Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

james russell cubsWe are less than three weeks from Opening Day.

  • Travis Wood was all kinds of “meh” about yesterday’s tough outing against the Rockies. “I said it’s just one of those days,” Wood said, per “Luckily, it happened in spring, so we can move forward from that and get ready for the next one.” Yeah, that’s about right.
  • After getting through his dead arm period, lefty reliever James Russell is scheduled to make his first Spring appearance in tonight’s game. (ESPN) When asked about Russell’s usage the last couple of years – Russell was among the league leaders in appearances each year, and his total appearances over that stretch lead baseball – Rick Renteria wanted to make it crystal clear that he is aware. “Obviously, he pitched a lot,” Renteria said, per ESPN. “I’m very cognizant of pitcher usage. I’m very cognizant of how many times they get up in the bullpen. I’m very cognizant of how many pitches they throw in a given day. Am I aware of it? Yes.” Ok, then. Having Wesley Wright as a second lefty in the pen is obviously going to help, and there’s still an outside chance that the Cubs bring along a third lefty like Jonathan Sanchez. Even if the bullpen is five righties and two lefties, RR will be able to much more comfortably use that first lefty earlier in the game, not fearing that he’s got to “save” him for a lefty matchup in a more high-leveraged situation.
  • It’s worth pointing out that, although Russell’s 2013 season was not as effective, overall, as his 2012 season, he still held lefties to a pathetic 183/.221/.322 line with a 4.33 K/BB ratio. With a second lefty in the pen, perhaps Russell can be used more as a lefty specialist than a full-inning setup man. His numbers against righties last year were frightening: .321/.418/.615 with a 0.92 K/BB ratio.

  • Edwin Jackson will pitch in a minor league game today in order to stay on schedule, while James McDonald gets the big league camp start. In case you needed any further evidence that McDonald has the inside track on that fifth starter job, in Jake Arrieta’s absence. (
  • Mike Olt handled third base during some batting practice yesterday. (Tribune)
  • A profile on Pierce Johnson, who is going to start the year out at AA Tennessee (albeit possibly after a short delay because of a hamstring thing). Together with the C.J. Edwards, Ivan Pineyro, Corey Black crew being bumped up from Daytona, it’s going to be so exciting to watch that Tennessee rotation. Matt Loosen, Ben Wells, and Zach Cates are among the other guys who could see time in that rotation.
  • Tony Andracki (and Jason McLeod) on some of the lesser discussed prospects in the Cubs’ system.
  • Vine Line has Cubs players talking about their favorite movies. I don’t share too many favorites with them, though Darwin Barney was right on when he said that his kids are forcing him to like ‘Frozen’ as his current favorite. Not a lot of Paul Thomas Anderson fans on the Cubs’ roster, I guess.

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