February 2011

2/26 Cubs extra bases

Manager Mike Quade won’t be calling for a hit and run early in Spring Training. “I told the club today, it’s not rocket science,” Quade said Saturday on the eve of the first Cactus League game. “[I told them] ‘The first week or two, you guys play, show us what you can do, use your judgement, my catchers will run the running game.’ I want to watch guys play and think on their feet. If I’m creating a bunch of robots, that’s not good.”

* By posting lineups for three games in advance, players get a heads up. “No one can say they weren’t ready,” Quade said.

* Sunday’s game will start at 1:05 p.m. Mountain Time at HoHoKam Park.

* Greg Maddux, a special assistant to general manager Jim Hendry joined the Cubs on Saturday. He will work with the pitchers and do some scouting.

— Carrie Muskat

2/26 Colvin hopes to avoid foolish mistakes

Tyler Colvin has been asking a lot of questions this spring. Colvin, whom the Cubs want to see play first base as well as outfield, has been spending a lot of time on infield drills.

“This is something I enjoy,” Colvin said Saturday. “I really do like taking ground balls. I’m used to this because it’s exactly what I had to do at Clemson.”

Manager Mike Quade has asked Colvin if he’s comfortable at first to make sure the transition is smooth. On Sunday in the first Cactus League game, Colvin will sub in right field. So far, Colvin said everything has been great.

He can take grounders forever but is working on being prepared for game situations. For example, if there’s a man on second base and the ball is hit up the middle and Colvin is at first, he can’t just stand there and watch.

“I have to remember, I’m the cutoff man and I have to get out there,” Colvin said. “It’s little stuff like that that worried me last year. You’re fine taking ground balls but once you get in the game, you hve to do a lot more than just catch the ball. You don’t want to look like a fool out there.”

— Carrie Muskat

2/26 Cubs baseball is almost on the air …


2/26 Moreland nervous but ready

New Cubs radio analyst Keith Moreland arrived at HoHoKam Park on Saturday to get prepped for his first broadcast on Sunday with partner Pat Hughes. Moreland is taking over for the late Ron Santo.

“There’s excitement, obviously, and sadness, too,” Moreland said. “Ron was a great friend and a major part of this organization for 50 years. I have sadness and excitement all at the same time. You can’t replace Ron and all I can do is be me. It’s nice to have a Hall of Fame type guy sitting beside me because Pat makes you feel so comfortable.”

Moreland remembers when he first met Santo, and Santo told the young third baseman that he liked how he played the game.

“He was self-deprecating,” Moreland said of Santo. “He would pick on himself awful bad. He would pick on himself so much, he made it so much fun to be around him.”

Will it be tough to criticize players?

“The first thing is there is no substitute for hustle,” Moreland said. “Effort is the one thing you can control. The game of baseball is a game you cannot control the outcome. You can hit the ball four times right on the button or make five really good pitches in a row and two could leave the ballpark. You don’t have control sometimes of the outcome but you do have control of your effort. If there is a point that I could be critical of it will be effort.”

Is he nervous?

“Heck, yeah, I’m nervous,” Moreland said. “I just hope people allow me to be me. Again, [Santo] is irreplaceable, and that’s not my intention in any capacity. Because of that, I have some apprehension. I get to turn to my right and look who’s sitting beside me — he’s the best straight man in the world.”

Hughes has said he wants Moreland to shine and be the star.

“All I can do is be me,” Moreland said. “There’s nothing other than that. I can butcher the English language with the best of them and I’m not sure what words mean sometimes. I try my best to get a point across of what’s taking place on the field.”

— Carrie Muskat

2/26 2011 Cubs Media Guide

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2/25 Cubs notebook – UPDATED

Here’s the Cubs lineup for Sunday’s Cactus League opener:

RF Fukudome
SS Castro
CF Byrd
3B Ramirez
1B Pena
LF Soriano
C Soto
2B DeWitt
P Zambrano

Manager Mike Quade says Fukudome appears to be favorite to leadoff, even though last year he hit .193 in 181 at-bats in the No. 1 spot in the lineup. He has a career .233 average as the leadoff man. What Quade is looking at is that Fukudome has a career .335 average in the first month of the season. What was Fukudome’s take on leading off?

“I don’t hate it,” he said, smiling.

Quade didn’t lose any sleep over the winter thinking about lineups.

“I might commit suicide if I find myself in the middle of a bunch of trout or redfish someday and all of a sudden I’m thinking who’s my third hole hitter — there’s plenty of time for that,” Quade said.

* Angel Guzman will face hitters on Wednesday with a live BP session. It will be the first time since the 2009 season. He will throw his fourth side session on Sunday. Guzman is coming back from right shoulder surgery.

* The Cubs moved to HoHoKam Park after Friday’s workout. They will practice there Saturday — no intrasquad game — and then kick off games on Sunday.

* Friday was Billy and Shirley Williams’ 51st wedding anniversary, and their granddaughter Nicollete Simpson’s 21st birthday. She starred at Glenbard South, and now is an outfielder on the University of Illinois softball team.

* Friday also would’ve been Ron Santo’s 71st birthday. RIP.

— Carrie Muskat

2/25 Get your scorecard

Mike Quade posted lineups for the Cubs’ first three Cactus League games and listed both the starters and the backups. So, Tyler Colvin will backup Kosuke Fukudome on Sunday in right, Darwin Barney backup Starlin Castro at short, Fernando Perez will follow Marlon Byrd in center and Josh Vitters replace Aramis Ramirez at third. Bryan LaHair will follow Carlos Pena at first, Brett Jackson replace Alfonso Soriano in left, and Jeff Baker take over at second for Blake DeWitt. The starters are expected to get two at-bats or play minimum of five innings.

Here’s the starting lineup for Monday’s game vs. the Brewers:

CF Johnson
SS Barney
RF Colvin
LF Soriano
1B Pena
2B Baker
3B Marquez Smith
C Hill
P Wells

And for Tuesday’s game at Scottsdale vs. the Giants:

RF Fukudome
SS Castro
CF Byrd
3B Ramirez
C Soto
2B DeWitt
LF Johnson
1B LaHair
P Dempster

The only glitch to Quade’s organization is that he needs to check the calendar. Fukudome pointed out the date for the third game was listed as Feb. 29. There is no leap year.

“What is it — an Olympic year?” Fukudome asked Quade.

Some things are just lost in translation.

— Carrie Muskat

2/24 Lineup options

Manager Mike Quade will post the lineup for the Cactus League opener on Friday and the only thing that appears to be set is that Aramis Ramirez will bat fourth. That’s been Ramirez’s spot for the majority of his career, and where he’s hit for the Cubs.

“I see him as such a good RBI guy that it makes sense in the four-hole,” Quade said Thursday of the third baseman, who has a career .293 average with runners on. “He’s a guy who, as much mixing and matching that I do, he doesn’t figure to be one of the guys I’ll mix and match with. Some guys don’t care [where they are in the lineup] and I know he does. He seems like the four-hole to me because I want him driving in runs. But I’m a grownup and I reserve the right to change my mind.”

So, expect some experimentation this spring. Quade would like to keep Starlin Castro No. 2. The shortstop does have speed and can bunt. Couldn’t he leadoff?

“No,” Quade said. “Because he’s young. … He hasn’t earned the right to figure he’s going to hit anywhere although he hit .300 in the two-hole. I think I’m smart enough to say, ‘Look, I’ll take .300 in the two-hole again.'”

Castro, entering his second season, still needs to learn pitch selection, still needs to get more experience.

“There’s all sorts of value for where he’s at right now,” Quade said of the shortstop, who turns 21 in March. “I’d like to think he will be talented enough to be that guy someday.”

— Carrie Muskat

2/24 Hughes preps for life without Santo

On Sunday, Pat Hughes will begin his 16th season as the radio play by play voice of the Cubs but for the first time, he’ll have a new partner. Hughes begins his first season without popular color man Ron Santo, who died Dec. 3 at the age of 70. Friday would’ve been Santo’s 71st birthday.

“The reality is hitting me this week,” Hughes said.

Former Cub Keith Moreland takes over for Santo in the WGN Radio booth, and makes his debut on Sunday when the team opens Cactus League play against the Athletics. Hughes has worked with Moreland in the past, including two series last year.

“I said, ‘You be yourself and relax,'” Hughes said Wednesday night of his advice to Moreland, who was broadcasting University of Texas baseball and football. “[I told him] ‘I’ll try to make you a star and make you shine.'”

That’s always been one of Hughes’ strongest characteristics on air. He never tried to top Santo and his passion. He’s been a steady voice, letting the emotional Santo show his displeasure or glee at plays on the field.

Santo played for the Cubs from 1960-73, and joined the WGN Radio team in 1990. The Cubs retired his No. 10 in September 2003, and players this year will wear a No. 10 patch on their uniform sleeve in his honor. The 2011 media guide features a montage of Santo highlights from his days as a player and broadcaster.

Hughes has asked fans to be patient with Moreland. No one can replace Santo.

“I really do think we’ll be OK,” Hughes said.

He joked that the pressure really is on Cubs manager Mike Quade and the players.

“The best [Moreland] and I can hope for is a winning team,” Hughes said. “If we’re winning, people will think we’re doing a better job than we are.”

— Carrie Muskat

2/24 Looper stays in touch with Wainwright

Braden Looper was Adam Wainwright’s teammate on the Cardinals, and both are board of directors of an organization. Looper last saw Wainwright this offseason. As soon as Looper heard about Wainwright’s elbow injury, he sent a text message to his friend.

“He told me a couple jokes, back and forth,” Looper said Thursday of Wainwright. “He didn’t know what was going on yet.”

If he’s joking, then maybe Wainwright’s elbow injury isn’t that serious?

“That’s just his personality,” said Looper, who hoped to call Wainwright later Thursday. “I’m sure it’s tough. It’s a big loss for a team like that — any team. That’s just his personality and you have to know him to appreciate it. He’s a good hard worker and he’ll be all right.”

Looper didn’t know any details about Wainwright’s injury.

“I know that knowing him, he’s a character guy and he’s a guy who shows young guys how to work hard, so I know he’ll be all right,” Looper said. “That’s a comforting thing for me, knowing that he’s a guy who will bust his butt to get back.”

Cubs fans may be excited about the Cardinals losing their 20-game winner from the rotation. Looper would like to face a team when it’s at full strength.

“We want to beat them because we’re better,” he said. “You never want to wish a guy to get hurt. You want to say at the end of the day, hopefully, we’re a better team than they are. Every team goes through adversity. Obviously, [the Cardinals’] is starting sooner than ours. I’m sure there will be something we’ll have to go through. Every team goes through something.”

— Carrie Muskat