February 2011

2/23 Cubs on Wainwright injury

The Cubs were definitely not gloating over the news Wednesday that the Cardinals may have lost pitcher Adam Wainwright to a serious elbow injury.

“He’s on one of our rivalry
teams,” pitcher Sean Marshall said, “but I still wish him the best as a friend. You don’t wish
that on anyone for sure,
even if it is your ‘sports enemy.’ Adam’s a great guy and I wish
him well. He’s definitely
one of their staples in their rotation and a Cy Young contender
the last couple years and it
helps our team if he’s not in the rotation but you don’t wish
anything bad on

Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood has had to deal with his share of injuries.

“You feel bad for the guy and you
never want to see guys get hurt, especially top of the line guys like that,” Wood said, “but he’s not the first and he won’t be the

Said Cubs manager Mike Quade: “That’s a shame, that’s what that
is. It’s a damn shame. I don’t know what else to say. I watched him come through the system. … You want to win and
compete and all the rest of it, but you don’t like seeing anybody get hurt, that’s for darn
sure. He’s meant a lot to them. That will be a tough one [to

It’s been a tough camp for the Cardinals with all the talk about Albert Pujols’ contract and now this.

“I’ve always said that as long as [Tony La Russa] is running the club and they
have the people they have,it’s a great franchise and they always have the ability to get
better and add on and I fully expect them to be right in the thick of it no matter what,” GM Jim Hendry said.


— Carrie Muskat

2/23 Pena speaks up

Carlos Pena may be the new guy in Cubs camp but he made a point of stepping up to talk to the players during defensive drills on Wednesday. The topic was who has priority over certain pop ups and fly balls, and Pena wanted to point out that there are certain areas on the field where it is only one person’s responsibility. For example, Pena is in charge of the area to his left, a triangle, if you will, from him to the pitcher to the catcher. He asked manager Mike Quade if he could say something during the workout.

“He’s like, ‘Do you mind if I say something?’ and I said, ‘No — great,'” Quade said. “It’s a group effort in so many ways. Also, people in other organizations have heard other instructors say different things. Any input seems to make sense to bring up.”

Pena is helping Tyler Colvin learn first. Now, he’s trying to help the team.

“I’m happy he felt comfortable in making the point,” Quade said.

— Carrie Muskat

2/22 Cubs notebook

Even though Cactus League games have yet to begin, the Cubs roster is nearly set. Manager Mike Quade does need to find one extra infielder and one extra outfielder for the bench. The extra infielder has to be able to backup at short, and Darwin Barney and Augie Ojeda are among the candidates. Reed Johnson, Fernando Perez and Brad Snyder are among the players they’ll look at for the extra outfielder job. Perez, listed as a right-handed hitter, will try switch-hitting this spring.

“Sometimes that works itself out and sometimes it doesn’t and it becomes a brutally tough decision,” Quade said Tuesday about filling the roster spots. “A lot of the people involved in this, we need to see play. This will be something [decided] at the end of camp that will be tough.”

* Tyler Colvin will continue to work both in the outfield and at first base this spring. “He can invest the time at first base to try to be as good as he can there without losing what I’d be concerned about in the outfield,” Quade said of Colvin, who will play at least once a week if not more at first this spring.

* Carlos Pena has been bothered by chest congestion, but has been able to do the workouts.

* The Cubs and WRTO 1200 AM extended their agreement to broadcast an expanded number of games in Spanish. This year, WRTO 1200 AM will broadcast 43 games after doing 35 games last season. The station’s first broadcast will be April 3 against the Pirates.

* Carlos Zambrano, Kerry Wood and Matt Garza are scheduled to throw live batting practice on Wednesday. Zambrano and Garza will pitch Sunday in the Cactus League opener.

* Someone on the Cubs pointed out to Quade that bullpen catcher Edgar Tovar’s 2010 jersey was being auctioned off for $400 while the manager’s jersey was available for $350. The price difference was posted on a piece of paper with the headline, “Who says Qaude doesn’t get any respect?” The typo of the manager’s name was on purpose. Quade received a package from Chicago with the error.

— Carrie Muskat

2/21 Cubs notebook

* Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza will both pitch in the Cubs’ Cactus League opener Sunday against the Athletics. Ryan Dempster will start the regular season opener April 1 at Wrigley Field.

* Mike Quade talked to Tyler Colvin to make sure he’s comfortable at first base. Colvin has been doing drills there as well as working out with the outfielders. Said Quade: “What I physically see is great.” Expect to see Colvin starting at first about one week into Cactus League games.

*  Todd Wellemeyer will be looked at as both a starter and reliever, but most likely would make the Cubs’ roster as a reliever.

* Kerry Wood was back on the mound at Fitch Park, throwing to hitters. Said Quade: “He’s a favorite son here, so it’s always kind of special.”

* Reed Johnson was plunked on the elbow by Carlos Marmol during Sunday’s live BP session. Scott Rice had a tougher assignment. The left-hander had to face Quade in the batter’s box. Rice was one of the last to throw and all the hitters needed to go to coach Rudy Jaramillo’s meeting.

“This poor kid is left with nobody,” Quade said of Rice. “So, I grab a bat and I’ll get in there, let’s go. I’m in there for half a dozen pitches before I realize, this poor kid. First day on the mound against hitters, new organization, new manager, and I’m standing in there. He was doing fine. It didn’t dawn on me until [coach] Marty Mason said, ‘Fastball in, get the ball in.’ They gave me a heads up in case I want to bail, and the ball is left out over the middle of the plate.”

At that point, Quade told coaching instructor Marty Peavy to stand in.

“[I said], ‘He won’t care if he hits you,'” Quade said.

What was Rice thinking?

“I wanted to get it in there but the last thing I want to do is hit the manager,” Rice said. “I guess that’s the kind of pressure you’ll feel in games. You have to go in and do it and not think about who’s in there and make your pitch.”

Rice did admit it was in the back of his mind that it wasn’t just another hitter but the manager. What if he had hit him?

“It would’ve been funny for everyone else,” Rice said.

— Carrie Muskat

2/21 Demp & Opening Day

When Ryan Dempster starts April 1, it will be his third career Opening Day assignment. He kicked off the season twice for the Marlins. On April 2, 2001, he and the Marlins faced the Phillies and Dempster gave up three earned runs on five hits over five innings and did not get a decision. On April 2, 2002, he was the Opening Day starter again, and gave up three runs on six hits over 7 1/3 innings and also did not get a decision.

“It could’ve been any one of the three guys everyone’s been talking about,” Dempster said Monday. “[Carlos Zambrano] has started the last six years so it feels weird to go out and do that, and I’m going to go out and try to do the best job I can and get us off to a winning note and win the first game of the year. After that, they’re just games. It is exciting to go out there and start Opening Day.”

— Carrie Muskat

2/21 Dempster to start Opening Day

Cubs manager Mike Quade announced Monday that Ryan Dempster will be the Opening Day starter, and will be followed by Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza. Quade said he slept on the decision Sunday night. Pitching coach Mark Riggins needed to know to get the Cactus League rotation in order. Zambrano had started six straight Opening Days for the Cubs, and is 1-2 in those outings. Quade said he talked to all three in his office Monday and all handled the decision well.

“There’s some instinct here for me,” Quade said. “I do pay attention to numbers but you weigh it out and keep looking and it’s him, him, him, and finally I said, this is the way we’re going.

“I don’t think there was a bad decision here,” he said. “I’m sitting here now so this is what I came up with.”

— Carrie Muskat

2/21 More live BP at Fitch

There’s no rain in the forecast for Monday’s workout at Fitch Park, which is the good news. Pitchers scheduled to throw during live BP include Randy Wells, Andrew Cashner, Casey Coleman, Justin Berg, Kerry Wood, Todd Wellemeyer, Robert Coello and Jay Jackson.

— Carrie Muskat

2/21 Six weeks vs. six months

There’s been a lot of talk about how well the Cubs finished 2010, and hopefully having it carry over into this season. How much significance does Mike Quade place on the last six weeks of last season?

“You have to find something to focus on,” he said, “and I think it’s as simple as this to me, that was a part of the year that is freshest in our minds because it happened in the end, so for me, it’s a natural place to go. We found ways to win games during that stretch and again, we didn’t tear the cover off the ball but we won some close ballgames and we executed some and we just did better.”

But Quade said the Cubs can’t forget about the struggles they had and they need to make adjustments.
“There’s a fine line between building on the way we finished and being satisfied by the way we finished,” he said. “Six weeks means nothing as far as a Major League season goes. You take six weeks and turn it into six months and you’ve got something.”

— Carrie Muskat

2/21 Marmol ready to go

Carlos Marmol says he’s ready for the season to start. The Cubs closer had his first live BP session Sunday at Fitch Park, and threw in brutal un-Arizona-like weather.

“It was raining, it was cold — it’s like Wrigley, Opening Day,” Marmol said.

Some of the Cubs players did whatever they could to avoid having to face Marmol Sunday. The right-hander did plunk Reed Johnson on the left elbow with a pitch during his session. Marmol just smiled when reminded of that Monday.

“I feel good so far, and almost ready for the game,” he said.

— Carrie Muskat

2/20 Cubs notebook

Most of the Cubs pitchers got their work in on the fields Sunday despite a cold rain. Reed Johnson realized too late he should’ve been wearing his elbow pad during live BP. Cubs closer Carlos Marmol clipped Johnson with a pitch on the left elbow. Johnson’s elbow guard was in his locker after the session.

“It’s a couple hours too late,” Johnson said. “I have to callous that elbow for the season. Marmol was doing me a favor.”

* The first Cactus League game is Feb. 27, and Quade and pitching coach Mark Riggins were finalizing the spring rotation. Expect an announcement Monday or Tuesday on who will start against the Athletics in one week.

* Sunday was significant for John Grabow because it was the first time the left-hander faced hitters since June 28. That was his last game of 2010 before being sidelined with a torn MCL in his left knee. He will wear a knee brace for the entire season.

“Now, I’m used to it and I don’t even know it’s there any more,” he said. “Can I pitch without it? I’m not going to take that chance.”

* James Russell will get stretched out this spring as the Cubs try to decide if the left-hander can fill a slot in the rotation. If not, the next decision will be whether he’s better off starting in the Minor Leagues or in the bullpen with the big league team. That decision won’t be made until late March.

* Quade carries a fungo bat with him nearly everywhere he goes. “It’s like my security blanket,” he said. “It used to be a tool. Now, you get kicked upstairs and now it just helps me get around.”

— Carrie Muskat