Last evening I did the podcast thing with Cory from the Three Rivers Burgh Blog, a Pittsburgh sports blog previewing the NL Central. Although I am almost criminally long-winded, it’s a good listen if you’ve got an hour (this edition is all about the Cubs – the first few minutes are a bit choppy, but it clears up), and it was a hell of a lot of fun to do. You can check it out at that link, or you can find it on iTunes (just search for Three Rivers Burgh Blog).
- As noted in the Pre-Gamin’ yesterday, the Cubs have brought in 36-year-old reliever Shawn Camp on a Minor League deal. The move was paired with a release: lefty Trever Miller was dumped yesterday by the Cubs. The writing was more or less on the wall when manager Dale Sveum started talking about a bullpen with zero or one lefty. Scott Maine still has a slim chance to make the pen as the “other” lefty (James Russell). As for Camp, he’ll try to impress – he was a better than average reliever last year for the Blue Jays, and was downright great in 2010 – in the final week of Spring Training, but it would be a bit surprising if he came in an immediately claimed a spot in the pen. He was signed by the Mariners on a Major League deal, so his release was a bit of a surprise.
- On Camp, Dale Sveum had a fair bit of praise: “He’s got one of those rubber arms that can throw all the time, and he makes the ball go sideways to both sides of the plate. He’s pitched well in the AL East, on turf. When you pitch well and you’re a sinkerballer and doing it on turf, facing the Red Sox and Yankees lineup all the time … there’s some value there, no question about it.”
- Sveum believes the Cubs will be better on defense this year (not exactly a tall feat, given that the Cubs were among the bottom three in almost all defensive measures last year), and notes that defensive positioning will be a big part of it – kind of a shot at the previous coaching staff. Sveum is a noted spray chart enthusiastic, so I actually believe him that the positioning will be better this year.
- Opening Day starter Ryan Dempster isn’t terribly worried about a recent outing against A-ballers, in which he gave up six runs on eight hits over five innings. “It was probably a lack of executing some pitches,” Dempster said. “They’re up there swinging, yeah, but I could have made some better pitches. I was trying to accomplish a few things, which I did and was really good, which was the most important thing about yesterday.”
- Cubs players are enjoying their first Spring Training under Dale Sveum, whom they say runs a great camp.
- Kerry Wood is now not expected to pitch again until Saturday, though he suggests it’s not an injury-related concern. “I just want to stay where I’m at and stay consistent with my breaking ball. I think I’ve had a good Spring working on that throwing a little more than I have normally in the Spring. And just command. Obviously you need to have a second pitch and command of your fastball when you break camp. Just being fresh for the start of the year.” He kind of seems to be dodging the issue, but he’s no spring chicken – he’s going to need time off every now and again, and the hurdle for sitting out is much, much lower in Spring Training.
- On that subject, Wood and Paul Sullivan teamed up for some hilarity. When asked if he was surprised that his inactivity had become an issue in the media, Wood responded: “With you guys? No, not at all. It only took you guys a week to notice I wasn’t out there. You guys are right on top of it.”