Continue to hold your loved ones close today.
- It took exactly one additional blown save by another reliever for Dale Sveum to start talking about Carlos Marmol coming back into the mix to close games. “I would be lying to you if he wasn’t working his way back into it,” Sveum said, per the Tribune. “He is throwing strikes and he is throwing his slider more and he’s more consistent. So, yeah, he’s working his way back. That was part of the deal.” As crazy as it sounds on its face, it’s not like the bullpen is giving Sveum a cascade of better options. Kyuji Fujikawa is hurt – and has been for a while, I suspect. Shawn Camp has never succeeded as a closer, and James Russell is nice to be able to use in whatever high-leverage situations arise, not just in the 9th. So … Hector Rondon? He’s looked good, but he’s green. Michael Bowden? He was looking good until this weekend’s implosion. It obviously won’t be Hisanori Takahashi, and Kameron Loe is brand new to the pen, so … well, you can see why Sveum is running out of options.
- Darwin Barney did two things in his rehab stint at Iowa: hitting and walking. That’s just fine. He’ll be back with the Cubs today, and it will be a welcomed return. Regardless of whether you feel Barney is a good starting second baseman on a playoff-caliber team, he’s quite clearly the most superior second base option this Cubs team has. That said, don’t expect him to light up the stat sheet. He does what he does, which is play elite defense, and not strike out much. Anything he gives you offensively is a bonus.
- Ian Stewart doesn’t yet have a hit in his rehab assignment at Iowa, but that’s not really the point. The point is to be healthy, feel good, and feel ready to return to the Cubs. And, to that end, it sounds like it’s been a huge success so far: last night, Stewart tweeted that he expects to be back within a week to 10 days. That would put his return to the Cubs well before the end of April, and well ahead of all earlier estimates.
- The Cubs will wear number 42 today to honor Jackie Robinson. Because of yesterday’s offday, the Cubs are a day late to the party – but better late than never.
- Not to go too meta on you, but I wanted to say a word on advertising here at BN. As you probably know by now, advertising is the primary way that a site like this stays in business, so I will probably always be working to incorporate it into the site. That said, I’ve been working very hard over the past few months to change the advertising footprint here at BN to better serve the twin goals of (1) paying the billz, and (2) unobtrusively alerting you about relevant products and services. It’s a delicate balance, especially for a smaller site like BN, and most of it is behind the scenes stuff that you’ll never see. In the interest of improving your experience at BN, I have – for now – dramatically reduced the volume of display advertising on the site in favor of fewer ads in locations that you will actually see. More is not always better, and keeping the site relatively neat, clean and enjoyable is the top priority. To that end, you will see reduced ad load in the side and bottom of the site, and you will instead notice a new, single ad at the end of posts. Hopefully you don’t find this too intrusive, and instead find the overall reduction in ads to be an improvement on your experience. I’m always open to feedback, by the way. We’ll see how this new approach goes. Also, for those of you who use ad blockers, might I very humbling request that you consider white-listing BN.