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nomar injured cubsChecking in on some of the ongoing injury stories around Cubs’ camp …

  • Still no hard-and-fast update on Starlin Castro’s return to baseball action, though Rick Renteria sounded very positive during yesterday’s game on CSN. He said that Castro is up to 95% or maybe even 100%, and that the Cubs will hope to get him into game action within the next few days. The Cubs open a week from Monday, and if Castro isn’t full speed in game action by this weekend, it’ll be fair to worry that he might be a little behind when the season starts (even if he doesn’t start on the DL). Obviously you have to take a long view with this stuff, and the last thing you want to do is cause him to miss a month of the regular season because you were pushing him to return too quickly in March.
  • Jake Arrieta will throw a two-inning simulated game today (Cubs.com), which could put him in position for game action next week. Let’s give him four starts to build up his pitch count, starting next Wednesday, March 26, and Arrieta could be back right around April 15/16. If so, he’d have missed just two regular season starts.
  • Those starts are likely to be picked up by one of Carlos Villanueva or Chris Rusin, as James McDonald comes back from his shoulder tendinitis issue. The good news on McDonald is that he is feeling much better since he had to leave his start on Monday after just two pitches. He could actually throw as soon as today. (Tribune) That said, don’t expect to see McDonald pitching for the Cubs in the very early part of the season. With a shoulder issue derailing his season last year, I’d think the Cubs will be extremely cautious with McDonald now (and, given the pitching depth, they’ve got that luxury).
  • No convalescing necessary, apparently, for Javier Baez after his collision with Anthony Giansanti in the outfield on Wednesday. Knowing how important those wrists are (they should be insured by Lloyd’s of London), I was pretty much crapping my pants as he gingerly tried to take off his glove and then the trainer tested Baez’s left wrist. Again, though, Baez stayed in the game, and everyone seems to think there’s no issue whatsoever here. (Cubs.com)
  • I wonder if a back issue has derailed Casper Wells’ chances of making the Cubs’ roster. Given his right-handed bat, versatility in the outfield, and penchant for crushing lefties, Wells actually had a pretty good chance of making the roster, depending on how the outfield alignment shakes out. With Ryan Kalish playing so well, however, and Wells dealing with back spasms, I’m not sure he’ll actually be able to stick at this point. You throw in the fact that Mike Olt could cloud the picture further, and the fact that Emilio Bonifacio’s presence could allow the Cubs to carry just four outfielders, and it just doesn’t look good for Wells.
  • Spoda17

    Man, I just don’t see Lake breaking camp with the Cubs. He has looked absolutely awful all spring. With Sweeny struggling, and Lake struggling… I feel even worse about the outfield.

    • AA Correspondant

      He’ll probably break camp with the Cubs, because of his small sample size success when he came up last season. The fans fell for it hook, line and sinker. But I agree with you in that he has not looked very good. I’ve never really been in Lake’s camp as it relates to being a consistant major league regular. He has speed and power, but I believe his batting average and poor eye will lead to a sub .240 average. Not sure how long that will play in the show. Sooner or later, pitchers will realize he (like most big leaguers) can turn around a fastball, but looks lost on anything with a wrinkle in it. They wont have to throw strikes to get him out. Just not a believer.

    • Blackhawks1963

      My opinion? We were seduced into what Lake surprisingly accomplished in his surprise big league promotion last year. But now the league has caught up to him and the pixie dust has worn off. Clearly, he needs to go back to Iowa to develop. Maybe in a year or two he can become a viable major league contributor.

      Outfield right now? Schierholz, Sweeney, Ruggiano, Kalish and either Coughlan or Bonafacio. Depressing five-some? Yes. Weak? Yes.

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

        Using “we” rather liberally there.

        • Edwin

          The royal we.

    • Q-Ball

      Lake has never met an off the plate breaking ball he didn’t like. The league is figuring him out.

      I could see Kalish making team ahead of him, and Lake going to Iowa to figure out breaking balls

  • waffle

    I hope sweeney warms up. I was rather assuming a decent year out of him.

    • Funn Dave

      I hope so, too, but I expected nothing of the sort.

  • VittersStartingLF

    Archie Bradley got hit hard last night in Australia. He has had a rough spring. I think he has shown he is not ready to jump from AA to MLB rotation yet. Maybe just maybe Towers will pull the trigger and make Bradley the headliner in a Shark deal if they think they are going all in this year.

  • Greenroom

    I think Olt has done everything possible to answer the questions surrounding him. If he keeps up his current pace, they need to hand him the job.

    On a side note: My Neil Ramirez man crush has only grown. They need to give him more innings.

  • Blackhawks1963

    If I had to venture to guess the 25 man heading north?

    OF – Schierholz, Sweeney, Ruggiano, Kalish, Coughlan
    IF – Valbuena, Castro, Barney, Rizzo, Olt, Bonafacio
    C – Castillo, Kottaras

    Cub offense is going to be W.E.A.K. We likely are at the bottom of the league in scoring runs.

    SP – Samardzija, Wood, Jackson, Hammel, Rusin
    RP – Veres, Strop, Rondon, Cabrera, Villenueva, Russell, Wright

    DL – Arrieta, McDonald

    • ssckelley

      So you think Murphy getting is cut? Murphy > Coughlan IMO

      • Q-Ball

        I think Murphy makes the team over Coughlan as well. Bonifacio can play OF, and we have 3 OF that can play a passably at all 3 positions, making it easier to carry 4 true OF.

        I also think Parker makes the club over Rusin, with Villanueva as 5th starter temporarily, though I can see Rusin over Parker as well—it’s probably one or the other. Parker was just very good last year, hard to demote himi.

      • Noah_I

        Agreed. First, Blackhawks’ roster has 4 left handed outfielders, at least 3 of whom should not start regularly against left handed starters (there’s an argument Kalish should be given the chance to do so if he’s a starter). I also don’t see what Coghlan has done to earn a spot, considering his two good years in the Majors were in 2009 and 2010. He’s been injured and not very good when he has played since then.

        Honestly, I think the plan hasn’t changed one bit since the first day of spring training, and this is the offensive roster you’re looking at:

        C: Castillo, Kottaras
        IF: Rizzo, Castro, Olt, Valbuena, Barney, Murphy
        OF: Sweeney, Schierholtz, Lake, Ruggiano
        UT: Bonifacio

        Kalish is the sole possibility as someone in there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs have informed him that: (a) they don’t have a spot for him to get regular playing time right now; (b) they want him to get regular at bats; (c) he’ll be the first call up upon a trade of or injury to one of the left handed starting outfielders. And that they’ve gauged whether he’ll accept a minor league assignment or not.

        I also expect Valbuena and Barney to platoon at 2B.

        Of course, whether Schierholtz and/or Barney are traded would change that analysis significantly.

  • TK

    We always hear about Castro. Castro this, Castro that… Problem is its always negative. I gotta believe that with our minor league IF depth, if Castro does well the 1st 1/2, the FO is seriously gonna listen to trade offers for him. If not mid-season, surely next winter (assuming a good 2014 overall). Especially if Baez and Alcantara have decent big league beginnings this year. To me, I see Castro as the most expendable. I have come to view him as 1 of those guys you gotta sell high on ASAP before he blows up in your face. Thats another reason I think they don’t trade Barney (yet), except for an offer they CANT refuse.

    • sklucke

      You guys make me laugh, No matter what castro does people like you want him gone. You trade him to another team when he is doing good, never mind he is 24 and two time all star. You worry about castro ”blowing up” in your face but what if baez and alcantara blows up in your face ? Meanwhile castro is playing up to his potential on another team, and the cubs are without anything.

      • TK

        N guys like you make me laugh! So, who would YOU trade? If Baez & Alcantara (as well as Castro) do well this year (the caveat included above) you are saying you’d trade Baez or Alcantara, I guess? Theres only 4 IF positions. I find it hard to believe that the others will present as negatively as Castro. I think we are already seeing that Baez is mucho different than Castro! So who would YOU trade? Baez, the better player? Alci, the natural 2B? Oh, I think i know what you’re gonna say . . . Trade no one – just make them all OF’s or C’s or P’s, right? Thats called FANTASY BASEBALL. It ain’t that simple in reality! Especially when you want 1 or 2 veteran players in the field for leadership purposes. And when you are hurting for SP as bad as we are (moving forward beginning 2015), with few options, the quickest way to make ground in that department is TRADING CASTRO!!!!! If you think about it, he truly is the most logical of the 3 to trade, at least to logical people.

      • TK

        BTW, if you don’t think the FO/RR is considering this option, you’re nuts! They’ve said REPEATEDLY that Baez is a SS! Sure, he may be getting some work in at 2B, but they sure seem to be quite clear that he will remain a SS long term. Isn’t it obvious to you?

  • salesguy

    I Think it is too early to cut bait on Lake, the league has a book on him now, so he’s gonna have to listen to his coaches, adjust, and figure it out. If we go with Olt, I think you have to carry him and give him at least a month and a half before looking at any kind of change, if you want young players on your team, you’re going to see stretches where they look clueless. If you want to look at other options, they don’t get much prettier, especially if barney, and or Nate gets traded. Sweeney has also looked awful, and as far as bets on tanking this season, I would bet Sweeney takes a trip down the drain before Lake, his swing (Sweeney’s) is way to long, and he’s trying to pull everything, which is why he was run out of Boston..

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