Jason Hammel will get things started on Monday for the Cubs, pitching a “B” game at Cubs Park against the Giants, starting at 10 a.m. MT. The game is open to the public, but does not count in Cactus League statistics. Here’s the lineup:
The Cubs also will play the Brewers on Monday at Maryvale in a regularly scheduled Cactus League game. Eric Jokisch is scheduled to start that game.
– Carrie Muskat
* Mike Moustakas belted two home runs to power the Royals to a 5-3 Cactus League victory over the Cubs on Sunday in front of a Cactus League single-game record crowd of 14,680 at Cubs Park. The old attendance mark was set on Thursday at the new spring stadium’s opener against the Diamondbacks when 14,486 filled the park.
Royals starter Wade Davis, who is a second cousin of former Cubs catcher Jody Davis, gave up one hit over two innings in his first Cactus League start. Davis and Yordano Ventura, who followed Davis on Sunday and faced the minimum over two innings, are both candidates for a spot in the Royals’ rotation.
Edwin Jackson struck out three and did not walk a batter over two innings in his first Cactus League start. Jackson gave up three hits, including a leadoff home run in the Royals second to Moustakas, who launched a 2-2 pitch to right. Moustakas then connected off Carlos Villanueva with one on and two outs in the third to open a 3-0 lead.
The Cubs tallied with two outs in the fifth on Darwin Barney’s RBI double, driving in Donnie Murphy, who had singled. Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo hit back to back doubles in the sixth, and Rizzo then scored on Justin Ruggiano’s single to close to 5-3. With the loss, the Cubs and Renteria are now 0-3.
* On deck: The Cubs will play a doubleheader of sorts on Monday. Jason Hammel, a free agent who signed in the offseason, will start a “B” game at 10 a.m. MT at Cubs Park against the Giants, while lefty Eric Jokisch will start the Cactus League game in Phoenix against the Brewers. Mike Olt, a highly touted third baseman who the Cubs acquired from the Rangers in the Matt Garza deal last July, will start at first base in the “B” game. He has been limited to designated hitter duties because of a sore right shoulder. The game against the Brewers will be broadcast on WGN Radio with Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer.
Last spring, Starlin Castro missed two weeks because of a sore left hamstring and amped up his offseason workouts to report in better shape. But on Sunday, in his second spring at-bat, the Cubs shortstop had to leave the game because of a mild right hamstring strain. Castro was hit by a pitch with one out in the first by the Royals’ Wade Davis, and then thrown out trying to steal second. He walked gingerly off the field and was lifted defensively.
“It’s not too bad like last year,” Castro said. “We don’t want to take a chance. It’s early right now. You take a couple days to get better.”
Last year, Castro was sidelined from Feb. 27-March 13. He said the pain on Sunday wasn’t as severe.
“Last year, I couldn’t walk [after he was hurt] and now I can walk normal,” Castro said. “[Athletic trainer PJ Mainville] stretched it out and I feel better.
“I don’t want to rush,” he said. “I want to take time to get better. I think I’ll be better.”
Castro was in better shape this spring. The Cubs sent strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss to the Dominican Republic for three weeks and Castro trained for another four weeks at a complex in Brandenton, Fla.
“A little bit [frustrating],” Castro said. “I feel so good when I work, I’m working hard every day. I feel 100 percent every day and this thing happens now.”
Javier Baez took over at shortstop on Sunday, and went 2-for-3. Castro and the Cubs’ top prospect chatted as Baez was leaving the facility.
“He’s not down,” Baez said of Castro. “He’s taking it easy. It’s only Spring Training. He wants to take care of his body.”
– Carrie Muskat
Starlin Castro had to leave Sunday’s game after the first inning with a mild right hamstring strain. Castro was hit by a pitch with one out in the first, and then thrown out trying to steal second. He walked gingerly off the field. His status is day to day.
– Carrie Muskat
Dale Sveum had a tough time finding the visitor’s clubhouse at Cubs Park. After all, he expected to be using the home dugout this year. Sveum, who was dismissed last October after two seasons as Cubs manager, returned on Sunday in his new role as the Royals third base coach. Kansas City manager Ned Yost offered the job as Sveum was walking back to his apartment the day he got the news from Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.
Sveum said it wasn’t strange to be at Cubs Park. He’d offered advice on the new facility but spent more time on the plans for the nearby training complex. Still, he had expected to be part of the Cubs’ rebuilding process and see some of the young talent.
“That’s what your vision was to see those guys develop and be here through all that,” Sveum said. “We’re five months removed from everything now. We’ve got a nice ballclub [with the Royals] and a chance to win, and a lot of young kids who have gotten to the point where it’s time to win. It’s far removed from what happened five months ago.”
He’d like to manage again, and has no regrets about his two years with the Cubs.
“I walked away with my head up and understood what I wanted to do, and did it — we got guys to play hard, we got guys to prepare every day,” he said. “People have asked me, ‘Would you do things differently?’ No. I don’t have that big of an ego. There’s nothing I’d do differently. The communication was what it was. People knew what their jobs were and their roles were. I demanded you to play hard and prepare and they did that.”
Sveum did expect to have dinner sometime this spring with Epstein. They’ve exchanged text messages and talked on the phone a few times in the offseason. Was managing the Cubs different than anywhere else?
“It’s going to be different than managing in Milwaukee or Kansas City,” Sveum said. “You obviously have way more media and press and obviously the fan base of a [televisoin] channel going throughout the whole country. I guess it’s how you look at it, too, and what kind of personality you have. It’s part of the job. It never bothered me.”
– Carrie Muskat
Finally, Mike Olt will get on the field. Olt has been limited to the designated hitter role as he nurses a tender right shoulder. On Monday, he’s scheduled to start at first base for the Cubs in a makeup “B” game against the Angels in Tempe.
Olt has played more third than first, but playing first should limit stress on his throwing shoulder. He says the soreness is normal for Spring Training.
“It’s a little bit of a dead arm,” Olt said. “I was working it too hard to get ready.”
He much prefers playing than sitting.
“I’m not a huge fan of sitting on the bench and hitting,” Olt said. “It’ll be good to be back on the field and feel like you’re part of the game.”
The shoulder hasn’t affected his hitting in batting practice or the games so far. Eventually, he’ll get into a game at third. Olt is eager to show the Cubs he’s ready.
“If I am healthy, I do know I belong in the big leagues,” Olt said. “It’s not a matter of thinking about making the big leagues, it’s about going out there and doing my thing. Whatever happens, happens. When I do get the shot, I’ll be ready.”
– Carrie Muskat
After an all-day rain on Saturday, it’s a beautiful day Sunday in Mesa, and the Cubs will play host to the Royals at Cubs Park. Here’s the lineup:
E. Jackson P
On Monday, the Cubs will play a “B” game against the Giants at Cubs Park in Mesa, starting at 10 a.m. MT. Jason Hammel will start that game. They were originally scheduled to play the Angels, but now will deal with the Giants. Here’s the lineup:
“B” Game vs. Angels
The rest of the Cubs will face the Brewers in Maryvale on Monday. Eric Jokisch gets the start. Here’s that lineup:
As always, the lineups are subject to change.
– Carrie Muskat
New Cubs Park can handle up to 15,000 people but it had a tough time with the rain on Saturday. The Cubs’ Cactus League game against the Giants at the new facility was canceled because of rain and unplayable conditions. Saturday night’s game against the Diamondbacks in Scottsdale also was canceled.
Fans with tickets to Saturday’s game can use them for a future Cactus League game at Cubs Park.
Travis Wood, who was scheduled to start, threw a two-inning simulated game at the Cubs’ complex instead.
Edwin Jackson, who was scheduled to start Saturday night, will now start Sunday against the Royals in Mesa. He’ll be followed by Carlos Villanueva. Jason Hammel, who was to make his first start for the Cubs on Sunday, now will pitch in a “B” game on Monday against the Angels in Tempe. Hammel, who was the Orioles’ Opening Day starter, signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Cubs after going 7-8 with a 4.97 ERA in 26 games (23 starts) for the Orioles last season. The game will be broadcast on WGN Radio with Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs will play a day-night, home-road doubleheader on Saturday, beginning with a day game in Mesa at Cubs Park against the Giants, and followed by a night game in Scottsdale against the Diamondbacks. Travis Wood is scheduled to start the first game with Edwin Jackson in the night game. It’s raining in Mesa this morning, so we’ll play it by ear. Here’s the lineup for Game 1:
T. Wood P