Today’s Cubs game is a night game, at 9pm CT, so be advised that it’ll be a long wait for baseball today. The good news is that it’ll be televised on CSN, and MLB.tv if you don’t get CSN.
- It sounds like Travis Wood could be used more frequently as a pinch hitter/runner this year as a way of extending the bench (Sun-Times). Sure, it adds a little risk, but Wood is such a good athlete (and a decent hitter) that it only makes sense to use him earlier in the game as a pinch hitter/runner if necessary, rather than burning a guy you might want later or that you know you might want to at least have the option of using in the field later. Here’s me taking this to a crazy level … if Wood somehow winds up not a standard, every-fifth-day starter (the Cubs have hinted they might get creative), could he become a super-DUPER-utility player? Comes in to pitch an inning, then hits, then plays left field for an out or two, then pitches to a couple lefties, then hits the next half inning, pitches to one more lefty, then leaves the game? Ok, so I don’t actually think quite that level of involvement is realistic, but it’s really fun to think about having a Bugs Bunny on the team. (I should also note that, while Wood is an excellent hitting pitcher, he was still at a below-average 93 wRC+ last year overall, and is at just 46 for his career. The benefits of utilizing Wood in this way would actually be tied primarily to flexibility with pitching match-ups, as well as Wood’s athleticism in the field and on the bases.)
- Kris Bryant could play in the outfield soon in a Cactus League game (ESPN). He was expected to do some work out there as early as yesterday, and he already has experience (in college) playing in the outfield, so it probably won’t take long to get him ready to play in a Spring game there. How long it would take him to adjust to being there full-time is another question. It remains to be seen where Bryant will play defensively this year when he joins the Cubs.
- Starlin Castro is expected to start again today after missing the last half-week or so with a tight groin (Cubs.com). Also in that piece: Miguel Montero shaved his head yesterday for #RespectBald, since he wasn’t able to make the event on Sunday. Setting aside the fact that it was for a good cause, I think it’s a pretty cool show of solidarity with your new team.
- Anthony Rizzo isn’t concerned about his poor Spring numbers, including no homers (Cubs.com). He says he’s seeing the ball well, and that’s all that matters. That’s quite true, especially for a more established player like Rizzo. I can recall several balls that he’s scalded that haven’t fallen for hits, and it’s not like he’s striking out a ton. No worries here.
- I believe Edwin Jackson’s story about his direction-giving app sending him to the A’s old Spring Training complex before yesterday’s game, rather than to HoHoKam, where the A’s started training this year (Cubs.com). I believe him because he didn’t have to face the media and explain exactly why he was late in such detail. Instead, he could have rested on the original generic explanation given by the team (“stuck in traffic”) and just let it go. Obviously it’s not a good thing to have happened, but it’s not really a big deal. The bigger deal, of course, was Jackson getting drilled so furiously by the A’s once he got into the game. Sure, I bet his preparation was thrown off, but when it comes to getting hammered by the opposing team, Jackson doesn’t have the benefit of the doubt right now. It was all a very unfortunate outcome for Jackson and the Cubs, as they try to figure out what they’re going to do with a guy who’s owed $22 million in salary over the next two years.
- If you missed the late posts last night, there was Javier Baez reportedly being told he’s made the team, and Michael taking a look at Starlin Castro on his 25th birthday – it’s easy to overlook just how well he stacks up historically against other young shortstops.
- I love Joe Posnanski and Michael Schur (aka Ken Tremendous), so I really loved when I saw this:
Two greats being great about a player who's great. pic.twitter.com/lAmUDzxELm
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) March 24, 2015