The Cubs’ new Spring Training complex in Mesa, Ariz., will be named the Under Armour Performance Center at Cubs Park. The stadium itself, which hosts its first Cactus League game on Thursday, remains Cubs Park. The Under Armour Performance Center, which opened this year for the first time, features the largest and most advanced strength and conditioning space in the Cactus League. The Cubs built the facility on the former Riverview Golf Course, and it includes a two-story weight and cardiovascular facility, hydrotherapy room, 120-seat theater, video room and cafeteria. The Major League clubhouse can house 68 lockers, and the Minor League facility has 206 lockers.
It was only 20, 25 pitches but it was the first time off a mound since he had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, and Cubs pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa said he is continuing to make progress. Fujikawa threw off a mound Monday for the first time since having the procedure done last June.
“It’s one step at a time and it’s a long process,” he said Wednesday through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa.
The right-hander, limited to 12 games last season, his first with the Cubs, said he didn’t hesitate during his side session.
“I didn’t have any doubts because I was throwing with pretty good intensity on flat ground,” he said.
“All I can say now is I’m playing light catch today,” he said. “Anything can happen each day. I’m following the medical staff and the [athletic] trainer’s plan and following the schedule.”
The Cubs are hopeful Fujikawa can pitch for the big league team this summer.
– Carrie Muskat
Here are the lineups for Wednesday’s Cubs intrasquad game at new Cubs Park, scheduled to start at 1 p.m. AZ time:
vs. Team 2:
Tuesday would’ve been Ron Santo’s 74th birthday. His latest replacement on WGN Radio, Ron Coomer, was at the Cubs’ Spring Training complex to prep for his first season in the broadcast booth.
Coomer, 47, is replacing analyst and former Cubs player Keith Moreland, and will join play-by-play man Pat Hughes. And Coomer has nothing but respect for Santo, who was doing the Cubs broadcasts when Coomer played for the Cubs in 2001.
“You don’t replace Ronnie,” Coomer said of Santo. “I’m not looking to be the next ‘Pat and Ron’ show. Hopefully, I can just do my job.”
Coomer received a No. 10 honoring Santo after a fantasy camp, and it’s hanging up in his pool room at home. He attended Lockport (Ill.) Township High School, and still has links on the south side of Chicago. Coomer expects his favorite sandwich place, Parisi’s, to deliver to Wrigley Field. He also has some Santo stories to share with listeners. They talked about playing third several times.
“We were headed to Cincinnati, and he came walking to the back to the plane and says, ‘Hey, big boy, what are you doing tonight?’” said Coomer, who knew he’d be talking baseball with Santo that evening.
“He was a legend,” Coomer said of Santo.
– Carrie Muskat
* The Cubs will play a six-inning exhibition game at new Cubs Park on Wednesday, starting at 1 p.m. MT. Kyle Hendricks and Eric Jokisch are scheduled to start. The game is a tune-up for Thursday’s Cactus League opener, when the Cubs play host to the Diamondbacks.
One of the players eager for a game is third baseman Mike Olt, who batted .201 last season combined in the Minor Leagues, first with the Rangers and then the Cubs. So far, Olt, who struggled with vision problems, has passed all the tests in batting practice.
“Everyone’s going to be a little rusty but I feel I’m at a different stage than I was last year, heading into the first scrimmage,” Olt said. “I’m just excited to get back in the box and have that competitive edge. Even with live [batting practice], you don’t have the competitive dge that you would in a game.”
Other pitchers scheduled to throw on Wednesday include Arodys Vizcaino, Neil Ramirez, Tsuyoshi Wada, Brian Schlitter, Chang-Yong Lim, Marcus Hatley and Armando Rivero.
“It’s going to be good for me and for the staff to see the guys put themselves out there between the lines with a little more competitive aspect of the game,” manager Rick Renteria said. “They’ll be able to see where they’re as far as timing and pitchers will see where they’re at with the hitters and game-type situations, which is what we’re building up to do. It’ll be good to see them out there playing.”
* Kyuji Fujikawa threw 20-25 pitches in a side session on Monday, his first time off a mound since undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last June.
“It went very well,” Renteria said of the pitcher’s session. “He gave me a thumbs up.”
* The new rule adopted Monday by Major League Baseball in regards to plays at the plate will affect baserunners, not just catchers. The Cubs will work on sliding drills on Wednesday.
“We all understand the biggest key is to eliminate the possibility of a baserunner actually going after the catcher who’s not covering the plate, and eliminate injuries that come from that,” Renteria said.
* Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins addressed the players on Tuesday in the Cubs’ big league camp as well as the 50-plus taking part in the Minor League mini camp. Jenkins noted that when he was with the Cubs, they had 40 players sharing one field in Spring Training. Now, the Cubs have six fields plus a half field plus the stadium at the new facility.
* In case you missed it, I have a feature on top prospect Dan Vogelbach on Cubs.com and how he lost 30 pounds this offseason. Vogelbach wanted to quiet critics who felt he was too heavy to play first base. He hasn’t lost his powerful hitting stroke. Minor League hitting coach Desi Wilson says Vogelbach still has good bat speed and is better defensively.
“He hasn’t lost anything — he’s gained,” Wilson said of Vogelbach, ranked No. 10 on the Cubs’ top 20 prospects.
– Carrie Muskat
April 4-5: Cubs magnet schedule
April 18: Limited edition Joe Tinker bobblehead (first 10,000 fans)
April 20: Cubs Diecast Train Engine (first 5,000 kids)
April 23: Chicago Federals jersey (first 30,000 fans)
May 2: Limited-edition Red Grange bobblehead (first 10,000 fans)
May 3: Cubs fedora hat (first 10,000 adults)
May 4: Cubs yo-yo (first 5,000 kids)
May 6: “Pink out” t-shirt presented by Advocate Health Care and Cubs Charities (bleacher fans)
May 16: Limited edition Babe Ruth’s called shot bobblehead (first 10,000 fans)
May 17: Umbrella (first 10,000 fans)
May 18: Cubs Viewmaster (first 5,000 kids)
June 5: Jersey off our back (lucky seat winners)
June 6: Limited edition All-American Girls Professional Baseball League bobblehead (first 10,000 fans)
June 8: Andy Pafko mini figure (first 5,000 kids)
June 20: Limited edition Ernie Banks debut bobblehead (first 10,000 fans)
June 22: Cubs Mr. Potato Head keychain (first 5,000 kids)
June 27: Wrigley Field 100 tote bag (first 20,000 fans)
July 11: Limited edition Gale Sayers bobblehead (first 10,000 fans)
July 13: Cubs Etch-A-Sketch (first 5,000 kids)
July 25: Limited edition Jack Brickhouse bobblehead with sound chip (first 10,000 fans)
July 26: Ernie Banks replica statue (first 10,000 adults)
July 27: Cubs magic baseball (first 5,000 kids)
Aug. 8: Limited edition illuminating first night game bobblehead (first 10,000 adults)
Aug. 10: Cubs Rubik’s Cube (first 5,000 kids)
Aug. 22: Limited edition Kerry Wood 20 strikeout bobblehead (first 10,000 adults)
Aug. 24: Re-issue Gracie the Swan Beanie Baby (first 5,000 kids)
Sept. 5: Limited edition Greg Maddux 3,000th strikeout bobblehead (first 10,000 fans)
Sept. 7: Build-A-Bear doll (first 5,000 kids)
The Cubs announced details for purchasing single game tickets for the 2014 season. Single game tickets go on sale March 7 at 10 a.m. CT at http://www.cubs.com and by phone at 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).
Fans may once again participate in the MasterCard pre-sale, starting March 4 at 10 a.m. CT. Any fan using a MasterCard can purchase single game tickets in advance of the general on-sale date at a 15 percent premium, while fans using other forms of payment may purchase tickets at a 20 percent premium.
The Cubs will no longer host a two-hour on-sale event at Wrigley Field prior to online and phone sales. The Wrigley Field ticket windows will open March 8 at 9 a.m. CT.
In celebration of Wrigley Field’s milestone, the team has introduced a section of MasterCard Century Seats with tickets priced at $19.14 before tax for every game of the season. This 350-seat section is located in the Upper Deck Box level in left field. These tickets must be purchased with a MasterCard and are available at http://www.cubs.com/CenturySeats or 800-THE-CUBS with no service or delivery fees.
Following Opening Week, Cubs fans will be treated to a variety of elements to celebrate 10 decades during 10 unique homestands at Wrigley Field. These festivities include historic bobblehead giveaways on the first Friday of each homestand to honor key individuals or events from the corresponding decade; “Throwback Sunday” games on the first Sunday of each homestand when the Cubs and many visiting teams will wear throwback uniforms; retro toy promotional giveaways to children 13-and-under on those same Sundays; a dedicated “Decades Diner” with rotating food and beverage options; plus commemorative ballpark décor, guests and game entertainment.
While the entire season is dedicated to celebrating 100 years of Wrigley Field, the actual 100th birthday is April 23. On that date, the Cubs will host the Diamondbacks a century after the Chicago Federals opened then-Weeghman Park against the Kansas City Packers. Both teams will wear commemorative uniforms and the first 30,000 fans receive a replica 1914 Chi-Feds jersey. Like any good birthday party, Wrigley Field’s celebration will feature special guests, gifts, cake, entertainment and even a serenade to the tune of “Happy Birthday.”
Here are details for each single game purchasing option:
* MASTERCARD PRE-SALE:
The Cubs will offer the MasterCard Pre-sale starting March 4 at 10 a.m. CT. Fans using a MasterCard can purchase single game tickets in advance of the general on-sale date at a 15 percent premium, while fans using other forms of payment may purchase tickets at a 20 percent premium. MasterCard Pre-sale tickets may be purchased at http://www.cubs.com.
* SINGLE GAME GENERAL ON-SALE:
Via the Internet: Visitors to Cubs.com can purchase tickets beginning at 10 a.m. CT. A virtual waiting room will be used for all Internet orders. The virtual waiting room will begin accepting customers March 7 at 9:30 a.m. CT. At 10 a.m. CT, customers will be selected from the virtual waiting room to begin purchasing tickets. All Internet customers will need a valid Cubs.com account. Customers are recommended to register for an account prior to March 7.
By Telephone: Tickets can be purchased by telephone beginning at 10 a.m. CT on March 7 by dialing 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).
At the Wrigley Field Ticket Office: Tickets will be available for purchase at the Wrigley Field Ticket Windows March 8, beginning at 9 a.m. CT. Due to offseason construction in the main concourse and fans’ increased use of online ticket purchasing, the team will not host a two-hour on-sale event at Wrigley Field prior to online and phone sales.
* MASTERCARD CENTURY SEATS:
In celebration of Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday, the Cubs and MasterCard have partnered to offer a consistently low-priced seating option for every game during the 2014 regular season. Cubs fans can use their MasterCard to buy tickets priced at $19.14 before tax with no service or delivery fees. This 350-seat section is located in the Upper Deck Box level in left field.
MasterCard Century Seats must be purchased with a MasterCard, which serves as the buyer’s day-of-game ticket for admittance along with a photo ID. Guests will receive email confirmation of their purchase, however print-at-home tickets are not available for MasterCard Century Seats. These tickets are non-transferable. MasterCard Century Seats are available at http://www.cubs.com/CenturySeats or 800-THE-CUBS beginning March 8 at 10 a.m. CT.
For updated ticket pricing, visit http://www.cubs.com. For more information, contact the Chicago Cubs Ticket Office at 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).
* Jeff Samardzija will start the Cubs’ Cactus League opener but manager Rick Renteria wasn’t ready to name his Opening Day starter just yet. Samardzija, who did start Opening Day 2013, tested the mound at new Cubs Park on Monday with a brief workout. On Thursday, he’ll open the Cactus League season and Cubs Park’s first year against the Diamondbacks.
“So many things can happen over the course of the spring, I’m not going to lock myself into trying to divulge something I can’t determine what it will be in the end,” Renteria said when asked who would start March 31 when the Cubs open the 2014 season against the Pirates.
* In Cactus League action, lefty Chris Rusin will start Friday against the Angels in Tempe. On Saturday, the Cubs have a day-night doubleheader, and Travis Wood will go in the first game in Mesa against the Giants, and Edwin Jackson will start the night game against the Diamondbacks in Scottsdale. Jason Hammel, who signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month, will start Sunday against the Royals.
* There were a few problems figuring out how to get from the Cubs’ complex to the field, but so far, the team’s new spring stadium, Cubs Park, is passing all the tests. On Monday, some of the Cubs, including Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro, had a chance to take batting practice at the new ballpark, which is a short golf cart ride from the Spring Training facility. Pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood tested the mound in an early session. The only minor glitch was figuring out which door to use to gain access.
“It’s a beautiful facility,” Renteria said. “Obviously, we came and saw it earlier but to have them go out there and hit, we’ll allow them to get a feel for the field.”
What did Renteria like?
“Everything,” he said. “It’s brand new, [there's] expansive seating — it’s incredible. For a Spring Training facility, that’s a big league ballpark.”
The Cubs will play a six-inning intrasquad game on Wednesday at Cubs Park starting at 1 p.m. MT. Eric Jokisch and Kyle Hendricks will start.
* There are some familiar faces in the Cubs’ Minor League mini camp, including Casey Coleman, Nick Struck, Ryan Searle, Lendy Castillo and Dae-Eun Rhee. They were asked to start their camp workouts early so they’re ready for Cactus League games if needed.
– Carrie Muskat
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association officially negotiated the addition of Rule 7.13, covering collisions at home plate, on an experimental basis for the 2014 season. Here are the details:
In 2014, the rule being implemented by MLB and the MLBPA (set out below) will prohibit the most egregious collisions at home plate. The new experimental rule sets forth that:
1. A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate). If, in the judgment of the umpire, a runner attempting to score initiates contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate) in such a manner, the umpire shall declare the runner out (even if the player covering home plate loses possession of the ball).
2. Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the umpire shall call or signal the runner safe.
In determining whether a runner deviated from his pathway in order to initiate a collision, the Umpire will consider whether the runner made an effort to touch the plate, and whether he lowered his shoulders or pushed through with his hands, elbows or arms when veering toward the catcher. The rule that will be in effect in 2014 does not mandate that the runner always slide or that the catcher can never block the plate. However, runners who slide, and catchers who provide the runner with a lane to reach the plate, will never be found to be in violation of the new rule. Beginning immediately,
Clubs will be required to train their runners to slide and their catchers to provide the runner with a pathway to reach the plate at all levels in their organizations.
MLB will distribute training materials throughout Spring Training and discussions on the new rule, including the retraining of catchers and base runners, will be held during MLB’s meetings with managers in the weeks ahead. Additionally, MLB and the MLBPA will form a committee of players and managers to review developments as the season progresses and to discuss the possible application of the new rule in 2015.
Finally, instant replay will be available to review potential violations of Rule 7.13. The Umpire Crew Chief will have discretion to invoke instant replay in order to determine whether Rule 7.13 was violated.