3/6 Extra bases
* Reliever James Russell, who has yet to get into a Cactus League game because of some discomfort in his left arm, was scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Friday and could be in action next week. Russell, who has appeared in more than 70 games each of the last two seasons, was going through a “dead arm” phase, manager Rick Renteria said.
* Renteria has yet to name his Opening Day starter. On Wednesday, Jeff Samardzija said he was working toward Opening Day but Renteria didn’t want the media to read anything into that.
“I don’t want to lock myself in and we still have to see how everybody is falling in and staying healthy,” he said.
Told that Samardzija said he was preparing for the March 31 opener, Renteria smiled.
“That’s good,” the manager said. “[Travis] Wood said the same thing and Jake [Arrieta] said the same thing, and everybody else is saying the same thing. They’re getting ready for Opening Day.”
* Shortstop Starlin Castro is continuing to make progress in his rehab from a mild right hamstring strain. Castro, who was injured last Sunday, was expected to be sidelined seven to 10 days. He’s been receiving treatment all day at the Cubs’ complex.
* The Cubs will play split-squad games on Friday with James McDonald getting his first Cactus League start against the Angels in Tempe and Edwin Jackson starting in Mesa against the Indians. The Cubs-Angels game is another test of the new instant replay system available to managers. However, Renteria will be in Mesa for that game.
– Carrie Muskat