February 2013

2/27 Single-game tix on sale March 8

The Cubs today announced details for purchasing single game tickets. They will go on sale at the Wrigley Field ticket office on March 8 at 8 a.m. CST, two hours before online and phone sales begin. This year marks the last time there will be a two-hour on-sale event at Wrigley Field. Fans interested in purchasing tickets in person at the Wrigley Field ticket office on March 8 before 10 a.m. must participate in a mandatory wristband procedure.

Following the ticket office on-sale event, single game tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. CST at Cubs.com or 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

Fans may participate in the MasterCard Pre-Sale prior to the general on-sale date. Starting March 6 at noon CST, single game tickets will be available at Cubs.com for a 20 percent premium, or a 15 percent premium for fans using a MasterCard.

“Cubs fans will once again have a variety of options to secure their must-have tickets for the upcoming season,” said Colin Faulkner, vice president of sales and partnerships, Chicago Cubs. “We encourage fans looking for advance selection and no online service fees to attend our final two-hour on-sale event at Wrigley Field. Given our planned restoration schedule at Wrigley Field and fans’ increased use of online ticket purchasing, we don’t anticipate offering this advance in-person purchase opportunity moving forward.”

2/27 Defining Barney’s space

Darwin Barney’s locker area is defined by a white tape outline on the carpet in the HoHoKam clubhouse. Apparently, Barney needs his space.

“I came out of the game [Tuesday] and this was there,” Barney said Wednesday. “I can live with it. I was thinking about maybe putting up boundaries for everybody.”

There’s no doubting whose territory it is. Someone wrote, “Private, stay out, Barney’s area,” and added “P.S. I won a Gold Glove.” However, there is a typo on “area.” Does the second baseman know who did it?

“It looks like Otis’ handwriting, so that might be my guess,” Barney said of clubhouse manager Tom Hellmann. “Plus, he’s not a great speller. C’mon, I went to Oregon State.”

Wait a minute — isn’t the team supposed to try and be more of a sharing and caring group?

“I allow people in, like you guys [the media] aren’t allowed but teammates are definitely welcome,” Barney said, smiling.

— Carrie Muskat

2/27 Cubs lineup

Here’s the early lineup for Wednesday’s rematch between the Cubs and Dodgers. Chicago’s only loss this spring was to Los Angeles — it’s payback time. Brooks Raley is slated to start for the Cubs against Aaron Harang.

Valbuena 3B
Castro DH
Rizzo 1B
Soriano LF
Schierholtz RF
Hairston CF
Castillo C
Barney 2B
Lillibridge SS

— Carrie Muskat

2/26 Cubs 4, Rockies 2

Dave Sappelt and Christian Villanueva each hit solo home runs to lift the Cubs to a 3-2 victory Tuesday over the Rockies. Edwin Jackson, making his Cubs’ Cactus League debut, gave up two hits over two scoreless innings.

“Today was pretty much evaluation, and see where I am,” Jackson said. “It’s all mental. You keep the ball down and you execute pitches and everything is pretty much good and you can have a lot of success with the ball down in the zone.”

Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin faced the minimum over two innings in his first Cactus League start. The Rockies athletic trainer had to check on the right-hander after he got Alfonso Soriano to line out for the first out in the second but Chacin stayed in the game. Apparently, he’s been bothered by a sore toe on his left foot, injured in pitcher’s fielding practice.

Villanueva hit a solo home run with one out in the Cubs third but the Rockies tied the game in the fourth as Carlos Gonzalez walked, stole second, moved up on a ground out and scored on Ben Paulsen’s single.

Starlin Castro doubled to lead off the Chicago fourth and scored two batters later on Brett Jackson’s sacrifice fly. Sappelt led off the sixth with his home run. DJ LeMahieu tripled to lead off the Rockies eighth and scored on Tim Wheeler’s sacrifice fly.

* On Wednesday, left-hander Brooks Raley will start when the Cubs play host to the Dodgers at HoHoKam Stadium. Raley was 1-2 with an 8.14 ERA in five starts with the Cubs last season, and 4-8 with a 3.62 ERA in 14 starts for Triple-A Iowa. This will be his first Cactus League start. The game will be broadcast on Cubs.com.

— Carrie Muskat

2/26 Pitching updates

Scott Baker and Arodys Vizcaino both had good throwing sessions on Tuesday. Baker, coming back from Tommy John surgery, threw 25 pitches in a live BP session, while Vizcaino threw 25 in a bullpen session. If Baker stays on track, he could be ready by mid to late April. Vizcaino, also coming back from Tommy John, was not expected to be ready for big league action until later in the regular season.

— Carrie Muskat

2/26 Bunt tourney update

Brent Lillibridge, Michael Brenly, Jeff Samardzija and Blake Parker advanced in the Cubs bunting tourney on Tuesday. Here are the players who have reached the sweet 16 and their next match:

Travis Wood vs Nate Halm, video guy
Jeff Samardzija vs Blaker Parker

Position players
Brent Lillibridge vs Michael Brenly
Edwin Maysonet vs Andy Lane, bullpen catcher

— Carrie Muskat

2/26 Tuesday extra bases

* Carlos Villanueva, obviously, was expected to go two innings on Monday but couldn’t finish the first because of a 16-pitch at-bat against Dodgers leadoff man Dee Gordon.

“That’s a manager’s or starting pitcher’s worst nightmare,” Dale Sveum said of Villanueva’s first batter. “You still need three outs and you’re already at 15 pitches and figure you have to throw 10 more. He was actually keeping the ball down and threw some really good pitches that didn’t get called that changed the whole rest of that inning around, too.”

Villanueva did get Gordon to strike out, then walked the next two batters. One out later, Nick Punto hit a two-run single and Villanueva was lifted. The right-hander will stay in the Cubs’ Cactus League rotation, and is being built up to start this spring.

* Outfielder Darnell McDonald, a non-roster invitee, has been impressive so far.

“He’s obviously been swinging the bat well,” Sveum said. “He’s killed left-handed pitching in his career. He’s in the mix for one of those spots [on the bench]. He’s the ultimate professional, he really works hard and he’s a great guy. We’re just glad to have him in camp.”

* Matt Garza, sidelined with a strained left lat, could begin tossing on Thursday. He has not done any baseball activities since Feb. 17.

* So far, Junior Lake has looked better in games than in practice. Not many players can do that.

“He looks better in games than he does when he’s doing his work,” Sveum said. “It’s like the game speeds up for him in [batting practice] and he slows it down in the game. That’s always a nice asset to have.”

* Anthony Rizzo’s last day in Cubs camp will be March 3, and then he will join Team Italy for the World Baseball Classic.

* Brooks Raley will start Wednesday for the Cubs when they play host to the Dodgers, and Scott Feldman will make his Cubs debut Thursday against the Athletics. Here’s the early lineup:

Valbuena 3B
Castro DH
Rizzo 1B
Soriano LF
Schierholtz RF
Hairston CF
Castillo C
Barney 2B
Lillibridge SS

— Carrie Muskat

2/26 Cubs Inbox

Q: With Kyuji Fujikawa only able to speak Japanese, how will pitching coach Chris Bosio talk to him when he’s in the game? Will the translator go out with Bosio to the mound or will Bosio just tell the translator what he wants Fujikawa to do and the translator just runs out and do it alone? — Erik S., Rockford, IL

A: Major League Baseball has adjusted its rules so the interpreter — in this case, Ryo Shinkawa — can go to the mound with Bosio if needed. Fujikawa does speak some English — and some of the terminology is the same. For example, a fastball is “fastball” in Japanese. Bosio also is trying to learn enough Japanese necessary to communicate, so if there is a key word needed, he can use that. In Fujikawa’s first appearance in an intrasquad game, Shinkawa went to the mound with catcher Rafael Lopez to make sure the pitcher and catcher could communicate.

2/26 Cubs lineup

The Cubs play host to the Rockies at HoHoKam Stadium on Tuesday. Edwin Jackson is set to make his Cubs debut. Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus CF
Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Soriano DH
Brett Jackson LF
Navarro C
Lillibridge 2B
Villanueva 3B
Chavez RF

This is the first of four straight home games for the Cubs. All of the games will be broadcast on Cubs.com.

— Carrie Muskat

2/25 D-Train: “It’s frustrating”

The D-Train was back with the Cubs for seven pitches.

Dontrelle Willis, whom the Cubs’ selected in the 2000 Draft and is now in the team’s Minor League camp trying to come back, started the eighth inning Monday against the Dodgers with the game tied at 6. He got ahead, 0-2, to Nick Evans, but felt his left shoulder tighten. Willis threw four straight balls to walk Evans, then threw another ball before Cubs athletic trainer Ed Halbur went to the mound to check on the pitcher. Willis then exited.

“It’s frustrating,” Willis said. “I worked real hard to get back and finally get in a groove and this happens. I’ll overcome it. I’ve done it before. Just go back to the drawing board.”

Willis was selected in the eighth round in 2000, but the Cubs dealt him to the Marlins in March 2002 in a six-player deal in which Chicago got Antonio Alfonseca. He won 14 games and National League Rookie of the Year in 2003. Now 31, Willis also has played for the Marlins, Tigers, Diamondbacks and Reds. He last pitched in the big leagues in 2011.

He was an extra on the Cubs travel roster and the seventh pitcher in Monday’s game. The Cubs needed extra arms after starter Carlos Villanueva failed to finish the first, reaching his pitch count after five batters.

Willis ended up being the pitcher of record and took the loss as Evans scored to lead the Dodgers to a 7-6 win. The lefty will be re-evaluated on Tuesday at Fitch Park. He said he’s had this fatigue problem before.

“I’ve just got to do a better job doing the maintenance of keeping my shoulder and arm strength up,” Willis said. “It’s not so much the lifting and stuff but doing things to keep my shoulder strong. It’s just frustrating because I finally get a chance and hit the ground running. If guys can overcome ACL tears, I’ll overcome this and come back.

“I’m just frustrated today,” he said, sitting in a corner of the visitor’s clubhouse at Camelback Ranch. “I really wanted to play and mix it up. It’s early so hopefully I have enough time to come back.”

— Carrie Muskat