Don’t forget, there was a new podcast for your listening pleasure yesterday – and it’s still there today! Consider it your Valentine’s Day gift.
- Dale Sveum says Jeff Samardzija’s bullpen session yesterday went pretty well. Almost too well. Per Cubs.com: “Samardzija, you would’ve thought it was playoff time,” Sveum said. “That was about as dominant a bullpen as you’re going to see. It was pretty impressive to watch him throw those 30 pitches today.” I mean, if he’s still in tuning-it-up mode, then great, because it can only get better. If he’s going 100% already, though, I’m probably being paranoid, but … pull back the reins a bit.
- Scott Hairston, who admitted to being a White Sox fan growing up, explains why he signed with the Cubs, again, per Cubs.com: “There was a lot of interest early on, but I don’t think there was enough interest to make anything happen. Interest is a word that can be described in many ways. The Cubs had real interest and they made things happen. I was happy to have both New York teams want me there, but when it came down to it, the Cubs wanted me the most, and that’s why I’m here.” I imagine Hairston was hoping to find a job in the range of “starting” after a solid 2012 season, which is why he took a little time to sign. I think the Cubs wound up with a very nice deal on Hairston (two years, $5 million (plus $1 million in incentives)).
- Another new arrival, Carlos Villanueva is saying all the right things about coming to the Cubs. “Bringing in guys like Jed and Theo here, they’re not messing around,” Villanueva told Patrick Mooney. “They’re going to spend the money. They’re re-doing the clubhouse. They’re going to have a new facility here. All the signs point toward improvement, and that’s what you want. You don’t want to be on a team that’s [willing] to lose 90, 100 games every year and [be like]: ‘Oh, let’s just get the draft picks, let’s just sign people and in 10 years we’ll …. ’ Some guys don’t care, but I do. I’ve been in the league for a couple years now and I’ve been in the playoffs once and that was the most fun I’ve ever had in my career.”
- Villanueva also enters the running for the next Carlos Pena quote-master when he was asked about his role with the Cubs. “I have a generic answer,” Villanueva said. “I feel I can contribute as a starter at a higher level. (But) in the end, I’m team property. So the fact that they brought me in and told me – ‘We see you as a guy who’s going to make a lot of starts for us’ – I have no reason not to believe it. So I’m sticking to what they said and getting myself ready for 200-plus [innings].” Give your generic answer, but acknowledge up front that it’s your generic answer? I love it.
- The Cubs catching battle isn’t much of a battle – Welington Castillo is expected to be the starter, and Dioner Navarro the back-up – but those two, plus Steve Clevenger, all recognize that Spring Training is about proving yourself.
- Speaking of Clevenger, he and Edwin Jackson – who sparred last year during that Nats/Cubs brawl – have buried the hatchet.
- Whoever is running the Iowa Cubs’ web page (and Twitter) is having a whole lot of fun. Check out the poll up on their site:
- I want to meet this person, and shake his or her hand. Also: Rhombus.
- A couple BN’ers were recently offered season tickets, but they’d like to talk to you about that.
- The Cubs’ Spring Training Bunt Tourney is on the verge of getting underway – pictorial evidence. The play-in tournament among front office members kicks off on Saturday, where Theo Epstein will face Jed Hoyer in the first round, and some of the media relations folks will take on some of the clubhouse staff.