3/28 Cubs extra bases

Right now, the only spots set in the Cubs lineup are No. 2 (Starlin Castro), No. 3 (Marlon Byrd) and No. 4 (Aramis Ramirez). Geovany Soto is making a case for the fifth spot. What do the Cubs want to see from their catcher?

“Duplicating last year would be fantastic,” Mike Quade said. “I think both of us, he and myself and Rudy [Jaramillo] and everybody else think he’s capable of more. The more consistent he can be, the more you’d love to have him factor in.”

Soto batted .280 last season, rebounding from a .218 campaign in ’09.  Even better than his improved hitting is that Soto’s right shoulder is healthy and he has been throwing well this spring.

“[The pitchers] have a lot of confidence him and that’s a good thing,” Quade said.

* The Cubs optioned catcher Welington Castillo to Triple-A Iowa, reducing their spring roster to 26 players. The team is expected to break camp with Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill as the two catchers. The roster includes 12 pitchers, three catchers, six infielders, and five outfielders. Max Ramirez is the other catcher in camp and he is out of options.

* Jeff Baker, sidelined with tightness in his left hamstring, will start at second and lead off on Tuesday when the Cubs play their last Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks.

* Tickets are available for Wednesday’s intrasquad game between the Cubs’ Major League team and the Minor Leaguers. First pitch will be early at 11:05 a.m. Arizona time at HoHoKam Park.

* Angel Guzman, rehabbing from right shoulder surgery, was to pitch one inning in a Minor League game Monday at Fitch Park. If there are no setbacks, he will keep pitching every fifth day.

* Blake DeWitt will play third base Tuesday and Wednesday. DeWitt had been used exclusively at second this spring.

* Todd Wellemeyer will see a specialist regarding his sore hip.

— Carrie Muskat


I have been to 10 games this spring and can’t figure out why the cubs are keeping hill over castillo behind the plate. well has a cannon for an arm, is not a liability on d and hit .632 this spring compared to koyie’s .034…that’s not a misprint. i enjoyed the cubs making the tough decisions and cutting underperforming veterans, going with the stud kids and ridding the clubhouse cancer in all other area’s – but this one really baffles me. More than anyone else, castillo has earned his trip to the show

Heck, why are they keeping Hill over Max Ramirez and his .929 OPS? I am guessing Ramirez must have really left a to to be desired offensively.

The decision to keep Hill over Max Ramirez is as unfathomable as it is crazy.

If letting go of Silva was about keeping the best players, how does this equate to keeping Hill, releasing Ramirez and sending down Castillo.

Love the Cubs, hate Hendry.

I believe Hendry will rely on one of his usual, pathetic crutches and that being “Hill calls a good game, the pitchers like him” Total save face mode again because Hendry committed payroll to Hill without considering Castillo’s worthiness. Both Hill and DeWitt are wasting roster spots and the days Hill starts in order to “rest” Soto just adds an automatic out in the line up and a smile to the visiting team’s manager.

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