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anthony rizzo cubsStill no baby yet. But he’s coming any day now. You are reminded. Also reminded? The Cubs’ first Spring Training game is today!

  • Dale Sveum is telling his hitters to ignore the “low borderline” pitches, and focus on pitches up in the zone. “If you’re looking for the ball up and it’s there you’re going to crush it,’ Anthony Rizzo said of the plan, per ESPN. “If you’re looking for it up and it’s a little down you’ll naturally drop your hands to it. If you’re swinging at low borderline pitches you’re not going to have much success. If a pitcher throws it there three times in a row, you tip your cap.” I love this approach. Even if a pitcher is able to throw three perfect pitches at the bottom of the zone that the umpire is calling, it’s going to take him more than three pitches to do it (usually), and the worst thing that can happen is that you strike out, but you make sure the pitcher throws four or five pitches in the process. Not a great outcome, but not a terrible one, either. And if you’re focused up in the zone, and the pitcher misses his low spot? Like Rizzo said: boom.
  • Scott Baker is going to throw on the side today, but probably won’t be getting into Spring games for another couple weeks. He’s not expected to be ready by Opening Day, but should be good to go soon thereafter.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa wasn’t too sharp yesterday, but it sounds like part of it was adjusting to the dry air in Arizona, where – especially this time of year – offspeed stuff isn’t going to do as much as you’re used to.
  • Paul Sullivan writes about the roster/positional battles this Spring, and I think his assessments are pretty fair. I’ll have something on this early next week, so I’m not going to go into too much depth today.
  • So far so good for Brett Jackson’s new swing – not just in yesterday’s intrasquad game, in which Jackson had three hits, but also in workouts.
  • A Vine Line prospect profile on Matt Szczur.
  • Joe Posnanski has ditched Sports on Earth – the site he helped create just last year (maybe this was always the plan) – in favor of a gig with NBC Sports. His first long-form piece is on Alex Rodriguez before the fall.
  • Josh Booty won ‘The Next Knuckler,’ and now reports to Diamondbacks camp on a non-roster invitation. He’ll actually pitch in a game at some point, and that’s going to be must-see TV (if it’s on TV).
  • The art of a good broadcast pairing, which Len Kasper notes includes not talking too much over the offseason.
  • Abe Froman

    Any way to watch the game today? Time?

    • Tim

      Only on wgn radio 720 205 central time start

      • Abe Froman

        Tim, you are a gentleman and a scholar, thank you.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Thanks to Tim. For future reference and convenience, there will be a post each day a few hours before the game with those details and lineups, etc.

          • Abe Froman

            Thanks Brett, doubley so for you.

  • http://www.dccoffeeproducts.com John

    Brett- what a wonderful experience to watch your child be born into this world. Enjoy every minute because in a flash they are graduating HS and off to college. Again thanks for all the Cub updates etc. I enjoy them very much.

  • Jim

    I like the idea of the new approach, just not crazy about them publically announcing it.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah. That was interesting. I suspect, however, that the approach isn’t that uncommon. Also: pitchers always try to work down in the zone, so there’s no help there.

    • Njriv

      With advanced scouting these days, I’m sure it wouldn’t have taken other teams too long to figure it out.

    • Mike

      I don’t think every player’s spot is/will be up in the zone. I think they are saying to pick a spot and stick to it and not try to force anything. Eventually a pitcher will miss his spot.

  • Timothy Scarbrough

    The question is, does Josh Booty have the scrap?

  • B_Scwared

    I’m excited to see if Jackson can keep this up, but I remember him tearing up Spring Training last year and Sveum talking about him as if he belonged on the big league club right out of the gate. I think some time at AAA like Rizzo will serve him well.

  • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

    Brett, your child needs to wait in mommy for a few more days so that he can be properly named after the winner of the Bunt Tournament.

  • waittilthisyear

    my only concern with a blanket philosophy, whether it be for pitchers or hitters, is that it could impinge upon peoples’ strengths. for example, soriano is a low ball hitter, no question (obviously at this point in his career he won’t make any drastic changes in his approach at the plate, but i just use him to serve as an example), and to institute, throughout the entire organization, a philosophy about which pitches to swing at could be detrimental to certain players development

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