MLB games can match the Daytona 500 on rain delays, but not on-field fires.
- Rodrigo Lopez will start the Cubs’ Cactus League opener on Sunday, with Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza following him, in that order. I wouldn’t read too much into any of that, of course, because the rotation will be changed considerably by the time the actual season rolls around.
- Oh my God, nooooooo!!!! Starlin Castro was hit on the wrist by a Kerry Wood fastball in batting practice!!!!! That was life in the Cubs’ world for about six minutes yesterday afternoon, before we all realized it was no big thing, and Castro was fine. Woody apologized, and the two hugged (seriously). Although it proved to be not a big deal, it’s a reminder a team’s season can change in an instant.
- Speaking of batting practice yesterday, Anthony Rizzo was hitting multiple bombs, including one that some estimates had approaching 500 feet. Raw power? Yup. He got it.
- The Cubs Bunt Tournament wrapped up its first round yesterday, with manager Dale Sveum taking down Kerry Wood by an inch in the most anticipated match-up. Other winners included Carlos Marmol, Ryan Dempster, Geovany Soto, Jeff Baker, Marlon Byrd and David DeJesus, and the losers included Matt Garza, Trever Miller, Blake DeWitt, Alfredo Amezaga, Reed Johnson and Alfonso Soriano. Rodrigo Lopez versus Paul Maholm was delayed due to Maholm’s flueyness.
- The second round match-ups are posted here, and some of the highlights include Starlin Castro taking on Ian Stewart, Marlon Byrd facing David DeJesus, and, the big one, Dale Sveum versus Ryan Dempster. There is no set date yet for when the second round kicks off.
- Love hearing “new” thinking from guys like Chris Volstad: “Yeah, keep it down. That’s my game and what I really work on trying to do so that’ll be big. Everybody talks about the wind blowing out, and it plays small sometimes but again, if you don’t think about those things and worry about executing your pitches, then it doesn’t matter where you’re playing. If you give up a hard-hit ball in the air it has a chance to go out. It doesn’t matter if you’re here or San Francisco or wherever you’re trying to make your best pitch.” Obviously “keeping the ball down” isn’t new thinking, but a recognition that, statistically, balls in the air have a chance to go out, whereas balls on the ground do not, is simply nice to hear.
- One of Volstad’s competitors in the rotation battle, Randy Wells, is ready for another “prove it” Spring Training. Given his past success, it would be easy for Wells to feel like he’s already earned a job, but that’s clearly not his attitude. He says he just needs to pitch well, and not worry about decisions he can’t control.
- Minor league catcher Micah Gibbs gets to fill in for Geovany Soto for a little while (Soto is recovering from a “minor” groin strain), and he’s as excited as you’d expect him to be. Very endearing.
- Javier Baez is listed by Jim Callis among a small group of top 100 prospects whom he thinks could take a huge step forward in 2012. Baez is currently ranked 61 on the top 100, a list a few other Cubs prospects just missed, it turns out: Welington Castillo, Dillon Maples, and Trey McNutt all received votes to be in baseball’s top 150 prospects.
- This evening, Blogs With Balls (a sports media event company) will be putting on what I expect to be a great event featuring Bloomberg Sports and Cubs’ Assistant to the GM Shiraz Rehman at 7pm at Hub51 in Chicago. I believe some BN’ers will be in attendance, but, for those who can’t attend (like me), the event will be streamed live on CSN Chicago, and I’ll likely be writing about it tonight.