Cubs Players Know They Need to Win Early … or Else and Other Bullets
We’re headed home from the hospital this morning, bringing The Little Boy home to meet The Little Girl (yay). That should be a lot of fun.
- The Cubs’ players know that, if the team doesn’t start out surprisingly well in the first couple months, another sell-off is likely to happen. “Without a doubt,” Samardzija said, per Patrick Mooney. “It’s very, very important [to win early], especially with guys like [Matt] Garza and these different dudes that are about to be free agents. We need to show that when they’re on this team, we’re a more capable team – to win games and make the playoffs and go from there. That’s for us to prove on the field. And as long as we can do that, then you can add pieces instead of taking them away …. Our plan is to put [the front office] in a tough situation on what they want to do halfway through the year. [If] we’re doing our job and we’re winning ballgames, they’re going to have a tough decision.” I love that attitude, and I love that it’s coming from Samardzija – someone who knows he’s highly likely to be around for a long time. Of course, I’d rather the front office’s decision wasn’t tough – I’d rather it was easy, in the direction Samardzija means. Which is to say, if we’re tossing coins down a wishing well, I’m going to wish the front office is in a position that they know they HAVE to add pieces, since the Cubs are 15 games over .500.
- Last year, Carlos Marmol’s season turned around when he came back from an early-season “injury,” and was told upon returning that (1) he had to use his fastball more, and (2) he was not allowed to shake off the catcher. The approach worked, and Marmol was dominant for some four months. Going into this season, the rules for Marmol are the same.
- Dale Sveum says Steve Clevenger will see time at first base in Anthony Rizzo’s WBC-induced absence, and will also see some time at third base and second base throughout the Spring. He might also see some time, at least in practice, in the outfield. The Cubs want to know what kind of value he’d offer as a utility guy (who can also catch, obviously) before deciding whether or not to keep him on the roster. (I wonder: if the Cubs feel like Luis Valbuena can adequately cover shortstop, they might be less likely to keep Brent Lillibridge (or one of the other shortstop-able back-ups) on the roster, and could instead keep Clevenger. Alternatively, if Valbuena wins the third base job and Ian Stewart is cut, another bench job opens up for someone like Clevenger.)
- Sveum likes what he sees so far from Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon. “He has legitimate stuff,” Sveum said, per Cubs.com. “[Thursday], he was 92, 93 [mph] with a good slider, he threw strikes. He’s always been a strike thrower. That’s nice to have in your back pocket. The guy’s always been a strike thrower, and now that he’s completely healthy — the only kicker is we have to get him to be able to throw two innings.”
- Alfonso Soriano talks about what it’s like to be in Spring Training with so many youngsters (spoiler alert: he likes it).
- Dontrelle Willis, who left his only Spring appearance after seven pitches with an apparent injury, is back to throwing and good to go. Whether he actually gets into another big league camp game, however, remains to be seen.
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