1/7 Dave Martinez’s homecoming

Dave Martinez had hoped to be a big league manager in 2015 and take over the Rays. Instead, he’ll celebrate a homecoming as Martinez returns to the Cubs and Wrigley Field, where he made his Major League debut back in 1986.

Martinez was Maddon’s bench coach for seven seasons in Tampa Bay, and that relationship will continue with the Cubs. Martinez does have an edge over Maddon. The Cubs’ third-round pick in 1983, Martinez played four seasons with the team (1986-88, 2000) and knows Wrigley Field’s quirks. Maddon got his first look inside the Cubs’ ballpark during an Interleague series last June.

“I told him on the bus, ‘You’re really going to appreciate baseball once you see Wrigley,'” Martinez said by phone Wednesday. “After the first game, on the way back to the hotel, he looked at me and said, ‘That was impressive.'”

Maddon isn’t used to playing so many home day games and has said he’ll rely on Martinez, 50, for advice.

“One thing [Maddon] likes is to make sure is the guys get plenty of rest,” Martinez said. “He’d rather see quality not quantity, and we’ve been really good at that [with the Rays].”

When Maddon left Tampa Bay, Martinez interviewed for the opening. But Kevin Cash got the job, and Martinez resigned in late November.

“It was definitely disappointing,” Martinez said. “I felt like I was groomed for the job and I knew everything. I knew what needed to happen moving forward. They decided they wanted a totally different voice and a different face. That being said, I thought it would be best for me and my family to do something else and go somewhere else. I have no ill feelings about anything — we had a great run and I met some unbelievable people and a lot of those guys are like family to me. Moving forward, I’m a Chicago Cub and I know this will be a blessing for me and my family. Hopefully we bring a championship to Wrigley.”

Martinez predicted Maddon will make it very interesting with the Cubs. Could there be a blues band in the clubhouse? Who knows?

“Spring training is going to be a lot different than you’ve ever seen,” Martinez said. “We want guys to wake up and say, ‘Hey, I can’t wait to get to the ballpark.'”

Martinez has been watching video to familiarize himself with the players. Now a father of four, he’s eager to get back to Chicago.

“It’s really like me coming to my second home,” Martinez said.

– Carrie Muskat

1/7 Extra bases

* Javier Baez hit a run-scoring ground out with one out in the ninth to lift Santurce to a 4-2 victory Tuesday over Caguas in Puerto Rico. Santurce is now 4-0 in the round robin playoffs and faces Carolina on Wednesday.

* Wednesday is Jon Lester’s 31st birthday. The Cubs newest starter will get his first taste of the Cubs Convention next weekend in Chicago.

* Wednesday also is National Bobblehead Day. Dust off your bobbleheads and celebrate.

1/6 Cubs and WGN-TV

The Cubs will be back on WGN-TV. The Cubs are expected to announce a new five-year deal with WGN-TV to carry 45 games, completing the team’s television broadcast schedule, according to an industry source.

In December, the Cubs and WLS-TV/ABC 7 Chicago announced a partnership for television rights through 2019. The other Cubs games will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

WGN-TV has been the Cubs television home since 1948, but the team had opted out of an agreement after the 2014 season ended. By doing so, there were 70 games available, which now will be split between WGN-TV (45 games) and WLS-TV/ABC 7 (25 games).

The length of the contracts with WLS-TV/ABC 7 and WGN-TV are key because the Cubs would like to get their broadcast and cable rights in sync after the 2019 season. At that time, the team could launch its own regional sports network.

Television broadcasters Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies will handle the Cubs broadcasts on all three stations.

– Carrie Muskat

1/6 Hall of Famers vs. the Cubs

Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday. How did they fare against the Cubs?

* Randy Johnson career vs Cubs: 13-0 in 15 games (14 starts). Three complete games, 1.91 ERA

* Pedro Martinez: 5-3 in 14 games (nine starts), 4.22 ERA. His last game against the Cubs was Aug. 12, 2009, at Wrigley Field, when he gave up three runs over five innings and got the win in a 12-5 decision.

* John Smoltz career vs. Cubs, 15-5, 3.32 ERA in 40 games (30 starts). He fanned 175 over 208 2/3 innings pitched. He had three complete games at Wrigley Field, including a pair of four-hit shutouts (July 10, 1992, and May 29, 1996). In the second game, the right-hander struck out 13.

* Craig Biggio posted a slash line of .275/.364/.460 in 246 games vs. the Cubs, totaling 61 doubles, 34 home runs, 109 RBIs. His 34 homers are the most by him against any opponent.

1/6 HOF results

Sammy Sosa’s dream of getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame will have to wait. Sosa received 36 votes, or 6.6 percent, from the Baseball Writers Association of America on Tuesday, far below the numbers needed for induction into Cooperstown. However, Sosa did get enough votes to remain on the ballot for another year.

For the third straight year, Sosa’s vote totals went down. In 2013, he received 71 votes, or 12.5 percent, and those numbers dropped in 2014 when he got 41 votes, or 7.2 percent. A candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote from BBWAA members to gain election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and at least 5 percent to stay on the ballot.

Lee Smith, who saved 478 games over 18 seasons in the big leagues, including eight years with the Cubs from 1980-87, also will stay on the ballot. He received 166 votes (30.2 percent) this year, a slight increase from last year when Smith got 171 votes (29.9 percent).

The BBWAA did elect four players into the Hall on Tuesday: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio.

– Carrie Muskat

1/6 Hall of Fame

On Tuesday, the Baseball Hall of Fame will reveal the Class of 2015. As a voting member of the Baseball Writers Association of America, I want fans to know I take this responsibility very seriously. I’ve always felt the Hall was reserved for baseball’s elite, and wish there was a “Hall of the Very Good” for the many others.

That said, to borrow from the San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Schulman’s post Monday, the biggest issue is how to deal with steroid users and suspected users, and that is completely subjective no matter who votes and how the ballot is structured. I have voted for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens in the past. I’ll never forget Cubs manager Jim Riggleman saying that when he faced Bonds, he was aware of when Bonds was due up throughout the game and the goal was to make sure no one was on base ahead of him. Bonds’ and Clemens’ numbers speak for them. But after talking to Hall of Famers and other players, I can’t vote for either with a clear conscience because of the cloud of steroid use. Giants fans back Bonds. Clemens has his supporters, and some very intelligent writers who I respect have voted for them. You and I can have completely different beliefs about a player, and legitimate reasons for supporting that player. Neither one of us is a fool; we just look at a player’s career differently.

So, go ahead and discuss who is worthy. Here’s one more story I’ll share (and why I feel the Hall is only for the very elite): I went to Cooperstown for an induction ceremony, and during an open house for HOF members and family, I saw Rod Carew quickly walking through the building, trying to escape. I asked where he was going. Carew said he couldn’t look at his plaque because the significance of being in the Hall was so overwhelming, he knew he couldn’t control his emotions. And this was a few years after he had been inducted.

It’s an honor to be able to vote. Let the discussion begin.

– Carrie Muskat

1/5 Winter League stats

(Winter league regular season stats only)

Name: games, hits/at-bats, doubles, triples, homers, RBI, strikeouts, AVG/OBP/SLG

Arismendy Alcantara: 19 G, 22-for-68, 1 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 15 K, .324/.395/.544
John Andreoli: 26 G, 19-for-88, 5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, .216/.278/.330
Javier Baez: 11 G, 10-for-43, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 21 K, .223/.306/.442
Junior Lake: 42 G, 34-for-140, 6 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 51 K, .243/.399/.343
Luis Valbuena: 20 G, 18-for-73, 4 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 16 RBI, .247/.321/.534
Christian Villanueva: 49 G, 41-for-170, 4 2B, 0 3B, 10 HR, 25 RBI, 27 K, .241/.320/.441

1/5 Cubs 2015 spring schedule

The Cubs announced their entire 2015 Spring Training schedule Monday with game times and report dates. Pitchers and Catchers are scheduled to report on Feb. 19 with the first workout taking place on Feb. 20. Position players are scheduled to report on Feb. 24 and the first full squad workout will be Feb. 25.

The Cubs have added four games to the schedule since its original release. The team will play a pair of games in Las Vegas against the Athletics on March 13-14. The Cubs will conclude Spring Training with two games against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 3-4.

The Cubs Spring Training Cactus schedule for 2015 is posted below. All games start at 1:05 p.m. Arizona time unless otherwise noted. Cubs split squad games are denoted with an (ss).

Date, Opponent, Site

March 5 (ss) vs. A’s at Cubs Park; vs. Giants in Scottsdale

March 6 vs. Reds at Cubs Park

March 7 vs. Rockies in Scottsdale

March 8 vs. Rangers at Cubs Park

March 9 vs. Padres at Cubs Park

March 10 vs. Indians in Goodyear

March 11 vs. Dodgers at Cubs Park

March 12 vs. Angels in Tempe

March 13 (ss) vs. Indians at Cubs Park; vs. Athletics in Las Vegas (5:05 p.m. PT)

March 14 (ss) vs. Brewers in Maryvale; vs. Athletics in Las Vegas (12:05 p.m. PT)

March 15 vs. Reds at Cubs Park

March 16 vs. Padres in Peoria

March 17 vs. Royals at Cubs Park

March 18 vs. Dodgers in Glendale

March 19 vs. Diamondbacks in Scottsdale

March 20 vs. White Sox in Glendale

March 21 vs. Mariners at Cubs Park

March 22 vs. Padres at Cubs Park

March 23: Off day

March 24 vs. Athletics in Mesa

March 25 vs. Mariners in Peoria (7:05 p.m.)

March 26 vs. Angels at Cubs Park (4:05 p.m.)

March 27 vs. White Sox at Cubs Park

March 28 (ss) vs. Rockies at Cubs Park; vs. Reds in Goodyear

March 29 vs. Royals in Surprise

March 30 vs. Giants at Cubs Park

March 31 vs. Rangers in Surprise

April 1 vs. Brewers at Cubs Park

April 2: Off day

April 3: vs. Diamondbacks at Chase Field (6:40 p.m.)

April 4: vs. Diamondbacks at Chase Field (1:10 p.m.)

1/5 Winter league update

* Christian Villanueva hit a three-run homer with one out in the eighth to lift Obregon to a 6-4 victory over Mexicali Sunday and take a 2-1 lead in the first round of the Mexican winter league playoffs. It’s a best-of-seven series, and continues Monday.

* Javier Baez hit a RBI single with one out in the third inning to help Santurce beat Caguas, 9-1, and improve to 3-0 in the round robin playoffs in Puerto Rico.

1/4 Hall of Fame

On Tuesday, the Baseball Hall of Fame will reveal the Class of 2015. As a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America, I have a ballot, and this year, I voted for seven players:

Craig Biggio
Randy Johnson
Pedro Martinez
Tim Raines
Curt Schilling
John Smoltz
Alan Trammell

I have voted for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens in years past, but I was always uncomfortable doing so. No more. After talking to several Hall of Fame players — and other current players — I can’t include their names any more.

– Carrie Muskat


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