Chicago Cubs: Xavier Nady

Arbitration time for Cubs, White Sox

November, 23, 2010
11/23/10
10:28
AM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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Paul KonerkoAP Photo/Paul BeatyLook for the White Sox to offer Paul Konerko arbitration by the end of Tuesday.
By the end of business Tuesday, the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox must decide whether to offer arbitration to their eligible free agents.

For the Sox, that list includes Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, J.J. Putz and Manny Ramirez .

The Cubs only have one free agent in Xavier Nady.

Here's the scorecard for the Sox today: I look for them to offer arbitration to Konerko and Putz, and not offer to Pierzynski and Ramirez.

The Cubs will not offer arbitration to Nady. He has no ranking, therefore there would not be compensation.

The system works this way: if the Sox offer arbitration to Pierzynski, and he signs elsewhere, because he's a Type-A free agent, the team that signs him would give up a No. 1 pick from the June draft of 2011 if they're ranked in the top 15 record-wise from June 10. If the team signing Pierzynski ranks 15-30 by record, that team only surrenders a No. 2 pick and the Sox would receive a third-round pick from the MLB draft not impacting the signing team.

The Sox would also be on the hook for a guaranteed year to Pierzynski if he decides to accept arbitration. The Sox would have to pay him between $6-$7 million in 2011.

The White Sox most likely will not offer arbitration to Pierzynski, although the Sox would miss out on compensation if he signs elsewhere. It gives Pierzynski a better chance to sign with another team.

In the case of Konerko, the Sox most likely will offer arbitration. Konerko is a Type-A free agent. He made $12 million in 2010. If he would accept arbitration from the White Sox, his arbitration number would come in between $14-$15 million in 2011.

According to sources, the Sox also will offer Putz arbitration on Tuesday. He made $3.125 million last season, and Chicago would be tickled if he decided to take arbitration and sign a one-year deal. Putz is a Type-B free agent, meaning no compensation would be forthcoming from the signing club.

The Sox will not offer arbitration to Ramirez, who made $20 million in 2010.

Players offered arbitration must respond by Nov. 30. Teams must offer their own players under contract arbitration by Dec. 2.

Because of a rule change three years ago, teams are still allowed to sign their own arbitration-eligible free agents even if they don't offer them arbitration.

Levine's Cubs season in review

October, 4, 2010
10/04/10
2:14
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Starlin CastroMark J. Rebilas/US PRESSWIREStarlin Castro is the first Cubs rookie to bat .300 for a season since Bill Madlock hit .313 in 1974.
The Chicago Cubs' season was a tale of three parts in 2010: The quick failure of the team to compete, the drama of Lou Piniella retiring and staying on as manager and then retiring again, and the resurgence of the team in the last 40 games under Mike Quade.

Let's take a look at your Cubs season in review:

Rotation

What went right: Carlos Silva was the surprise of the National League in the first half, winning 10 games by the All-Star break while keeping the team afloat along with the usually reliable Ryan Dempster. Carlos Zambrano's return to ace form in the second half gives the feeling of some optimism for the rotation in 2011.

[+] EnlargeCarlos Zambrano
AP Photo/Barry GutierrezThe Cubs' Carlos Zambrano returned to his ace form at the end of the season.
What went wrong: The Cubs' decision to put Zambrano in the bullpen backfired as he was ineffective in that role and also left a gaping hole in the front of the rotation. Randy Wells' sophomore slump resulted in just six wins for the season after having an outstanding rookie season when he won 12 in 2009. Ted Lilly missed three and a half weeks recovering from shoulder surgery then was submarined by his own offense which only scored 2.5 runs per start for him before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Silva went from All-Star to all-question mark in the second half, having a procedure done to correct an irregular heartbeat. Gorzelanny had his share of good starts as did rookie Casey Coleman at the end of the season. Jeff Samardzija's season can be described as incomplete at the major league level.

Bullpen

What went right:Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall emerged as two of the best relievers in the National League. Marmol set a major league record with an average of almost 16 strikeouts per nine innings pitched and was as dominant a closer as there was in the game. Marshall again proved to be the Cubs' most versatile pitcher in the bullpen and Piniella and Quade used Marshall in many different roles. Marshall finally settled into the primary setup man role for Marmol. Other nice stories included the coming of age of Andrew Cashner and James Russell, both of whom will be counted on in 2011 as integral parts of the Cubs bullpen. Cashner started to develop a good breaking ball to go along with his 98-100 mph fastball. Russell was finally used properly under Quade as he flourished facing mostly left-handers in the second half.

What went wrong: The bullpen imploded early and often as the plan to use three rookies and the inexperienced Samardzija caused the team to blow more games early on than any team in baseball. Veteran reliever John Grabow had his worst season protecting an injured knee which finally gave out on him in mid-summer.

Catchers

What went right: Geovany Soto's re-commitment to becoming the type of player he was in 2008 when he won NL Rookie of the Year was a good story for the Cubs. Soto's defense wavered from time to time, but overall it was a positive return for the 2008 All-Star. Koyie Hill continued to be a positive backup for the Cubs.

What went wrong: Soto's season was cut short by shoulder surgery. However a positive out of that is that the Cubs were able to look at Wellington Castillo, who can be projected as a major league catcher in the future.

[+] EnlargeAramis Ramirez
AP Photo/Jim PrischingAfter a nightmarish first half, Aramis Ramirez finished with 25 home runs and 83 RBIs.

Infield

What went right: The Starlin Castro era began at shortstop on May 7 with the rookie setting a major league record with 6 RBIs in his first game. Although Castro struggled defensively at times, his arm and range suggest that he will be one of the star shortstops in the majors for the next 10 years. Blake DeWitt, acquired in the Theriot trade, proved to be a solid if not spectacular player at second base, and he showed that he fit well in the clubhouse. Ramirez's return to form in the second half was a key to the Cubs' run production as he led the team with 25 home runs and 83 RBIs. Xavier Nady proved to be a more than efficient first baseman after Derrek Lee was traded, although his power stroke never returned.

What went wrong: The sad tale of the infield centers around Ramirez's and Lee's awful first half slumps which killed any semblance of the Cubs' ability to score runs. Ryan Theriot's bulked-up body took away the bat speed that created a once-prolific singles machine. Defensively, Ramirez was well below average as he looked like a player that had never played the game during the first eight weeks of the season. A thumb injury in the middle of the summer only made things worse for the former All-Star. Lee's dreadful season eventually led to him getting traded to the Atlanta Braves.

Outfield

What went right: General manager Jim Hendry's signing of Marlon Byrd proved to be one of the best moves any team made in the offseason. Byrd was the Cubs' lone all-star, hustling his way to a near-.300 batting average. The Cubs' Energizer Bunny made only three errors in the outfield and should be in strong consideration for a Gold Glove. A lack of run production by Byrd can only be blamed on the failure of Ramirez, Lee and Theriot to do their jobs. The emergence of Tyler Colvin has some Cubs fans excited about his future. Colvin somehow was able to hit 20 home runs while rotating in the outfield with Kosuke Fukudome, Alfonso Soriano, Byrd and Nady. Colvin's year was cut short due to the freak accident that occurred when Castillo's shattered bat pierced Colvin in the chest causing a collapsed lung.

What went wrong: The same story that has occurred for the Cubs over the past four years: a general lack of run production. Fukudome had his usual downturn in mid-summer. Soriano's lack of a hot streak made the Cubs outfield one of the least productive in the league. Not a lot of home runs from this group even with Soriano's 24 and Colvin's 20.

Managers

[+] EnlargeMike Quade
Ric Tapia/Icon SMIMike Quade led the Cubs to a 24-13 record after taking over for Lou Piniella.
What went right: Quade taking over the team on Aug. 23 from Piniella was a big-time feel-good story for the fan base. Quade won 24 out of 37 games, putting himself in position to be the full-time manager next season. Veterans and rookies all responded well to Quade, with his friendly but firm communication skills and his decisive handling of the game. Players were told 2-3 days in advance of days that they would have off and lineups were posted early in the day. During his time, Quade benched two veterans who weren't responding to team rules without the media finding out about it. Quade should be a favorite when Hendry and owner Tom Ricketts sit down to hire their new manager later this month.

What went wrong: Surprisingly, even a veteran manager like Piniella was affected by his lame duck status. Players began griping about Piniella by mid-May, complaining about his unorganized way of handling players' days off and posting the lineups late. Piniella's decision to announce his retirement before he was ready to step down proved to be a mistake. Family issues with the death of his uncle and the illness of his mother only conviluted an already bad situation. In defense of Pineilla, a lot of the players who were griping were the same ones who were failing to live up to their contracts.

Front office

What went right: Hendry's signing of Byrd and the trade of Milton Bradley to the Seattle Mariners for Silva changed the entire mood of the clubhouse. Hendry's farm system has produced two Rookie of the Year candidates in Castro and Colvin. Set-up man Cashner may also be a star of the future in the back of the bullpen. For the first time in decades, the Cubs' farm system is sending viable young players to the big leagues. Hendry's best move may prove to have been selecting Quade as Piniella's replacement. The team under Quade rejuvenated a lost season, giving both players and fans a realistic good feeling about a turnaround in 2011.

What went wrong: From January on, Hendry was hamstrung by a payroll that had been maxed out since December of 2008. Hendry's attempts to sign free-agent relievers Matt Capps and Chan Ho Park failed because of a lack of money available. Attempts to trade for San Diego Padres reliever Luke Gregerson and the Toronto Blue Jays' Jason Frasier never materialized. Free-agent setup man Grabow failed in his role.

Offseason

[+] EnlargeDunn
Ed Wolfstein/Icon SMIWill the Cubs have the money available to go after a big free agent such as Adam Dunn?
The Cubs must start with hiring a new manager. Quade appears to be the front office and players' choice. The question is whether Ricketts and the marketing department will agree if Hendry chooses Quade over Ryne Sandberg or Eric Wedge. The Cubs' payroll is also a question mark. Ricketts has said that the team's payroll will be slightly less than in 2010. The question is will it be slightly less than the $144 million that was the payroll at the beginning of the season or slightly less after they had traded Lilly, Lee, Theriot and Fontenot in the last third of the season? The question in 2011 will be whether it will be a re-tooling year for the Cubs or will Hendry have the cash to go out on the free-agent market to sign difference-makers like Adam Dunn and Cliff Lee. Other questions center around the young players in the system. Will Castro and Colvin have to deal with a sophomore slump? And will center field prosect Brett Jackson follow Castro's trail to the majors in 2011? All that said, Zambrano must be able to do what he did the last six weeks of the season for a whole year, and Ramirez must return to the 35-home run, 100-RBI player that he was in the past if the Cubs are going to compete in a very winnable NL Central in 2011.

Cubs' lineup Monday vs. San Diego

August, 16, 2010
8/16/10
4:04
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Derrek Lee will miss Monday’s game with a sore lower back. Here’s the Cubs lineup:

Kosuke Fukudome, RF
Darwin Barney, SS
Marlon Byrd, CF
Aramis Ramirez, 3B
Xavier Nady, 1B
Alfonso Soriano, LF
Blake DeWitt, 2B
Koyie Hill, C
Tom Gorzelanny, P

Hendry pleased with Cubs' pickups

July, 31, 2010
7/31/10
4:14
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


DENVER -- Cubs general manager Jim Hendry had a busy and productive day, trading lefthanded pitcher Ted Lilly and second baseman Ryan Theriot to the Dodgers for Blake DeWitt and two minor-league pitching prospects.

Hendry felt the need to trade Lilly even though the organization still values his services.

[+] EnlargeBlake DeWitt
Jason Bridge/US PresswireBlake DeWitt, a first-round pick of the Dodgers in 2004, is a career .262 hitter.
“It was a good conversation. I wished him well,” Hendry said. “I think he was happy. It was one of the clubs that he would have liked to go to if he was traded.”

Hendry spoke mostly about the future and his new acquisitions, rather than to dwell on the loss of Lilly and Theriot.

The 24-year-old DeWitt will be the Cubs new starting second baseman.

“We think he’s a real solid player,” Hendry said. “We certainly liked him for years, way back when he entered professional baseball. He’s a tough kid. His better days are way ahead of him. He has a chance to be a complete player. We’re anxious to see him play that position and see how that takes us into the offseason.”

Hendry was asked about the young pitchers acquired in the deal, Kyle Smit and Brett Wallach, son of former Expos third baseman Tim Wallach.

“We really like both of them,” Hendry said. “The Smit kid is really making a lot of strides, throwing the ball very well. And Wallach is a third-round pick from just a year ago’s draft. He comes from good stock. They’re both upper-echelon prospects as to how we ranked their system.”

According to major league sources, Hendry and the Cubs were close to trading Mike Fontenot and Xavier Nady at the deadline, but that deal was never consummated.

“We had dialogues with quite a few clubs the last few days,” Hendry said. “There were all different kinds of deals. But I can’t say for certain how close things might have been today. Sometimes the deals that we were close an hour or two before the deadline are done in August.”

Piniella stays away from trade rumors

July, 16, 2010
7/16/10
1:48
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Although multiple teams are looking at Cub left-hander Ted Lilly, manager Lou Piniella, for his part, tries to stay away from the rumor mill.

“I don’t get involved in them,” Piniella said. “I haven’t talked to Jim [Hendry] at all about trade talks. At all. Absolutely none. That’s his department. If he wants my opinion, he’ll ask me.”

Piniella has been involved in player decisions during his other managerial stops in Cincinnati, Seattle and Tampa.

“Look, I like it quiet anyway, so if stuff leaks out it didn’t come from me,” Piniella said. “There are always leaks, who knows where they come from, but if I don’t know anything about it, it can’t come from me.”

Piniella comes from the old Yankee background, where owner George Steinbrenner used to have meetings with his people and warn them if there were any leaks about trades that there would be wholesale firings in the front office. The only problem was Steinbrenner was the main source of those leaks throughout the major portion of his career as owner. Piniella, for his part, feels that deals will be made long after the July 31 none waiver trading deadline.

“The amazing thing about this trading deadline here is that I think you’ll see it extended all the way through August,” Piniella said. “I don’t place too much importance in it now. I’d like to keep our better players, obviously. Any manager would. Our guys are professional, they’ll go out there and play and do the best they can [regardless of trade rumors].”

Lilly, second-baseman Ryan Theriot and infielder-outfielder Xavier Nady have all heard the rumors and all are pretty savvy in keeping up on the latest trade talks circulating around baseball. Philadelphia, Colorado and Detroit have all had conversations about Theriot in recent weeks with the Cubs. Texas has had moderate interest in Nady.

Lilly’s stock continues to go up and down depending on his latest outing. After two bad starts prior to Friday’s outing against Philadelphia, some teams had begun to show less interest in Lilly. However, the Mets, Twins, Tigers and Dodgers all have conversed with the Cubs about Lilly’s availability in recent days.

Cubs, Dodgers GMs talk business

July, 10, 2010
7/10/10
5:50
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
[+] EnlargeJim Hendry
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesCubs general manager Jim Hendry may look to trade some veterans this month.
LOS ANGELES -- The Cubs and Dodgers exchanged ideas Friday night as Cubs general manager Jim Hendry and Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti met for 15 minutes in Hendry’s box at Dodger Stadium.

Although Hendry and Colletti like each other, this was not a social visit.

The Dodgers, like any number of contenders, could use a starting pitcher and a bullpen pitcher.

The Cubs can offer veterans, like Friday night’s losing pitcher, Ted Lilly. And he may indeed be the Dodgers’ preference at this point.

Lilly, coming off of two bad outings, is a time-tested veteran who thrives pitching in NL West ballparks where home runs are scarce due to the big ballparks in Los Angeles. San Francisco and San Diego.

Lilly is a fly ball pitcher who gives up, on average, one home run per start. The gutsy lefthander can be projected to be even more effective when pitching in a big park. The Rockies are also a team that needs pitching, however projecting Lilly in Coors Field would be much more difficult to do.

It appears the Cliff Lee trade has energized a lot of talk between GMs and scouts the last couple of days. The Rangers have talked to the Cubs and expressed interest in Xavier Nady, who could be a platoon player at first base and in the outfield after the Rangers traded first baseman Justin Smoa to Seattle in the Lee deal.

Detroit had talks with the Cubs centering around second baseman Ryan Theriot. Those conversations have cooled down. Major League sources tell ESPNChicago.com that the Colorado Rockies now have apparent interest in Theriot.

Carlos Zambrano is due to come off the restricted list sometime after the All-Star break. In order to trade Zambrano, the Cubs and any team interested would have to be creative trying to decide how to split the $40 million remaining on the 29-year-old Venezuelan’s contract. Zambrano’s contract runs through 2012.

Piniella sits struggling sluggers

June, 1, 2010
6/01/10
8:09
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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PITTSBURGH -- Cubs manager Lou Piniella's lineup on Tuesday night was reflective of his sour mood after watching another listless performance by his offense in Monday's 2-1 loss to the Pirates.

Piniella's lineup was more like a spring training lineup than what you'd expect to see on June 1.

Read the entire story.

Piniella nears 1,800 wins

May, 15, 2010
5/15/10
1:43
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Lou Piniella is on the cusp of winning 1,800 games as a manager.

“1,800 wins! That’s a lot of wins,” said Piniella, who had 1,799 going into Saturday’s action. “I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had good health and I’ve always been employed. I’ve had good players and good coaching staffs. I’m appreciative to everybody that has contributed to my success and the organizations that have hired me.”

Piniella was asked if it’s still as much fun to manage as it was when he first started.

“It’s a ball.” Piniella said sarcastically. “It’s a ball, I’m telling you.”

The Cubs manager talked about the subtle changes in the aspects of managing that have occurred over a 25-year period.

“It’s changed in a lot of ways, believe me,” Piniella said. And basically, as a manager you have to adapt to the changes.”

Piniella said old-school managers can have trouble adapting to a modern style and modern players.

“Earl Weaver was a Hall Of Fame manager,” Piniella said. “When he came back the last time, he didn’t stay too long. Again, you have to adapt to the changes.”

-- After a 35-pitch eighth inning performance on Friday, Carlos Zambrano will get Saturday off.

“He says he is [available],” Piniella said. “We’re going to stay away from him today.”

-- Xavier Nady was a late addition to the lineup after Cubs trainers told Piniella that Nady’s elbow was responding well after having played on Friday. Originally Piniella had Tyler Colvin in the lineup at right field.

-- Cubs closer Carlos Marmol has had only six save opportunities in the 36 games the Cubs have played in 2010.

“That’s a very, very small number,” Piniella said. “But we’re under .500, first of all. A lot of games we’ve won [10] weren’t save situations.”

Cubs juggling outfielders with success

April, 30, 2010
4/30/10
9:37
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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Marlon Byrd’s day started with the usual peek at manager Lou Piniella’s lineup, one that the super aggressive Chicago Cubs centerfielder didn’t appear in Friday. Byrd’s pregame trip up to the manager’s office was noted by Piniella in his comments before the game.

“I have Colvin in center field today and I’m sure one of my outfielders wasn’t happy,” Piniella said. “What are you going to do? I’m doing the best I can to get these guys playing time. But forget about at-bats, let’s win some baseball games.”

Going inside Piniella’s thought process, the Cubs manager saw some obvious advantages when breaking down Arizona’s pitching staff, and in particular, starter Rodrigo Lopez.

[+] EnlargeChicago Cubs
AP Photo/Charles CherneyTyler Colvin, Marlon Byrd and Kosuke Fukudome celebrate the Cubs' win over the Diamondbacks.

What Piniella noticed was first and foremost that outfielder Alfonso Soriano was a .368 lifetime hitter against Lopez, including three homers and 14 RBIs. The other factor that stood out for Piniella is that the Diamondbacks do not have a left-handed pitcher on their entire staff. Piniella then formulated his lineup using Colvin in centerfield and Kosuke Fukudome in right.

This was his way of implementing as much left-handed hitting as he could find, also adding Mike Fontenot into the lineup as well.

Piniella’s problem has been finding playing time for five quality outfielders with only three spots available each day. Xavier Nady’s last start in the outfield was Saturday against Milwaukee.

Having one of his outfielders sit for over a week has been causing Piniella a great amount of anxiety, but considering that the other four outfielders have been providing a lot of offensive production, Nady has been the odd man out this week. Actually, Byrd and Fukudome have been the team’s two most prolific run producers. Luckily for Piniella and Co., Friday’s magic worked well as Soriano went deep on Lopez to turn a deficit into a lead.

The manager was able to satisfy Byrd as well by putting him in as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning, when he promptly singled and then homered in the eighth. For one day at least, the outfield rotation worked for almost everyone involved.

“I want to be in there every single day,” Byrd said. “He [Piniella] understands that. I told him [before the game], I’m always ready whenever you need me. I started to get ready in the fifth inning and ended up having a pretty good one.”

The message that Byrd sent won’t be missed by the Cubs’ wily manager. Although he was basically complaining before the game about not being in the lineup, Byrd did it with a positive spin. And much more importantly, backed up his words with big-time production when he was summoned to play.

Notes:

-- Outfielder Alfonso Soriano’s home run off of Rodrigo Lopez was his fourth in 41 at-bats against the Diamondbacks’ veteran pitcher. Soriano is now hitting .390 lifetime vs. Lopez after going 2-for-3 on Friday.

--Shortstop Ryan Theriot extended his hitting streak to 10 games, a personal- and team-high in 2010.

--Kosuke Fukudome‘s home run was his second in as many days. That marked the second time the Japanese outfielder has hit homers in consecutive games in the Major Leagues.

--Catcher Geovany Soto has a .500 on-base percentage, which would be tops in the National League if he had enough qualifying plate appearances. Soto is three appearances short of qualifying for the leader board in that category.

Nady's time in OF 'awkward'

April, 15, 2010
4/15/10
12:16
PM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com

Chicago Cubs utilityman Xavier Nady, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right throwing arm, said playing the outfield without being able to throw long distances has been an awkward experience this season.

"I find myself sitting out there a lot more thinking about situations instead of just coming up and firing," Nady said Thursday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "Now you've got to play the situation. Obviously, I've got no chance to throw a guy out. I've got to throw it to second. I don't know what percentage I'm at right now, but the arm has been feeling good, I'm sticking with the regimen and hopefully each day gets better and eventually I won't have any limits, and I can start doing what I need to in the outfield."

Read the full story.

X-rays on Nady's right hand proved negative

March, 25, 2010
3/25/10
2:43
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs outfielder Xavier Nady had X-rays on his right hand on Wednesday after being hit by a pitch in a minor-league game. The results were negative.

Nady was replaced by a pinch-runner, and reported a full range of motion after the incident. The Cubs took the X-rays as a precautionary measure.

To read the entire story, click here.

Cubs' Ramirez still has sore arm

March, 19, 2010
3/19/10
8:28
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez continues to have issues with a sore right triceps.
[+] EnlargeAramis Ramirez
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesAramis Ramirez said his triceps is still sore, but he expects it to heal before Opening Day.

“I’m trying everything,” Ramirez said, referring to the medical staff’s treatment. “It’s just sore. It will be OK soon.”

The Cub veteran has missed a week in getting treatment for the injury.

“My legs are strong and it doesn’t hurt me to swing the bat. I’ll be fine,” he said.

Ramirez will hit against some competition on Saturday.

“If I can’t play, I’m going to go to the minor league complex and get some at-bats, but we will wait until tomorrow and see how it feels,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez did admit that he thought he was going to heal faster and said there’s plenty of time left in spring training.

Ready Teddy: Lefty Ted Lilly is anxious to get back on the mound and face some live competition.

“I’m going to pitch again on Monday and do a simulated game,” Lilly said on Friday.

I asked the Cub pitcher if he’s afraid of being too aggressive in his rehab.

“You have to be smart,” Lilly said. “I’m not so oblivious to the fact that you might come back two weeks too early and it could cost you down the road. You can never really foresee what’s in the future, but I’m going to try and make the smartest decisions I can.”

Gray area: Right-handed pitcher Jeff Gray’s return to the mound has been limited to around 30 pitches that he threw on Thursday.

“My next step is to repeat doing another inning or so and then the next step is to get in a game,” Gray said.

The reliever missed the first four and a half weeks of spring training due to a strained groin which he suffered while running in early February.

Millar time: Manager Lou Piniella said Friday that Kevin Millar will get his first playing time in left field on Saturday. This is another step for the veteran to prove to Cubs coaching staff that he’s versatile enough to keep on the roster. Piniella said he wants both Millar and infielder Jeff Baker to get some work in the outfield.

X to left: Outfielder Xavier Nady will soon be ready to play at first base and in the outfield, according to Piniella. Nady hit his first home run of the spring on Friday against the White Sox. He’s been relegated to DH appearances so far this spring as his surgically repaired elbow (ligament replacement) continues to get stronger.

Record breakers: The White Sox and Cubs drew a Cactus League record 13,414 fans on Friday in Glendale, marking the second day in a row that the Cubs helped set a new league attendance record. The Cubs have been involved in nine out of the top ten attendance totals in the league’s history.

Silva to get start Thursday

March, 10, 2010
3/10/10
6:44
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
The Cubs will start right-handed pitcher Carlos Silva in Peoria, Ariz. against the Padres on Thursday. Manager Lou Piniella said that the regular lineup will be held back to hit at Ho-Ho-Kam Park while players battling for bench positions like Kevin Millar, Chad Tracy, Bryan LaHair and Micah Hoffpauir will play in the game.

  • Outfielder Xavier Nady played in his first spring training game on Wednesday, getting three at-bats as the team’s DH. Piniella said Nady might not be ready at 100 percent until June. Nady will still be able to play with his arm at less than 100 percent, however. The Cub outfielder is recovering from a second Tommy John surgery on his right elbow ligament. Nady said he’s not sure of a timetable, either, as to when he’ll be ready to throw at a 100 percent. At this juncture, Nady is throwing at 120 feet.
  • Right-handed pitcher Carlos Zambrano's second outing of the spring was a success until the third inning, when according to Piniella, Zambrano lost some of his velocity. Zambrano said that he was pleased with the outing and got in some valuable work.
  • Cubs team president Crane Kenney is back in Mesa for his third trip to Arizona this spring. Kenney was in town, along with owner Tom Ricketts, on March 5 to converse with Arizona legislators about the team’s planned $84 million new stadium in East Mesa. A site should be chosen in the very near future.

  • Cubs' plan for Nady: Caution

    January, 29, 2010
    1/29/10
    2:37
    PM CT
    LEVINE By BRUCE LEVINE
    ESPNChicago.com
    Archive
    Xavier Nady
    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty ImagesXavier Nady's best season came in 2008 when he split the season between the Pirates and Yankees and hit 25 home runs with 97 runs batted in.

    In the case of Xavier Nady, the main question that needs to be answered before the season is if the Chicago Cubs' new acquisition will be healthy enough to play everyday in the outfield by May 1.

    The Cubs' plan is to allow Nady to rehab the elbow on which he had a second ligament transplant in July 2009 and still be available to contribute on the 25-man roster as a hitter.

    Normally with a Tommy John surgery, complete recovery time for a pitcher is between 11 and 13 months. In the case of a position player that time frame is more like nine or 10.

    Nady's agent Scott Boras had this analysis of his client's recovery time.

    "We're not going to rush X early on," Boras said. "X knows coming into this that there is a variable to it. We also believe that variation is days rather than any extended period."

    Boras compared Nady's rehabilitation to another client, outfielder Jose Guillen who had the same surgery.

    "Guillen had surgery in the same time frame (as Nady) and was ready for the season the following year," Boras said. "That is about the best model [we have]. We are talking about athletes who are in tremendous shape whose healing powers are usually well above the norm for normal individuals. The Guillen scenario is the best, most controlling viewpoint we have to give us an indication as to when [Nady] can return to normal play."

    Cubs general manager Jim Hendry also is on board with the process to get the most out of Nady and keep him healthy.

    "X was in town Thursday," Hendry said. "All the medical reports say he's right where he needs to be post-op from last summer, obviously healing properly. [Doctors] saw no restriction with the bat going into camp. We just needed to do the best thing and assure ourselves that he can stay healthy not only for this year but for the rest of his career."

    Hendry went on to explain the Cubs' philosophy for Nady in spring training.

    "We're in no rush at all about putting excessive effort into throwing in spring training," Hendry saud. "We don't expect to do things that really don't make any sense. First and foremost, to be paid knocking in runs and hitting the baseball which he has for the most part of his career."

    Hendry went on to explain what he feels he is getting with Nady.

    "We know he can play, we know he can hit, and we know he's a quality guy off the field and in the clubhouse," Hendry said. "That's what we're looking for."

    Nady's most productive season was 2008 when he hit 25 home runs and drove in 97 runs for the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees. Before signing Nady, the Cubs looked at his good numbers in New York after a late-July 2008 trade sent him from Pittsburgh to the Yankees. They believe that playing on the big stage in a big market will not bother him.

    Cubs manager Lou Piniella loves hitting, so to me it's clear that if Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome or Marlon Byrd struggle, the manager now has a weapon to replace a low batting average or an injured player with a top RBI bat.

    Nady's deal is for $3.3 million with a chance to make another $2 million in performance bonuses. Look for Nady to be mostly a pinch hitter and part-time replacement in April when cold weather could be a factor in his rehab.

    Nady? Dye? Johnson?

    January, 26, 2010
    1/26/10
    11:12
    AM CT

    The Chicago Cubs appear close to adding outfield depth. A decision on free agents Xavier Nady, Reed Johnson, Jonny Gomes or Jermaine Dye appears imminent.

    Xavier Nady

    G Fiume/Getty Images

    Xavier Nady, who played in just seven games last season for the New York Yankees, has undergone two Tommy John surgeries.

    The Cubs want to add some offensive pop to the outfield while solidifying the bench in case of injury.

    Nady may be a player with the most upside. After having a second Tommy John surgery on his right arm in 2009, Nady is said to be doing well on his rehab.

    Scouting sources told me he's thrown the ball consistently 150 feet, with a month before position players report to spring training.

    Nady was said to be asking $5 million to $6 million per season through agent Scott Boras during the Winter Meetings. Six weeks later, the price may have dropped.

    The upside for Nady is he has more power than Johnson, and is six years younger than Dye, who turns 36 on Thursday.

    Johnson has more ability to play all three outfield positions while Nady and Dye are both home run and RBI threats and can play left, right and first base.

    Whoever the choice is, the new outfielder in the mix might platoon in right field with Kosuke Fukudome. Also keep in mind, Alfonso Soriano has missed 125 games in left field over the last three seasons.

    Although the Cubs have talked to the agent for Chan Ho Park, it doesn't appear a deal is likely. Park is said to be asking between $3 million and $4 million per season.

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