#Cubs prospects Black, Edwards to pitch in Futures Game

Cubs right-hander Corey Black will get the start Monday night against Rangers prospects in the Futures Game, a contest at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz., that will feature some of the top young talent in the two organizations. C.J. Edwards is slated to follow Black for the Cubs.

First pitch will be at 7 p.m. MT. Fans can purchase general admission tickets in the reserved seating bowl for $6 at the Sloan Park ticket office or at http://www.sloanpark.com.

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.

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs lineup vs Royals Sun 3/29

Kris Bryant gets his second start in the outfield on Sunday when the Cubs play the Royals in Surprise, Ariz. Edwin Jackson will start. The game will be broadcast on WGN TV and also WBBM Radio. Here’s the lineup:

La Stella 3B

Russell SS

Montero C

Bryant LF

Sweeney RF

Baez 2B

Baxter 1B

Jackson P

Alcantara CF

Sorting out the #Cubs bullpen

Friday and Saturday marked the first time Cubs relievers Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon pitched in back to back games this spring. Both right-handers have looked sharp. Strop has given up one earned run on three hits over 7 2/3 innings in eight games while striking out 14. Rondon, projected as the closer, was called on to get one out on Saturday. He has been charged with one earned run on eight hits over 7 1/3 innings.

Jason Motte has had back to back rough outings. The right-hander served up three runs on one hit, a home run, on Saturday, and has given up seven earned runs on four hits in two-thirds of an inning in his last two appearances.

Lefty Drake Britton, in contention for a spot in the ‘pen, has given up one earned run on five hits over 7 1/3 innings, while another contender, Zac Rosscup, has given up three earned runs on seven hits over eight innings. Rosscup has walked three, Britton has walked four. Veteran Phil Coke has not been charged with a run over seven innings in seven games, giving up three hits.

Brian Schlitter was rouged up in his first two outings, but since then, has given up one earned run on four hits over 4 2/3 innings, striking out three. Justin Grimm has appeared in just four games, but he missed time because of a brief bout with food poisoning.

There are 18 pitchers still in camp, including Dallas Beeler, who has missed time with soreness in his right bicep, Jacob Turner, who will open the season on the DL, and Tsuyoshi Wada, who threw 42 pitches in a sim game Saturday and has been slowed because of a groin injury.

With Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks set, and Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood battling for the fifth spot, here’s who’s left for the bullpen. Last season, the Cubs carried 13 pitchers, but most likely will go with 12 this year:


– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs split split-squad games Sat 3/28

Reds 9, Cubs (ss) 5

Dexter Fowler had two hits, including a solo home run, and scored two runs but it wasn’t enough as the Reds beat the Cubs split squad, 9-5, in Goodyear, Ariz. Jorge Soler drove in a run, and now has 10 RBIs.

Cubs (ss) 18, Rockies 4

Jake Arrieta belted a three-run homer and a two-run double, and Kris Bryant went 4-for-5 to power a 21-hit attack and lead the Cubs to an 18-4 victory over the Rockies at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz. Arrieta struck out five over four innings, then went to the bullpen to finish his work day with another 30 pitches. He homered in a seven-run first and added his double in a three-run second in front of a sellout crowd of 15,266.

* On Sunday, Edwin Jackson and the Cubs face the Royals in Surprise, Ariz. The game will be broadcast on WGN TV and on WBBM radio.

#Cubs Arrieta has good “work day” vs Rockies

Jake Arrieta belted a three-run homer in a seven-run first and added a RBI double in the second, struck out five over four innings, and then did a little extra work in the bullpen on Saturday. It was a good work day, he said.

Arrieta gave up three hits over four scoreless innings, then went to the bullpen to throw another 30 pitches. The right-hander took advantage of batting eighth, a strategy manager Joe Maddon has been experimenting with this spring.

“I like it,” Arrieta said. “I think it allows us to put a little speed behind me. I feel I can handle the bat well. Depending on the
situation, I feel I can put a bunt down effiiciently.”

The Cubs pitchers have a friendly competition as far as their hitting stats, and Arrieta said they’re trying to simply put together good at-bats.

“It is the pitcher, and it seems like a break in the lineup, but we feel we can do some damage there and help us out,”
Arrieta said.

The Cubs sent 11 batters to the plate in the first. Anthony Rizzo reached on a fielding error by second baseman Charlie Culberson, advanced to third on Bryant’s double off the right field wall, and then scored when catcher Michael McKenry’s attempted pickoff throw skipped into left field.

Bryant tallied on Addison Russell’s bunt single as Rockies starter Jon Gray bobbled the ball. Ryan Sweeney hit a RBI single
and another run scored on David Ross’ suicide squeeze which Gray again had trouble handling. Arrieta then launched his
first spring homer to left for a 7-0 lead. Gray struck out Jonathan Herrera, and was lifted.

Gray, the Rockies’ first-round pick in 2013, gave up seven runs — six earned — on four hits and one walk over two-thirds
of an inning.

“I just didn’t feel like myself at all,” Gray said. “I didn’t get strikes early. I didn’t give my team a chance. I think I
was too worried about being in the zone that I left some too hittable.”

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs grant Doubront release

The Cubs granted left-hander Felix Doubront his unconditional release on Saturday. They will owe the left-hander 45 days of termination pay, which is about $473,000. He had signed for $1.925 million.

In four spring games, Doubront gave up nine earned runs on 17 hits over seven innings. He had only pitched in relief. At the start of camp, he was being considered for the fifth starter spot. Last season, Doubront was 4-5 with a 5.54 ERA in 21 games (14 starts) with the Red Sox and Cubs.

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Maddon on Soler: “He’d be the No. 1 pick”

Manager Joe Maddon may be closer to finding the “mystery man” to fill the No. 2 spot in the Cubs lineup, and it might not be who you’d imagine. While Chris Coghlan is a strong candidate for the spot, Maddon has other ideas.

“An out of the box candidate could be [Jorge] Soler,” Maddon said of the right fielder. “With him, it goes beyond his power. This guy looks over a baseball now. This guy has great decision-making ability at the plate. That bleeds into either you’re driving in the second leadoff hitter plus one, or he’s setting up somebody after him because the guy is going to take his walks.

“He’s a really interesting baseball player,” Maddon said. “I’d heard good things, but his impression on me has been really strong.”

Kris Bryant has been the focus of attention in camp. Soler, 23, who was batting .333 this spring with three home runs in 14 games, has been playing under the radar.

“Beautiful for George,” Maddon said. “The fact that he doesn’t really understand or speak English very well could work in his favor right now. He’s a beautiful man. I really, really enjoy the way he is. He’s like Vladimir [Guerrero] with plate discipline.”

The Cuban outfielder has made a good impression.

“As a scout, my God, if he was in U.S. as a Draft choice, he’d be the No. 1 pick, there’s no doubt,” Maddon said. “No. 1 overall. I’m impressed with how he is, too. He’s just a great guy.”

– Carrie Muskat

Now leading off, #Cubs Anthony Rizzo

Anthony Rizzo joked with bench coach Davey Martinez that he’d like to lead off, so that’s where the Cubs first baseman will bat on Saturday against the Rockies.

“It’s something I always wanted to do,” Rizzo said. “They’ve been messing with the lineup a lot, so why not? I think it’ll be fun.”

Martinez had been scheduled to manage the Cubs in Mesa with Joe Maddon going on the road in the split squad game against the Reds, but they switched. Rizzo figures Maddon just wants to see how he does batting first.

“I think I’m your prototypical leadoff hitter,” Rizzo said. “I’m going to try to see some pitches, get on base. We don’t steal much on this team anyways.”

Don’t be surprised if he tries to steal.

Does he model himself after anyone?

“I’m going to try to do my best Dexter Fowler impression,” Rizzo said.

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs pitching probables for final week in AZ

The Cubs have set their pitching probables for the final week of Cactus League play. Here’s a schedule. Remember, it’s subject to change:

Sunday at Royals: RHP Edwin Jackson

Monday vs Giants: RHP Kyle Hendricks

Tuesday at Rangers: LHP Eric Jokisch

Wednesday vs Brewers: RHP Jason Hammel

Thursday: OFF

Friday at Diamondbacks, Chase Field: RHP Edwin Jackson

* When will Jon Lester pitch? The left-hander is scheduled to start in a Minor League game on Tuesday in Mesa in his final game action before the season opener on April 5 at Wrigley FIeld. Travis Wood will start in a “B” game on Monday. Also, Dallas Beeler, sidelined this spring with soreness in his right bicep, will throw two innings in a sim game on Tuesday.

– Carrie Muskat 

#Cubs split squad lineups for Sat 3/28

Cubs vs. Rockies in Mesa:

Rizzo 1B

Szczur CF

Bryant 3B

Coghlan LF

Russell SS

Sweeney RF

Ross C

Arrieta P

Herrera 2B

Cubs at Reds in Goodyear:

Fowler CF

Alcantara 3B

Soler RF

Castro SS

Lake LF

Castillo C

Olt 1B

Germen P

Baez 2B


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