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james russell cubsUpdating a handful of injury-related bits, as guys continue to get ready for the season ahead …

  • Jake Arrieta has thrown off of the mound! And he felt good! (Cubs.com) Arrieta, otherwise slotted to be the Cubs’ fifth starter this year, dealt with some shoulder tightness shortly before camp opened, but he said he felt “awesome” throwing ten pitches off of the mound on Tuesday. Arrieta, who has always held out hope for Opening Day, told Mark Gonzalez that he things he can ramp up quickly once he gets into game action, though manager Rick Renteria kinda pulled back the reins on that one. Arrieta could prove to be a long-term piece for the Cubs, and there’s no sense in risking anything for a couple weeks in April. The best bet is that Arrieta starts the year on the disabled list while James McDonald, Chris Rusin, or Carlos Villanueva fills in. From there, hopefully Arrieta is ready within a couple weeks, and then the Cubs figure out the roster implications of his return.
  • James Russell tells Patrick Mooney that his “dead arm” is no big deal, and is the kind of thing that “95 percent” of pitchers deal with in the spring at some point. He believes he can be ready for the season with just five or six appearances, and maintains that anything he’s dealing with now has nothing to do with his heavy usage the last two years. Carrie Muskat reports that Russell will throw his first bullpen tomorrow.
  • Starlin Castro ended up getting an MRI on his strained hamstring (Cubs.com). Although it showed a little fluid (fluid can build up where there’s an injury), there wasn’t anything major, and it didn’t change his 7 to 10 day prognosis. He’ll continue working out in the pool, and will probably be back at some point next week. There’s just no reason to rush things, given that Castro probably needs only about a week’s worth of games to be ready for the season.
  • Mike Olt, who will play today at first base, could see action at third base within a few days (Sun-Times). He’s been dealing with a sore shoulder, which has prevented him from playing his natural position just yet this Spring. Generally, there’s no concern that he can’t handle third base well in the big leagues, so the fact that he’s been unable to play over there this Spring probably doesn’t impact his chances of making the roster. That was always going to depend on the bat. Even still, my guess at this point is that he breaks camp in the minors, where the Cubs probably hope he’ll confirm in a month or two that he’s ready to come up and play every day at third.
  • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

    “He’s been dealing with a sore shoulder, which has prevented him from playing his natural position just yet this Spring.”

    Mmm, I wonder if this has anything to do with his “limited” PAs this spring thus far as well.

  • ClevelandCubsFan

    If Arrieta and Olt can perform at the major league level more than adequately–I don’t mean that they hit their ceiling just that they’re a touch over the average expectation–doesn’t this team figure to be a heck of a lot better than last year? No wishful thinking about playoffs of .500 or anything like that. Just, don’t they figure to be a LOT better?

    I think the Cubs being halfway to respectable this year involved a lot of “what ifs,” and so far none of them have failed and several look promising. To be fair, none have been answered affirmatively with a YES yet either.

    • Funn Dave

      If anything, the team looks worse to me now than it did at this point last year. We’re not expecting as much from Castro or Rizzo or Jackson anymore, we don’t have Garza, we really haven’t made any upgrades except in the bullpen…not to mention, even if they turn out well, I don’t think Olt and Arrieta will make as much of an impact as the late-season call-ups.

      • itzscott

        Dave….

        One would have to wonder how much Rizzo’s slide had to do with the fact that he had no one in front of or behind him in the order to protect him and how much of Castro’s slide had to do with changing his whole approach at the plate?

        If Olt is what virtually all scouts conceded he was in 2012, and 2013 was the consequence of a concussion and his eyes, then that’s another solid bat that could be inserted in front of or behind Rizzo which could help him attain what was envisioned of him.

        • Funn Dave

          That would be great, and I do hesitantly expect some positive regression from Rizzo and Castro and even Jackson, but I still don’t see it leading to very many wins….

        • ssckelley

          If seen numbers posted on this site that say the whole lineup protection thing is over rated.

          • half_full_beer_mug

            Heat charts are where it’s at now

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Really, it’s only when a non-hitter is up next (a pitcher or a defensive substitute) that it matters a lot. A couple of Fangraph studies suggest that NL #8 hitters really do get different pitches than they would if they were batting elsewhere: but that is about it.

            • half_full_beer_mug

              I actually agree with you. I think the only time that “line up protection” really comes into play is where you mention and with runners in scoring position. Even with runners on the pitcher will still most likely pitch to the heat chart, but I do think if Miggy or Trout is up next they are probably more apt to miss in the zone than out of the zone.

      • Chad

        Yeah, I wish we had those 12 Garza starts from last year. I’m sure that would make us super better. I think this team will be equal or slightly better, I doubt worse than last year, and just simple regression toward the mean by several players would indicate an improvement. What do you mean we haven’t done anything to improve the bullpen?

        Strop (last year obviously), Veras, Wright, guess those additions weren’t good enough? What did you want them to do?

        • frank

          I think he said there were no upgrades “except in the bullpen.”

          • Chad

            Good call. Misread on my part.

      • ssckelley

        Dave, I think overall the 40 man roster is better from top to bottom. But the actual lineup maybe a little worse because it misses Soriano (can’t believe I’m saying that). I honestly don’t think the rotation is much worse, if at all, from last year missing Garza. I think the big difference will be that bullpen, it might be one of the best in the NL. I do wish they would have gotten a better starter than Hammel.

      • C. Steadman

        Manny is still available…

  • Funn Dave

    Hey Brett, while the term “Spring Training” is capitalized, individual seasons are not.

    -Your Friendly Neighborhood Grammar Douche

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I know what some people say the rule is. I have always chosen to capitalize references to *particular* seasons (this Summer, last Fall; contra in the winter) as I would capitalize individual months or individual days of the week. That they are not capitalized by others is bizarre to me.

      Which is to say, to the extent I am making a mistake in the view of others, it is by conscious objective.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        Oh God, not this discussion again…

        • King Jeff

          I’ve thought the same thing over the last couple of days reading some of the discussion in the comments. I think this should be the new BN t-shirt theme for the year.

        • jp3

          Hansman you scared me for a moment, I just assumed it was another tired conversation about comparing Barney and Almora… That conversation was almost as annoying as the Sandberg is better than X coaching options…

          • blublud

            I can get it started back up if you want me to, JP3

            • jp3

              Please no. I’ve had enough of that one. You can just sit back and wait a few years and tuck it away and almora stinks or never makes it to the show you can remind us all where we heard it first.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Das würde alle auf Deutsch großgeschrieben…..

      • Funn Dave

        That seems weird and arbitrary, but as long as you know what the rule is, then hey, more power to ya!

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          To me, the “rule” is much more arbitrary (of course, that’s a lot of the English language). A bounded, finite period of time, known by a specific, non-general term (i.e., not “year” or “month” or “century”) should be capitalized. Tuesday. March. Winter.

          This has been a subject of some discussion around here over the years. The cheese stands alone.

          • frank

            This winter seems more an infinite term than a finite one.

    • itzscott

      That’s because they’re less important than Spring Training.

      • itzscott

        Just checked an old grammar book. The correct way is:

        spring Training

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          I prefer SpRiNg TrAiNiNg

          • C. Steadman

            I prefer Olt/Vitters-Must-Start-Everyday Training

            • Funn Dave

              You guys are hilarious.

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              The-Cubs-Front-Office-Is-Inept-And-These-Meaningless-Games-Are-More-Proof training.

              • C. Steadman

                dang, i cant top that…bravo hans

              • Eternal Pessimist

                Pretty sure Training should have been capitalized in your sentence.

                • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                  That would assume that some sort of organized training is occuring.

  • Spoda17

    I know this is the wrong post… but… I have a lot of fond memories of Sosa, and I am okay with him back in some sense… but not in spring training unless its a supervised visit, like a deadbeat dad or something… last thing I want is for him to be advising young players… not just because his past, but he is weird as hell now too… Wasn’t he posting pictures of himself on the web in smoking jackets and pink slipper..? Or start a company selling invisible bunnies…?

  • C. Steadman

    Praying for Rich Hill and his family…just lost his infant son…can’t even imagine

  • Thomas

    Off topic here but I was just curious how people felt about the possiblity of Baez breaking some of Sandberg’s franchise records at 2B? Sandberg is my all-time favorite Cubs player and one of the best offensive Second Basemen to ever play. This is all hypothetical that Baez could live up to his potential and they actually move him to 2B. A part of me would be a little sad to see some of Sandberg’s records fall but I would also be thrilled because that would mean that we would have another Cubs legend on our hands.

    • Max

      Having another great 2nd baseman doesn’t diminish Sandberg’s accomplishments. I’m sure everyone here would love for Baez to live up to his potential. Derek Lee is probably my all-time favorite club, but if Rizzo uncorks something better than .335/.418/.662 this season, I’d be quite alright with that.

      • Max

        *club = Cub

        • Thomas

          I agree. i’d be very excited to see Javy pushing for 40 HR at 2B.

  • Diehardthefirst

    As reported previously Phil’s Hamels is officially TOAST- wonder what Shark bait they can dangle?

    • DarthHater

      No, what you said then and what you are saying now is not a “report,” it’s deliberately exaggerated bullshit. What follows is an actual “report” (as “reported” by philly.com):

      “The Phillies do not believe there is a larger issue in Cole Hamels’ shoulder that caused his fatigue. They will not order an MRI for his $144 million arm. But they must prepare for an undetermined amount of time without their homegrown ace.

      “The only thing that is a concern for me is we have to push him back a little bit,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “The fact that he’s throwing and not having any pain, this is part of the rehab. This is part of what happens. Sometimes it doesn’t go in a straight line.”

      Amaro stressed patience Thursday as Hamels revealed a setback that will delay his throwing program by at least a week. He could miss all of April, at least, and that is dependent on him returning to a mound sometime next week.

      There is no timetable for Hamels’ recovery, Amaro said. The team, he said, has zero reason to believe a structural issue has plagued Hamels. A bout with biceps tendinitis terminated Hamels’ throwing program in December, but Amaro said a two-week winter illness sapped the lefthander of necessary energy. Hamels lost “10 to 15 pounds,” Amaro said.

      “We’re just waiting for his body to bounce back,” Amaro said.

      The Phillies are likely to use a four-man rotation through the first 12 games of the season. They need a fifth starter on April 14…”

      • Diehardthefirst

        If you can’t read betwixt the lines we can’t help you 😀😀😀😀 were those enuf smileys for you? There is not enuf blood on this board to satisfy you. May want to try other boards before you turn into vampire dust

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          I forgot who else did you “report” as being finished as a pitcher? Genkie I believe and a few others. I’d like a list.

        • DarthHater

          [img]http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2352/12981836113_410cb32a41_n.jpg[/img]

  • Diehardthefirst

    Weeks worth of games? 2 weeks or 50-60 AB is more like it with comparable number of field chances at season starting position

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