A League of Her Own

Cubs Thursday Headlines: Is It Opening Day Yet?


Trib Photo by Phil Velasquez


Yesterday was Spring Training's only off day, so today we're presented with a bit of a slow day for headlines. I hope you don't get that weird charlie horse under your chin from yawning too much.

Faced with such a lack of interesting topics, we'll start today with a "Spotlight on Tyler Colvin"-esque piece.

'He and [shortstop Starlin] Castro have been our two most impressive young players here,'' Piniella said. ''Colvin's a good-looking player. It's made a big difference, that weight he's put on. He's stronger. He's got more bat speed, and the ball's jumping off his bat. He looks like a major-league player.''

If Colvin keeps up his spring pace, this might be the Cubs' only question: Have one of their top prospects playing every day at Class AAA awaiting an opportunity to start in the majors, or have him toiling as a bench guy in the majors and missing out on hundreds of would-be at-bats?

''Jim and I haven't sat down and talked about what the organization wants to do,'' Piniella said, referring to general manager Jim Hendry. ''We haven't broached the subject. But [if] he keeps going the way he is, the subject will be broached sooner or later.''

By now, we should all know that Spring Training stats don't count for much once the season starts, but Colvin's put up one hell of a line this spring.

When Colvin came off the bench and singled in the eighth inning Wednesday, he raised his spring batting average to .533 (16-for-30) -- tops among all Cactus League hitters with at least 25 at-bats. And nearly half of his hits have gone for extra bases (.800 slugging).

Up next, Bruce Miles brings us "Spotlight on Fukudome" - a look at what he does well and not so well.

Keep it right: The left-handed-hitting Fukudome had just 9 hits in 55 at-bats (.164) against left-handed pitching last year while batting .270 (120-for-444) with 10 of his 11 homers against righties.

The Cubs signed Xavier Nady this off-season, in part to play right field against left-handed pitchers. Nady's elbow may limit his time in the field early.

So he's a platoon player. At least the Cubs managed to get Nady to ease that part of the equation. They also figured out that he's no center fielder.

Keep him in right: Fukudome is a right fielder who had to play center last season because of the signing of Milton Bradley.

The Cubs and Fukudome both are glad he's moving back to right this year.

A defensive metric called ultimate zone rating (UZR), which determines how many runs above average a fielder saves his team, shows Fukudome to be a plus 17.9 in right field and a minus 20.3 in center.

And, despite all those corkscrew swings, he really does have a good approach at the plate. Why can't this translate into one good, full season?

Stick with the approach: The one big positive in Fukudome's game is his on-base percentage, which stems from a disciplined approach at the plate. Last season, he batted .259, but had an OBP of .375 to go along with a slugging percentage of .421.

In 2008, his hitting line was .257/.359/.379.

According to fangraphs.com, Fukudome swung at only 17.8 pitches outside of the strike zone, well below the major-league average of 25.4 percent. He made contact with 89 percent of pitches inside the zone.

Fukudome hit 38 doubles last year, up from 25 the year before. That may have come from hitting about 5 percent more line drives than he did in the previous year.


And finally, we get "The Kevin Millar Story: Wackiness Ensues".

"I've always been a guy that likes to have fun, I've always enjoyed my teammates, and picking and ragging (on each other)," he said. "But at 7:05, you go out and compete. It's such a better time when you have guys that care about each other, that laugh together, that go out together, that eat together and shower together. Let's do it.

"That's the big picture. It's not like I'm the 'goofy guy' and that's why I'm in the big leagues. There's some stuff I'll say a lot of times, what people want to say. But when it's time to go to business, it's all business.

"I enjoy everybody -- Latins, black, Mexican, white. ... It's fun to get everybody together. There've been no cliques on any team I've played for. It's easy to be nice to people. Real easy."

Not only is he a uniter, not a divider, he makes Randy Wells laugh.

Randy Wells discovered first-hand the importance of having a teammate like Millar. Upset over a poor outing in Tempe on Sunday, Wells was still brooding when he entered the van taking a few players back to Mesa. Strength coach Tim Buss was driving, which led to Millar time.

"We were being silly, and 'Bussey,' he's a terrible driver," Millar said. "He was worried that he had about $140 million worth of players in that van, and $138 million of it was (Alfonso) Soriano's (contract). We joked that ... we'd put all of our money in the same pot and divide it up, and Wells could've contributed his $1,500."

Wells laughed, and quickly got over his bad day at the office.

Can't he be a student manager or something?


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39 Comments

MillsChC said:

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The slmost-onset of that chin-charlie horse thingy is one of the few times I feel complete & absolute terror in my life.

JulieDiCaro said:

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If someone can explain to me why I set up 4 cient meetings the day March Madness kicks off, I would love to hear it.

flyball said:

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to distract you from the fact that IU isn't in it?

I would like to take this time now to recommend, for those of you without your main team in the tournament, a certain east coast team that has what some people think of a silly mascot but is really fantastic, awesome home jerseys and a fiery coach as the team to cheer for. Just a suggestion, its a fun team to root for.

secdelahc said:

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And yet for those who may have an allegiance to a certain conference * coughBigTencough *and their team is not in the tourney, there is a certain school which sec currently attends that is also in the conference. It happens to have a great mascot, a history of success and a great propensity for drinking at the school. I think it fits right in with our crowd!

flyball said:

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you know there is a chance, however slight, that these 2 teams meet in the coming days

secdelahc said:

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and if that happens, I think we probably won't be able to speak with each other about it....

JulieDiCaro said:

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love to, but I think I have to pull for Minnesota. mostly because I can't come up with a good reason not to.

flyball said:

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because with my suggestion the school colors are better?

MN Pat said:

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Even I can't pull for Minnesota, and I got to school here! Loyalties be damned ... they're a terrible team this year and don't deserve to be in the tourney.

AndCounting said:

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You're hoping that at least one of the meetings will lead you to believe you just missed the IU game instead of the harsh cold reality that their entire schedule is open.

JulieDiCaro said:

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probably true.

PsyMar1 said:

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Kevin Millar sounds like he was born for the position of "Bench Coach". I mean, what else do those guys do?

JulieDiCaro said:

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I can't help but love this Jason Kendall custody battle that is playing out on TMZ:

"Kansas City Royals catcher Jason Kendall will be in court this morning in his bitter child custody fight, and we've learned he'll be asked about his use of a prescription amphetamine that can enhance performance.

Chantel Kendall has alleged in legal docs that a Los Angeles psychiatrist prescribed Adderall to Jason after just one in-person visit, concluding the catcher had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Adderall is an amphetamine, and amphetamines have been used by Major League ballplayers for years to enhance performance. Players diagnosed with ADHD are permitted to use the drug in prescribed dosages.

Chantel claims in the docs that Jason took more than the prescribed amount of Adderall numerous times when he was watching their kids.

Jason says in his docs that he has never abused the drug. He also counters Chantel's allegation that his behavior has changed, saying, "I attribute those changes to the fact that I was married to an alcoholic and drug-addicted woman who abandoned our children, regularly punched me, and was unfaithful."

Read more: http://www.tmz.com/#ixzz0iXP9whRy

AndCounting said:

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The scary thing is that the baseball media probably think his ex has levied the more damning accusations. I can just see Mariotti's column now: "Look, I'm not condoning domestic violence, alcoholism, child abandonment, adultery, or drug addiction, but Jason Kendall compromised the integrity of the game, made a mockery of the substance abuse policy that has become the toughest in American sports, and embarrassed the ADHD community."

JulieDiCaro said:

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ha.

LOL

AndCounting said:

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Her entire witness list should be the BBWAA. Poor Jason would never see his kids again.

JulieDiCaro said:

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as somone on here said earlier, it's cruel to take kids to KC for the baseball season.

Eric From The Dugs said:

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Offensive joke of the day:

"Very briefly embarrassed the ADHD community before they moved onto something else"

Fixed.

AndCounting said:

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You know what ticks me off about that? It's attitudes like yours that . . . hey, the tourney's starting!

Edelweiss said:

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At least one Cubs player that I know of has ADHD, but I do not know if he ever took Ritilin or any other drug for it.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Cubs @ Dodgers today at 3:05 CT. It's on MLB.tv and mlb.audio (the mlb feed). BLAH.

AndCounting said:

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Something tells me I'll have other things to watch anyway. I scheduled no meetings.

Teebob2000 said:

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For those with DirecTV and the sports channels package, it's on channel 694 (Fox Sports Pacific HD) at 3:05, then re-broadcast at 7 and 11:30 CDT tonight.

gravedigger said:

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Is the season over yet?

AndCounting said:

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Life is over. We're all just catching up on DVR.

flyball said:

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can i steal that line?

AndCounting said:

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Sure! Take this one, too: SPOILER ALERT: We all die.

I'm laughing entirely too much at that. Dark morning.

DustyBaylor said:

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Ok. Offensive joke of the day:
Q:How many ADHD kids does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Wanna ride bikes?

JulieDiCaro said:

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so really, he's not a jerk, he just can't count.

Dmband said:

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There is at least 3-5 things on this blog today that I will repeat this afternoon at my Pre Jay Z concert party and be passing off as my own.

Thank you.

abe frohman said:

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Everybody hear about the big Toyota sign they're gonna hang over the left field bleachers?
http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=ap-cubs-wrigleysign&prov=ap&type=lgns

JulieDiCaro said:

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Sorry for the lack of game thread, kids. I'm having a rotten day and it fell off my plate.

The lineup:

Theriot SS
Fukudome RF
Lee 1B
Colvin CF
Fontenot 2B
Soriano LF
Tracy 3B
Soto C
Dempster P

Aramis was scratched with "lingering soreness," which doesn't sound very good at all.

Top 2, Dodgers 2, Cubs 0.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Murray State single-handedly destroys my bracket.

Well played, MS. I didn't think you had it in you.

secdelahc said:

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I don't know how I am managing this, but somehow I have 7 of 8 picks correct so far. However, it looks as though Georgetown is going to screw me over.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Oh fine. . I show up, everyone leaves?

Pfffffft.

ricos said:

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I'm here, small consolation. Also I hate Notre Dame

JulieDiCaro said:

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Me too. Happy to see them go.

Smell ya later, ND.

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