In to every life a little rain must fall, even in the valley of the sun. The Cubs finished their first weekend of full squad workouts with a few days of rain, moving hitters indoors and limiting outdoor activities to playing catch. Here at BP Wrigleyville’s Worcester (MA) Bureau, where we are staring out the windows at a foot of snow that just will not melt, we would gladly welcome a few days of rain in exchange for several days of 85 degrees and sun. However, you, the loyal BP reader, did not come here to catch up on the writer’s Northeast seasonal depression. No, you came here to catch up on some cactus, so let’s do just that.
Putting In Work
- Via Carrie Muskat, the Cubs announced the expected front foursome of Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Kyle Hendricks will not start the first week of games. This is part of the organization’s plan to ease back in the quarter, who pitched into November and own a combined 7,500 career regular season and postseason innings. In recent springs, the Cubs have cautious with Arrieta’s and Lester’s workloads early in camp, so this has become business as usual. In their stead, fifth starter candidates Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery will get their respective chances to start in the first week.
- Kyle Schwarber spent this week getting accustomed to life behind the plate as he prepares to be the team’s third catcher. On Friday, he caught John Lackey’s bullpen session, and the plan is to have him start there once or twice a week throughout the spring. Schwarber started 15 games behind the dish after being called up in 2015. He is also still being considered for the leadoff hitter role, which means the Cubs will probably be interested in protecting his legs.
- We got our first looks at Wade Davis, Jon Jay, and Koji Uehara in Cubs uniforms, but not much more of them than that to this point.
On Wednesday, left-handed reliever David Rollins was designated for assignment to make room for Alec Mills. Rollins, who relies primarily on a fourseam and change up, held the distinction of being claimed off waivers by the Cubs twice this past offseason. In his two seasons with Seattle, Rollins struggled mightily (1.86 WHIP and 5.10 DRA), and had little success in retiring left-handed batters (.899 left-handed batter’s opponent’s OPS against). Fare thee well, Rollins, until we meet again on the waiver wire.
Yes, Tom Ricketts did speak on his desire for the Cubs to become an “elite” franchise, Miguel Montero deflected any suggestions he’s frustrated with his backup role heading into the season, and Jake Arrieta declared he’s not focused on his pending free agency. For the most part, however, as of this writing it’s been All Quiet on the Mesa front. You might recall, though, that among the other notable camp happenings, last spring training featured strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss being taped to a chair. We also had Joe Maddon’s relaxed attitude towards team dress codes, encapsulated succinctly with his motto, “If you think you look hot, wear it.” Both of these events took place in March, because, as you might imagine, as camp stretches into the Ides of March and the bus trips pile up, it becomes a little harder to keep your sanity.
It was a relatively quiet first week in Arizona, which can only be taken as good news for a defending World Series champion. This week will close with the beginning of exhibition baseball, as they open Saturday afternoon against the Oakland Athletics. In the meantime, enjoy the return of sunshine and green grass. It’s good to be back.
Lead photo courtesy Rick Scuteri—USA Today Sports