March 2010

3/29 Pitching probables

The Cubs’ rotation order is set. It’ll be Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny. No one will be skipped, unless the weather interrupts their plans. On Monday, Wells will make his next to last spring start. He’ll also pitch Saturday against the D-Backs at Chase Field in the last Cactus League game.

Gorzelanny will start on Tuesday and Zambrano, the Opening Day starter, will go Wednesday in the Cubs’ split squad game in Mesa vs. the Angels. Minor League pitchers will start the other split squad game against the Brewers. On Thursday, Silva will make his last start and Dempster will go three to four innings Friday vs. Arizona.

* Ted Lilly will throw 45 pitches on Tuesday in a Minor League at Fitch Park. He’ll then pitch every five days, and follow Tuesday’s outing with starts in which he goes 60, 75 and 90 pitches. That would put him on track to join the Cubs in about three weeks.

Where the left-hander will make those starts is yet to be determined. The Cubs would prefer someplace where the weather is nice.

— Carrie Muskat

3/29 Welcome aboard, Tyler

Lou Piniella told Tyler Colvin on Monday morning that the outfielder had made the Opening Day roster.

“There was never really a doubt for awhile,” Piniella said. “He played himself onto the roster and had a great spring.”

Colvin had not gotten any word when he met earlier Monday with reporters. Piniella told the media on Sunday that Colvin was in and Colvin got several text messages after that game from friends.

“I guess we’ll find out soon enough,” Colvin said.

“We’re going to get some playing time for Colvin,” Piniella said. “It’ll be good for all of our outfielders to get a day off occasionally so they can stay strong and are less prone to injury. We’ll figure out something over the next few days.”

Colvin understands his role is to play two or three days a week and give the regulars a breather.

“That’s all I can ask for right now,” Colvin said. “We have four great outifelders here who have proven themselves in the Major Leagues and hopefully, when I get in there, I can contribute in some way.”

He doesn’t see the big contracts to Marlon Byrd, Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano as being in his way.

“The Cubs are trying to win, obviously,” Colvin said. “They’re trying to get the best guys in here to do the job. We have four great guys here. … Hopefully, I can do some good things, too.”

What will help Colvin get over some of the jitters is that he played with the big league team last September when called up.

“I got to get comfortable with the big crowds and that’s the biggest thing,” Colvin said. “You see all these players on TV play and you think ‘Man, I could be there someday.’ You get there and you realize it’s still baseball, it’s just a little higher level and that’s the thing you have to adjust to and obviously, the crowds, that’s something you have to control yourself and not try to be somebody you’re not.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/28 Dempster cruises to win

Ryan Dempster hasn’t worn the home whites in Arizona all spring. He’s doing pretty well as a road warrior. On Sunday, the right-hander struck out nine over seven scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory over the Mariners in front of a Cactus League-record crowd of 13,629.

“I’ve been waiting for the season to start and that was as good as I’ve thrown the ball all spring by far,” Dempster said. “I was really happy today.”

He cruised through the first six innings, striking out six and giving up two hits, but got into a jam in the seventh. The Mariners loaded the bases as Casey Kotchman singled, Ken Griffey Jr. walked and Eric Byrnes singled. Dempster then struck out the side to escape the mess.

“That last inning, I was so mad that I walked [Griffey] because it was a situation you don’t want to get yourself into,” Dempster said. “I was able to make pitches and bear down. Even though I didn’t get extended pitch-wise a whole bunch, the intensity of pitching into the seventh and having that be your most stressful inning, it was a lot of good work and a real good stepping stone for getting ready for the season.

Dempster has one more outing on Friday at Chase Field against the Diamondbacks. He has not pitched at the Cubs’ home HoHoKam Park all spring and the only time he wore home whites was in Las Vegas in a road trip against the White Sox March 13.

“I sent them away,” Dempster said of his home uniform. “I sent them to Chicago. I won’t need them until then.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/28 One opening left

Here’s the Cubs’ Opening Day roster so far:

Pitchers: Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Tom Gorzelanny, Carlos Silva, Carlos Marmol, John Grabow, Esmailin Caridad, Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall, James Russell, and Justin Berg.

Outfielders: Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, Marlon Byrd, Xavier Nady and Tyler Colvin.

Infielders: Derrek Lee, Mike Fontenot, Jeff Baker, Ryan Theriot, and Aramis Ramirez.

Catchers: Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill.

Caridad, Russell, Berg and Colvin are rookies. There’s one opening left and still in camp are Kevin Millar, Chad Tracy, Micah Hoffpauir, Sam Fuld and Chris Robinson.

— Carrie Muskat

3/28 Lou's had enough of Bradley

Lou Piniella has moved on along with Milton Bradley. A reporter asked Piniella on Sunday abut how the Mariners are projecting Bradley to bat cleanup.

“He got off to a little bit of a rocky start with the bat,” Piniella said of Bradley, who batted .118 in the first month last year with the Cubs. “He’s certainly very capable of being a productive fourth hitter. He’s over there in Seattle and we wish him well.”

Bradley told Chicago reporters on Sunday that the media ran him out of town. Did Piniella think the media was unfair?

“I don’t think the media was unfair to anybody,” Piniella said. “The amazing thing about Milton is he played, he played a lot of ballgames. He played hard when he played. Offensively, he didn’t do the things that Jim [Hendry] envisioned when we brought him over here.

“Look, he’s a Mariner, we have [Carlos] Silva, we’re happy with Silva, and let’s hope both players have a positive impact on both teams.”

When a reporter tried to do a follow-up question, Piniella stopped him.

“I’ve had enough,” he said.

— Carrie Muskat


3/28 D-Lee out with bruised foot

First baseman Derrek Lee was scratched from Sunday’s lineup because his left foot is still sore. He fouled a ball off his foot in a game March 10, and apparently did it again during batting practice recently. Lee did not hit on Sunday and may not be back in the lineup until Tuesday.

— Carrie Muskat

3/28 Colvin is in

Tyler Colvin is in. Lou Piniella said Sunday the young outfielder, who was batting .475 this spring, has made the final 25-man roster.

There’s now four players — Kevin Millar, Chad Tracy, Micah Hoffpauir and Sam Fuld — battling for one spot. When first asked about the bench, Piniella talked in generalities.

“Everybody who is here has special merits,” Piniella said before Sunday’s game. “It’s just a question of which way we decide to go. We’ll probably sit down and talk about it at length. Everybody brings something to the table. They wouldn’t be here if they didn’t. We only have one spot. That’s the problem and there are four people left and we can only keep one.”

OK, if there are four left, then Colvin is in?

“If we can’t keep Colvin after the spring he’s had, something’s wrong,” Piniella said.

Colvin said he won’t believe he’s made the big league roster until he’s traveling to Atlanta for the season opener. Has Piniella told him?

“I’ll help him today get on the plane,” Piniella said. “He’s had a heck of a spring. My gosh, you should be rewarded for coming to Spring Training [like that]. Look at [reliever James] Russell — he hasn’t given up a run this spring and he’ll be with us. You reward the performance in spring. If not, there’s no sense in keeping statistics.”

It will come down to Piniella giving Colvin enough playing time to stay sharp.

“I have to do that,” Piniella said. “I’ve talked to Jim [Hendry] about that. I’ve got to find some playing time for him. We don’t want him just making the club and being a defensive replacement. We want him to do a little playing.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/28 Parisi decides Cubs best fit

Mike Parisi was a free agent for 24 hours, and decided he wanted to stay with the Cubs. The Cubs acquired the right-hander in the Rule 5 Draft last December but didn’t have a spot for him on the 25-man roster. It gets a little technical, but he was placed on waivers, and cleared. Then, he was outrighted. The Cardinals had the chance to accept Parisi back but he would’ve been assigned to their Triple-A Memphis team. Parisi said no. Because it was the second time he was outrighted, he became a free agent and chose the Cubs.

This was not a typical situation for Rule 5 players, but most have never been on a team’s 40-man roster before. Parisi had with St. Louis.

“I feel like if I work hard here and put up some good numbers and a spot comes up, I feel hopefully I have a shot here,” Parisi said Sunday. “That seems the right move for me right now. Being a free agent, for the first time ever being a free agent, I had to learn the rules. If I pitch well here, I can pitch well in Triple-A. I’ve been [with the Cardinals] for a couple years so I know what to expect. I hope I go down there and pitch well and get my shot here.”

One of the reasons Parisi wanted to stay was his relationship with Minor League pitching coordinator Mark Riggins, who was in the St. Louis organization when Parisi was drafted. He will go to Triple-A Iowa, where he’ll be a starter. He’s also learning from the Cubs veterans.

“Just look at the amount of work they put in and the amount of fun they have doing it,” Parisi said. “That’s another reason I wanted to stay. I feel real comfortable here. I’ve only been here a month or so but I feel comfortable. It’s a fun atmosphere. That definitely goes into the equation. I love to play baseball and I love to have fun playing baseball.

“I feel if I pitch well here, I will have an opportunity so that’s where we are,” he said.

— Carrie Muskat

3/28 Byrd on Bradley: "He's a perfectionist"

Milton Bradley wasn’t in the Mariners’ lineup for Sunday’s game against the Cubs and when approached by Chicago reporters, the outfielder declined to talk.

“No chance,” Bradley said. “You guys ran me out of town.”

Bradley and Marlon Byrd were teammates in Texas, and when Byrd signed with the Cubs, Bradley called to tell him to “do what I couldn’t do there.”

“He wanted to go to Chicago, this was his choice,” Byrd said Sunday. “This is a great place to play and he didn’t get a chance to enjoy his time here and the atmosphere. He knows the type of guy I am and he was like ‘Hey, start off slow, start off fast, whatever it is, just enjoy it.”

Bradley is an intense player and doesn’t smile much. Byrd doesn’t want him to change.

“I want him to be him,” Byrd said. “In Texas, he didn’t smile at all. He put up ungodly numbers. He has to go out there and be himself. That’s the only thing he can do and that’s the only way he can play. I want to see him do 162 [games], all out, because he has MVP material.”

What drives Bradley?

“Being great,” Byrd said. “He’s a perfectionist. Sometimes when he doesn’t reach that, he’s very tough on himself. I think a lot of guys in baseball are like that.”

And Bradley has a different personality with his teammates.

“He’s a great teammate,” Byrd said. “I had one year with him. Everybody knows how he was in Texas. We had a great time and no run-ins, no nothing. It can happen with him. With [Ken] Griffey and Chone Figgins and those guys over there in Seattle, he’ll be fine.”

Obviously, there aren’t many media people on Bradley’s holiday card list.

“You have to approach Milton,” Byrd said. “You have to make sure every single day you talk to him and ask him how he’s doing. My locker was right next to him. Every game on the road, we were eating lunch. My relationship was a little different than everybody else’s. As a teammate, as a guy, you have to go up to him every day, ‘Hey, Milton, how are you doing?'”

The two haven’t gotten together this spring at all because of the long drive to Peoria, but they’ll see each other when the Cubs play the Mariners June 22-24.

What about Bradley’s comment that he’s the Kanye West of baseball?

“I thought it was interesting,” Byrd. “If that helps him, helps drive him, go ahead. He can be the Ron Artest, he can be the Kanye.”

Does Bradley enjoy himself?

“You have to ask him that,” Byrd said. “In Texas, 2008, he enjoyed himself.”

That year, Bradley led the American League in on-base percentage and batted .321, which led to his three-year contract with the Cubs.

“It’s not all bad with him,” Byrd said. “I know the way he’s perceived by a lot of fans is all bad but not at all. You weren’t around him much. He has good days and bad days just like everyone else. The distance between those good days and bad days is what people see.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/27 The Fuke & friend

fukudome.jpgKosuke Fukudome met Saturday with 6-year-old Trevor, who is a big fan of the Cubs Japanese outfielder.Trevor was very shy when he met his favorite player, but when his mother asked him to sing, he easily broke into “Go Cubs Go.”

— Carrie Muskat