Thinking About Spring Training Surprises and Other Bullets

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Thinking About Spring Training Surprises and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

james russell cubsAnother intrasquad game is on tap for later today, before the Cubs’ Cactus League schedule kicks off tomorrow.

  • James Russell is happy to pitch wherever he’s used, but Paul Sullivan says the lefty has closer aspirations. Although it doesn’t seem likely to happen for him any time soon, if Carlos Marmol is traded and Kyuji Fujikawa is injured or ineffective, Russell could get a chance to fill in the role. Long-term, though, Arodys Vizcaino might be the Cubs’ closer of the future, if he comes back healthy but can’t stick in the rotation. For Russell, I’d be plenty content if he could simply continue repeating his 2011/2012 bullpen success. And Spring seems like an appropriate time to remind folks: when Russell came to Spring Training in 2010, not only was he not expected to make the team, he wasn’t really much on the prospect radar, frequently showing up in the “other” section of prospect lists. He was a future middle reliever, at best, and it wasn’t going to be for another couple years even if it did happen. And then he really impressed the coaches and management that Spring, and he’s been a part of the big league team ever since. It’s a reminder that, even though we don’t expect it, someone random like a Zach Putnam could surprise everyone this Spring and claim a bullpen job … and then become a fixture for years.
  • Or maybe it’ll be non-roster invitee Jensen Lewis, whose odd delivery is noted here. I guess we’ll have to see what he’s talking about this Spring.
  • Each of Ian Stewart and Josh Vitters are dealing with minor quad injuries. Vitters’ kept him out of yesterday’s game, and Stewart’s forced him from the game early. Neither injury is expected to cause any serious issues, and it’s still not out of the question that they could play in today’s intrasquad game – they’re in the early lineups (though I wouldn’t look for Stewart to ultimately play unless it was literally nothing yesterday).
  • The Northwest Herald spoke with Scouting and Player Development Chief Jason McLeod, who said that, although nothing is set in stone yet, it looks like both Jorge Soler and Javier Baez will start the year with High-A Daytona. Given that the Cubs had their organizational meetings earlier this week, I suspect it’s as close to stone as it’s going to get.
  • Dale Sveum on Javier Baez’s performance yesterday at the intrasquad game: “A little shaky today. It’s kind of young stuff that’s still there that has to be cleaned up, obviously. A lot of stuff, even stuff behind the scenes that everyone else doesn’t see that we have to see, some instinctive stuff.”
  • John Sickels looks at the three guys who could be the “next” Yoenis Cespedes – which is to say, which Cuban prospect could have great success in the bigs – and puts Jorge Soler just a touch ahead of Yasiel Puig and Leonys Martin.
  • Speaking of Soler, Tim Sheridan of Boys of Spring has more video of that bomb he hit yesterday, which you can see from a different angle. Speaking of Tim, we spoke with him on this week’s episode of the BN Podcast. You should listen to it.
  • Cubs players on steroid and HGH testing – they’re in favor of it, so every Cub must be clean. Whew.
  • Patrick Mooney on the efforts to make Welington Castillo into an excellent receiver behind the plate.
  • Vine Line previews Junior Lake, noting his physical maturity over the last couple years, but the wait for that big, breakout year that matches the physical tools.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.