Results tagged ‘ Jake Arrieta ’
* Darwin Barney has been working a lot with Cubs hitting coach Bill Mueller and on Friday, the second baseman went 2-for-2 in his first spring game, hitting a solo home run in the fourth.
“I feel I can repeat what I’m doing up there and that’s the goal,” said Barney, who batted .208 last season. “It’s Day One and it’s a long spring ahead and a lot of work to be done.”
Barney isn’t being counted on to hit home runs — he matched his career high last season with seven.
“I’m trying to stay short and hit line drives,” he said. “My swing allowed me to do that and I’m happy about that. It’s early, it’s just one pitch. I’ve got a lot of work to do.”
* Mike Olt, slowed this spring because of tenderness in his right shoulder, has yet to play third base and Cubs manager Rick Renteria said the team is taking a precautionary approach.
“He’s throwing fine and he’s been working at all the positions getting himself ready,” Renteria said Friday of Olt, who has been limited to designated hitter so far.
Olt, who battled vision problems last season, was scheduled to start at DH on Saturday night against the Diamondbacks.
* After more than 50 days without rain in the Phoenix area, Saturday’s forecast calls for showers. The Cubs’ contingency plan is to use the batting cages at their complex to get work done.
“We’ll deal with it as it comes,” Renteria said.
* Jake Arrieta continues to throw off flat ground and is making progress. Arrieta has been slowed this spring by tightness in his right shoulder, which he felt in the offseason before reporting to Arizona.
* Cubs fans eager to see top prospects Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant might want to go to Saturday’s game against the Diamondbacks in Scottsdale. Both are scheduled to start. Bryant hit his first spring homer in his first at-bat on Friday.
– Carrie Muskat
* Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs’ Minor League pitcher of the year in 2013, retired all eight batters he faced in Wednesday’s intrasquad game. The right-hander was a combined 13-4 at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa combined last season.
“He’s probably put himself on everybody’s radar by the way he went about his business last year,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “It doesn’t hurt anybody to come out and do well.”
Justin Ruggiano, Welington Castillo and Christian Villanueva each hit solo home runs and Junior Lake hit a RBI single in the intrasquad game, which the “home” team won, 5-3. Jorge Soler walked, stole second and scored on Ryan Kalish’s single for the tie-breaking run in the fifth.
* Mike Olt did not play third base on Wednesday but was able to get an at-bat as the designated hitter, and drew a walk in the fifth. He said his right arm is a little tender, and the soreness is not unusual.
“It’s how it is every year,” Olt said. “It hasn’t bothered my swing.”
Acquired from the Rangers last July in the Matt Garza deal, Olt is a candidate for the Cubs’ third base job. He was scheduled to be the designated hitter on Thursday in the Cubs’ Cactus League opener.
* Second baseman Darwin Barney has been working a lot with new hitting coach Bill Mueller in hopes of getting back on track after batting .208 last season.
“We’re happy with where we’re at right now and feeling comfortable,” Barney said. “We feel we have a solid game plan, so we’ll keep continuing to move forward with that. I feel good to go. I feel mechanically sound. I feel like I’m getting results off the bat that I want and hopefully I can carry that forward.”
* Welington Castillo was the designated hitter on Wednesday in the intrasquad game in an effort to give him at-bats. Castillo had arthroscopic knee surgery in mid September and was slowed a little this spring because of his groin. So far, he’s passed all the tests.
“I think everybody is assured he’s completely healed and recovered,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “Like anything, we need to make sure we’re giving him the load of work he needs to get him into the season and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Castillo showed his swing is just fine as he led off the fourth inning with a home run off lefty Tsuyoshi Wada.
* Arodys Vizcaino, who has not pitched since 2011 after needing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, threw one inning in the intrasquad game, and walked two and gave up one hit.
“I’m just hoping his health continues to not be an issue,” Renteria said. “His arm is live. [The ball] comes out of there pretty easy. It looks like he’s using his secondary pitches in live [batting practice] the way he wants to. If he wants to bury a pitch he does it, if he wants to go off the corners he can.”
* Jake Arrieta is throwing from flat ground, and continuing to make progress this spring. Arrieta, who was projected for the Cubs starting rotation, was slowed because of tightness in his right shoulder.
* Matt Szczur made a great catch in left field in the intrasquad game Wednesday, but had a bloody right wrist to show for it. He didn’t let up just because it was intrasquad.
“There’s only one way to play,” he said.
– Carrie Muskat
* When Arodys Vizcaino finished throwing his live batting practice session, one of the first people to shake his hand to congratulate him was Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. The Cubs have waited a long time for Vizcaino, 23, to show what he did on Saturday. The right-hander, acquired from the Braves in the Paul Maholm trade in 2012, was rehabbing at that time from Tommy John surgery on his elbow. He had a setback last season, but on Saturday, looked healthy.
“I would’ve never known [he was hurt] just from the way he looked today,” said catcher Eli Whiteside, who caught Vizcaino. “He looked really good.”
It’s early to say who will be the surprise of Spring Training but Vizcaino may be the leader so far.
“He looked very, very good,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said of Vizcaino, who is projected to pitch out of the bullpen. “We’re very pleased with his session. Very sharp, live fastball, breaking ball, he was burying his pitches when he needed to. He’s progressing well. We’re happy to say there are no setbacks and we hope it continues that way.”
The last time the right-hander appeared in a game was 2011 with the Braves. The radar gun was hitting 97, 98 mph on Saturday.
“Everything felt good — my elbow, shoulder, everything,” Vizcaino said.
* Jake Arrieta, slowed by tightness in his right shoulder, threw off flat ground from about 90 feet on Saturday. The key will be how Arrieta feels on Sunday, manager Rick Renteria said, before they determine the next step. So far, Arrieta is making progress but whether he’ll be ready by Opening Day has not been determined. He has yet to throw off a mound.
* Renteria, 52, threw batting practice on Saturday and plans to continue to do so as long as the players let him. The problem, besides a few aches and pains, is location.
“I just have to throw strikes,” Renteria said, sounding like a pitcher.
He can tell if he’s doing well because there aren’t many balls in the cage after the batting practice session.
“I had a lot of balls back there,” Renteria said. “Usually I have one or two and today I had 10 or 11. That’s not good.”
* The Cubs have more than 50 Minor League players taking part in a mini-camp at the team’s new complex. One player who fans most likely won’t recognize is Daniel Vogelbach, who lost 30 pounds this offseason. Vogelbach is ranked No. 10 on MLB.com’s top 20 Cubs prospects.
* The best investment by Cubs players this spring? It’s goggles for the new hydrotherapy pool in the complex. Carlos Villanueva, who likes to incorporate swimming into his routine, spent $20 on a pair, and is encouraging others to do so.
– Carrie Muskat
* Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta is inching closer to throwing off the mound. The right-hander, projected as one of the Cubs’ starters, has been slowed this spring because of tightness in his right shoulder. He will have a flat ground session on Saturday, and the Cubs will decide if he’s ready to take that next step and get on the mound after that.
“We’re going to take it day by day,” Arrieta said Friday. “Every day’s been good. It’s gotten progressively better. If we stay on the same schedule, I’m optimistic I’ll be ready by Opening Day.”
Arrieta has competition for the rotation. The Cubs signed free agents Jason Hammel and James McDonald and also have lefty Chris Rusin in the mix.
* Jeff Samardzija is expected to start the Cubs’ Cactus League opener next Thursday against the Diamondbacks in the first game at the team’s new Spring Training stadium, Cubs Park. Manager Rick Renteria did not reveal the rest of his spring rotation. The Cubs will tune up for Cactus League play with an intrasquad game on Wednesday at the new stadium. Top prospects Eric Jokisch and Kyle Hendricks will start that game.
* James McDonald was happy with his live batting practice session on Friday. It’s the first time the right-hander has faced a batter in about 10 months.
“This is the first time I was throwing without thinking about my arm in a while,” said McDonald, who was limited to six games with the Pirates because of shoulder issues. “I was like, ‘OK, my arm feels good.’ It was fun to be able to get out there and throw off the mound to a hitter.”
His goal, besides staying healthy, is to be better at the end of spring than he was on Friday.
“A lot of times when you first see a batter, you speed up,” McDonald said. “You get a couple times out and you start relaxing and you’re good. The first time out, seeing batters in a while, I feel like I got a little [rushed].”
* The Cubs will be featured in three live Spring Training games on MLB Network, and the games will be available in the Chicago area. Those dates include March 12 against the Mariners at 9 p.m. CT; March 18 against the Rangers at 9 p.m. CT; and March 19 against the Rockies at 8:30 p.m. CT.
– Carrie Muskat
* Jason Hammel is feeling right at home in Cubs camp, even though he’s only been with the team for one week. The right-hander, who signed a free agent contract with the Cubs on Feb. 13, threw about 65 pitches in his first live batting practice session on Thursday.
“His live BP was pretty impressive the time I was over there,” said Cubs manager Rick Renteria, who watched a little of Hammel’s workout. “He was obviously hitting the mitt and his command of the zone was down. He was very composed on the hill. He’s been around a while. He’s looking pretty good.”
Hammel, who was the Orioles’ Opening Day starter last year, said he was able to throw all of his pitches. Pitching coach Chris Bosio helped, too.
“[Bosio] gave me great tips today, giving me some things to work on,” Hammel said. “George Kottaras was my catcher today and we were right on the same page. Overall, the first few days, the week, it’s been great and good so far.”
* For Cubs third base prospect Mike Olt, his first few swings on Wednesday were perfect. Olt had struggled with vision problems, and finally got to face a pitcher instead of a coach throwing batting practice or a machine spewing balls.
“For my first at-bats in a long time, it’s the best I’ve ever felt in Spring Training,” said Olt, who faced right-hander Neil Ramirez. “I’m not even counting last year, but the year before that. I saw the ball really well.”
Acquired from the Rangers in the Matt Garza deal, Olt batted .213 at Triple-A Round Rock last season but the Cubs feel they’ve corrected his vision issues. He’s now taking allergy medication, which has helped clear things up for him. Wednesday was his first test against a pitcher.
“I got in the box and I wasn’t sure if I was going to swing or not but I got in there and felt comfortable and saw the ball really well, took a couple swings and I feel like I’m ahead of schedule,” he said.
* Renteria has yet to name his Opening Day starter. Jeff Samardzija got the assignment last year.
* Jake Arrieta, slowed this spring after feeling some tightness in his right shoulder, still has yet to throw off a mound in Cubs camp. The right-hander was projected as the fourth starter but most likely will not be ready by Opening Day.
* Renteria isn’t wasting any time. Infielders, including first baseman Anthony Rizzo and second baseman Darwin Barney, were on the field early Thursday for extra work.
* If fans see extra players at the Cubs facility this week, it’s because there are about some Minor League players taking part in a mini-camp. Among those participating are top prospects third baseman Jeimer Candelario and outfielder Eloy Jimenez.
– Carrie Muskat
* The Cubs have yet to play a game under new manager Rick Renteria, but it appears Starlin Castro is the top candidate to be the leadoff man. Castro has a career .300 average batting first, but also has a career .322 on-base percentage, which would not put in him the top 25 in the National League.
“Starlin has had that role in the past and I think he did a pretty nice job,” Renteria said Sunday. “He’s not what you would consider a typical on-base guy. I think that as he continues to get more and more comfortable, hopefully, this year is a year he recovers some of his confidence and that little edge that he brought and that you guys all saw when he was coming up. he’s an individual that is looking to do well.”
Castro batted .300 in 2010, his rookie season, and followed that with a .307 average in ’11. But last season, he struggled to bat .245.
Renteria is still tinkering with his lineup.
“We have the whole spring to develop a scheme as to who might fall into that role,” he said.
* Jake Arrieta, slowed this spring because of tightness in his right shoulder, is taking part in the Cubs’ pitcher drills but has yet to throw off the mound. Arrieta has been able to play catch and so far, is making progress, manager Rick Renteria said Sunday.
* Renteria, who had hip replacement surgery in October, walked for nearly 45 minutes around the Cubs complex at 5 a.m. MT Sunday as part of his exercise. “The catchers are working early,” Renteria said. “I’m not asking them to be out and do anything I wouldn’t do. [My early work] kind of re-enforces that.”
* Besides Kris Bryant and Brett Jackson, Albert Almora and Josh Vitters also reported to Cubs camp on Sunday. The first full squad workout is Wednesday. “I’ve been pretty impressed with the fact that the numbers are kind of high,” Renteria said of the early birds. “It shows me a lot of interest. First of all, I’m sure they want to see the new facility. … No one is making them be here, they’ve chosen to be here. It’s nice to have them preparing for what will hopefully be a very good season.”
* Pitchers who threw their second side sessions on Sunday included Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Justin Grimm, Kyle Hendricks, Blake Parker, and James McDonald. Renteria said he likes what he’s seen so far.
“Their energy is high,” Renteria said. “I’m hoping the tone that is set now will continue when the [position] players come in.”
– Carrie Muskat
Jake Arrieta says he has no pain or discomfort now, and is taking a cautious approach as he prepares for the season. When he’ll be ready has yet to be determined. The right-hander felt some discomfort in his shoulder a few weeks ago and will be held out of some spring workouts at the start of camp.
“I was stretched out pretty good, throwing long toss for three weeks,” Arrieta said of when he first felt the pain. “It could’ve been doing a little too much. I tend to get a little eager. I try to push the envelope a little early. That’s what I’m banking on is [the problem was] trying to get going too soon. Now that I’m backed off and able to take it slower, step by step now, moving the process a little slower.”
He’s been able to play catch in Arizona for a few weeks and has no pain.
“It’ll be a slower progression but it’ll put me in place to accomplish the goals we set to accomplish,” he said. “I just have to be patient at this point in time.”
The Cubs said Thursday they are not counting on Arrieta to start the season. He did not need to undergo an MRI on his shoulder.
“I think we’ll have a much better understanding as we progress,” Arrieta said. “I think the main thing right now is to be cautious and to make sure I’m around for the long haul rather than try to rush things and progress a little too quickly and maybe have a setback at some point. The structure will be progressive but slow at the start to make sure we don’t have any setbacks.”
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs officially signed free agent pitchers Jason Hammel and James McDonald on Thursday and may need at least one or both for the rotation because Jake Arrieta will be behind schedule this spring after experiencing some tightness in his right shoulder. Arrieta was projected as the Cubs’ fourth starter this season. GM Jed Hoyer said Thursday that the right-hander had some discomfort when he started throwing in the winter.
“We’ve re-started his throwing program but he’ll be a little bit late into camp as far as throwing bullpens and getting into games,” Hoyer said. “No time tables yet but he is throwing and feeling good now. That was something in the back of our minds as we went through this and added some pitching depth.”
Hammel signed a one-year, $6 million deal while McDonald signed a one-year, $1 million non-guaranteed contract that does include incentives.
Hammel, 31, posted some of the best numbers of his career in 2012, going 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 118 innings over 20 starts for the Orioles. He was Baltimore’s Opening Day starter in 2013 but took a step back last season, finishing 7-8 with a 4.97 ERA in 139 1/3 innings over 26 appearances (23 starts). Part of the problem may have been injury as Hammel was on the disabled list because of tenderness in his right forearm.
“He’s a guy who’s had some success in some pretty difficult places,” Hoyer said of Hammel. “He started in Tampa, Went to Colorado and had some success in Coors Field and then obviously had some success in the American League East with Baltimore. We’re excited to get him.”
McDonald, 29, was limited to six games last season with the Pirates because of shoulder issues, and posted a 2-2 record and 5.76 ERA. The right-hander was designated for assignment in September, and outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis but refused that assignment, and elected free agency.
“James is a guy who we’ve really liked the stuff,” Hoyer said. “He’s dealt with some injuries over the last couple years but he worked really hard this winter. We’ve seen him throw a number of times over the course of the winter and he looks healthy.”
– Carrie Muskat
The Pirates may be headed to the postseason but the Cubs were able to celebrate one more win at home Wednesday. Darnell McDonald hit a pair of doubles and a tiebreaking three-run homer to lift the Cubs to a 4-2 victory over the Pirates and close the home portion of their schedule on a positive note in front of 26,171 at Wrigley Field.
After the final out, the Cubs players and coaches tipped their caps and waved to the fans from in front of the dugout to say goodbye.
“It was a nice gesture,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “It hasn’t been a good season, but it’s nice to see the fans come out and to win the last game was nice.”
The Cubs had not beaten Pirates starter Francisco Liriano in four previous meetings, but with the game tied at 1 in the sixth, Donnie Murphy singled and Junior Lake walked to set up McDonald’s first home run since April 30, 2012. Despite their struggles this season, the Cubs lead the National League in home runs on their home turf with 102. McDonald had doubled to lead off the fourth but was easily thrown out on a bad baserunning move as he tried to advance to third on Ryan Sweeney’s fielder’s choice.
“I definitely wanted to atone for that,” McDonald said.
The Cubs would like to make up for this season. They finished 31-50 at Wrigley Field, setting a franchise record for most losses at home in a season. There were some gaffes Wednesday as Pedro Alvarez reached third on shortstop Starlin Castro’s error in the Pirates fourth, but also some highs as Murphy ended the inning with a leaping catch of Clint Barmes’ liner, then stepped on third for the double play.
Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, acquired in July from the Orioles in the Scott Feldman deal, is vying for a spot in the 2014 rotation. The right-hander gave up one run on four hits over six innings, and was able to escape the messes.
“There are going to be jams in the course of the game,” Sveum said. “The difference between guys who have a good season and sustain innings is guys who get out of those jams.”
In nine starts with the Cubs, Arrieta held opponents to a .185 batting average, striking out 37 over 51 2/3 innings. He credited the change of scenery as well as the Cubs coaching staff, beginning at Triple-A Iowa with pitching coach Mike Mason, for the improvement.
“I just feel more confident and more prepared to put together quality starts and quality outings than I was in the past,” Arrieta said. “I think that will show dividends.”
Liriano had given up four runs over 29 innings in his four previous outings against the Cubs, and on Wednesday, was charged with four runs over five-plus innings.
“We just got some balls to fall,” McDonald said of the difference against the Pirates lefty. “Liriano’s tough. He almost no-hit us the last time out. Guys got some hits early, and when you get hits, it breeds confidence in the lineup. You can’t make many mistakes against good teams and good pitchers like that. Fortunately, we were able to overcome mistakes and get the win.”
The Pirates have secured a postseason berth, but they are still jockeying for position with the Cardinals and Reds, who were eliminated from winning the NL Central with a loss Wednesday to the Nationals. The Cubs find themselves still playing a minor role as they head to St. Louis for the final three games of the season.
“We still have three games left and obviously it’s not looking good for Cincinnati and Pittsburgh right now [to win the division], but hopefully we can help them out and win Friday and see what happens the next two days,” Sveum said.
They can definitely learn from watching the Pirates.
“We’re trying to get to where these teams are at that we’re playing down the stretch,” McDonald said. “We’re watching how they go about their business, how they play the game. It’s important for us as a young team. I think every one of us in here wants to finish the season strong.”
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs play their final home game of the season on Wednesday against the Pirates at Wrigley Field. Here is the lineup: