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#Cubs Theo: “We have a lot of answers in camp”

The Cubs have had inquiries from other teams regarding catcher Welington Castillo but Theo Epstein said Monday he did not anticipate a trade prior to the start of the season.

“We don’t think it’s a high likelihood we’ll make a move outside of this camp,” Epstein said. “We think we have a lot of answers here in camp and as we look forward into the season with what we have at Triple-A, it’s pretty good.”

The Cubs will likely open the season with three catchers, Castillo plus Miguel Montero and David Ross.

– Carrie Muskat

Sorting out #Cubs infield

With the roster moves in Cubs camp on Monday, that leaves six infielders in camp:



La Stella




Arismendy Alcantara and Tommy La Stella will likely share second base, or La Stella could start at third in place of Mike Olt. Joe Maddon says he hasn’t determined who will start Opening Night yet.

“We joked with Joe this morning, now that La Stella looks like Brooks Robinson at third, do you think you can get him some work at second,” Theo Epstein said.

Herrera is a non-roster invitee who has impressed Maddon with his “team first” approach.

“He’s played some big league ball, and I’ve thrown him in games late, and he sits on the bench patient,” Maddon said. “There’s no veteran animosity. He’s been fabulous for me.”

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs scratch Baez from Monday lineup

Javier Baez had been in the Cubs’ lineup for Monday’s game against the Giants, but that was before the second baseman found out he was being optioned to Triple-A Iowa. A few minutes before game time, Baez was scratched, and Jonathan Herrera inserted at second base in the No. 9 spot in the lineup. It’s normal procedure that when a player is re-assigned in camp to get a day.

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs extra bases: Russell, Denorfia, Lester and more

* When Joe Maddon met with Addison Russell to tell the shortstop he was being assigned to Minor League camp, the Cubs manager was nearly speechless.

“I couldn’t tell him what to work on,” Maddon said. “He’s that accomplished at that age. I told him, ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing.'”

Russell and top prospect Kris Bryant were both assigned to Minor League camp, while Javier Baez was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Monday. The moves leave the Cubs with 35 players in spring camp.

* Outfielder Chris Denorfia, sidelined with a sore left hamstring, took batting practice on Monday and was expected to play in a Minor League game by mid week. Whether or not he’ll be ready for Opening Day is still to be determined.

“I don’t like to speculate on things like that,” Denorfia said Monday. “When you’re rehabbing anything can happen. As long as everything progresses the way it should, [I should be ready] sometime around that time. The goal is to be ready by then.”

* Jon Lester will start in a Minor League game on Tuesday at the Cubs complex, his final tune up before Opening Night. The Cubs want to be able to control his pitch count and situations. The left-hander was scratched from his March 21 start because of a tired arm.

* Travis Wood and Kyle Hendricks will likely pitch on Saturday in the Cubs’ final Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. The rest of the big league team will be headed to Chicago that day to prepare for the season opener on Sunday night against the Cardinals.

* The Cubs players were greeted by “DJ Sean” as they did their morning stretch on Monday, courtesy of bench coach Dave Martinez, who found the disc jockey at a Scottsdale restaurant. Maddon was among those asked to dance a little after the stretch.

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs option Baez to Triple-A Iowa

If you only saw Javier Baez play defense at second base or run the bases, you’d be convinced he’s ready for the big leagues. But Baez still has work to do at the plate, and the young infielder was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Monday.

“He’s so close to getting it figured out in the batter’s box, we feel Triple-A is the right venue for him to continue to make those adjustments and get locked in,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. “He does everything else so well on the baseball field. He’s a winning baseball player, and has to take that same mindset into the batter’s box. We feel he’s not far from making it.”

In 16 games this spring, Baez was batting .173 with 20 strikeouts in 52 at-bats. Last season, he was promoted to the big leagues, and batted .169 with 95 Ks in 213 at-bats. Cubs hitting coach John Mallee and manager Joe Maddon both went to Puerto Rico to start working with Baez this winter.

“He knows he has to get better offensively,” Maddon said Monday. “I said, as a 22-year-old baseball player, you might be the most accomplished 22-year-old I’ve ever been on the field with as far as defense, base running. The part that has to get better is the offense and he agreed, he totally agreed.”

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs assign Bryant to Minor League camp

Cubs manager Joe Maddon did not deny that he wants Kris Bryant in his lineup. Just not yet.

Bryant, the Cubs top prospect, was assigned to Minor League camp on Monday along with shortstop Addison Russell while Javier Baez was optioned to Triple-A Iowa. The Iowa team now may have one of the best infields in baseball.

“I could be in this game for a long time and not send down three players that talented on the same day ever again,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Monday. “Those three are pretty good.”

Bryant has been the focus of attention. The third baseman leads the Major Leagues this spring with nine home runs — and hit another in a “B” game that didn’t count — and was batting .425 in 14 games. That comes after leading the Minor Leagues with 43 home runs at Double-A Tennessee and Iowa last year.

“You know he’s going to be there [in the big leagues] eventually,” Maddon said about Bryant. “When you look at the entire picture of development, you’re still looking for a couple other areas to improve a little bit.

“I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you wouldn’t want him in your lineup — there’s no question you want him in your lineup,” Maddon said. “He’s also 23. I’m looking forward to working with this guy for the next 15 years. That’ll make me 76. If I’m the next Jack McKeon, I’ll be working with this guy when I’m 76 years of age.”

The Cubs have Mike Olt and Tommy La Stella as third base options. Olt was the Opening Day starter last year.

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs roster moves: Baez, Bryant, Russell

The Cubs optioned Javier Baez to Triple-A iowa and assigned Kris Bryant and Addison Russell to Minor League camp on Monday.

“We sent down three extremely talented young players today but I have a feeling they’ll be back at the right time and help us win a lot of games over many years,” Theo Epstein said.

More to come.

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs lineup vs Giants Mon 3/30

Kyle Hendricks gets the start Monday when the Cubs play host to the Giants at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Coghlan LF

Soler RF

Rizzo 1B

Castro SS

La Stella 3B

Ross C

Hendricks P

Baez 2B

#Cubs vs Rangers in Futures Game tonight at Sloan Park

Want to see some of the Cubs top prospects? Tonight at Sloan Park in Mesa, the Cubs and Rangers will square off in a Futures Game, starting at 7 p.m. MT.

Right-hander Corey Black will get the start for the Cubs team and be followed by C.J. Edwards. Fans can purchase general admission tickets in the reserved seating bowl for $6 at the Sloan Park ticket office or at

A portion of the net proceeds from the game will benefit the Mesa Diamond Project, which expands opportunities for children to play baseball in the Mesa community.

As soon as I get a lineup/more information re: players, we’ll post it.

– Carrie Muskat

Final: #Cubs 7, Royals 0. Jackson gets “W”

Miguel Montero, Junior Lake and Matt Szczur each homered to lead the Cubs to a 7-0 victory Sunday over the Royals in Surprise, Ariz. Edwin Jackson gave up one hit and walked one over 4 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out three.

The Cubs are trying to decide between Jackson or Travis Wood for the fifth starter spot.

“It’s not going to be judged off one start,” Jackson said of the final decision. “At the end of the day, it’s something I don’t worry about. Like I’ve said from the beginning, all I can do is go out and be myself and see where everything ends up being. At the end of the day, what’s going to happen is going to happen. You don’t need to worry about it. Just go out and pitch your game and let the pieces fall into place.”

Manager Joe Maddon said he expects one pitcher to win the job outright rather than have Jackson and Wood share the job. Nothing has been finalized, Maddon said. The odd man out would likely be the long man in the bullpen.

“We can play the ‘what if’ scenarios,” Jackson said, “but it’s not really something I worry about. All I can do is control what I can control when the ball’s in my hand. At the end of the day, I’m here to help the team win in any way I can.”

– Carrie Muskat


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