3/1 Extra bases
* So far, Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon has looked sharp in his two outings. The right-hander has given up one hit and struck out two over two innings.
“I feel really good,” Rondon said.
“That was pretty nice,” Dale Sveum said of Rondon’s outing on Thursday against the Athletics. “The ball was coming out of his hand pretty well. He threw a couple real good sliders, and I didn’t know he had that good of one and he threw one with a lot of tilt on it. With health, that might be a pretty good steal.”
Rondon, who was the Indians’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2009, has been slowed by two elbow injuries.
“He has legitimate stuff,” Sveum said. “[Thursday], he was 92, 93 [mph] with a good slider, he threw strikes. He’s always been a strike thrower. That’s nice to have in your back pocket. The guy’s always been a strike thrower and now that he’s completely healthy — the only kicker is we have to get him to be able to throw two innings.”
They want the right-hander to be able to throw two innings before Spring Training ends.
* Jorge Soler threw a perfect strike to third to get A’s Josh Reddick on Thursday. That’s the kind of play Sveum wants to see this spring.
“That was a very impressive throw, accurate, too,” Sveum said. “All the throws — he doesn’t just have a good arm but an accurate arm. That’s an added plus to a guy with the tools. A lot of time you have the arm but it’s all over the place. He’s got a good feel for accuracy. Even his at-bats — I know he’s striking out a little bit but he’s seeing pitches. It’s not a premeditated type swing.”
* Soler still needs to play in the Minor Leagues and develop his skills. He’s not in the mix for the big league team this year but Sveum said the Cubs will likely take five outfielders when they break camp. Also expect to see Steve Clevenger at first base once Anthony Rizzo leaves to join Team Italy for the World Baseball Classic. Clevenger could make the final 25-man roster as an extra catcher/backup first baseman/left-handed bat/pinch-run option.
“He puts himself in the mix,” Sveum said of Clevenger, who will start at first on Saturday against the Giants. “If you can have that third catcher to where you can pinch run and not worry about the other catcher getting hurt, that obviously comes into the mix. It all depends on what happens at third base — a lot of these decisions.”
The Cubs are waiting to see if Ian Stewart will be healthy for the season. If not, Luis Valbuena, who is a utility option, most likely will start at third.
Brent Lillibridge is a versatile player who gives the Cubs someone who can play everywhere. Sveum didn’t want to say Lillibridge was set on making the 25-man roster but did say it’s “definitely a strong possibility.” Lillibridge is a non-roster invitee in camp.
* Starlin Castro, who felt some tightness in his left hamstring on Wednesday, wasn’t expected back in the Cubs lineup until Monday.
* Matt Garza, who has been sidelined with a strained left lat, will resume his throwing on Saturday.
* Dontrelle Willis, who came out of a game because of fatigue in his left shoulder, is pain free and has resumed throwing in the Minor League camp.
– Carrie Muskat