Today is the official reporting deadline for Spring Training, which means every player who physically can get to Spring Training needs to arrive by today. Of course, that doesn’t include the huge volume of free agents that are still unsigned – far more than I would have thought by today. I guess it’s just gonna be a trickle of new players in camps throughout Arizona and Florida over the next couple weeks?
• David Ross on the loss of Codi Heuer (Cubs.com): “Any time you get that kind of news you’re upset. Outside of the pitcher he is, he’s just a good guy in the clubhouse and the bullpen. Definitely, we’re going to miss him greatly. Better to find out now than midway through the season, right?” That last part is certainly true, especially given the volume of reliever types the Cubs will want to find out more about. You hate to lose a potentially impactful arm to Tommy John surgery, but yes, better now than in June.
• Also, Ross seemed to confirm that, when Heuer was seeing velocity drops last year, he was dealing with “some issues,” which may have been a precursor to the UCL tear. That’s the tough thing in these situations – sometimes it’s just normal soreness, and sometimes it’s the lead-up to something popping when you start throwing again (which is unfortunately not all that uncommon in terms of how it played out for Heuer).
• Speaking of pitchers and injuries, a confirmation from Dave Dombrowski that the minimum Injured List stay is back up to 15 days for pitchers (10 days for hitters). The idea is to avoid phantom injury shenanigans, which was probably even more likely to be a problem now that players can be optioned only five times in a single year. The length of stay in the minors after an option is also a minimum of 15 days for pitchers, 10 for hitters. Again, same purpose: limit roster churn on pitchers.
• Random roster/IL note: the Cubs are at 39 on the 40-man roster before making the Andrelton Simmons signing official (Jesse Chavez is a minor league deal). Eventually they will be able to transfer Heuer to the 60-day IL to open up a 40-man spot, but not until pretty close to the open of the regular season. In other words, after adding Simmons, the Cubs will have a full 40-man, and additional big league deals will require someone getting bounced from the 40-man. This is going to be the situation for a whole lot of teams this week, so I expect the waiver wire to be very active. (Relatedly, I would think the Cubs will want to stay under 40 as much as possible so they can grab guys off the waiver wire if they see someone intriguing.)
• Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, asked about the Opening Day starter (kind of a tongue-in-cheek question), winds up getting into a really interesting point about this spring:
Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy on short spring, long season and Opening Day starters: pic.twitter.com/uqBYctEKro
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) March 13, 2022
• Unlike two years ago with the summer camp ramp up to the pandemic season, the organizations were still working closely with their pitchers, albeit remotely. This time, there were no-contact orders because of the lockout. So while some information may have filtered back and forth, there haven’t really been true conversations or planning or monitoring throughout any of the lead up to this weekend – which, by the way, would’ve normally been a month into Spring Training. So there will have to be CONSIDERABLE flexibility on who pitches when, for how long, and so on and so forth. It’s just gonna be another messed up year in a lot of ways.
• Speaking of which, get ready for a flood of these reports in the coming days – pitchers who aren’t “injured,” but who also are already known to be behind schedule and can’t realistically ramp up to make season debut in just a few weeks:
Dave Dombrowski said Zach Eflin has been throwing off the mound and could be ready to start the season. Ranger Suarez might be behind schedule with visa issues. Zack Wheeler is behind schedule. Hadn’t thrown off mound yet following heavy workload in 2021.
— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) March 13, 2022
• Anyone EXTREMELY ready to see Brailyn Marquez at big league Cubs camp? Two mostly lost years, a shoulder issue last year, an offseason that was intended to have him focused on conditioning, but where he couldn’t actually work with Cubs coaches. Truly no idea what to expect.
• Joc Pederson hinting at joining the Rockies? Hard to say:
Some place warm, a place where the beer flows like wine, where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I’m talking about a little place called Aspen.
— Joc Pederson (@yungjoc650) March 13, 2022
• If the Canada mandate is still in place come April, this is going to be a serious problem for AL East teams:
Yankees would miss a chunk of the middle of their order if unvaccinated players can’t play in Toronto. Red Sox would be missing many more players. https://t.co/fzNtoRIdLo
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 13, 2022
• Derrek Lee can still swing it:
This fits under I can’t believe what I just saw. pic.twitter.com/piQHpL1om1
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) March 13, 2022
• Sammy memories:
1998: The Astrodome sees Sammy Sosa's last HR of the season, a shot into the third deck. Cubs would lose and seem to be out of playoffs until the Rockies' Neifi Perez walked off the Giants forcing the tiebreaker @BleacherNation @realcubsinsider @obvious_shirts @BTYLPodcast #Cubs pic.twitter.com/h7EAQCsbuL
— MBDChicago (@MBDChicago) March 13, 2022
• Today’s the last day:
— OBVIOUS SHIRTS® (@obvious_shirts) March 10, 2022
• NFL free agency kicks off tomorrow, and, uh, yeah, new GM Ryan Poles has his work cut out for him:
Good morning. Found myself piecing together what a #Bears starting lineup looks like going into this offseason based solely on players currently under contract going into the 2022 season. And … Y I K E S. pic.twitter.com/WpnKylSylL
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) March 13, 2022