The Cubs added infielder Arismendy Alcantara and pitcher Dallas Beeler to the 40-man roster Wednesday, which was the deadline for teams to set their rosters in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft. With the moves, the Cubs’ 40-man is now at 39.
Alcantara, 22, who hit a solo home run playing for the World Team in the All-Stars Futures Game, batted .271 with 15 home runs, 69 RBIs and 31 stolen bases at Double-A Tennessee this season, and was batting .196 in 15 games with Licey in the Dominican Republic Winter League. The second baseman earned Southern League mid-season and post-season All-Star honors. He ranked second in the Southern League in hits and doubles and was tied for third in stolen bases.
Beeler, 24, was 4-2 with a 3.13 ERA in nine starts for Tennessee. He missed time after he tore a tendon in the middle finger of his right hand, and made six starts in the Arizona Fall League, where he posted a 4-1 record and 2.49 ERA. In his 15 starts combined, Beeler walked 22 and gave up four home runs over 76 1/3 innings. He started the AFL championship game for the Mesa Solar Sox and gave up one run on two hits over five innings. The right-hander was a 41st round selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four seasons. Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn’t stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000. In other words, an international player or high school draftee signed in 2009, assuming they were 18 or under as of June 5 of that year, must be protected. A college player taken in the 2010 Draft is in the same boat.
The Rule 5 Draft will be held Dec. 12.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs want to send a care package to Illinois residents affected by Sunday’s damaging tornadoes, and need your help. On Thursday and Friday morning, the Cubs staff will be collecting donated items at Wrigley Field, and will deliver them to Peoria later Friday.
The American Red Cross gave the Cubs a specific list of what’s needed. Top priority items include tote bags, plastic trash cans, plastic storage bins and gloves.
Other items needed include non-perishable food items (granola bars, canned food); bottled water; large garbage bags; toiletries (toothpaste, deodorant, soap); buckets; sponges; mops; towels; baby formula; diapers; flashlights; batteries; manual can openers; duct tape; toilet paper; paper towels; feminine hygiene products. Also on the list are school supplies, such as new or used backpacks, crayons, colored pencils, notebooks, and binders.
Donations can be made at the Purple Lot on Clark Street, just west of Wrigley Field between Waveland Avenue and Addison Street, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. CT on Thursday. Items will be accepted from 8-11 a.m. CT on Friday, and the truck will then leave for distribution in Peoria.
If you can’t come to Wrigley Field, Cubs fans are asked to visit RedCross.org; call 1-800-RED CROSS (Central Illinois Tornado Response); or text the Red Cross at “90999″ to make a $10 donation.
More than a dozen tornadoes struck Illinois on Sunday, packing top winds of more than 100 mph. As many as 500 homes were damaged in the town of Washington near Peoria alone.
– Carrie Muskat
Today is the deadline for teams to set their 40-man rosters in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft. Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five years or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four years. Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn’t stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.
In other words, an international player or high school draftee signed in 2009, assuming they were 18 or under as of June 5 of that year, must be protected. A college player taken in the 2010 Draft is in the same boat.
The Cubs’ 40-man is currently at 37. Infielder Arismendy Alcantara is most likely to be added to the 40-man. The talented second baseman batted .271 with 15 home runs, 69 RBIs and 31 stolen bases at Double-A Tennessee this season.
Some other Minor League players who would be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if not protected on the Cubs’ 40-man are: pitchers Matt Loosen, Dallas Beeler, Marcus Hatley, Austin Kirk, Ryan Searle and Zach Cates; infielders Gioskar Amaya and Marco Hernandez; and outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha.
Remember that if selected in the Rule 5 Draft, that player has to stay on the Major League roster the entire season. So, even if a player isn’t protected by the Cubs, it’s not a slight, but may simply be that the team doesn’t feel he’s ready.
– Carrie Muskat
Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks was honored for his performance on the field and his optimistic approach to life Wednesday, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House. Banks, 82, was among 16 recipients, including President Bill Clinton, former astronaut Sally Ride, feminist Gloria Steinem, North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith, and media icon Oprah Winfrey.
Obama relayed the story of Banks’ enthusiastic pep talk to his Cubs teammates: “Let’s play two.”
“That’s Mr. Cub — the man who came up through the Negro Leagues, making $7 a day, and became the first black player to suit up for the Cubs and one of the greatest hitters of all time,” Obama said. “In the process, Ernie became known as much for his 512 home runs as for his cheer and his optimism, and his eternal faith that someday the Cubs would go all the way.”
There was some laughter in the room after that. The Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908.
“And that’s serious belief,” Obama said. “That is something that even a White Sox fan like me can respect. He is just a wonderful man and a great icon of my hometown.”
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor given to civilians in the United States, established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy. It is presented to those who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Banks joins a distinguished list of baseball players to receive the honor, including Hank Aaron (2002), Roberto Clemente (2003) Joe DiMaggio (1977), Stan Musial (2011), Buck O’Neil (2006), Frank Robinson (2005), Jackie Robinson (1984) and Ted Williams (1991).
Banks began his baseball career with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League in 1950, and was the first African-American player on the Cubs, making his Major League debut on Sept. 17, 1953, at the age of 22. He played 19 seasons with the Cubs and finished with a .274 batting average, 512 home runs, and 1,636 RBIs.
Although he never reached the postseason, Banks won back to back Most Valuable Player honors, was elected into the baseball Hall of Fame, had his No. 14 retired in 1982 by the Cubs, and is immortalized in a bronze statue outside Wrigley Field.
– Carrie Muskat
* Junior Lake had three hits in Licey’s 3-2, 13-inning win over Estrellas in the Dominican Republic. The two teams used 23 pitchers combined.
* Luis Valbuena drove in the go-ahead run with a one-out RBI single in the eighth to lift Lara to a 5-4 victory over Aragua in Venezuelan Winter League play. Valbuena, who has started at second base every game, is batting .304.
Major League teams have until Wednesday to protect players from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft by adding them onto their 40-man roster. A little background: The Rule 5 Draft takes place Dec. 12, the last day of the Winter Meetings. Between Wednesday’s roster deadline and Dec. 12, teams will not be permitted to add players from the Minor League rosters to the Major League 40-man roster. Teams can add Major League free agents or players acquired in trade. The Cubs’ 40-man roster is currently at 37.
Who is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft? Players who signed at age 19 or older become Rule 5 eligible after four years. That means any players who signed out of college in the 2010 Draft are eligible. A player who signed his first pro contract at age 18 or younger has five years before becoming eligible. Players drafted out of high school in 2009 are in this pool.
As a refresher, here are the players on the Cubs’ 40-man roster:
Pitchers (19): Jake Arrieta, Daniel Bard, Alberto Cabrera, Kyuji Fujikawa, Justin Grimm, Edwin Jackson, Chang-Yong Lim, Blake Parker, Brooks Raley, Neil Ramirez, Hector Rondon, Zac Rosscup, Chris Rusin, James Russell, Jeff Samardzija, Pedro Strop, Carlos Villanueva, Arodys Vizcaino, Travis Wood.
Catcher (1): Welington Castillo.
Infielders (10): Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro, Mat Gamel, Donnie Murphy, Mike Olt, Anthony Rizzo, Luis Valbuena, Christian Villanueva, Josh Vitters, Logan Watkins.
Outfielders (7): Brian Bogusevic, Brett Jackson, Junior Lake, Nate Schierholtz, Jorge Soler, Ryan Sweeney, Matt Szczur.
The Cubs released the 2014 Spring Training schedule on Monday. They will play their first Cactus League game at their new spring stadium in Mesa, Ariz., on Feb. 27 against the Diamondbacks and finish the schedule with two games at Chase Field in Phoenix. The 2014 Spring Training schedule includes 16 home games, 16 Cactus League road games, a pair of games in Las Vegas and two games against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
On March 15-16, the Cubs travel to Las Vegas for a two-game split-squad series against the Mets. The Cubs also will play one home night game in Mesa on March 24 against the Padres.
Individual game tickets for 2014 Cubs home Spring Training games will go on sale Jan. 11 at 11 a.m. CT at the ballpark’s ticket office, on http://www.Cubs.com, or by calling 1-800-THE-CUBS. Season tickets at the Cubs new spring ballpark are on sale now and group tickets will go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. CT by calling 1-800-THE-CUBS.
All Cubs home Spring Training games begin at 1:05 p.m. Arizona time unless otherwise noted. Split squad games are denoted with an “ss.”
2014 Cubs Spring Training Schedule
(Date, Opponent, Site)
Feb. 27: vs. Diamondbacks, Mesa
Feb. 28: at Angels, Tempe
March 1 (ss): vs. Giants, Mesa; at Diamondbacks, Scottsdale (7:10 p.m.)
March 2: vs. Royals, Mesa
March 3: at Brewers, Maryvale
March 4: vs. Athletics, Mesa
March 5: vs. Rockies, Mesa
March 6: at Indians, Goodyear
March 7 (ss): vs. Indians, Mesa; at Angels, Tempe
March 8: at Reds, Goodyear
March 9: vs. Brewers, Mesa
March 10: at Giants, Scottsdale
March 11: vs. Rockies, Mesa
March 12: at Mariners, Peoria
March 13: Off day
March 14: vs. Dodgers, Mesa
March 15 (ss): at Royals, Surprise; vs. Mets, Las Vegas
March 16 (ss): vs. Indians, Mesa; vs. Mets, Las Vegas
March 17 (ss): vs. Angels, Mesa; at Athletics, Phoenix
March 18: at Rangers, Surprise (7:05 p.m.)
March 19: at Rockies, Scottsdale (6:40 p.m.)
March 20: vs. Mariners, Mesa
March 21: at White Sox, Glendale
March 22: vs. Reds, Mesa
March 23: at Athletics, Phoenix
March 24: vs. Padres, Mesa (7:05 p.m.)
March 25 (ss): vs. Angels, Mesa; at Padres, Peoria (7:05 p.m.)
March 26: at Diamondbacks, Scottsdale
March 27: vs. White Sox, Mesa
March 28: at Diamondbacks, Chase Field
March 29: at Diamondbacks, Chase Field
– Carrie Muskat
* Luis Valbuena went 2-for-5 in Lara’s 9-8 loss to Caracas in Venezuelan winter league play. Valbuena started his fourth straight game at second base.
* Christian Villanueva was 1-for-2 in Obregon’s 4-3, 10-inning loss to Hermosillo in Mexican winter league play. Villanueva is batting .256.
Know there are a lot of Cubs fans — and non-baseball fans — whose lives were upended by Sunday’s tornadoes and storms. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you.
– Carrie Muskat