For a little over six months now, I’ve been working on an article about Game Six of the 2003 NLCS, about the ESPN doc ‘Catching Hell,’ about Cubs fandom, and about my life. It’s finally ready to publish, and it’ll go up this afternoon. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope it doesn’t take you quite as long, though. Until then, Bullets…

  • The Chicago Tribune reports that police are still investigating the sexual assault allegations levied against Starlin Castro stemming from a late-season incident last year. Immediately after Castro was interviewed, there hadn’t been any indication in either direction that the case was close or that it was still under investigation. Now we know the case remains open. We’ve not heard anything new, so the default position is still: horrible allegations, don’t really know the facts, hopefully a positive resolution is forthcoming.
  • We should be getting final word on the Cubs’ bullpen this year, with three of Rodrigo Lopez, Shawn Camp, Manny Corpas, and Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo, making the cut. Castillo’s chances once looked very bright, given the Cubs’ probable desire to pick up a free player, and his early Spring performance. But, after some tougher outings, Dale Sveum sounds a little less optimistic about Castillo’s chances now. “He’s done OK,” Sveum said. “The velocity isn’t quite what it was earlier in camp. But he’s been pitching a lot more than he probably ever has. That’s one thing we’ve had to eyeball. He had to get built up. If he’s going to be in that role, he’s going to have to pitch quite a bit …. In the National League, you can’t have a guy that’s non-usable, so, he’s got to be built up to where he could pitch three innings, get to 50-60 pitches once in a while. He’s not the biggest framed guy in the world to put a workload on, but he’s got to get used to it.” That doesn’t sound like a guy who Sveum is too enthused about having to carry in his pen.

  • As an aside, if you’re looking for ultimate exercise programs, you might want to consider Rushfit. I’ll admit, some of those success stories are pretty impressive.
  • Bryan LaHair’s back is still giving him problems, and while the Cubs don’t expect him to start the season on the DL, he could miss Opening Day. “We’ll see what happens on Opening Day,” Sveum said. “He’s getting better every day, so we’ll just see with the treatment and everything, but he won’t be doing anything today. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.” As much as LaHair is a question mark, the Cubs need his bat in the lineup, particular against righties.
  • I noted a while ago that the Cubs were crushing a bit on San Francisco pitcher Kyle Zimmer with Jed Hoyer showing up in person to scout him, and now it looks like Theo Epstein has done the same. He’s flying up Draft boards, so there is some doubt about whether he’ll last all the way until the Cubs pick at number 6.

  • Darwin Barney, who’ll slot into the two-hole in the lineup against righties, doesn’t seem to like when he’s asked about the minuscule number of walks he takes. “I’m not up there trying to walk,” Barney said. “I’m not up there trying to do anything but win that at-bat. If guys are going to throw me strikes, fortunately I don’t swing and miss that much so I’m going to put the ball in play …. You can get on base a lot of different ways than just walking,” Barney said. “You want to be aggressive and you don’t want to be tentative. The walks will come. I’m not too worried about that, and I don’t think anyone else is. If they feel that way they’ll let me know.” Um … I’m a little worried about it. But, that said, I’m going to start the year jumping in both feet first on Darwin Barney: I hope he keeps hitting the lights out the ball, and becomes that rare exception of a guy who improves his production at the plate considerably at the big league level. Physically, it looks like it could happen – he really did look great this Spring.
  • Paul Sullivan collects some of the more notable quotes from Spring Training.
  • Bill Murray is your first pitch thrower and Seventh Inning Stretch singer tomorrow for Opening Day.
  • MLBullets at BCB, featuring a discussion of Andrew Bailey’s thumb injury.
  • With the Cubs taking on the Nationals in the Opening Series, I was fortunate enough to make an appearance on a great Nationals podcast, ‘Nats Talk On The Go’ (from the proprietors of two excellent Nationals blogs, The Nats Blog and Capitol Baseball). I show up around minute 17, but obviously the whole show is worth a listen if you’re looking to get some insight into the state of the Cubs’ first opponent on the year. You get to hear me be way too hard on Darwin Barney, and you can listen at this link.

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