A few Spring Training-related notes …
- The Cubs will play an intrasquad game tomorrow at Cubs Park at 1pm Arizona time. Kyle Hendricks will face Eric Jokisch in something of a AAA prospect, back-end-starter, high-polish-low-ceiling starting pitcher match up. The game will go six innings, and the doors open at 12:30pm. It’s open to the public, some someone out there: go, enjoy, and report back to us.
- The actual Spring Training slate gets underway the next day, on Thursday, with the opening game at Cubs Park. Jeff Samardzija gets the start against new Diamondback righty Bronson Arroyo. It’s hair versus hair!
- After Samardzija, the rotation will go Chris Rusin, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, and then Jason Hammel, per Cubs.com. You’re going to anyway, but I wouldn’t read much into the order or the names. Chris Rusin, together with James McDonald and Carlos Villanueva, is believed to be among the competitors for the currently Jake Arrieta-less fifth spot in the rotation. But the fact that Rusin gets the ball in game two doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the favorite. McDonald dealt with shoulder issues last year, and could be brought along slowly. Villanueva is a swing guy, who needn’t necessarily start Spring games to be ready to start if he gets the call. Plus, with Spring piggybacking, the “starter” of a game doesn’t last more than a couple innings.
- The best stuff among all of the lefty relievers in camp, at least the ones behind James Russell and Wesley Wright? Pitching Coach Chris Bosio says it’s Jonathan Sanchez, the former starter for the Giants, who’s struggled with injuries (and resulting command issues) for the last few years. It’s hard to see the Cubs carrying three lefties in the bullpen, but Sanchez has always been an interesting conversion guy. Bosio calls Sanchez’s stuff “explosive.”
- Rick Renteria is pleased with the new park in Mesa. As referenced in the earlier Samardzija piece, RR wouldn’t say for sure that he’s the Opening Day starter just yet, referencing the who-knows-what-could-happen nature of the next few weeks. Suffice it to say, if Samardzija is healthy and a Cub, he’ll be taking the ball on Opening Day.