One week from tonight we will be watching Cubs baseball at Wrigley Field.
I’m hearing from someone close to the team that playing Opening Night at U.S. Cellular Field is not out of the question. Although not likely (he said it’s maybe a 10 percent chance), the season’s first series against the Cardinals could actually be held on the South Side of Chicago.
Evan also took a look at the possibility of the Wrigley renovations not being completed in time last week. I think the Cubs will pull it together, but it should be an interesting week leading up into the regular season.
Meanwhile, with Spring Training winding down, the Cubs’ roster is shrinking. Yesterday they optioned LHP Eric Jokisch to Triple-A Iowa and released LHP Felix Doubront.
So the Doubront experiment ended as a bit of a disappointment. The Cubs took a shot with him by acquiring him from the Red Sox last July.
He left Boston under murky circumstances, reportedly expressing displeasure about being removed from the Red Sox rotation.
I’m not sure if any similar attitude problems surfaced with the Cubs, but it mostly came down to performance. He was average but nothing special in four starts for the Cubs last season. And he was having a rough spring — nine runs and 17 hits given up in seven innings.
With these moves, the Cubs’ spring roster sits at 38, and the fifth rotation spot will most likely be going to Travis Wood.
Manager Joe Maddon has talked about using both Wood and Edwin Jackson in the fifth spot based on match-ups, so we’ll see what happens. Of course, that was before Jackson’s Google Maps incident.
Cubs discuss trade with Orioles
A major storyline this spring has been where third-wheel catcher Welington Castillo will be heading. The Cubs have talked about going with three catchers, making it sound like this would be a desirable outcome.
Bruce Levine writes that the Cubs are still fielding calls from a number of teams about Castillo, one being the Orioles.
The Cubs reportedly wanted nothing to do with a trade involving the Orioles’ LHP Brian Matusz, a former highly touted prospect but now pretty much just a relief pitcher.
The Cubs are hoping to get more than that for Castillo. It makes sense, as it seems like Castillo would be the best available option for a team looking to upgrade the catching position.
But will the Cubs hold out past Opening Day? I think they’ll still pull the trigger on a trade before going with three catchers.
* LHP Tsuyoshi Wada seems to be making his way back, throwing a simulated game yesterday. According to Carrie Muskat, he slipped on a sidewalk afterward but appears to be OK. Wada has been battling leg injuries all spring and hasn’t appeared in a game since being pulled from his start on March 13. It’s too bad because I would rather see him in the fifth starting spot over Travis Wood or Edwin Jackson. Maybe he will get a shot when he has rehabbed.
* Anthony Rizzo batted lead-off yesterday, saying he asked to do so and that he was a “prototypical lead-off hitter.” I was kind of surprised to see this, considering back in 2013, Rizzo made some comments about not liking hitting in the two-hole. “I’ve never hit second in my life. If you’re the second hitter, you’re someone who gets guys over and bunts and slaps and what not. I think our lineup doesn’t call for me hitting second,” he said at the time. Rizzo is definitely a more mature guy now, practically a grizzled veteran at the young age of 25. I don’t think when he was talking about not liking the two-hole, he meant he wanted to hit lead-off. He wanted to be hitting third. Him now being open to moving around the lineup is encouraging. Not that I really ever worried about Rizzo being selfish or anything.
* With Kris Bryant hysteria in full force, it’s easy to overlook how good Jorge Soler could be for the Cubs this season (and in future years). Joe Maddon has said Soler reminds him of Vlad Guerrero but with plate discipline. And then he shared this nugget:
Maddon on Soler: "As a scout, my God. If he was in the U.S. as a draft choice, he’s the No. 1 pick, there’s no doubt. No. 1 overall." #Cubs
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) March 28, 2015