I picked a fine year not to follow the NCAA Tournament. Last night probably would have been a lot of fun.
- Speaking of fun watching sports: It was so much fun to get to watch Yu Darvish yesterday, even if it was only Spring Training. I just think a guy with his stuff, physicality, and diverse repertoire is going to be enjoyable to watch, entirely separate from watching the Cubs and wanting them to win. And if he keeps incorporating that Johnny-Cueto-like hitch in his delivery from time to time? All the more fun for us, and all the more unpleasant for hitters.
- Also, Darvish was hitting 98 mph yesterday! … according to the stadium gun at Camelback Ranch, which he says must’ve been hot (Cubs.com). Still, even if he’s sitting comfortably at 95 mph right now, that bodes well for how he’s feeling heading into the season after a long year in 2017. But, also … what if the gun wasn’t hot? (giggity)
- No more hits for Yu Darvish:
Yu Darvish may have been a little winded after his start today as he didn't expect to run the bases. After he singled, he was doubled to third: "I'd rather walk home than run home so I'll practice that," he joked. Darvish threw 75 pitches as he… https://t.co/my1hxs7LwC
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) March 16, 2018
- Joe Maddon says that part of the reason for releasing Justin Grimm now was to give him a chance to latch on with another team (Cubs.com). I have no doubt that’s true, though it’s notable that releasing him when the Cubs did allowed them to save just under $2 million in salary.
- Anthony Bass came up in the conversation for the Cubs’ final bullpen spot, but he has apparently been slowed by a minor injury (Cubs.com). Maddon’s words on that spot leave pretty much anyone still on the table: “I like the way [Randy Rosario] has been throwing, and Eddie Butler has been throwing extremely well. Bass has been hurt but is throwing well. [Justin Hancock] has a lightning bolt for an arm – this guy is intriguing for me. I didn’t know him from anybody. The first pitch he threw, I was like, ‘What is that?’ … There’s some vey good candidates.” You are reminded that the only pitcher in that final group whom the Cubs would risk losing if he didn’t get the job is Butler. You don’t choose him for that reason ALONE, but if you can’t choose from the group and need a tiebreaker, that should be it. Throw in the fact that Butler’s never really had a shot at being a true reliever, and maybe he makes the most sense right now overall.
- (Also, a reminder on options: minor league options (which Butler lacks) are for the entire year. It can be confusing, because when a guy is sent down, we say he was “optioned,” but that is not “one option.” One option lasts for an entire year. Generally, players have three option years, not just three total options up and down from the minors. In one option year, a guy can be shuttled up and down as much as the schedule will allow (with the caveat that, once optioned, a guy has to stay down for at least 10 days unless he’s replacing an injured player).)
- Justin Wilson is dealing with a bister (ugh, those can be frustrating), and Pedro Strop (calf) has yet to face live batters in batting practice. Increasingly, it seems likely that someone, somewhere, is going to start the season on the disabled list, and more than one reliever still in the competition will make the club. Shae Simmons has had a shoulder issue, and if Bass is injured, too, then it would probably be Butler and one of Rosario or Hancock.
- May the wind be at your back today, and the beer be green and plentiful:
- Over at Amazon, your Deal of the Day will wake you up with light. And there are also UMBC shirts here in case you now love them for destroying everyone’s brackets.
- And at Lids (hey, thanks for supporting BN by visiting our partners and putting up with these ads), there’s a big 30% off sale this weekend:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) March 17, 2018