A League of Her Own

Cubs Thursday Headlines: There's Baseball Today!


"Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows..."



With Sweet Lou playing rover between Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano, the Cubs outfield defense should be much better this year. If they're not better, you can blame Mesa, or maybe you can't.

'I remember the 10 years I spent here with Seattle, we had wonderful fields,'' Piniella said, listing the six full fields the Peoria, Ariz., complex has available to the Mariners.

''It's more limited [in Mesa]. But it's a workable thing. Put it this way: We haven't not won because of the facilities here.''


The funding for a proposed new complex in Mesa is still facing stiff opposition from the other Cactus League teams, who are now acting like children. I wonder if they stuck out their bottom lips while skipping this meeting?


The proposed ''Cubs tax'' on all Cactus League games has been met with strongly worded opposition from several teams and resulted in a boycott by four teams (including the White Sox) of a Mesa-sponsored spring kickoff event Tuesday.

Despite having one knee at 90%, The Fonz seems to be feeling great this spring, and there are apparently results.

Never having rehabilitated from arthroscopic surgery, the fear of the unknown drove Soriano to work out longer and harder at the Cubs facilities in the Dominican Republic to recover from the Sept. 5 procedure on his left knee. Of course, coming off a career-worst .241 batting average with 20 home runs and 55 RBIs in 117 games, including 118 strikeouts in 447 at-bats, served as a pretty good prod too.

Whatever caused Soriano's recommitment to conditioning, he arrived two weeks ago looking more like an NFL cornerback than an aging outfielder.

"I am 34 years old but more importantly my body and my mind feels young,'' Soriano said.


Rudy Jaramillo's been working hard with him to bring back some of the old Soriano.


Indeed, Soriano's willingness to accept Jaramillo's ways reflects a younger player with something to prove more than a seven-time All-Star. Already Jaramillo has narrowed Soriano's stance to improve his balance and adjusted how high Soriano raises his left leg as the ball nears home plate. The average observer may not notice a thing different about Soriano's swing but then Jaramillo has made a career of seeing the trees where everyone else sees a forest.

"The bat speed is still there,'' Jaramillo said. "It's all timing. He just has to gather himself and learn how to coach himself and realize right from wrong in his swing. He's trying to get back what he had in the past.''


We'll get our first chance to see if Soriano has improved on Saturday.


Lou Piniella says Alfonso Soriano looks healthy this spring but don't expect the left fielder to start a Cactus League game until Saturday. Piniella said he's impressed by changes Soriano has made after working with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, such as shortening his stride.

"He was moving really, really well in the outfield today," Piniella said of Soriano, who is coming off arthroscopic knee surgery. "We're expecting a good year out of him."


With no segue, we'll jump to today's starter, Randy Wells, who's not resting on his laurels:


''When I dreamed about playing this game as a kid, I didn't dream about, 'All right, I got that rookie season under my belt' and then just kind of bided my time,'' he said. ''You want to be the best you can be. You want to make All-Star teams, you want to win Cy Youngs, you want to win world championships.''

That's why he ignores Piniella again when he talks about Wells as if he has a rotation spot locked up after going 12-10 with a 3.05 ERA last year. And it's why Wells makes you think he might be able to avoid a sophomore slide and have the kind of year the Cubs might desperately need.

It has taken too many years and too many twists and turns for Wells to get comfortable.

''There's always somebody hunting you down,'' he said. ''I was that guy trying to take somebody's spot for a number of years, and then last year, given the opportunity I had, I just had the mentality that, here it is, I've got it, and nobody's taking it from me.''


And finally, don't forget that you can listen to alternative commentary for the first hour of Saturday's game. It should be great fun, as now we know that Soriano will be playing and providing great conversation topics for Cubbiejulie, AndCounting and Aisle424. You can listen to their Spring Training Snarkfest at blogtalkradio. Podcast starts at 2:00 PM CT.

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36 Comments

berselius said:

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Per Muskat a few days ago, Marshall, Mathes, Parisi, and Caridad should pitch today.

Doc said:

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I'm looking forward to seeing how well Parisi pitches.

If he's healthy and back to full strength, he would be a steal for the cubs!

berselius said:

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If Reinsdorf wants to complain about this Cubs tax, he's more than welcome to give back the money he got from the City for his own ballpark. Some of that money came from taxes on....Cubs tickets.

Maim said:

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So excited! Lunchine, then BASEBALL! Fake basball!

JulieDiCaro said:

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Yes! Will Ferrell revives his W!

http://FunnyOrDie.com/m/3oem

AndCounting said:

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Wow, seeing that video reminds me that Dana Carvey's H.W. was the best of the SNL presidential impressions. And that Jim Carrey is still funny.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I dunno, I still love Will Ferrell's W. So random.

There was one skit on SNL when he tried to pay for dinner with his mom's gas card, then he said "Gracias" was "Mexican for 'thank you.'"

Hee.

Doc said:

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I watched this last night...

what the hell happened to Dan Aykroyd? He looks like he put on about 150 lbs!

AndCounting said:

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Don't get me wrong, Ferrell was great as W. But he basically just had the one joke: George Bush is stupid. Granted, that joke was a bottomless well of potential, but I felt like Carvey was a bit more multidimensional in his portrayal.

And I loved when they had an 8-year-old boy play Dan Quayle. That was good stuff.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Now THAT was hilarious.

"My wife!"

Yes, W was one-dimensional, but it made me laugh EVERY. TIME.

Especially when he found a dog in the WH parking lot and named him "Superdude."

FrankS said:

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Did anyone notice the Cubs logo on the glass or pencil cup on the night stand?

flyball said:

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yay there is baseball today!

JulieDiCaro said:

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I just realized I have to do a game thread today.

Wheee!

Doc said:

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Happy!

JulieDiCaro said:

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So we FINALLY have baseball and none of us have anything to say.

I feel like the color guy in Major League.

"Do you have anything to add?"
"Uh . . .nah."
"They don't call him the best color man in the game for nothing."

flyball said:

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I'm in a sports hangover at the moment, don't worry I'll recover for the game

gravedigger said:

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My work gets busy at inopportune times.

gravedigger said:

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Also, I have meetings scheduled during the entire ST game. booooooooo

JulieDiCaro said:

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Reschedule.

Duh.

gravedigger said:

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Yeah, let me tell the Assistant Secretary he needs to reschedule his meetings so they don't conflict with the game. That is going to go over well. :)

plamorte said:

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Someone bring me a radio! I have Sirius but I can't change it to the MLB channels bc it goes throughout the office, the ladies listening to their soft rock would kill me! Whhhhhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

JulieDiCaro said:

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standby. i can help. . .

flyball said:

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I'm hoping that gameday radio has the free preview again

Doc said:

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I thought I read somewhere they were doing that...but I can't find anything to confirm that.

AndCounting said:

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I don't think they are. I tried listening to the Braves/Mets game, and they wanted me to re-up for $19.95, a bit more than last year, I think.

JulieDiCaro said:

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really? I tried to listen and got right in.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I just went in and there's nothing asking me to pay to get to the game listings. I think it's free again.

berselius said:

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They don't stop you until you try logging in to the player

MN Pat said:

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I'll be in class for most of the game. Phooey.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Obviously, class must be cancelled.

Karen said:

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Silly question - but is it on TV?

JulieDiCaro said:

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Nope! Not until Saturday/Sunday.

Sorry.

jtbwriter said:

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Good morning from cold and sunny So Cal..

Thanks for the great pic of Lou and company...now I know it's baseball time! I can hardly wait to see the games this weekend!

LostinFla said:

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In my "many" years of following the Cubs, I don't think I have had less enthusiasm for a new season than I do this year. So I salute everyone here who can still believe in the miracle of being 0 games out in March and that Castro will be a "Star" and not a "Fidel"... Or even a Gary Scott...

gravedigger said:

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I'm not all that excited either, but then, I never am.

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