Cubs slug past White Sox in spring matchup

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Cubs slug past White Sox in spring matchup

Thursday, March 24, 2011
CSNChicago.comAssociated Press
MESA, Ariz. (AP) The Chicago Cubs and the White Sox both took steps toward completing their Opening Day rosters on Thursday.The Cubs cut four infielders and an outfielder. Rookie Darwin Barney has made the club as an infielder and possible starting second baseman, as well as veteran non-roster man Reed Johnson.The White Sox named rookie Brent Morel their starting third baseman and reaffirmed that Phil Humber would be their fifth starter.Barney had a big day, hitting a two-run triple and a single in the Cubs' 8-7 victory over their crosstown rivals. He also had a hand in turning two double plays."It's good to know that Phase 1 is done," said Barney, who played in 30 games for the Cubs last year. "The job's done. I worked my (butt) off. I'm breaking with the Chicago Cubs. It's pretty amazing. Now the focus is on the team. It's on winning."The Cubs opened camp with a platoon at second of Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt. However, DeWitt has struggled this spring, batting .167, and will now take grounders at third base in addition to second in preparation for a possible backup role at both spots."He's struggled," said manager Mike Quade. "But we're going to be patient with him. He's 25 years old. He's a .260 lifetime big-league hitter. We're going to expect him to get a lot better. I've asked him to play nothing but second base. We will change that a little bit. We're going to continue his work at second. We're going to ask him to take some balls at third and look at it as that being a possibility as well."I've been thrilled to death with the way Baker and Barney have played. We know what Bake accomplished last year against left-handed pitching, and Barney's a young kid who's on the come. It's still a competition. You've still got to perform."The Cubs jumped on Humber for two runs in the first inning and one in the second. Humber (0-2) worked 4 1-3 innings, giving up five hits and seven runs. He also walked four and struck out four."My command today was terrible," Humber said. "Not just the walks, but falling behind guys. It's hard to expect good results when you're walking guys and falling behind like this."White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said he was not disappointed in Humber's performance and that he'd likely start April 6 against the Royals."No, the first inning was a little struggle," Guillen said. "I don't see anybody out there better than what we have. This guy already has the innings."Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza (1-3) worked five innings, giving up eight hits and three runs. He walked two and struck out four.The Cubs got a fourth-inning solo homer from Alfonso Soriano, his third of the spring. The White Sox got homers from Omar Vizquel (No. 2), Alexei Ramirez (No. 4) and Donny Lucy (No. 1).Notes:
The Cubs optioned OF Fernando Perez to Class AAA Iowa. They also assigned non-roster infielders Matt Camp, Scott Moore, Augie Ojeda and Bobby Scales to their minor-league complex. ... White Sox OF Juan Pierre fouled a ball off his right shin in his third plate appearance and left the game after finishing the at-bat. The White Sox said the move was precautionary and that Pierre's injury is not serious.
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For Cubs, winter meetings will be all about the hunt for pitching 

For Cubs, winter meetings will be all about the hunt for pitching 

As the Cubs prepare for the winter meetings outside Washington, D.C., their messaging might as well be: It’s the pitching, stupid.

This is an arms race that will never end, the Cubs trying to defend their first World Series title in 108 years, build out a bullpen that looked pretty thin by November and target the kind of young starter who could help anchor their rotation for years to come, ensuring Wrigleyville remains baseball’s biggest party.

The Cubs signed Brian Duensing to a one-year, $2 million contract on Friday, placing a small bet on a lefty specialist who spent parts of last season on the Triple-A level but made a good enough impression during his 13-plus innings with the Baltimore Orioles.

As executives, scouts, agents and reporters begin to flood into National Harbor on Sunday, the Cubs will intensify their search for pitching, everything from headliners to insurance policies to prospects.

“That’s been the significant bulk of our efforts,” general manager Jed Hoyer said, “It’s definitely not going to be through lack of trying on our part to make that kind of deal. That’s now. That’s at the deadline.”  

The Cubs are preparing for Opening Day 2018, when Jake Arrieta will probably be in a different uniform after signing his megadeal, John Lackey might be kicking back in Texas and enjoying retirement and Jon Lester will be 34 years old with maybe 2,300 innings on his odometer. 

The Cubs have unwavering faith in their pitching infrastructure at the major-league level, from the scouting and analytic perspectives that identified the right sign-and-flip deals during the rebuilding years to the coaching staff that helped mold Kyle Hendricks into a Cy Young Award finalist and a World Series Game 7 starter.

Mike Montgomery notched the final out against the Cleveland Indians and the Cubs see him as their next big project. The lefty checks so many of their boxes, from age (27) to size (6-foot-5) to pedigree (former first-round pick/top prospect) to the change-of-scenery confidence boost/mental reset.

Forget about the White Sox trading Chris Sale to the North Side and don’t just think about obvious names or trade partners. Maybe it’s making a deal for a guy you never heard of before and sifting through the non-tender bin. (As expected, the Cubs offered contracts to arbitration-eligible pitchers Arrieta, Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm before Friday’s deadline. Their 40-man roster stands at 35 after non-tendering lefties Gerardo Concepcion and Zac Rosscup, right-hander Conor Mullee and infielder Christian Villanueva.)

Remember how team president Theo Epstein framed the Montgomery trade with the Seattle Mariners this summer – comparing him to All-Star reliever Andrew Miller – and that gives you an idea of how they can address their pitching deficit this winter. 

“If your scouts do a good job of identifying the guys who are trending in the right direction – and you’re willing to take a shot – sometimes there’s a big payoff at the end,” Epstein said.   

While the Cubs did Jason Hammel a favor by cutting him loose and allowing him to explore the market as one of the best pitchers in an extremely weak class of free agents, Montgomery has only 23 big-league starts on his resume. 

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

The Cubs had five starters make at least 29 starts this year, while four starters accounted for 30-plus starts in 2015, a remarkable run that led to 200 wins.

“As we’ve talked about so many times,” Hoyer said, “we do have an imbalance in our organization – hitting vs. pitching – and we’re trying to make sure we can accumulate as much pitching depth as possible. 

“We were very healthy this year, which was wonderful and a big part of why we won the World Series. I don’t think you can always count on that kind of health every single year. Building up a reservoir of depth – preferably guys you can option (to the minors) – is something (we’re trying) to accomplish.”  

The Cubs have Jorge Soler stuck in a crowded outfield plus the types of interesting prospects who appear to be blocked – catcher Victor Caratini, third baseman Jeimer Candelario, infielder/outfielder Ian Happ – to make relatively painless trades for pitching (if not the kind of blockbuster deal that dominates coverage of the winter meetings).

Lefty reliever Brett Cecil getting a four-year, $30.5 million deal and no-trade protection from the St. Louis Cardinals became another sign of how shallow this free-agent pool is for starting pitchers and a reflection of a postseason where the bullpen became a major storyline.

The idea of Kenley Jansen intrigues the Cubs – and Aroldis Chapman made a favorable impression during his three-plus months with the team – but Epstein’s front office already made the major upgrades for 2017 by spending nearly $290 million on free agents after the 2015 playoff run. Philosophically, the Cubs also see smarter long-term investments than trying to win a bidding war for a guy who might throw 70 innings a year. 

With that in mind, the Cubs could get creative and have looked at free agent Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer with the Kansas City Royals who didn’t pitch this year after having Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.  

Remember that Chapman left the New York Yankees and joined a team that had a 56-1 record when leading entering the ninth inning. If Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. can’t handle the late shifts, then the Cubs could always go out and trade for another closer in the middle of a pennant race.    

The Cubs have the luxuries of time, zero pressure from ownership, their fan base or the Chicago media and a stacked, American League-style lineup. 

“Right now, we could go play from an offensive standpoint and feel very good about our group,” Hoyer said. “We’re going to still continue to look to improve the depth in our bullpen, improve the depth in our starting rotation. Those are things that probably never go away. You probably never stop trying to build that depth.” 

What will LeBron James wear to pay up on Cubs World Series bet with Dwyane Wade?

What will LeBron James wear to pay up on Cubs World Series bet with Dwyane Wade?

LeBron James is coming to town, and he will be all decked out in Cubs gear.

The Cavs are in Chicago to take on the Bulls Friday night at the United Center and it's time for LeBron to pay up on his World Series bet with Dwyane Wade.

The two former teammates made the wager during the World Series as LeBron's hometown Indians took on Wade's hometown Cubs, with the loser wearing the winning baseball team's gear when they showed up in the opposing city. This is LeBron's first trip to Chicago this season.

Wade and LeBron already acknowledged they're having fun with this and have a whole spectacle planned with a national TV audience.

LeBron told the Akron Beacon Journal he's not going to try to take the easy way out and just toss on a Cubs jersey. He is planning socks, hat, pants and possibly more. But he won't wear cleats or bring a glove with him.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

When the Cubs won it all a month ago Friday, Wade posted an Instagram photo of LeBron wearing a Cubs uniform:

And ESPN had a cutout of LeBron sporting a No. 23 Cubs road gray jersey outside the United Center Friday morning:

CSN Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill wonders whether LeBron will don signature Joe Maddon glasses, too.

This is gonna be fun, you guys.