Results tagged ‘ Jake Arrieta ’

3/22 Pitching notes

* Looking ahead, pitching-wise, Jeff Samardzija will make his final spring start on Wednesday against the jet-lagged Diamondbacks in Scottsdale. Arizona has already opened the season with a game in Australia.

* Travis Wood will start the Cubs’ home opener on April 4.

“It’ll be exciting for sure, even though Pittsburgh is a great place to pitch,” said Wood, who had been expected to follow Jeff Samardzija in the rotation.

Isn’t Wrigley Field a good place?

“Wrigley’s fine,” Wood said, laughing. “It’ll be cold either place, so it’s not like the weather will be different. The place will be packed, it’ll be jumping, it’ll be nice.”

Rick Renteria said they made the decision because of matchups. Wood has made three starts against the Phillies, and held them to five runs on 13 hits over 21 1/3 innings.

* The Cubs are still trying to fill the fifth spot in the rotation. The candidates include Carlos Villanueva, Chris Rusin and Tsuyoshi Wada. Villanueva, a valuable swingman, will start Monday against the Padres, while Wada will start Tuesday against the Angels. Rusin, who threw five shutout innings on Friday against the White Sox, is a possibility, but the Cubs may pick Villanueva because of his versatility and the fact they have four off days in the first three weeks of games. If the other four starters stay on a five-day rotation, Villanueva could slide into the bullpen until needed.

Renteria didn’t tip his hand on Saturday when asked about the fifth spot.

“They’re all still in the mix,” he said. “They’re all going out there and doing a nice job.”

* The Cubs had projected Jake Arrieta as the fifth starter but he’s been slowed this spring because of tightness in his right shoulder. On Sunday, Arrieta was scheduled to throw a bullpen.

“I’m hoping the next step is a game,” he said Saturday. “We’ll talk things over and see where we stand.”

* Cubs fans will get a chance to see two of the top pitching prospects on Tuesday when C.J. Edwards and Eric Jokisch pitch against the Padres. Edwards, 22, was a combined 8-2 with a 1.86 ERA in 24 games with Class A Hickory and Daytona last season. The Cubs acquired him in the Matt Garza deal. Jokisch, 24, was 11-13 with a 3.42 ERA at Double-A Tennessee in 2013.

– Carrie Muskat

3/20 Extra bases

* Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta, slowed this spring because of tightness in his right shoulder, will throw two innings in a simulated game on Friday. Arrieta said he is on schedule in his rehab. Projected for the fifth spot in the Cubs rotation, Arrieta is back on a regular routine, and that’s helped, too.

“For me, that’s very important, so I can approach each day as I would throughout the season and get into that routine,” he said.

* James McDonald was feeling better after coming out of his last start with soreness in his right shoulder. McDonald threw two pitches on Monday before he was lifted because of discomfort.

* The Cubs have traded outfielder Trevor Gretzky, son of hockey legend, Wayne Gretzky, to the Angels for Matthew Scioscia, who is manager Mike Scioscia’s son. Matthew, 25, batted .194 at three Minor League levels last season, while Gretzky, 21, hit .274 at short-season Boise and Class A Kane County. Angels general manager Jerry DiPoto told reporters the deal gives the two players a “new opportunity.”

* Travis Wood, scheduled to follow Jeff Samardzija in the Cubs rotation, will tune up with a start in the Minor League camp on Friday, facing the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A team. Wood, 27, has given up seven runs on 14 hits and one walk over 10 2/3 innings, striking out 11.

* The Cubs assigned left-handed pitcher Tommy Hottovy to Minor League camp on Thursday, reducing the spring camp roster to 44. Hottovy, 32, had appeared in three spring games, and given up one hit and one walk, while striking out five.

* The Cubs wives will host a mystery baseball charity event on Saturday at Cubs Park to raise money for Paz de Cristo in Mesa, which helps feed, clothe and empower those in need in the east valley. Fans can purchase an autographed ball for $30. There also will be game-used bats, jerseys and other equipment for sale. The wives will be set up near the left field gate, inside Cubs Park.

– Carrie Muskat

3/16 Arrieta update

In Mesa, Jake Arrieta threw 30 pitches in a simulated game Sunday without feeling any effects of the stiff right shoulder that has sidelined him this spring. The right-hander threw another 30-35 pitches in the bullpen before taking the mound on the Cubs’ practice field and facing batters.

Should Arrieta not feel any unusual soreness Monday, he says the next step is throwing a live BP session early in the week. He’s hopeful to get in a Cactus League game soon.

“It’s just a week or two setback — two starts,” Arrieta said. “I think in the grand scheme of things it’s really not that big of an issue. It would have been nice to not miss these couple weeks, but I think health is the biggest priority.”

Arrieta threw all of his pitches during the sim game and seemed to have no complaints about how the outing went. He was specifically pleased with the numbers on the radar gun.

“Today was really good,” he said. “Everything felt crisp. I feel like the strength was good, the velocities were good. Those are all good signs.”

3/14 Extra bases

The Cubs optioned right-handed pitcher Dallas Beeler to Triple-A Iowa on Friday and assigned right-hander Marcus Hatley to the Minor League camp. The moves reduced the spring roster to 54 players. On Wednesday, the Cubs optioned infielders Arismendy Alcantara and Logan Watkins and outfielder Matt Szczur to Iowa, and optioned outfielder Jorge Soler to Double-A Tennessee. Five other non-roster invitees have been assigned to Minor League camp besides Hatley. They include right-handed pitcher Carlos Pimentel, left-handed pitcher Eric Jokisch, infielders Kris Bryant and Jeudy Valdez, and outfielder Albert Almora.

The Cubs’ spring roster consists of 27 pitchers (seven non-roster invitees), five catchers (three non-roster invitees), 11 infielders (four non-roster invitees) and 11 outfielders (five non-roster invitees).

* Jason Hammel has been spending too much time in the Minor League camp.

“[Anthony] Rizzo just came up and said, ‘Are you afraid to pitch in big league games?’” Hammel said, laughing.

That’s because Hammel has made just one Cactus League start, but has pitched in a “B” game and went six innings Thursday against Cubs Minor Leaguers to stay on schedule. The right-hander is used to prepping on the back fields.

“My first year with the [Orioles], because Florida Spring Training is all [American League] East, I didn’t pitch in a big league game until we’d been through two or three rounds of cuts,” Hammel said. “As long as I can get my work in and make sure I’m building the arm strength, I’m OK.”

On Thursday, he gave up eight hits, did not walk a batter and struck out four over six innings, throwing 75 pitches.

“I’m way ahead of schedule, going from three to six [innings],” Hammel said. “Everything felt good, I felt strong. I didn’t feel fatigued at all and I got my work in.”

The Minor League players were aggressive.

“For three innings, they were swinging at everything,” Hammel said. “I made the adjustment so it gave me the opportunity to start throwing breaking balls early in counts and I was able to throw a lot of stuff.”

Hammel’s next outing, by the way, will be Tuesday, and the only downside about that is he’ll have to make the long drive to Surprise to face the Rangers in a night game.

* The Cubs’ Mike Olt will play first base again on Saturday, but soon he’ll switch to the other side of the infield. Olt has been limited to first base and designated hitter duties to avoid aggravating his right shoulder, which has been tender. It’s not bothering his hitting. On Wednesday, he belted two home runs and hit a RBI single against the Mariners.

“He got brushed back pretty good, up and in, and then they threw him down and in, mid belt, and then he ended up stroking another knock,” Renteria said of Olt, who apparently is seeing the ball just fine and over the vision problems he had in the past.

“All things being equal, I think he’s coming along and showing everybody he’s back on track and who he was in the past,” Renteria said of Olt, who was a highly touted prospect with the Rangers, and whom the Cubs acquired last July in the Matt Garza deal.

* Jake Arrieta threw a side session on Wednesday, his third of the spring, and hoped to face hitters in a live batting practice outing his next time. Arrieta has been slowed because of tightness in his right shoulder. He’s been frustrated at being sidelined.

“The competitor in me wants to go [full tilt] but the more thought out side of me knows this is the right thing to do to be a little slower and make sure everything is where it needs to be,” Arrieta said. “You want to be functioning for a long season.”

– Carrie Muskat

2/28 Extra bases

* 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

2/26 Extra bases

* 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

2/22 Extra bases

* 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

2/21 Extra bases

* 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

2/20 Extra bases

* 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

2/16 Extra bases: Leadoff, Arrieta and more

* 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

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