Those who’ve listened seem to have really enjoyed Baseball America’s Ben Badler guesting on the BN Podcast, which means you would enjoy it, too. Thus, you should listen.
- Matt Garza threw again yesterday, and apparently left the session feeling good. Still, the plan isn’t to see him make his season debut until late April or early May. From Dale Sveum, per CSN: “I think Garza’s going to be more the latter part or the beginning of May. I’m not sure exactly [when yet]. But he’s [still] got to throw off a mound a couple times and then it’s going to be live BP. So his Spring Training will basically probably start in a week from now if everything goes good.”
- “I’m still hoping [to be ready by mid-April,” Garza said, per Carrie Muskat. “We’ve got three weeks left. Hopefully, I can be ready to make an appearance the last week [of Spring Training], and if not, possibly Houston [March 29-30], and then go out and make a couple starts and be ready.” I don’t think, right now, we have any reason to expect to see Garza before May. His hopes are nice, but if he’s going to be DL’d anyway, the Cubs are going to take their time with him. And, also, once-bitten, twice-shy and all that.
- Also feeling good: Starlin Castro, who played yesterday after missing almost two weeks with a minor hamstring thing. He left the game with no issues whatsoever. Good.
- More on the injury front (sort of), Dale Sveum talks about Junior Lake, who is out for four to six weeks with a stress fracture in a rib (per Carrie Muskat): “Learning a new position [at third base], he’s a little bit raw there, but he still did a pretty good job there. Swinging the bat, he’s a very premeditated swinger. He’s just not getting good pitches to hit, and he’s swinging at arm action a lot. He’s a guy who has a lot of bat speed, and doesn’t have to be a premeditated swinger but he’s still in that mode. He’s got all the tools — we didn’t get to see him play the outfield but a couple times. It’s a nice player to have but there’s still development there.” Sounds like Sveum’s take on Lake is like everyone else: impressive physical specimen, so much talent, but still a long way to go to harness it.
- Hitting coach James Rowson says he really likes what he’s been seeing from Cubs hitters this Spring in terms of “good plate appearances.” Even if the results haven’t been great at times, what matters right now is seeing a good approach at the plate. (He also notes that, right now, the Cubs are mostly just letting Jorge Soler do his natural thing, see what he’s got, and then they’ll use that to work with him later. Pretty interesting.)
- Anthony Rizzo’s Team Italy, though they had a chance to beat both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, lost to the latter last night, and were eliminated from the WBC after a cinderella run. At least they left us with this Italian style homer celebration. Jerry Crasnick wrote a nice profile of Rizzo the other day, too.
- Look for Scott Baker to make his Cactus League debut on Sunday. He’ll still start the season on the DL, though.
- John Sickels’ top 150 prospects list is out, and there are no huge surprises, save, I suppose, for the fact that he’s got Dan Vogelbach up at 98. Javier Baez (18), Jorge Soler (25), Albert Almora (44), and Arodys Vizcaino (112) round out the Cubs’ entrants. Brett Jackson is on the list of guys who just missed.
- Remember when Javier Baez’s car got the “rookie” treatment? Well, naturally Baez suspects that the prank ring leader was Matt Garza.
- BN’er Eric is once again the man, and sent over some video of Albert Almora taking batting practice over at Fitch Park. Cool to see what these guys look like in the cage:
- And if the first video wasn’t enough for your scouting purposes, here’s more: