February 2009

Lou and Ozzie

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was a little disappointed in Cubs manager Lou Piniella. First of all, Guillen says Piniella is reading books by “mellow” people like Tony Dungy and John Wooden. Guillen would prefer to read material by someone who is more fiery like Piniella himself or Billy Martin.

Guillen also was insulted that Piniella accidentally hung up on him. Earlier in February, when the Cubs were at Fitch Park, Guillen tried to call because he wanted to use the designated hitter in Saturday’s game. But Piniella didn’t hear anyone on the other end of the call, so he hung up. On Saturday, Guillen let Piniella know he wasn’t happy about that.

“I told Ozzie, ‘Whatever you want, we’ll accomodate you,'” Piniella said of his conversation Saturday. “He said today, ‘Can I have a couple of your players?'”

— Carrie Muskat

Hello, everybody

There were plenty of Chicagoans on hand Saturday. The game between the Cubs and White Sox drew a HoHoKam Park record 13,010, topping the old mark of 12,917 set March 30, 2007, vs. Arizona.

— Carrie Muskat

Marmol to WBC

Carlos Marmol has changed his mind and will pitch for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. The right-hander said Saturday he talked to Felipe Alou and Stan Javier, both on the Dominican coaching staff, and decided to participate. Lou Piniella says he’s OK with Marmol’s decision.

— Carrie Muskat

Saturday in the park

The Cubs and infielder Corey Koskie have agreed to terms on a Minor League contract. Koskie, a career .275 hitter, has not played since 2006 because of a severe concussion. He is on Team Canada’s roster, and will join the Cubs after the World Baseball Classic ends.

Here’s the Cubs’ lineup vs. White Sox: LF Alfonso Soriano, SS Aaron Miles, 1B Derrek Lee, DH Micah Hoffpauir, 3B Aramis Ramirez, 2B Mike Fontenot, RF Brad Snyder, C Koyie Hill, CF Joey Gathright. Aaron Heilman will make his first start and appearance for the Cubs.

In other pregame news:

  • There is a report that Carlos Marmol will play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. We’re checking on that.
  • The Cubs will take 18 players to Las Vegas for their two-game series vs. the White Sox Wednesday and Thursday. Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot and Alfonso Soriano are on the travel squad.
  • Rich Harden threw on Saturday but not to hitters. He’s about one week to 10 days away from getting in a Cactus League game.
  • Milton Bradley reported to camp, and is feeling better but will not play this weekend. He left Thursday’s game because of mild tightness in his quad. He’s day to day.

— Carrie Muskat

It's pronounced hof-POWER

Micah Hoffpauir likes getting the at-bats but doesn’t necessarily want to be the ironman of the Cactus League. Hoffpauir, who started Friday at first base for the Cubs against Texas, hit a three-run homer, his second this spring, in a seven-run second inning.

Lou Piniella says he’s trying to keep some power in the lineup, and Hoffpauir has come through. On Friday against the Rangers, Mike Fontenot delivered, and smacked a two-run homer and two-run-triple.

— Carrie Muskat

Friday quick hits

Milton Bradley showed up at Cubs camp feeling ill on Friday and was sent home. Bradley was lifted from Thursday’s game after drawing a walk because of tightness in his left quad, and told Cubs athletic trainer Mark O’Neal he was still sore Friday. He’s not expected to play this weekend.

Other news and notes:

  • Rich Harden will throw to hitters for the first time this spring on Saturday. Harden isn’t ready for games yet.
  • The Cubs will use a designated hitter on Saturday against the White Sox. Aramis Ramirez may get the assignment.
  • No truth to the rumor that Lou Piniella is trying to get Micah Hoffpauir in every game this spring. It just seems that way.
  • Piniella is very high on Andrew Cashner, the Cubs’ 2008 first round draft pick. “He’s a good looking kid,” Piniella said. “He has a very simple delivery, he can duplicate his pitches. This kid is going to come along very quick. He might not spend too much time in the Minors.”
  • Sunday’s matchup in Peoria will be interesting. Ryan Dempster will face San Diego’s Jake Peavy. This winter, the Cubs and Padres discussed a possible trade for Peavy.  

— Carrie Muskat

Friday's game plan

Here’s Friday’s Cubs lineup: SS Ryan Theriot, CF Reed Johnson, 1B Micah Hoffpauir, DH Jason Dubois, C Geovany Soto, 2B Mike Fontenot, LF Doug Deeds, 3B Luis Rivas, RF So Taguchi. Ted Lilly will start, his only Cactus League tuneup before he leaves for Florida to join Team USA. It also could be Soto’s last Cactus League game before he departs to join the Puerto Rican team to prepare for the World Baseball Classic.

Cubs hitting coach Gerald Perry may be back. He had left the team to be with family following the death of his father.

— Carrie Muskat

Big red head

Rick Sutcliffe made sure the Cubs’ coaching staff and manager Lou Piniella each had a celebratory beer after Thursday’s game. Sutcliffe was the honorary manager for the Cubs’ 7-4 win over the Brewers at HoHoKam Park.

“A year ago, I had a colonoscopy and found out I had cancer,” Sutcliffe said. “Today, I managed the Cubs.”

Sutcliffe was taking all the credit for the win, but wanted nothing to do with Milton Bradley having to leave in the first with tightness in his quad.

“I just wanted to give him an at-bat,” Sutcliffe said of Bradley. “If there’s anything wrong with him, I’ll be blamed for that.”

The Cubs’ lineup wasn’t exactly loaded with regulars. Aramis Ramirez was the only carryover from the 2008 team.

“I don’t know if you noticed but the lineup had more guys with numbers over 60 than under 60,” Sutcliffe said. “I don’t know if [Ryne] Sandberg could’ve won with that lineup. We found a way to motivate them, didn’t we, Skip?”

Actually, there was only one starter with a number over 60 and that was No. 65, Darwin Barney. He had a hit. Jake Fox helped Sutcliffe, hitting a three-run homer.

“That was your pick to click, wasn’t it?” Piniella said of Fox.

Thursday was Sutcliffe’s last day, which is appropriate since the big redhead never pitched an away game when he played for the Cubs. Friday, the team travels to Surprise.

“We enjoy having him in camp,” Piniella said. “It’s going to be a little more quiet here tomorrow.”

— Carrie Muskat


Milton Bradley update

Bradley left the Cubs’ game Thursday after drawing a walk in the first inning because of mild tightness in his left quad, which he felt before the game started. “If it’s April 6, I play,” Bradley said.

— Carrie Muskat

Game boy

Lou Piniella has said he wants to give the regulars more rest this season and doesn’t want guys peaking too soon this spring, but it was odd to see Milton Bradley pulled after drawing a walk in the first inning Thursday. Bradley did have to run to snare Rickie Weeks’ fly ball in the Brewers’ first. Should have more info postgame.

— Carrie Muskat