Tag Archive | "Spring Training"

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Spring Training Send Off – Chicago Style…

Posted on 10 February 2010 by Lou

It was a perfect way to hold the annual Spring Training send off for the Cubs – amidst a steady, all-day snowstorm outside the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.  The Cubs clubhouse staff, as well as Chicago area students from the Inter-American School, helped pack the trucks that would bring all of the Cubs equipment and jerseys to Mesa, Arizona for the Cubs 2010 Spring Training schedule.  Cubs GM Jim Hendry was on hand for the send off:  “I’m anxious to get there.  When you have a year that doesn’t end in post-season play, it just kind of lingers with you all offseason no matter what you do or how you think you might have fixed this or fixed that.  [That feeling] doesn’t leave you until you get down there and get outside and guys are on the field.”

Hendry has already been down to the Cubs training facility in Mesa and he said that just under 20 players are already there working out and getting ready for the season.  That is a good sign – “They have a little bit of an edge to them after the way things ended last year. ”  After winning back-to-back NL Central division titles, the Cubs finished in 2nd place behind the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009.  Although they had a winning record for a 3rd straight season – something foreign to many of the Cubs players and their loyal north side fans – it still felt like a disappointing season.

Let’s hope the sloppy, messy snowstorm during yesterday’s Spring Training send-off does not foreshadow the type of season the Cubs can expect during the 2010 MLB schedule.  This team needs to right the ship in 2010!

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Chicago Cubs Opt to Stay in Mesa, Arizona for Spring Training

Posted on 31 January 2010 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs have decided to keep their Spring Training home in Mesa, Arizona.  Once Mesa city officials unanimously approved a plan for the new and improved “Wrigleyville West”, Cubs officials jumped at the bit and gave the city the exclusive right to get the deal done.  The development will include commercial properties, a shopping district and hotels and could occupy as much as 100 acres in the Phoenix suburb.  The $84 million complex will also be the site of a brand new, state-of-the-art 15,000-seat ballpark.

The Naples, Florida bid to bring the Cubs to the Grapefruit League on the east coast in Florida is on hold for now.

I must say I am a little surprised by the decision.  I know the Ricketts Family has ties in Florida, so Mesa must have made a great proposal to keep the Cubs in Arizona.  It also shows the Cubs commitment to the area for all of the great things they have done for the Cubs over the last 57 years.

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Mesa v. Naples – Cubs Spring Training Battle Alive & Kicking

Posted on 01 November 2009 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs have called Mesa, Arizona their “home away from home” during the Spring since 1979.  But it looks like that could come to an end if the Ricketts Family decides to move the team’s spring training facilities from Arizona to Florida – and specifically Naples…

What the team is looking for – 120 contiguous acres; stadium with seating capacity of at least 15,000; 6 practice fields; sufficient parking; and a training complex that could be used 11 months out of the calendar year.

Arizona’s edge – the team is comfortable in Arizona having been there since the 1950’s.  Their current home has been the team’s site since 1979.  Mesa city leaders have indicated that they will do everything possible to keep the Cubs in Arizona.  They have highlighted a large-scale development area near the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport where Gaylord Entertainment Co. plans to builds a resort and conference center within the next few years.  The Cubs new facility would be nearby that center.  Travel times between Cactus League teams average just 30 minutes – travel time among the Grapefruit League teams in Florida is much longer with an average of 3 hours between sites.

Florida’s edge – it would be something new.  Florida has proposed developing a “Wrigley Village” that will be a “destination spot” for Cubs fans all across the country.  The Florida group has started a website called floridacubs.com but they said that they will not get into a bidding war with Mesa.  Florida reps have indicated that Arizona has had to build 3 facilities for the Cubs in 50+ years and they now have to build another for the team.  The site in Florida would be a state-of-the-art facility that would hold the Cubs operations for years to come.

We’ll keep you posted as this all plays out over the next few months…

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Mesa, AZ to Naples, FL? Cubs Could be on Move

Posted on 26 October 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs could be making a spring training move from Mesa, Arizona to Naples, Florida.  Current Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney has acknowledged that the Cubs are pursuing opportunities to move the spring training facilities from Arizona to Florida.  And right now, Naples is on the top of the Cubs list.  The Cubs lease with the city of Mesa expires in 2016, but the club could leave early – in 2012 – if the Cubs pay $4.2 million to the city in Spring 2010.  That deadline is coming up.

We’ll keep an eye on this if anything develops over the next 6 months or so.  Florida would definitely be a closer destination for Chicago-area and east coast Cubs fans looking to catch a Cubs spring training game in warm winter weather…

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Reed Johnson – Dropping The Pounds, Feeling Stronger

Posted on 18 February 2009 by Lou

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Spring Training is here, so we’re getting lots of updates about all of your favorite Cubs players. Obviously we’re all concerned about the health of our pitchers and the progress they made during the off-season, but here’s a story about one of our outfielders – Reed Johnson. Johnson watched what he ate more during the off-season and he dropped right around 14 pounds because of the new diet. Johnson says he feels a lot better both physically and mentally. It should also help him avoid certain back issues that he has had to deal with on and off during his major league career.

Johnson was a kinesiology major at Cal State Fullerton and he says he has retrained his body to eat better and eat less, and not feel hungry after the meal. He has also worked hard at being ready to play all 3 outfield positions. Johnson understands that Manger Lou Pinella will continue to give players more and more time off this season in the hopes of keeping everyone fresh throughout the long MLB season. Giving Pinella the option of putting Johnson in 3 positions as opposed to 1 or 2, will make life easier on Pinella and Johnson. He’ll get his days off for sure, but he’ll also be helping the team by allowing some of the other guys – Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley Kosuke Fukodome – an extra day off that they might not have otherwise received.

During the 2008 MLB season, the 32-year old Johnson played in 109 games and recorded 333 at-bats. He hit .303 with a .358 on-base percentage, while scoring 52 runs and driving in 50 runs. Great numbers for a guy they picked up at the end of Spring Training after he was released by the Toronto Blue Jays. The Cubs expect similar production from Johnson in 2009 and look forward to his relaxed laid-back style ensuring another good clubhouse during the upcoming campaign.

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Rich Harden – Ready To Prove Skeptics Wrong

Posted on 17 February 2009 by Lou

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When it became official that Rich Harden would not pitch for Team Canada in the 2009 World Baseball Classic next month, many media critics, including yours truly here at MyCubsToday, thought this was another case of a Cubs pitcher being hurt and Cubs management not making full disclosure about the health status of said player. Were we right or were we wrong? The long and the short of it is, only time will tell.

According to the Cubs and Rich Harden, Harden is on schedule to be ready for the start of the 2009 MLB season. Instead of returning home to Canada during the off-season, Harden stayed in Arizona to work with Cubs strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss. His 25 combined starts with the Oakland A’s and Chicago Cubs in 2008 was the 2nd most starts made ever in his career, and the most since he started 31 games for the A’s back in 2004. Harden wanted to build off the momentum from the 2008 season, and also continue to make sure that he is in the best possible condition for the upcoming campaign.

Harden was electric for the Cubs following his acquisition from the A’s. He made 12 starts, pitched 71 innings, went 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. He struck out 89 batters and walked only 30. The Cubs would love it if he could reach that 25-start mark again in 2009, but Harden is setting his sights higher – he wants to reach the lucky number 30. He also wants to put the rumors to rest about the tear in his shoulder and the decrease in his velocity as the 2008 MLB season wore on. Harden says that he originally injured the shoulder trying to field a come-backer that took an awkward hop over his pitching shoulder. Since then he has had to listen to his body when his body tells him that he can’t pitch as long or throw as hard. He seems to have the right take on the cards dealt to him: “It’s not just the Cubs, it’s on me. Every year I learn more about my body and how I feel. You want to be out there every single game for 100-plus pitches. That’s the way I am – I want to be out there every game no matter what. You have to take a step back sometimes and evaluate how I’m feeling and manage it properly so I’m strong at the end of the season. I have to be consistent with my mechanics and get my arm in a good spot to throw without putting strain on my shoulder or the rest of my body. That’s going to be big for me – – and that’s what I’m working with Larry with.”

Let’s hope it pays off for Harden. Until he takes the bump that first week of the 2009 MLB season, I will still be a little skeptical no matter what he or the Cubs say. If he is healthy, the Cubs will be in great shape – he can dominate a game and usually puts his team in a position to get that all-important W. If he isn’t healthy, the Cubs could miss a beat in the starting rotation, with a Sean Marshall moving up to the 4th spot in the rotation and a Aaron Heilman or Chad Gaudin having to fill the starts missed by Harden. Not the best of situations, but at least the Cubs continue to add depth in the pitching staff to take some pressure of the rest of the crew in case the injury bug flares up…

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And Your 5th Starter Is… Sean Marshall?

Posted on 16 February 2009 by Lou

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Sean Marshall has a lot going for him in the race for the 5th spot in the Chicago Cubs starting rotation. He has logged 50 major league starts in his 3 years in the big leagues and continues to improve on his numbers each and every season. In 2006, Marshall made 24 starts, and finished the season with a 6-9 record and a high ERA of 5.59. In 2007, Marshall made huge strides – in 19 starts, he finished with a 7-8 record and lowered his ERA all the way to 3.92. A big key of his success was walking less batters – 25 less batters than he did the year before. In 2008, Marshall was all over the place – bullpen, starting rotation (7 starts) and back at Triple-A Iowa. Despite all the change, Marshall pitched 65 innings, went 3-5, and lowered his ERA to 3.86 with a 1.27 WHIP. Most importantly, he never once complained. Cubs Manager Lou Pinella summed it up well: “He did what the organization wanted, and he’s improved. He’s gotten stronger. He’s got a good feel for pitching. I’d feel extremely comfortable with him in the fifth spot. I would think with him coming into this camp that our starting pitching is in pretty darn good shape, assuming everybody stays healthy.”

Marshall would join a rotation already laden with talent – Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Rich Harden. Pitchers Jeff Samardzija, Chad Gaudin and Aaron Heilman are also expected to compete for the 5th spot in the rotation, so it won’t be easy for Marshall. He put extra time in this off-season in the Phoenix area, and learned a lot from situations that Pinella put him in during the 2008 MLB season to test his mettle. Marshall felt like he passed those difficult tests and so did Pinella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Marshall also has the right attitude: “I’d rather start. But anything I can do to help the team win some games and give the team some good innings and put some zeros on the board, whether it’s in the bullpen or starting or coming in and getting a couple lefties out or getting a base hit, I’m ready to go.”

Gotta love the optimism and the “team first” attitude. We don’t get to see or hear that a lot these days, so we need to publicize it more to let people know that there are players out there who aren’t in it just for the money or glory. Good luck to you Sean. Whether you end up as a starter or in the bullpen, we’re glad you’re a Cub!

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Early Risers At Fitch Park in Arizona

Posted on 14 February 2009 by Lou

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Chicago Cubs pitchers and catchers are officially supposed to show up for camp on Friday the 13th. But on Thursday, Cubs management got a pleasant surprise when they saw how many players were already ready to get a workout in at the Cubs spring training facility in Mesa, Arizona. Catchers Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill were in attendance. Pitchers Kevin Gregg, Ken Kadokura, Chad Gaudin, Neal Cotts, Jeff Samardzija and Kevin Hart were also present. Others present included Jake Fox, Randy Wells and Wellington Castillo. It’s unclear exactly which players out of this group will make the team, but it’s great to see the commitment and enthusiasm this early in the season.

Kadokura is a long shot to make the team. He is 35 years old, had played for 4 different Japanese teams and was Kosuke Fukodome’s teammate on the Chunichi Dragons.

Chad Gaudin is looking to make a run at the 5th spot in the starting rotation, as is Samardzija. Gaudin has made 50 major league starts, including 34 starts for the Oakland A’s in 2007. Even if he doesn’t secure the spot in the starting rotation, he would make a great addition in the Cubs bullpen. Ditto for Samardzija.

It’s refreshing to see that guys know that they have to compete for a spot and are willing to do whatever it takes to get into the best shape possible to be ready to impress once the spring schedule begins.

Now that camp has opened, we’re sure to have a lot of updates on how things are going for the Cubs in the southwest. Stay tuned to MyCubsToday – we’re locked and loaded for a great 2009 Cubs campaign.

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Chicago Cubs Announce Non-Roster Spring Training Invitees

Posted on 22 January 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs announced a few non-roster invitees to Spring Training 2009 in Arizona.

Japanese right-handed veteran pitcher Ken Kadokura. He is a 13-year veteran of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan. He has 76 career wins and a 4.36 career ERA in 302 games. He has played for 4 different Japanese teams.

Mike Stanton – a left-handed reliever who is 41 years old and has not pitched since 2007 when he made 69 relief appearances for the Cincinnati Reds.

So Taguchi – see previous blog post here.

Chad Fox – 38-year old reliever who has been hampered with elbow issues the last few seasons. Fox appeared in 3 games for the Cubs during the 2008 MLB season – his first MLB action since 2005 – until recurring injuries forced him to miss the rest of the season.

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Cubs White Sox Spring Training Match-Ups!

Posted on 21 December 2008 by Lou

The Cubs and White Sox will play 2 spring training games on March 4th and March 5th at Cashman Field in Las Vegas. Both teams will play with split squads during those 2 games. Cashman Field hosts games for the Las Vegas 51s. The March 5th date was scheduled to be an off-day for the Cubs, but they added the game for the fans who have always expressed that an additional Cubs-Sox spring training game would be exciting for both teams.

The Cubs and White Sox will also meet on February 28th and March 27th in Mesa, Arizona and on March 21st in Glendale, Arizona.

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