Let's play two today! Ernie Banks would love today's schedule as it features a "B" game at 10 AM and then a regular game at 2 pm CT. The 10 AM game isn't available but we'll try to get info on that if possible. It's too bad because the B game features a very interesting, prospect-laden lineup. They will face the Rangers and LHP Robbie Ross in the regular game.
In the news...
- Carlos Marmol, of course. There's been a lot of buzz lately but it seems that much of it has stemmed from Bruce Levine's speculation in his chat -- in which he continues to insist Marmol will be gone by opening day -- and a separate article by Danny Knobler about the Tigers needing a closer. Interestingly, Knobler doesn't even mention Marmol. Somehow the media has put 2 and 2 together and gotten 4 1/2. I did hear last year around August that Marmol was likely the next big name to go but was not given a timetable on that. Moreover, there seems to be some conflicting reports Was also told that David Kaplan denied the Cubs would trade Marmol before Opening Day, but I have not verified that. Gordon Wittenmeyer meanwhile, rather emphatically indicates the Cubs will not trade Marmol before the opener in a tweet,
Nothing to reports of trade interest for Marmol, esp. w/ Detroit. Cubs don't expect to move him till after season starts. Prob at deadline.
- If we were to go by what Dale Sveum has been saying this spring (and why shouldnt we?), Ian Stewart is in jeopardy of not making the team this spring. "I'd be lying if I didn't say there's a big question," Sveum said when asked if Stewart had enough time to make the roster for the April 1 opener. "There just aren't that many at-bats. You have to be productive in those at-bats. [Luis] Valbuena is playing and doing a real good job."
- Bryan Bogusevic's stock, meanwhile, is on the way up. His athleticism, versatility, and ability to provide some power and speed off the bench is what intrigued the Cubs at the start, but Bogusevic has been a better hitter than expected so far. Sveum called him the Joe Mather of this spring -- and by that he meant a player who has stepped up and played well enough to earn a job.
"The at-bats he's put together, the at-bats he's had against left-handed pitching [have been good], and he has a pretty good track record in the big leagues as a pinch-hitter as well," Sveum said. "He's the leader in camp right now with everything. I've been impressed with his outfield play, his arm. I know he can play the outfield, so I'm going to get him as much time as I can at first base. He said he's not super comfortable there."
Today's Lineup vs. the Texas Rangers
- DeJesus, CF
- Barney, 2B
- Hairston, RF
- McDonald, LF
- Sappelt DH
- Navarro, C
- Baez, SS
- Lake, 3B
- Clevenger, 1B
Starting Pitcher: Hisanori Takahashi is getting the start but he's not in the mix for the rotation. The Cubs are looking to get a good look at him before reserves come in. The implication there is that Takahashi is being seriously considered for that last bullpen spot.
5 Things To Watch...
- Javier Baez gets the start today and he's always worth watching but today it'll be interesting to see if he builds on the patience he displayed in his last start. With good plate discipline, Baez played his best game of the spring.
- Depending on what the Cubs do with Ian Stewart there are either one or two spots available. If there are two, that really increases the chances that Steve Clevenger makes the team. He's at 1B today.
- Darnell McDonald is still getting prominent playing time and the opportunity to bat in prime spots in the order.
- David DeJesus is in the lineup and playing CF, where he is expected to play during the season. He's getting a start vs. a LHP today, against whom he hit .137 last year -- all singles. His defense is probably going to be short there and DeJesus is off to a slow start again this spring, but I expect the veteran to be ready when the bell rings.
- The B game...of course. Most interesting to me is that Junior Lake gets the start in CF again. Also of note - the Cubs are playing the 5'9" Rafael Lopez at 1B. Here's the lineup...
- Szczur LF
- Watkins 2B
- Baez SS
- Clevenger C
- Lake CF
- Lopez 1B
- Villanueva 3B
- Chavez RF
- Gonzalez DH
Starting Pitcher: Jeff Samardzija