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


Pingback: The night before the position players report…

Here is at least one thing I agree with the manager about; i.e. we both like Valbuena. Last year’s stats are not indicative of Luis’s contribution, and what he did in winter ball portends well for his 2013 potential. Also, I do not see anything here with Sveum’s comments about Garza that suggest the hurler may not be ready for opening day. On the contrary, sounds as though Garza’s right on track. Still baffles me why one would say he may not be ready at beginning of campaign.

I hope Valbuena will be a part of the 2013 season too. I liked what I saw last season and he shows improvement continually. If Ian Stewart has any wrist problems I would hope to see Valbuena standing in for him. They may not want to play Stewart in every game in order to give his wrist some rest. We will see! From all I can see Garza is raring to go. He has stated that he feels good – so what could possibly stop him from being ready. Must say I will miss Tony Campana, our run like a bunny scrapper. Would like to see him being worked with by the hitting staff and sitting at Wrigley come opening day. Well, it ain’t over ’til it’s over so maybe something will happen to bring him back.

Mamma, I have suspected for a long while that Garza’s injury may have been the “phantom” variety. I believe your comments appear to confirm that. Please correct me if I’m mistaken.

I didn’t realize that so few are in favor of Stewart and Valbuena at 3rd until reading some of the above. I have been hoping that Stewart will be fully recovered and able to fill the position with Valbuena in relief. I have also read that Valbuena had a really good winter ball improving at the plate, etc. If none of this is of any import than what are we going to do at 3rd? Back to square one? Dang – we have just got to get this season right! It is time for the Cubs to SHINE!

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