#Cubs: Wrigley will be ready Opening Night

A Cubs spokesman said Wednesday night there is no truth to a rumor that Major League Baseball has asked the Cubs to work on a Plan B with the White Sox to play games at U.S. Cellular Field because of delays in construction at Wrigley Field.

“Even a goat would tell you this reaches an absolute new low for Wrigley rumors,” Cubs spokesman Julian Green said Wednesday. “‎All is proceeding well and we look forward to Opening Night at Wrigley Field.”

The Cubs will open the regular season on April 5 against the Cardinals. The Cubs began an extensive renovation project in October at Wrigley, and the bleachers will not be ready for the opener. Green said the rest of the ballpark will be fine.

– Carrie Muskat 

Maddon: No decision yet on #Cubs Baez

Joe Maddon has made it known he’s impressed with Javier Baez’s defensive play and the young infielder’s baseball acumen, but neither the manager nor anyone else in the front office has told Baez that he made the Cubs’ Opening Day roster.

Maddon denied a report that Baez was on the final 25-man roster, and added that neither Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein or general manager Jed Hoyer gave the infieder the go-ahead either.

“I have no idea where that came from,” Maddon said. “That hasn’t been decided yet.”

Baez was called up to the big leagues last August, and batted .169 in 52 games with the Cubs, striking out 95 times in 213 at-bats. Baez has been slow to adjust at each level, and the Cubs wanted to give him a head start going into the 2015 season.

This spring, Baez was 5-for-39 with 14 strikeouts. Conventional wisdom, Maddon said, is to send a player still struggling to the Minor Leagues because they don’t want him to scuffle at the big league level, then have to demote him.

“There are the occasions where sometimes it works in reverse,” Maddon said. “A guy like him, to go back and accept going back in Triple-A and getting it done there, he might renege at that thought and maybe you’re not going to get the full adjustment you’re looking for and it might take longer.

“If a guy fails at the Major League level and thinks he belongs in the Major Leagues and then knows he failed, if he goes back, it might be easier to get the point across.”

Bottom line, they’re still deciding what to do.

“The conclusion will be as we get together, what is the best method to make him a better Major League player sooner, and that’s what the discussion is about right now,” Maddon said.

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Bryant to play OF on Thursday

Cubs top prospect Kris Bryant will get to play the outfield on Thursday.

Bryant has played third base and was the designated hitter while limited because of fatigue in his right shoulder in Cactus League games so far. He’s been doing outfield drills this week with bench coach Dave Martinez, and Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday the plan is to have him try left field.

“My biggest concern always with infielders going to the outfield and vice versa is arm — that you would hurt your arm because you would chose to use different arm stroke,” Maddon said.

Maddon’s advice? Don’t do anything differently throwing than Bryant already does as a third baseman.

Bryant has made a strong case for a spot on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, leading the Major Leagues with nine home runs this spring.

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Castro: “I feel 100 percent”

Starlin Castro was back in the lineup Wednesday after missing five days because of tightness in his right groin and the Cubs shortstop is eager to play 162 games this season.

Castro, who turned 25 on Tuesday, has not played since March 19 in a game against the Diamondbacks when he made a fielding error that led to two runs. He admitted Wednesday that he hadn’t been feeling good on the field.

“I lost a little bit of confidence those couple days, and I worked on my defense,” Castro said. “[Tuesday], I took some extra ground balls and started feeling better.

“I didn’t feel really good out there on defense,” he said of the game last week. “It’s not a big deal.”

One of his goals is to play all 162 games, but Castro didn’t think he needed to say anything to manager Joe Maddon about that.

“Not yet, but I think they know,” Castro said. “They know I want to play that, I want to be there every day. It doesn’t matter if today is a bad game, tomorrow’s a bad game, I don’t care. I’m here, trying to grow up every day and try to be a better player.”

He’s also looking forward to the start of the regular season, even if Wrigley Field won’t quite be ready.

“We’re feeling pretty good we’re starting a new season with new people here,” Castro said. “I think it’ll be really exciting. We don’t have bleachers but it doesn’t matter. We’ll have a new scoreboard — I think it’s going to be really happy.”

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs lineup vs Mariners, Wed 3/25

Starlin Castro is back in the Cubs lineup Wednesday for a night game against the Mariners in Peoria, Ariz. Travis Wood gets the start and will bat eighth. Castro was sidelined because of tightness in his right groin. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Coghlan LF

Montero C

Castro SS

Sweeney RF

La Stella 3B

Olt 1B

Wood P

Alcantara 2B

– Carrie Muskat

Congrats to #Cubs Kane Co champs

The Cubs presented championship rings Tuesday to members of the Kane County team, which won the 2014 Midwest League championship. Congrats!0324Kane

Final Athletics 14, #Cubs 2

The A’s collected 18 hits off seven Chicago pitchers to beat the Cubs, 14-2, on Tuesday at HoHoKam Stadium. Kris Bryant hit his Major League-leading ninth home run, a solo shot with one out in the Chicago third. The Cubs other run came on Jorge Soler’s RBI single in the first. Edwin Jackson, who did not start because he got lost, gave up eight runs on nine hits over 1 2/3 innings.

Up next: Travis Wood, battling for the final spot in the rotation, will make his fifth spring start on Wednesday when the Cubs travel to Peoria to face the Mariners in a night game. Wood has served up 21 hits over 14 1/3 innings in his four previous starts but walked one. Starlin Castro was expected back in the lineup. He’s been sidelined with a tight right groin. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. MT and the game will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet and Cubs.com.

#Cubs Jackson: “It’s a crazy way to start a day”

Apparently, Google Maps hasn’t updated the Spring Training locations in Arizona. On Tuesday, Edwin Jackson used the app for directions to HoHoKam Stadium where he was scheduled to start. Trouble is, it sent him to their old home, Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

“I put in Google Maps and typed in ‘Oakland Athletics Spring Training complex,’ and it took me to the old one,” Jackson said. “I know it’s crazy, but that pretty much sums it up.”

The Cubs complex and HoHoKam are about 3.6 miles apart, but it was a much longer drive for Jackson, who did arrive at HoHoKam at 12:40 p.m. MT. The Cubs staff didn’t want him to rush for the 1:05 p.m. MT start against the Athletics, so Blake Parker made a substitute start.

Jackson took over in the second, but the A’s seemed to have no problem tracking his pitches, collecting eight runs on nine hits over 1 2/3 innings. Jackson said he could take some positives from the outing — he didn’t walk anyone and he felt strong.

“They hit some good pitches,” Jackson said. “You have those days when they hit the ball. There were a lot of times I was ahead in the count and just didn’t put them away.”

Jackson served up back to back doubles in the A’s second, and retired the first two batters in the third but then Oakland rattled off seven straight hits, including a two-run homer by Stephen Vogt.

What makes Jackson’s misdirection even crazier is that HoHoKam was the Cubs’ old spring home. Google Maps didn’t fail him when he used it March 14 to find Maryvale for a game against the Brewers. In fact, he said it’s the first time in 12 years he’s gotten lost trying to get to a ballpark.

“At the end of the day, it’s my fault for not looking to see where they’re at,” he said. “I figured type in the Spring Training complex and the right address would come up, but it didn’t.

“It was a crazy way to start a day, I guess,” he said. “If I Google any other facility it probably doesn’t happen. So be it. That was the luck of the draw.”

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Lester to start Thursday in Minor League game

Jon Lester’s next start will be in a Minor League game on Thursday so the Cubs can control his pitch count.

Lester, scratched from a start last Saturday because of a tired arm, had a side session on Monday.

“We want to be able to control the number of pitches,” manager Joe Maddon said of why they want Lester in the Minor League game and not the Cubs scheduled Cactus League game that night against the Angels. “If he’s having a long inning, then we can flip it over and get him into the dugout. It’s just more of a controlled environment. He’s fine, we want to be able to control it.”

Lester was expected to throw 60 pitches Thursday.

“I’m not concerned who he’s pitching against, just so he’s standing up there and gets the requisite number of pitches thrown,” Maddon said of his Opening Night starter. “If he says he feels good, I feel good.”

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Bryant belts home run No. 9

Another day, another home run for Kris Bryant.

The Cubs top prospect belted his ninth spring home run in the third inning Tuesday against the Athletics, connecting on the first pitch from Drew Pomerantz, who had struck out Bryant in the first.

Bryant leads the Major Leagues this spring in homers. His Cubs teammates wouldn’t mind seeing that pop in the Opening Day lineup. However, the Cubs could have Bryant open the season at Triple-A Iowa to avoid starting the service time clock.

“There’s not much any of us can do anymore,” Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo said Tuesday. “It is what it is. He’s a great kid. That’s really all you can keep saying.”

Bryant did some outfield drills on Tuesday and will likely play there in the next couple days, manager Joe Maddon said.

“[We wanted to] get him back out there and reacquainted,” Maddon said. “He knows how to do it.”

– Carrie Muskat


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