After a fun day yesterday where we saw Javier Baez HR and top propsects Jorge Soler, Albert Almora, Brett Jackson, and Dan Vogelbach all get some action, it's back to business as usual again today.
In the news...
- The Cubs completed a formality when they inked all 21 unsigned players, including Anthony Rizzo, to 2013 contracts.
- Dale Sveum said that Starlin Castro is okay to play but is being held out for precautionary reasons. “He’s fine,” Sveum said. “He did everything [Sunday] and there’s nothing going on. He took full [batting practice]. Today, he’ll be out here on the field taking a round of [batting practice], same as yesterday. We can’t even simulate any kind of discomfort or feeling in the hamstring.” Castro will likely return to action next Monday or the weekend at the earliest. There's no reason to rush him back in spring training.
- As expected after Matt Garza's injury and news that he'll miss the first month of the season, Carlos Villanueva has been named the 5th starter. That will open up a spot in the bullpen for Opening Day.
- Valbuena SS
- McDonald CF
- Hairston RF
- Soriano LF
- Clevenger C
- Lake 3B
- Nelson 1B
- Soler DH
- Watkins, 2B
Starting Pitcher: Alberto Cabrera gets his first start of the spring today. The Cubs are trying to convert the big, hard-throwing RHP into a starter, a role he had for most of his minor league career. Cabrera will start the year in Iowa and his performance there will dictate where he falls on the depth chart. As far as long term potential, Cabrera has 2 plus pitches (95-96 two seam fastball, slider) but lack of consistent command may limit his ceiling to mid-rotation starter.
5 things to watch...
- Darnell McDonald has lost a step or two since his days as a top prospect but he'll get a shot to show he can still cover ground in CF. Dave Sappelt is the heavy favorite for the 5th outfielder's job, but McDonald has played well and the Cubs like what he brings to the team off the field.
- One of the Cubs pleasant surprises this spring has been catcher Steve Clevenger, who has hit the ball extremely well this spring. Some dismissed him because of his poor second half, but it's easy to forget that Clevenger has been a good hitter throughout his minor league career -- and also in the majors until his injury. He's at catcher today but the Cubs plan to move him around a bit to increase his value on a 25 man roster. He has a shot to overtake Brent Lillibridge for the 25th man spot. Part of that may depend on whether Luis Valbuena can help fill the void at backup SS.
- Jorge Soler. Just because.
- Junior Lake has had a good spring (.571 slugging pct., .905 OPS) and with 3B in flux, he figures to get a long look -- even if his ultimate destination is Iowa. Lake's versatility, speed, and RH bat at 3B and CF make him a mid-season candidate to join the roster.
- Scott Hairston's spring has been a nightmare so far. He's just 2 for 13 with 9 strikeouts. He'll be looking to turn that around today.
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