2/15 Extra bases: 3B, pitching & more
Cubs position players report Saturday with the first full squad workout scheduled for Sunday at Fitch Park. Third baseman Ian Stewart arrived on Friday, and manager Dale Sveum was happy to have him on the team. Stewart was limited to 55 games before undergoing surgery on his left wrist.
“For the price we were going to be able to get him at, I think we had to bring him back,” Sveum said. “For $2 million, to get a guy who is capable of hitting 15 to 25 [home runs] and driving in 70 to 100 [runs] and having that kind of power and ability from the left side of the plate — the easiest thing was, even if he doesn’t reach those expectations, he can really catch the ball at third base. We need him to do well.”
The Cubs other third base option is Luis Valbuena, who batted .219 in 90 games with the Cubs, then hit .306 with six home runs and 15 doubles in 51 games with Lara in the Venezuelan Winter League.
“People know I like the guy and what he did for us last year,” Sveum said of Valbuena. “He had a heck of a lot better offensive year than the .215 or whatever it was [he hit].”
* Sveum met Friday with pitching coach Chris Bosio to map out the starting pitchers for the first Cactus League games, which get underway Feb. 23. On Friday, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza and Edwin Jackson tuned up with their second bullpen sessions.
“Garza was really good today,” Sveum said of the right-hander, who is coming back from an elbow injury. “The ball came out of his hand even better than the other day. His changeup was really good. The ball and the arm strength was really, really good today.”
* Casey Coleman, who won the pitchers side of the bunt tournament last year, has yet to swing a bat this spring. The tournament gets underway Saturday with 16 front office members competing for the final spot in the field of 64.
“I don’t know about bunting — maybe it’s like riding a bike,” said Coleman, who lost to outfielder David DeJesus in the final last year.
– Carrie Muskat