ian stewart cubsIf you’re a March Madness type of person and you’re looking for a (free) pool to jump in, King Jeff over at the Message Board set one up for BN, and you can get the details on joining there.

  • Ian Stewart didn’t get into a minor league game again yesterday (he hasn’t since Thursday), and instead is scheduled to have another MRI on his strained quad today. There isn’t necessarily a new injury here, but you don’t cancel your game/rehab plans, and instead schedule a second MRI, unless something is wrong. Even if today’s MRI comes back clean, Stewart is feeling something, and isn’t going to get into games for several days at least. By then, we’ve entered the zone where, as quickly as players can get ready for the season, Stewart might not have enough time to get ready for Opening Day, even if he’s entirely healthy. It’s a frustrating situation, especially given that it has nothing to do with his wrist … which might be totally fixed. Grumble.
  • Dale Sveum was cagey, as usual, when asked about Stewart’s latest issue. “I don’t know if he’s got enough time [to open the season with the Major League team,” Sveum told the media. “It’ll be interesting.”
  • The piece about Scott Baker’s starter yesterday that bothers me? No, it wasn’t the result – which was ugly – it was the reported 85 mph fastball. That could have been by design (and helps explain the results), and it’s not like you’d expect Baker to be throwing in the mid-90s at this poing in Spring Training regardless of his surgery recovery. But Baker has been a low-90s guy for his entire career, so that’s where you’re going to want him to be by the time he starts going in the regular season. Mid-80s is a long way off.
  • For his part, Baker said the things you’d expect him to say about the outing. “Results are one thing, but getting back out there and pitching in front of fans was something I haven’t done yet, so it’s exciting to get out there and do that today,” Baker told reporters after his appearance, per Carrie Muskat. “I felt like I made some decent pitches. Occasionally I got a little jumpy and left the ball up a little bit. I was happy to be out there. It’s another step. You go back and work on the things that, regardless of whether you had surgery or not, you work on those things mechanically and just go get them next time …. Did I locate as well as I would like to? No. That’s still part of the process, also. It’s another step. The results weren’t there. Physically, I did everything I could to prepare for this outing, and that’s going to continue to be the case. As long as I continue to progress and build the pitch count up, we’re still shooting for that mid-April time frame.” As long as he feels OK, Baker will continue to pitch every fifth day from here on out.
  • Physically, Carlos Marmol feels as good as he had in years. Excellent.
  • Rafael Dolis, who wasn’t likely to make the team, had to leave his game yesterday with a blister problem. Those things can linger and really affect performance, so hopefully he knocks it out quickly.
  • Quote machine Carlos Villanueva on why he doesn’t talk to players on the opposing team before a game: “I don’t want to see you or talk to you before the game, because if I have to put one in your neck – hopefully it doesn’t come to that – I won’t feel as comfortable doing it. Outside of the stadium, we can chat all you want. In here, sorry.” I like that he said neck. Sounds more badass.
  • Remember how the Cubs probably signed Cuban pitching prospect Armando Rivero? Well, they definitely signed him. Now we just need to figure out if he’s any good.
  • ‘The Simpsons’ took a shot at the Cubs last week (kid-becomes-bully-because-he’s-a-Cubs-fan-derr-herr-herr), which is probably fair (h/t to BN’er Nate for passing it on). Also, it was bound to happen after, what, 700 episodes? (I’m a bitter ‘Simpsons’ fan – I was all about it in its glory years, and as I was a teenager/college student, but have given it up in the last half decade. It just stopped resonating, and, sadly, being funny.)


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