Results tagged ‘ Cubs ’

3/3 Three amigos

Joe Maddon named Jon Lester as the Opening Night starter. Does that mean David Ross will be the Cubs’ Opening Night catcher?

Lester has a 2.77 ERA when Ross is behind the plate, but Maddon said Tuesday that he hasn’t written his lineup that far in advance. Lester and Ross will be paired together on Friday when the lefty makes his Cactus League debut.

“I think Jon will tell you straight up he’s comfortable throwing to any catcher and I don’t think he wants to dictate who will catch him on any specific night,” Maddon said.

But because it would be the season opener and Lester’s first game at Wrigley Field since signing a six-year, $155 million contract with the Cubs, wouldn’t it make sense to do everything possible so the pitcher feels comfortable?

“I don’t know, only because my first thought is Jon Lester has pitched in World Series,” Maddon said. “He, like everyone else, will be a little nervous the first inning or so, maybe the first two or three pitches, then he’ll settle in. Our other catcher is really competent. I have not agonized over that thought yet.”

The other catcher Maddon was speaking of is Miguel Montero. However, the Cubs also have Welington Castillo in camp, who has been the starter the last two seasons.

“If [Castillo] is on the team as a third catcher, it will be difficult [to get playing time],” Maddon said. “Off the top of my head, it would be a situation where we’ll have to find a spot for him to start. You’ll probably want to run for David Ross, you’ll probably want to run for Montero late in the game. You’d probably not be concerned at all about putting Welly back there because of his throwing ability and blocking ability.”

The Cubs also like having Castillo as insurance if Montero or Ross get injured.

“This game has a really cruel way of answering questions, and that’s why right now, this is all theoretical stuff and I get it,” Maddon said. “‘I don’t know’ is my best answer.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/3 Hendricks aiming for 200

No one said anything to Kyle Hendricks but the right-hander did get the news that he is slotted into the No. 4 spot in the Cubs rotation. Now, he has to get to work to keep it. Joe Maddon indicated Monday that Hendricks would follow Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel in the rotation, although the manager did caution that things can change. Hendricks knows that.

“It’s exciting and I thank [Maddon] for his support of me and the work I’m doing here,” Hendricks said Tuesday. “But Spring Training is really long and nothing is ever set in stone. You never know until you break camp and I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully it will stand up in the end.”

Hendricks, 25, was impressive last season, posting a 7-2 record and 2.46 ERA in 13 starts with the Cubs. He totaled 102 2/3 innings at Triple-A Iowa and another 80 1/3 innings in the big leagues. His goal this season is to reach 200 innings.

“That’s one of the biggest goals I have for myself is consistency, No. 1, but then eating up innings,” he said. “That’s something I pride myself on is staying in ballgames and giving my team a chance to win. I think with the number I threw last year, 200 shouldn’t be out of the question for me.”

Hendricks, who will make his first Cactus League appearance Monday against the Padres, said there’s a different vibe in Cubs camp because of Maddon.

“Joe’s been awesome,” Hendricks said. “He’s been very laid back, it’s a very accountable kind of camp. You do your work, do what you need to do, and he’s not going to get in your way. One of the interesting things he said was as a team we need to learn how to make the playoffs and how to play in the playoffs for the first time before we can be there for multiple years. That’s a goal he’s laid out for us to be a playoff contender for consecutive years.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/3 Tuesday’s schedule

There’s plenty of sunshine in Mesa Tuesday. Here’s the schedule. Remember, it’s subject to change and all times are Mountain Time.

9:30 a.m. — Stretch
9:50-10 a.m. — Baserunning
10-10:10 a.m. — Throwing program
10:15-10:30 a.m. — Team fundamental: cutoffs and relay throws (Field 1/2)
10:30-10:45 a.m. — Shift discussion (field 1)
10:50-11:35 a.m. — Coaches BP (stadium, field 1/2)

Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, Edwin Jackson and C.J. Edwards were to throw live BP as well. That was not included in the posted schedule.

3/2 Big spring for Wood, Jackson

No one has to say anything to Travis Wood or Edwin Jackson. Both pitchers know how important this spring is.

Manager Joe Maddon said Monday that Kyle Hendricks had secured the No. 4 spot in the Cubs rotation behind Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel. That leaves Wood and Jackson vying for one opening along with Felix Doubront, Jacob Turner and Tsuyoshi Wada.

“Everybody understands what’s going on here,” Maddon said Monday. “There are no dummies.”

Maddon also is quick to point out that things change. A lot can happen between the start of Cactus League games Thursday and the end of camp.

“They’re very competitive and the fact we have a lot of folks for some really narrow choices, it’s going to be an interesting spring,” Maddon said. “I know that competition normally brings out the best in everyone.”

Wood, who will start Thursday against the Athletics in the Cactus League opener, compiled a 5.03 ERA in 31 starts last season after a 3.11 ERA in 32 starts in 2013. Jackson, who has a 5.58 ERA and 14-33 record in two seasons with the Cubs, will make his first spring start Monday against the Padres.

Maddon has been honest with the players about where they stand.

“The line I like is that, I’m not going to lie to you,” Maddon said. “If I tell you the truth, you might be upset with me for about a week or two but then you’re going to be OK. But if I lie to you, you’re going to hate me forever. If you shoot somebody between the eyes honestly, they might leave the room upset, they might slam the door, they might drive out of the parking lot quick, they might go home and hopefully not hit their dog. Eventually, they come back because you told them the truth. Every professional person I’ve ever been around really appreciates that.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/2 Cactus League rotation

The Cubs open the Spring Training schedule with split squad games Thursday. Travis Wood will face the Athletics in Mesa, while Jacob Turner will start against the Giants in Scottsdale on Thursday.

Jon Lester will make his Cubs debut Friday against the Reds. On Saturday, Jason Hammel and Felix Doubront will pitch against the Rockies, and Jake Arrieta will go Sunday against the Rangers. Edwin Jackson and Kyle Hendricks will pitch Monday against the Padres.

Lester, Arrieta and Hammel are set for the rotation, and Maddon indicated Monday that Hendricks also appears to have locked the No. 4 spot. That leaves several pitchers battling for one opening, including Jackson and Wood. Maddon did add that things can change between now and the end of Spring Training.

“The competition around here is unbelievable on so many different levels,” Maddon said.

– Carrie Muskat

3/2 Lester to start Opening Night

Manager Joe Maddon made it official Monday: Jon Lester will start Opening Night, April 5, for the Cubs against the Cardinals.

Early in camp, Maddon indicated it was fairly obvious that Lester, who signed a six-year, $155 million contract in December, would kick off the Cubs season. But he wanted to talk to the left-hander first.

“I talked to Jon,” Maddon said Monday. “Jon will start Opening Night.”

Lester will make his first Cactus League start Friday against the Reds at Sloan Park.

The Cubs open the Spring Training schedule with split squad games Thursday. Travis Wood will face the Athletics in Mesa, while Jacob Turner will start against the Giants in Scottsdale. After Lester’s start Friday, Jason Hammel and Felix Doubront will pitch Saturday against the Rockies, and Jake Arrieta will go Sunday against the Rangers. Edwin Jackson and Kyle Hendricks will pitch Monday against the Padres.

Lester, Arrieta and Hammel are set for the rotation, and Maddon indicated Monday that Hendricks also appears to have locked the No. 4 spot. That leaves several pitchers battling for one opening, including Jackson and Wood. Maddon did add that things can change between now and the end of Spring Training.

“The competition around here is unbelievable on so many different levels,” Maddon said.

– Carrie Muskat

3/2 Facebook

I’ve created a Facebook page (CarrieMuskatMLB) where I post stories and photos about the Cubs. Please, no friend requests, but if you’re a Facebook fan, check it out.

— Carrie Muskat

3/2 Future Cubs

0302eloy

Here are Cubs prospects Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez, who are taking part in a Minor League mini camp. Keep an eye on these two.

3/2 Smile

0302hammel

Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel signs a Twitter page during photo day Monday.

3/2 Photo day

0302Joe

Monday was photo day at the Cubs spring complex, which means players, coaches and manager Joe Maddon go from station to station to smile, pose, and answer questions. Here’s Maddon.

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