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Spring Training is but a day old – pitchers and catchers reported yesterday; the positional reporting date is February 18, though many are already in camp – but there are already a number of tidbits worth sharing (in bullet form – which is code for: these are interesting/important enough to share, but not interesting/important enough to get their own post).

  • New pitching coach Mark Riggins has reduced the number of pitchers throwing at one time from eight to four so that he can get a better sense of the pitchers.
  • The Cubs are sporting a number 10 patch, and I think you know why.
  • Carlos Zambrano – ever the Opening Day disaster – says he still wants to start the first game of the season: “Of course, I want to be the Opening Day guy, I want to open the season for the Cubs, but the season is in Mike’s hands,” Zambrano said. “If he decides to go with Dempster or Garza — the thing is it’s about feeling good and helping each other. I’m excited for those two guys and [Carlos] Silva and [Randy] Wells and whoever is in the rotation and that we can do the job and we can cause some damage in the big leagues.”
  • Speaking of Big Z, he says he wants to stay out of off-field trouble this year. He’ll let his numbers do the talking, or so he (we) hopes.
  • In news that is related to Spring Training only insofar as some of the players in camp will end up in Tennessee to start the year, the Cubs and the Tennessee Smokies have extended their affiliation – AA – through the 2014 season.
  • And now for Albert Pujols: as noted in the comments yesterday, Pujols’ plan to announce that he had ceased contract discussions today was scrapped in favor of a 24 hour extension. The reason? St. Louis Cardinal great Stan Musial is receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom today, and neither the Cards nor Pujols wanted to take away from that special moment. And, indeed, that may well be the full explanation. However, it’s hard not to suspect that the “extension” is really about delaying the announcement of a deal (the Cards agreed to a formal deadline – noon tomorrow – on a totally arbitration deadline created by Pujols? seems strange). Odds a new deal is announced shortly after noon tomorrow? 50:50.

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