The Cubs take on the Padres today at 2:05 and you can hear audio on MLB.com. There are a lot of ties between the two teams. GM Jed Hoyer, Sr. VP of Scouting Jason McLeod, and Director of Scouting Jaron Madison all came from the Padres, as did 1B Anthony Rizzo.
News and Notes...
- Anthony Rizzo and his Italian team advanced despite a 6-2 loss to the U.S.A. What was thought to be a short diversion from spring training has turned into an unexpected extended run for Italy in the WBC. While I'd like to see Rizzo in camp, it's hard to imagine he's not going to gain from this experience.
- Team USA will play Canada today and will need to win to advance.
- A major brawl broke out between Canada and Mexico. You can see it here. Surprisingly, nobody was suspended.
- Despite their impressive springs, neither Javier Baez nor Jorge Soler are long for the spring. Manager Dale Sveum has said they will be assigned to minor league camp in about a week or so. In case you missed it yesterday, Baez hit his 2nd HR and is hitting .360 on the spring.
- Chris Rusin had a good outing and probably distanced himself from fellow lefty Brooks Raley in the chase for a bullpen spot. Rusin still faces competition from veterans like Hisanori Takahashi, Cory Wade, Jensen Lewis, Blake Parker, and Casey Coleman for the last spot in the bullpen. Rusin has two advantages here -- he's lefty and he's already on the 40 man roster.
- Junior Lake was in the original lineup but is out with sore right shoulder. The soreness is in the trapezius -- so thankfully no rotator cuff issue. Wouldn't want him to lose anything from that great arm. Side note, Dale Sveum called the muscle a trapeze and Carrie Muskat called it a trapezoid. It's a good thing they know baseball so well, not sure if they'd make it as doctors ;)
- Ian Stewart's has been pushed back until the weekend. Stewart is already in a crunch to perform in the last couple weeks of spring training and this shortens his time frame even further.
- DeJesus CF
- Barney 2B
- Schierholtz RF
- Soriano LF
- Navarro C
- Bogusevic 1B
- Villanueva 3B
- Gonzalez SS
- Feldman P
5 Things to Watch For...
- Speaking of ties between the two teams, the Cubs will face a couple of old friends today as both Jason Marquis and Andrew Cashner are scheduled to pitch for the Padres. As much as I want the Cubs to "win" the Rizzo deal, I can't root against Cashner. Good guy and it'd be a shame to see that talent go to waste.
- We're going to see more and more veterans play as Dale Sveum tries to determine who will make the team, who will platoon, and who might figure as depth at AAA Iowa. One of those depth spots is for SS at Iowa. The defensively oriented Alberto Gonzalez gets the nod today.
- The outfield defense. The team of Alfonso Soriano, David DeJesus, and Nate Schierholtz is the one you'll see most of the time this season -- at least until the trade deadline. Although Soriano has improved and DeJesus is a good corner outfielder, only Schierholtz is a consensus above average outfielder at his respective position.
- Bryan Bogusevic continues to make a late run for a spot on the Cubs bench, though his fate may be tied in with Ian Stewart's. If Stewart is let go, that will create an extra spot on both the 40 and 25 man roster. You have to think Bogusevic would be the leading candidate for that spot in that scenario. He also has a chance to make the team if the Cubs send Dave Sappelt to Iowa and use Brent Lillibridge as both a backup 3B and CF.
- Scott Feldman needs to throw strikes today to be successful. As a veteran, he's likely working on a few things but he's not the type of pitcher that's going to get away with walking people.