Category: Dailies

3/25 Redford to throw out 1st pitch

Ron Santo Jr. will lead the crowd in the seventh inning stretch and actor Robert Redford will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Cubs’ home opener April 1. Redford will be in Chicago to support his new movie, “The Conspirator,” which opens April 15. He did go to Colorado on a baseball scholarship and was a high school teammate of Don Drysdale.

Santo Jr. will sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Ron Santo Sr. passed away in December at the age of 70. The Cubs will be wearing No. 10 patches in Santo’s honor this season and will dedicate a statue on Aug. 10 outsie Wrigley.

— Carrie Muskat

3/24 Looper, pitching, Garza & more

Braden Looper doesn’t seem to have many options left with the Cubs. The right-hander, one of the candidates for the fifth starter spot, threw two innings in relief in the Cubs’ 8-7 win Thursday over the White Sox. Looper, who lives in the Chicago area, has said if he doesn’t make the Cubs, he will likely retire.

“He’s got two options — he’s got the back end of the bullpen and fifth starter,” manager Mike Quade said. “You believe he can do either one, if that’s the way we go. That versatility and the fact he’s a veteran all plays into it.”

Looper, who did not pitch in 2010 after failing to hook up with a team, said he prefers to start.

“You don’t know what they’re thinking or what they’re pondering,” Looper said of the Cubs’ front office. “I’ve come and done the best I can. Obviously, I had the terrible outing the other day but that doesn’t speak for all I did this spring.

“It’s one of those things — whatever happens, happens,” he said. “I’ll feel good about myself and move on, either way.”

* The Cubs have 16 pitchers in camp and need to trim four. Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Matt Garza and Randy Wells are in the rotation. Looper, Carlos Silva and Andrew Cashner are fighting for the fifth spot.

Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall, John Grabow and Jeff Samardzija are set in the bullpen. That leaves lefty James Russell and right-handers Casey Coleman, Marcos Mateo and Jeff Stevens on the bubble. Russell served up back to back homers on consecutive pitches to two right-handed hitters in the eighth but also got Adam Dunn to ground out and end the inning. Quade spoke to Russell immediately after the inning was over.

“The main thing I told him was that he’ll have to get right-handers out, too,” Quade said. “His role will vary from time to time. … The job he did against Dunn in that at-bat was how I pictured using him the best we can.”

* The Pirates announced right-hander Kevin Correia will be their Opening Day starter on April 1 against the Cubs.

* Matt Garza didn’t get caught up in the Cubs/White Sox rivalry. He started Thursday, and gave up three runs on eight hits and two walks over five innings.

“It’s a baseball game,” Garza said of the intracity rivalry. “It’s more for the fans. You step on the mound and you’re just looking at who do I have? It’s not, ‘Oh, he’s wearing a Sox jersey, he’s wearing an A’s jersey, he’s wearing a Padres, Dodgers, Mets, Yankees’ — it doesn’t matter. It’s still baseball. They have a job to do to hit the ball and I have a job to do to get outs.”

Will it be more intense in the regular season?

“Nah,” Garza said. “Shoot, I played in Boston during the playoff run, stretch time, and you’re the most hated person on that hill. I’m pretty sure Chicago will like me a little better than that.”

* Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney turned two very nice double plays behind Garza in the third and fourth innings.

“You got stuff like that going on behind you, it’s a lot easier to pitch,” Garza said. “You’re a lot more confident, a lot more comfortable out there. That’s a good deal. I haven’t played in front of them very often but today they were a very good duo out there.”

Barney, who found out earlier in the day he had made the Opening Day roster, also hit a two-run triple, and Castro doubled and scored two runs.

* Alfonso Soriano hit his second homer this spring to right center in the fourth Thursday.

— Carrie Muskat

3/24 Quade on roster moves

Darwin Barney has had an impressive spring camp and appears to have passed Blake DeWitt on the Cubs’ depth chart at second base. This will be Barney’s first Opening Day on a big league roster; he batted .299 last season at Iowa and was hitting .359 this spring.

“He’s played himself into significant time and, it’s Spring Training,” manager Mike Quade said. “[Barney] is making progress. He does a lot of things outside of the batter’s box that you really like. He’s given himself every chance to be an important part of this infield. Now we’ll go north and see what happens in April.”

DeWitt has struggled. He’s been playing only second base this spring but will now play some third because the Cubs may need to use him as a backup there.

“We’ll be patient with him,” Quade said of DeWitt. “He’s 25 years old. He’s a .260 lifetime big league hitter and we’ll expect him to get a lot better.

“We want to give him a chance to develop as much as he could at second base,” Quade said. “That’s still a work in progress, there’s no question. He did a good job for us last year and his numbers at the big league level were good. … He needs to get better and he will.”

Reed Johnson, a non-roster invitee on the Cubs for the second time, also made the Opening Day roster. He was hitting .231. Fernando Perez, acquired from the Rays in the Matt Garza deal, hit .143 in 16 games and was optioned to Triple-A Iowa.

“I believe Fernando needs to go play,” Quade said. “The guy’s blessed with unbelievable speed.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/24 Cubs trim 5: Scales, Ojeda, Moore, Camp, Perez

The Cubs trimmed five more players from the spring roster, optioning outfielder Fernando Perez to Triple-A Iowa and assigning Bobby Scales, Augie Ojeda, Scott Moore and Matt Camp to the Minor League camp. The moves leave 31 in camp, including 16 pitchers, four catchers, six infielders and five outfielders.

Perez hit .143 in 16 games. His departure means Reed Johnson has made the Opening Day roster. It also would appear that Darwin Barney has made his first Opening Day roster.

Ojeda has been bothered by back spasms, limiting him to seven games. Scales hit .375, Moore .342 and Camp .200.

— Carrie Muskat

3/24 Cubs lineup vs White Sox

The White Sox will use a DH in Thursday’s Cactus League game against the Cubs at HoHoKam Park in Mesa. The game will start one hour later at 2:05 p.m. Arizona time, and be broadcast on Comcast Sports Net and These two teams will meet again June 20-22 at U.S. Cellular Field, and July 1-3 at Wrigley Field. Here’s the lineups:

RF Fukudome
SS B-day boy Starlin Castro (he turns 21 Thursday)
CF Byrd
3B Ramirez
1B Pena
LF Soriano
2B Barney
C Hill
P Garza

Here’s the White Sox lineup:

LF Pierre
2B Vizquel
DH Dunn
1B Konerko
CF Rios
RF Quentin
C Pierzynski
SS Ramirez
3B Morel

— Carrie Muskat

3/23 Roster decisions, Silva, Z, & Casey

Manager Mike Quade lost some sleep Tuesday night while making some pitching decisions. On Wednesday, he’ll be tossing and turning over which regulars make the final 25-man roster. The Cubs need to pick an extra infielder and outfielder for the bench.

* Carlos Zambrano threw 82 pitches over four innings in the Cubs’ Minor League camp for the Triple-A team against the Diamondbacks.

* Casey Coleman had a solid 1-2-3 inning in relief in the seventh Wednesday. The right-hander could be an option in the bullpen. “Casey has been a starter,” Quade said. “You see an inning today [and think] could he come back and give you three [innings] in a couple days? Could he do that in the midst of being a Major League starter someday? It’s encouraging to see him get up in a bullpen situation, come in and get three outs there.”

* Carlos Silva had his best spring outing, giving up one run on three
hits over six innings in the Cubs’ 3-1 win over the Athletics. Now what?

“This means that decisions remain tough and we have to figure it out and
we’re thrilled that guys are competing and making it tough,” Quade
said. “We’ll see how this plays out and I’ll milk it as long as I can,
to be honest.”

Silva, competing with Andrew Cashner and Braden Looper for the final spot, took to heart some advice from pitcher Ryan Dempster.

“Today he said, ‘I don’t want you to give me 100 percent, I want you to
give me 80 percent,'” Silva said of his conversation with the Cubs’
Opening Day starter.

That might sound counter-productive, but the message was to try to not
do too much. Calm down, don’t overthrow, and trust your stuff. Wednesday
was Silva’s last chance.

“I needed this game,” Silva said. “It doesn’t matter if I make the
rotation, it’s personal. I needed a good game. I don’t know what the
decision will be but personally I needed this game just to start
building my confidence and trust myself a little more. Next time I’ll go
out with a more positive attitude.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/23 Cashner & Jaden

Jaden Justice got an inside look at the Cubs’ clubhouse on Wednesday, a guest of pitcher Andrew Cashner. Justice, 12, is an outpatient at Cardon Children’s Hospital in Mesa, and undergoing treatment for cancer. The trip was coordinated by Southwest Ambulance, part of a program called “Spring Training Transports.” Jaden came ready — he’d painted a Cubs red and blue “C” on the back of his head.

— Carrie Muskat

3/23 Looking ahead to Cubs vs. White Sox

On Thursday, the Cubs and White Sox will meet one more time before the regular season. The White Sox are expected to use a DH; Mike Quade posted his lineup, and said he wants Matt Garza to get some at-bats. Here’s the early lineup for Thursday:

RF Fukudome
SS Castro
CF Byrd
3B Ramirez
1B Pena
LF Soriano
2B Barney
C Hill
P Garza

— Carrie Muskat

3/23 Cubs roster moves

The Cubs trimmed four from the spring camp roster, including lefty Scott Maine and right-hander Justin Berg. Maine and Berg were optioned to Triple-A Iowa, while Todd Wellemeyer and Angel Guzman were both assigned to the Minor League camp. Guzman is rehabbing from right shoulder surgery and scheduled to throw in a game next week. Wellemeyer was a non-roster invitee. Trimming Maine most likely means the Cubs will have three lefties in the bullpen in John Grabow, James Russell and Sean Marshall. The moves bring the roster to 36 now.

* Also, catcher Max Ramirez was to get an MRI on his left wrist on Wednesday.

— Carrie Muskat