February 2012

2/27 Castro OK after getting hit – UPDATE

Starlin Castro had a little welt on his right forearm after he was hit by a Kerry Wood fastball during live BP on Monday. Castro said he was OK, and the ball didn’t hit him too hard. After he was hit, Castro came out of the cage to be examined but he did go back in against Wood later in the round. When Wood was finished, he went over to Castro to check on the shortstop.

“He said, ‘I’m sorry,'” Castro said. “It was a fastball in, and it hit me.”

The pain must not have lasted long as Castro lined a ball off the right field fence off Carlos Marmol in his next live BP session. Castro also participated in two batting practice sessions off coaches.

“I’m OK,” Castro said. “He didn’t hit me too hard.”

The shortstop admitted it did hurt a little but that he’s not afraid in the cage.

“I’m never scared about that,” Castro said. “I’m never scared. I’m scared if it hits me in the head — that’s not good. … It happens all the time, practice, games, everywhere.”

Cubs manager Dale Sveum didn’t expect Castro to miss any activities on Tuesday.

“He’s fine,” Sveum said. “I wasn’t there to witness it but it sounded a little more scary but he’s fine. He stepped right in and did all his drills after that. It was almost like he didn’t get hit.”

— Carrie Muskat

2/27 Cubs early notebook

Cubs pitcher Paul Maholm had been sidelined with the flu but he was throwing his side session on Monday. Catcher Geovany Soto is day to day because of a groin injury. He was held out of Sunday’s practice as a precautionary measure.

* Sveum arrives at Fitch Park at 4:45 a.m. every day and is working out 15 minutes later. He’s always been an early bird but admits that as the manager, he arrives a tad earlier than he used to when he was a coach. Is he a morning person?

“I don’t like to be,” Sveum said. “Spring Training forces you to be a morning person. I’m just practicing getting ready for all the day games at Wrigley.”

* Former Cubs pitcher Rick Sutcliffe is one of the instructors in camp this spring, and on Sunday, he threw batting practice for the first time in two years.

“I still gave up a lot of home runs,” Sutcliffe said, laughing.

— Carrie Muskat

2/27 Bunt tourney update

The first round is expected to wrap up Monday at Fitch Park in the Cubs’ first bunt tournament. On Sunday, position players Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro, Ian Stewart and Joe Mather advanced, while pitchers Travis Wood, Jeff Samardzija, Randy Wells and Andy Sonnanstine also won their matches. There are 64 entries, and the bracket is similar to the NCAA basketball tournament set-up. Players get points for each bunt in three rounds of eight bunts each.

Dale Sveum pitched to the competitors on Sunday. Who will throw to him on Monday when he faces Kerry Wood?

“Probably [Chris] Bosio,” he said of the Cubs pitching coach. “He throws a nice soft ball. I’m going to get the best BP pitcher. I wish I could throw to myself.”

Among Monday’s matchups are:

Blake DeWitt vs. Geovany Soto

Jeff Baker vs. Alfredo Amezaga

Marlon Byrd vs. Reed Johnson

David DeJesus vs. Alfonso Soriano

Matt Garza vs. Carlos Marmol

Paul Maholm vs. Rodrigo Lopez

Ryan Dempster vs. Trever Miller

Kerry Wood vs. Dale Sveum

— Carrie Muskat

2/27 Dempster foundation gives back

The Ryan and Jenny Dempster Family Foundation awarded 15 charitable organizations grants through its second annual grant cycle. The Dempster Family Foundation strives to lend support to charities and organizations supporting children with a 22q11.2 deletion as well as other children’s charities in need in Illinois.  Funds for the grant cycle were primarily raised through the Foundation’s annual fundraiser, Casino Night, as well as through TEAM DEMPSTER partner fundraisers including:  D’Agostino’s Pizza and Pub Family Night of Fun and 22q Days at D’Agostinos, Bernie’s Tap and Grill, Candyality, Potbelly’s Sandwich Shop, The Palm Restaurant and others.

The two-year total of grants and gifts now has totaled $391,385.

The 15 charities include: Advocate Charitable Foundation (for Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital), Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (22q clinic), Children’s Hospital Colorado 22q Clinic, Children’s Memorial Hospital, Dragonfly Forest Camp, Light Center Foundation, March of Dimes Illinois Chapter, Maryville Academy, Nationwide Children’s Hospital 22q Center, Operation North Pole, Inc., PAWS Chicago, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia-“22q and You” Center, The David and Erin Robertson Foundation: High Socks for Hope, The International 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome Foundation, Inc., and the Mind Institute at the University of California-Davis.

— Carrie Muskat


2/25 Cubs notebook

Geovany Soto was held out of practice as a precautionary measure because of a sore groin. His status is day to day.

* During drills, the players who can handle more than one position, like Jeff Baker or Blake DeWitt, are being asked to stay at one position that day. On Friday, for example, Baker was at first, and on Saturday, he was at third.

“It’s just for the drills because we’ll be doing the same thing for seven days in a row and they’ll get a lot of work at each position,” Sveum said. “When we break over to HoHoKam, it’ll be a more normal style baseball day. For drill purposes, having people wandering all over the places in the drill, I don’t want them to be messed up.”

* When Sveum met with the media on Friday, he listed five starters: Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Paul Maholm, Randy Wells, and Travis Wood. Does that mean the rotation is set? No, Sveum said.

“Wells, Travis Wood, Volstad, Rodrigo Lopez, they’re all in the running for jobs,” Sveum said. “It’s just a matter of what happens in Spring Training.”

— Carrie Muskat

2/25 Clevenger beats Campana in bunt tourney

Tony Campana picked himself to win the Cubs bunting tournament but he’s now out of the race.

Catcher Steve Clevenger knocked Campana out on Saturday in first round position player action, totaling 660 points to the trash talking outfielder’s 290.

“Big upset,” Dale Sveum said.

“It separates the good bunters from the guys who are fast and think they can bunt,” said Clevenger, one of three catchers to advance. “It’s just all for fun.”

“I just didn’t bunt,” Campana said, “and [Clevenger] bunted really good and I had to try catch up. It seemed like every one he bunted went into the 40 [point] box. I didn’t think a catcher could put up 500 points, let alone 600.”

Others to advance on Saturday included Matt Szczur, Adrian Cardenas, Brett Jackson, Blake Lalli, Jonathan Mota, Bryan LaHair and Welington Castillo. Campana was an early favorite. Now, who’s the one to beat?

“I heard [Ryan Dempster] was putting up 700 some points [in practice],” Campana said. “Now, I’m going to have to make my own bracket. I had myself winning my bracket.”

It’ll be tough for Campana on Sunday when the rest of his teammates find out he couldn’t back up his bragging.

“It’s going to be really bad [Sunday],” Campana said. “I might bring a wig and a mask tomorrow.”

— Carrie Muskat 

2/25 Sveum “perfect fit” for Cubs

The Cubs are underdogs in the NL Central this year but very much in the spotlight since Theo Epstein & Co. took over in late October. Their task is to end the 100-plus year old drought since the team last won a World Series in 1908. Look at the lineup, and there isn’t much star power but manager Dale Sveum has made it clear this is a building year, not a rebuilding year. Can he handle all the attention that comes with being in a big market?

“Actually, I think he’s perfect for it,” Cubs bench coach Jamie Quirk said. “He’s not an ego guy. He’s a baseball guy, and you ask him a question and you’re going to get an answer. He’s not trying to give you the right answer, it’s just the answer.

“I think the market fits perfect for Dale,” Quirk said. “There’s no nonsense in him and there’s no trying to perceive — he’s not going to try to talk to [the media] so you accept him. He is what he is, and that’s the guy you’re getting.”

— Carrie Muskat 

2/25 Red Sox say there was “misunderstanding” re: comp

Boston Red Sox owner John Henry met with the media in Fort Myers, Fla., on Saturday. He was asked why the compensation matter between the Red Sox and Cubs wasn’t worked out before Theo Epstein left Boston.

“I think there was a basic misunderstanding between [Cubs chairman] Tom Ricketts and I when we first spoke about it,” Henry said. “I really admire Tom Ricketts as an owner. He’s one of the best owners in baseball. It’s a great organization.

“We probably had a misunderstanding at least as far as expectation,” Henry said. “There was no real agreement. It was just sort of, the best way to explain it is we probably had different expectations based on the first conversation as to what was transpiring.”

The matter was settled this past week when the Cubs sent right-handed pitcher Chris Carpenter and a player to be named later to the Red Sox in exchange for a player to be named. Those players still to be designated will not be on the team’s respective 40-man rosters. The transaction was expected to be completed by April 15.

— Carrie Muskat

2/25 Bunt tourney resumes

There will be more action in the Cubs bunting tournament on Saturday at Fitch Park as position players begin competing. Some of the more interesting matchups include catcher Steve Clevenger against outfielder Tony Campana, who has done his share of trash talking this week. Another tough pick will be Bryan LaHair vs. Anthony Rizzo.

— Carrie Muskat

2/24 Sveum: “We’re here to try to win the World Series”

In his first address to the full squad, manager Dale Sveum repeated his message that this is not a rebuilding year for the Cubs but the goal is to win it all.

Sveum was one of the speakers before Friday’s first full squad workout at Fitch Park. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, plus Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, and general manager Jed Hoyer also talked to the players.

“I just let them know that, look, you’ve got a veteran catcher behind the plate, a guy who won the MVP in Triple-A playing first, a guy who did a nice job — [Darwin] Barney — at second base,” Sveum said. “[We’ve got] a guy who had over 300 hits in his first two years in the big leagues [at short], a guy who hit 20 something plus home runs a couple years ago in Colorado at third, an All-Star in center field, a guy with 340 home runs in left field and a really nice leadoff-type professional player playing right field.

“[Plus] obviously the pitching staff with [Ryan Dempster], [Matt] Garza, [Paul] Maholm, [Randy] Wells, [Travis] Wood and you go on and on with the bullpen and [Carlos] Marmol and [Kerry] Wood and [Jeff] Samardzija,” Sveum said. “I just let them know that’s a team that can compete and do really well. We’re not here to rebuild, we’re here to try to win the World Series this year.”

If you aren’t familiar with the Cubs’ roster yet, the catcher is Geovany Soto, the first baseman is Bryan LaHair, the shortstop is Starlin Castro, the third baseman is Ian Stewart, the center fielder is Marlon Byrd, the left fielder is Alfonso Soriano, and David DeJesus is in right.

— Carrie Muskat