The Wife and I went to an indoor trampoline park yesterday with a group of friends. It was quite fun, but I’m not the young pup I once was. Thus, I’m really sore today, and I have a skinned knee, to boot. Still worth it.
- Ian Stewart will begin his rehab stint today in Iowa (together with Darwin Barney, who started his stint there yesterday, going 1-4). I like that both he and Barney elected to play their games with Iowa, where they might face the same kind of early-season cold that they will face in Chicago. Barney will be back on Tuesday, assuming his knee cut doesn’t re-open or something crazy. Stewart’s rehab stint has been a slight mystery, but he hasn’t been expected back until May. That would put his time with Iowa at about two weeks. Hopefully he feels good, and shows he’s ready even before that. Stewart has been out with a strained quad since before Cactus League games started.
- Speaking of injuries, Steve Clevenger was rushed off to have an MRI on his side after crumpling in a heap after his final swing yesterday. It was a pretty ugly scene, especially against the backdrop of Clevenger having suffered a serious oblique injury last year. From Dale Sveum, per CSN: “I’ve seen it many times, not quite that severe, though, never seen somebody in that much pain. It was unfortunate, obviously. Hopefully it’s not bad, but in that kind of pain, something obviously happened in there. It could be pretty bad.” I don’t think there’s any chance Clevenger doesn’t go on the DL after that. If and when he does, you’ll either see a temporary move involving someone already on the 40-man roster like Logan Watkins (just to have a body up, without wasting an option year on anyone (since guys on the 40-man and in the minors are already using an option year); and so the Cubs don’t have to clear a 40-man space), or you’ll see the Cubs just hold out on making a corresponding move until Darwin Barney comes back on Tuesday. It’s just today’s game, after all, with an off-day on Monday. I’m thinking that’s what they do, and they’ll just play with 24 today. The Clevenger injury has spared Alberto Gonzalez or Brent Lillibridge from being shipped out, at least until Ian Stewart returns.
- Speaking of injuries, the forearm strain that put erstwhile closer Kyuji Fujikawa on the DL yesterday is apparently something he’s dealt with before in his career, and is apparently something he’s been dealing with for a few days. Fujikawa, himself, described the DL stint as “precautionary,” according to Cubs.com, and says it usually takes him about 10 days to get over. If true, he might not need much more than the 15 days to get back into action. Everyone was very adamant that this is not an elbow issue, by the way, and Fujikawa isn’t even expected to get an MRI. Kind of seems like this is one of those “yeah, he’s a little sore, but it’s also pretty cold, and he’s not adjusting very well just yet” disabled list stints.
- Speaking of injuries, Scott Feldman is dealing with a sore back, so he’s going to have his next start pushed back a few days until Saturday (at the earliest). There’s an off-day tomorrow, so the move doesn’t really mess with the rotation. It also conveniently allows Feldman to skip a cold start at Wrigley against a potent Rangers lineup, and instead face a so-so Brewers indoors.
- Speaking of injuries, Scott Baker was in Chicago yesterday to meet with team orthopedist Dr. Stephen Gryzlo. Baker is coming back from Tommy John surgery, and he had a setback after his first in-game appearance last month. Since then, he’s been training in Arizona, but the quantity and character of his throwing these days is unclear (if he’s been throwing at all). No one is saying that the visit is anything but a routine checkup, so I’m tentatively hopeful that’s all it is (rather than some additional setback). Gordon Wittenmyer suggests that the visit was to determine when Baker can start a throwing program, which would be a nice sign.
- Speaking of injuries, Josh Vitters is now on the DL at Iowa with a bad back. That’s not what he needed after just getting over a strained quad, and coming off a disappointing showing in the bigs late last year.
- I’m happy about Dioner Navarro’s two pinch-hit homers the last two days, too, but I’m not sure I understand this quote from Dale Sveum (per CSN): “A guy walks up there, he’s ready to hit and swing the bat and not have any kind of thought process, meaning, ‘I’m not worried about what the guy’s doing, I’m going to get my swings in.’ It’s called pinch hitting and not pinch walking or pinch taking. That’s nice to see. That’s why we went with the three catchers, to have the ability to do those kinds of things with those two guys.” If I took the name off, you’d swear that was Dusty Baker, wouldn’t you? Alert to all pitchers: if you’re facing a Cubs pinch hitter, don’t throw them a strike. They’re swinging anyway, because it’s pinch hitting, not pinch walking.
- Sveum redeemed himself when discussing the Cubs’ offensive woes against lefty pitchers, when they’ve gone with a righty lineup that features Scott Hairston replacing Nate Schierholtz, Dave Sappelt replacing David DeJesus, and Brent Lillibridge/Alberto Gonzalez replacing Luis Valbuena. “These guys are on the team for a reason,” Sveum said of those righties, per ESPNChicago. “Everybody has their role, and right now, Hairston is going to play against lefties, [Dave] Sappelt is going to play against lefties. We’re going to put the best lineup out there to be able to slug and do things.” Bingo. Changing the plan based on three games, when the plan came backed by hundreds of games’ worth of data, would be completely asinine.