Wellemeyer, Maine among latest Cubs cuts

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Wellemeyer, Maine among latest Cubs cuts

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Posted: 11:04 a.m. Updated: 7:48 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. The Cubs delayed the major decisions on their bullpen and rotation for another day, but their roster continues to come into focus.

Relievers Scott Maine and Justin Berg were optioned to Triple-A Iowa, while pitchers Todd Wellemeyer and Angel Guzman were assigned to minor-league camp. Another round of cuts on Wednesday sliced the overall number to 36 players.

By subtracting Maine a 26-year-old they think has a very bright future the Cubs will likely go with three other left-handers in their bullpen: Sean Marshall, John Grabow and James Russell.

READ: Marlon Byrd refuses to slow down

Manager Mike Quade wouldnt go quite that far just yet, only calling it a valid possibility thats prominent in my mind.

Maine made his major-league debut late last season and posted a 2.08 ERA in 13 relief appearances. But the left-hander struggled with the feel for his slider in Arizona and gave up five runs in six innings.

Im not going to do down there and bash them, Maine said. They told me that if I keep performing (like I did) last year and get better, then they dont see a reason why Im not up there again.

Wellemeyer has been dealing with a hip injury and hasnt pitched in a Cactus League game since March 12. It has been a string of bad luck for the 32-year-old non-roster invitee.

READ: Cubs will take another look at Cashner vs. Silva

Wellemeyers essentially pitched six innings since straining his quadriceps last June. That contributed to his release from the San Francisco Giants and missing out on the World Series experience. He plans to discuss his future with his agent, Barry Meister.

Very disappointing, Wellemeyer said. I didnt really get a single inning live during a game where I felt like there wasnt a stabbing pain on my hip. I wish I could have gone out there and been healthy, but it is what it is.

Guzman is the guy everyone in camp is rooting for. A series of injuries have derailed his once promising career, but he remains relentlessly upbeat and always has a smile on his face. Thats why the front office wouldnt hesitate to hire him as soon as hes done playing.

Exactly one year ago (March 23), Dr. James Andrews performed arthroscopic surgery on Guzmans right shoulder. As a non-roster player, he already packed up and moved out of the major-league clubhouse over the weekend. Hes scheduled to throw in a minor-league game next week, which would be another remarkable step in his journey.

Etc.

Ernie Banks will be honored by Major League Baseball in May alongside actor Morgan Freeman and musician Carlos Santana as part of the Civil Rights Game in Atlanta. Carlos Zambrano threw 82 pitches across four innings on Wednesday in a minor-league game. Catcher Max Ramirez (wrist) was scheduled for an MRI. Up next: vs. White Sox at HoHoKam Park, Matt Garza vs. Phil Humber, 4:05 p.m., CSN.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Joe Maddon offers up Cubs strength coach to be Madonna's trainer

Joe Maddon offers up Cubs strength coach to be Madonna's trainer

MESA, Ariz. — Think the stir-crazy Cubs have been in Arizona long enough? Near the end of a camp that has been relatively tame — at least compared to last year's parade of mimes, zoo animals and karaoke jams — manager Joe Maddon heard about Madonna's contest to find a new dance trainer and immediately thought of the man behind those gonzo stunts.

Because that's what a three-time Manager of the Year does. So the organization's content arm put together a one-minute clip nominating strength and conditioning coordinator Tim Buss, releasing it to 1.7 million followers on Friday through the @Cubs Twitter account.

"We're hoping that Madonna has an opportunity to check that out," Maddon said at the Sloan Park complex. "We're willing to send even more information — whatever she possibly needs — to see that our guy's the best."

[CUBS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Set to synthesized 1980s-style music, the aerobics video is rated more PG than the actual "Bussy" experience. The Cubs didn't show Buss leading the team stretch in a Speedo and a Lucha Libre mask. A slow-motion part of the montage does feature Buss standing alone in the clubhouse, dousing himself in beer during a clinching celebration.

"We could have made it more edgy," Maddon said. "There were so many more ways to go with it. I was kind of pleased with it. I thought it presented his abilities very well. His physique was presented in a manner that she could be duly impressed with the fact that our strength and conditioning coach fashions that form."

What if Madonna steals Buss from the Cubs?

"We could share somehow," Maddon said. "She'll fire him after a couple weeks anyway."

Jake Arrieta expects Cubs to have the best rotation in baseball

Jake Arrieta expects Cubs to have the best rotation in baseball

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Jake Arrieta is a Cy Young Award winner who won't get the Opening Night assignment. John Lackey is a No. 3 starter already fitted for his third World Series ring. Kyle Hendricks led the majors with a 2.13 ERA last year and won't start until the fifth game of this season.  

Do you feel like this is the best rotation in baseball?

"We're up there, yeah," Arrieta said after homering off Zack Greinke during Thursday afternoon's 5-5 tie with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. "I think on paper – and with what we've actually done on the field – it's tough to not say that.

"We like the guys we have. People can rank them, but time will tell. Once we get out there the first four or five times through the rotation, I think you can probably put a stamp on it then, more so than now. 

"But, yeah, we stack up just as well as anybody out there, for sure."  

Arrieta made it through five innings against the Diamondbacks, giving up three runs and eight hits in what figures to be his second-to-last Cactus League tune-up before facing the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 4. 

The New York Mets blew away Cubs hitters with their power pitching and game-planning during that 2015 National League Championship Series sweep. The Washington Nationals are trying to keep Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg healthy and already watched Tanner Roark deliver for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. 

The Cubs dreaded the idea of facing Johnny Cueto in a possible elimination game at Wrigley Field last October. The Los Angeles Dodgers almost became a matchup nightmare for the Cubs with lefties Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill during the 2016 NLCS.

But slotting Hendricks at No. 5 – five months after he started a World Series Game 7 – is a luxury few contenders can afford. 

"That just speaks to our length in the rotation," Arrieta said, "and being able to keep relievers out of the game, longer than most teams. That's a big deal, especially when you get into July and August. 

"Obviously, Kyle could be a 1 or 2 just about anywhere. Not that he's not here. We've got several of those, which is a good problem to have. It's going to be favorable for us when there's a No. 4 or No. 5 guy in our rotation going up against somebody else's. Our chances are really good, especially with our lineup." 

Arrieta talked up No. 4 starter Brett Anderson as "a little bit like Hendricks from the left side" in terms of his preparation, cerebral nature and spin rate, a combination that makes him an X-factor for this rotation and an organization starved for pitching beyond 2017. 

The if-healthy disclaimer always comes with Anderson, who played with Arrieta on the 2008 Olympic team and has been on the disabled list nine times since then. Coming out of high school, Arrieta initially signed to play for Anderson's father, Frank, the Oklahoma State University coach at the time, before going in a different direction in a career that wouldn't truly take off until he got to Chicago. 

"We're all looking forward to seeing how we pick up where we left off," Arrieta said. "Judging by what we've done this spring and the shape guys are in and the health – I don't see any reason we can't jump out to an early lead like we did last year and sustain it throughout the entire season."