLB rule bans most home plate collisions but leaves open an exception if the catcher has the ball and is blocking the runner's direct path to home plate.

"It's been around the game for a long time," spring invitee Eli Whiteside said of collisions at home plate. "You don't want to see anyone get hurt. I don't know. It's a tough call either way."

Whiteside was on the bench when San Francisco Giants star catcher Buster Posey broke his leg in a home plate collision in 2011. In fact, Whiteside replaced Posey in the lineup when he left the game. Since then there's been a movement to change the rule.

"It's a gray area," Whiteside said of the new rules. "It's tough to hold your ground and play the ball at the same time."

The bottom line is catchers can't block the plate without the ball and runners are encouraged to slide and avoid contact. But Whiteside wonders if that gray area could cause problems.

"Even if it's a bad throw and there's no play at the plate, you have to play the ball so the batter doesn't advance on the throw," he said of contact possibly occurring anyway. "We'll see how it plays out, I guess."

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jason Hammel
WINS ERA SO IP
8 2.98 104 108
OTHER LEADERS
BAS. Castro .287
HRA. Rizzo 30
RBIA. Rizzo 71
RA. Rizzo 81
OPSA. Rizzo .889
ERAT. Wood 4.72
SOJ. Arrieta 135