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First game today! Sort of. Cubs first intrasquad today features Soler, Baez in same lineup

First game today!  Sort of.  Cubs first intrasquad today features Soler, Baez in same lineup
Javier Baez and Jorge Soler (photo from mwltraveler.com)

Finally...the Cubs are going to play their first game -- actually, it's an intrasquad matchup but for all of us craving some game action, it'll have to do.  But that's not to say the game is meaningless or doesn't contain any intrigue.  It reveals a little bit about where the Cubs plan (or hope) to use some players.  And it does feature Javier Baez and Jorge Soler in the same lineup, which Dale Sveum is excited to see.

"I'm very anxious," Sveum said Wednesday. "Those are the guys you talk about who are on your radar in your Minor League system who have all those God-given tools -- the speed, the arm, the power, hopefully, the hitting ability, meaning OPS and those things, although a lot of that stuff comes a little later in their careers.

"This is pretty special talent and bat speed that those guys have that you want to see in person and at game speed."

It's the white team vs. the blue team  -- and it's very close to being a  veterans vs. prospects matchup.

Here are the lineups...

White Team

  1. DeJesus CF
  2. Castro SS
  3. Rizzo 1B
  4. Soriano LF
  5. Schierholtz RF
  6. Navarro C
  7. Stewart 3B
  8. Barney 2B
  9. Hairston DH

Observations:  Interesting to see Castro back up in the #2 spot after batting 5th all season last year.  I also like Scierholtz in the 5th spot.  There's a good mix of lefties and righties.  Except fo the DH and the absence of Castillo, this looks like it could be the regular lineup against RHPs.

Blue Team

  1. Valbuena 2B
  2. Sappelt CF
  3. Castillo C
  4. Nelson 1B
  5. Soler LF
  6. Baez SS
  7. Lake 3B
  8. Jackson RF
  9. Bogusevic DH

Observations:  As mentioned the most interesting thing is seeing Soler and Baez in the same lineup.  Its also a bit of a preview of some of the future Cubs.  Lake gets the starting nod over Josh Vitters at 3B -- and it's Brett  Jackson in RF and Soler in LF.  I would have thought it would be the other way around, but perhaps the Cub are trying to make Jackson their OF's as versatile as possible.  It's too early to say definitely where each will play, so it's not a bad idea to see where each player plays best. Brad Nelson at 1B may be telling as well.  The Cubs have no real backup for Anthony Rizzo and if heaven forbid he gets hurt, the Cubs may have to call upon the veteran minor leaguer to fill in.

What's also interesting to me here is the defensive positions.  As mentioned Lake at 3B and the Soler/Jackson switch caught my eye.  For the MLB team we see Valbuena at 2B, where he'll have to find most of his ABs if Stewart becomes the starting 3B as expected.  The early read in the OF is that Dave Sappelt will be the backup CF.  He has the speed to play there but some feel he doesn't get the best jumps or takes the best routes at that position.  I have to think he'll work closely with Dave McKay to improve on that as much as possible.

On the mound

Chris Rusin and Nick Struck will start.  Rusin will be followed by Cory Wade and Trey McNutt.  Struck will be followed by Rob Whitenack and Rafael Dolis.

Note: The game is at 2:00 PM CT and open to the public.

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  • Is it wrong of me to be rooting for the Blue team?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    No :)

    I think they may win. Most of those guys have been playing this winter and should be less rusty.

  • If I were Vitters, I would be worried, but then it is just one I intrasquad game.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    That was the most noticeable absence for me too. Odd that he's not at 3B, 1B, or DH for the Blue team. Like you said though, don't want to read too much into these lineups, but there are some interesting choices on players/positions that the Cubs probably want to see early.

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    Though i'm almost positive Jackson is the best CF'er in camp the fact that Sappelt got the nod tells me he's going to be the backup CF. Would have liked to see Vitters at 3rd or even 1st and even more interested to see Lake in the OF. Heard he played there some in Winter ball. I think he'd look good out in CF if he worked on it.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Would have liked to have seen Lake out in the OF too. Hopefully we'll see some of that this spring.

    Jackson or Szczur is the best CF'er in camp right now but Jackson obviously much closer to big league job. I have to guess with him is they're just making him as versatile as possible. Eventually he'll have to move to a corner anyway if Almora makes the bigs.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Is Ha in camp? I would think he would give them a run for their money in CF.

  • In reply to John57:

    He's at the minor league complex. Defensively he's right up there. Not as athletic or fast but great instincts make up for it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks for the information about Ha. Interesting that Szczur is slotted for AA and is playing with the big boys while Ha is headed for AAA and playing with minor leaguers. They must think Szczur is more likely to make it to the majors.

  • In reply to John57:

    Szczur is the better prospect overall but he also has an MLB contract, so he's on the 40 man. He'll be with the team in the spring just based on that alone.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I think that the fact that Sappelt is in CF says that the Cubs PLAN to make him to be backup CF this year, and want to find out as early as possible if he can do it.

    But plans can change. If he looks bad out there, if Jackson tears things up this spring, or if the Cubs get a better option through waiver wire or trade, Sappelt could still see the minors.

    Actually, I am kind of rooting for him, I think he could be a valuable backup or even a temporary starter.

  • Since I moved I'm about a 4 hour drive or so to Mesa. I think I just may show up for weekend games!

  • In reply to SFToby:

    I'm jealous! I'm likely to miss this spring but we're making plans to be in AZ for the fall.

  • I think that is a good choice, John. I think the information you get in the instructional league is perhaps more interesting than the minor league camp in the spring.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Thanks. I do as well. There's something really cool about seeing a baseball game in instructs. It's about as pure as it gets.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well..."pure" except for some of the loose play with substitution rules and such...

  • I'm curious why the starting catcher (Beef) is slotted with the b/u team. I thought maybe it was due to the pitchers, but don't see that angle....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    My guess is they were just having fun and trying to make it as veteran vs. prospect as possible.

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    It's a pleasant change to see Soler in left and Jackson in right and assume there is a larger plan at work instead of assuming management is just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Agreed. I like that they're not taking anything for granted.

  • It will be fun to see the youngsters get a feel of MLB baseball.
    I'l be going down the 1st, the 19th, and a few more games this spring. John I was hoping you were coming to town? I see you in the fall! Keep up the with the great articles .

  • In reply to Cubs26:

    Fall much more likely -- but I don't want to completely rule out the spring yet.

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    John

    Is there anybody on twitter, that you know of, that will be giving frequent updates on the game?

  • In reply to Zachary Myers:

    I'm sure guys like Rogers, Kap, Muskat and other media down there will update us. Also lots of Cubs fans in AZ, so I hope so. If I find someone live tweeting the game. I'll update here and on Twitter.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I saw Rogers say he'll send some updates. I was hoping you had an insider down there that will keep us updated.

    I started following Meghan that HoosierDaddy suggested below. Thanks Hoosier.

  • In reply to Zachary Myers:

    Would be nice to have a dedicated contributor down in AZ. For now just hoping media guys do some live tweeting on their own.

    Meghan has done a nice job. I think she may be with the Sox today, if I remember correctly.

  • In reply to Zachary Myers:

    I think the h/t goes to Arguello..... She has been doing some good, original work though.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Uh-oh....Will Phil Rogers keep us updated on the must-do Castro trade, the imminent Soriano trade/release, the chronic Garza disabilities, the hopeless FO, the hopeless future, the Brock-like loss of Campana, the All-Star status of Colvin, and other Trib columnist mainstay topics? With augmentation/verification by P. Sullivan?
    Oh for some fresh ideas from Trib Tower....

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    In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    HAHA! Floored me with this one......Couldn't have said it better myself.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    LOL!

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    In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I can't believe the Trib website wants me to pay for "premium" content from the likes of Phil Rogers and David Haugh. If they charged $1 a month, I still say not worth it.

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    In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I still can't believe the Trib website wants me to pay for "premium" content from the likes of Phil Rogers and David Haugh. If it were $1 a month, I'd still say it's not worth it. If Haugh has had an original thought, I've yet to hear it.

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    In reply to BrettJ42:

    Sorry, posted this thought twice during the comment outage :)

  • In reply to Zachary Myers:

    Meghan Montemurro @M_Montemurro has been awesome this spring. Not sure if she'll be doing the game though.

  • Sappelt playing in CF maybe means they plan on using him to platoon with DeJesus in CF, instead of Hairston or at least they're working on improving his CF play.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Duh... I'm so obvious... The article already states it LOL... But I think Br Jackson is playing RF because he's closer to the bigs than Soler and we know that LF belongs to Soriano for now.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I really hope so with Sappelt. Really like DeJesus and his approach, but he has been a non-factor vs. LHP in recent years.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree, I hope Sappelt can take advantage of his speed and learn how to play CF better, we know that DeJesus is getting up there in age and his range will probably be below average in CF.

  • In reply to Caps:

    My biggest concern is that Sveum falls in love with Lillibridge and he starts stealing time in CF, kind of like Joe Mather did last year.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Ugh. Just ugh.

    Not a fan of this side of Sveum.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yeah, me neither. I think a lot of managers, save maybe your Joe Maddons of the world, have a little bit of this in them. May be that a lot of them are former players and they value the grit/energy these guys bring to the game. Kind of go with their heart a bit too much.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Wonder what it would take to lure Joe Maddon away from the fun and sun of Tampa...

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah... I've been calling Lillibridge "Mather 2.0" and I fear the same... To me, Lillibridge should be used to play at 3B vs LHP at least to help Stewart's transition after 2 years with wrist problems... He could also give Rizzo a day off, but let's forget about Lillibridge playing the OF unless you need to get creative with your bench in an extra inning game or something... I hope Sveum is reading this lol.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Except Jackson wouldn't play anywhere but CF on this team.

  • In reply to TheFiveYearPlan:

    He might have to in a couple of years. Bar is raised for him as a hitter if he has to move to a corner, but if he can hit .250 or better with tons of walks plus power,defense and speed, then he may provide solid starter value.

  • Ill take the blue team.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Me too. I think they'll win this one.

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    Any thoughts on Baez hitting sixth behind Soler? An attempt to take pressure off of him? Or to deflate his ego a bit?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Interesting too. Maybe part of it is taking pressure off but I wonder if it's also a nod to Soler and his superior approach at the plate. OBP and grinding out ABs matters with Sveum and maybe that's reflected here.

  • Excited for some baseball!

  • In reply to TheFiveYearPlan:

    I second that.

  • Asked Meghan Montemurro if she'll be live tweeting. Said she'll share stuff mostly involving Soler/Baez/Lake and do some play by play on @insidethecubs. So if you're on Twitter, may want to follow both.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Reader @ericlpauley will also tweet some game info.

  • Any idea how many AB's they are planning to get Baez and Soler before they are sent down?

    In addition how valuable do you think this experience is for the kids?

  • In reply to Bilbo Baggins:

    I think right now most of the value will come from the experience of being able to play with and against players that are more advanced than they are, getting coaching, and just finding out what it takes to be a big leaguer.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Hopefully for Baez, some of the patience of guys like Rizzo and DDJ will make an impression on him. "Hey, wait, if I just let the balls go, the pitchers will be forced to throw me something I can really hammer."

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    On Rizzo, if you look at his Fangraphs splits, his numbers through a 3-0 count are particularly impressive:

    14 PAs
    3 ABs
    2 hits, both home runs.

    Guy knows what to do when a pitcher is struggling.

  • What time does the intrasquad game start. Sorry if i missed it.

  • In reply to Bilbo Baggins:

    Right about now.

  • Castro gets first hit of the day for the Cubs. A double to LF-CF.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    "Castro with a double."

    Remember that phrase. You're going to hear it again.

    A lot.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Agreed.

    Rizzo just walked and Soriano singled. Bases juiced for Schierholtz.

  • Baez misses on grounder up the middle but ruled a hit. Two runs scored for the White team.

  • Stewart with a ringing double, scores a run, Navarro out at the plate.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    3-0. Rusin rocked a bit.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Cubs hitters are like: "Oh, so *this* is what it was like to play us last September. Fun!"

    In other news, I really don't feel like working this afternoon. Could you tell?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm off work today, decided to do absolutely nothing today and just relax lol

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    "Stewart with a ringing double"

    Obviously a typo. I won't hold one mistake against you, though.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Who threw Navarro out? Br Jackson/Valbuena?

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    In reply to Caps:

    Soler to Baez to Castillo.

    Hopefully not the last time we hear that.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I know right!!!

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Sweet.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    " Navarro out at the plate"
    Where is Campana when you need him?

  • It seems like Logan Watkins put a great display in the bunt tourney and scored 670 points impressing manager Dale Sveum... Not that it is greatly important, but it is important for him to impress Sveum in anyway he can, it could determine what kind of a shot he gets once he gets called up lol.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Agreed. Exactly what he needs to do.

  • Jorge Soler just launched a bomb off of Nick Struck to LF...and Baez Ks in first a bat

  • Jorge Soler just launched a bomb off of Nick Struck to LF...and Baez Ks in first at bat

  • Lake triples off the CF wall.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Baez struck out, btw.

    Also Meghan says Stewart hitting well in BP.

  • Soler ding dong and Lake with a triple......Boom

  • Soler went deep! Jesse Rogers says it was a bomb on a 3-1 count. Missed that one (got a phone call)

  • Thanks for the running color commentary relay guys,... very cool.

    Play Ball!

  • Just posted a video...

    http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2013/02/video-of-solers-hr-in-intrasquad-game/

  • White 3 - Blue 1...bottom of the 3rd.

  • Castro 2 for 2 with double and hard hit single past Valbuena -- gotta like opposite field hitting once in awhile.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Saw your tweet exchange with Eric on Castro.

    Bothersome.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It's good...was all in fun. Wanted to make sure he got credit. Name misspelling means people can't find his twitter acct, so wanted to fix it.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    No, meant on Castro taking pitches -- not the name mistake.

    Sorry.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Ahh...it's early. And probably nothing being thrown today that he can't hit.

  • Schierholtz with a 2 run shot off foul pole. 5-1 white team.

  • Soler has taken the count to 3 balls both ABs today -- good to see he can work the count, even against advanced pitching.

  • Soler draws walk, bases loaded.

  • Castro robs Javier Baez with diving play.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That update came so fast -- had to be first pitch.

    Take a Valium, kid.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Lake lines out to Castro, doubles off Baez.

    Castro doing some serious work with glove and bat today.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    So, Castro just killed 2 shortstops with 1 stone, that's truly eliminating the competition LOL.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    LOL this should be fun for fans debating on who moves to SS.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Ha! No debate today. Castro one of the stars of the game. Baez has struggled a bit.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm wondering if Baez is pressing in hopes of making the team.

    Let's go with that, since it's more optimistic.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Having problems posting, but Castro robbed Baez for a force out, then robbed Lake in the next ab for a double play... That's killing 2 shortstops with 1 stone... We can say that Castro is eliminating the competition LOL.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Ha! No debate today. Castro outplaying Baez, but that's no surprise at this stage.

  • Did the site crash?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    This site? Cause I'm getting an error every time I post.

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    Working fine for me.

  • fb_avatar

    Working fine for me.

  • fb_avatar

    Working fine for me.

  • Looks like its back up. I was having the same problem, Caps. I blame it on the excitement over the Bogusevic HR.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I know right... But hearing about his hr off Dolis only makes me think about his grand slam off Marmol... What a sour memory lol.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, Cubs Den has become my go-to for all info Cubs-related. Great to hear about prospects like Lake and Soler having good games today. Encouraging about vets like Stewart and Schierholtz. It's the first game, but still.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Test comment. I seem to need approval from an administrator for some reason..

  • In reply to BrettJ42:

    Looks like we had a temporary glitch today with the comments. Looks like it's fixed.

    Unless you put in a link then no approval should be needed.

  • You sure it is working fine for you?

  • Another hit for Castro, another walk for Rizzo.

    Baez bobbles grounder and loses chance at DP, run scores on Soriano grounder. Tough day for the kid.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Probably good for his perspective. If he's the competitor most believe he is, this may well focus him.

  • Diving catch by Soler on Schierholtz liner. Run scores on sac fly. White team up 7-3.

  • I'm just hearing that Vitters and Stewart are day to day with quad issues.

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