Cubs have Opening Day lineup set, but Mather will keep pushing

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Cubs have Opening Day lineup set, but Mather will keep pushing

MESA, Ariz. Joe Mathers wrist felt good enough to grab the job by the throat.

Thats how Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer described the impression Mather made on the coaching staff and the front office this spring. After multiple surgeries, Mather finally feels healthy, and notices the ball jumping off his bat again.

Mather woke up on Friday hitting .418 with 11 extra-base hits, already knowing that he made the team. He appears to be over a wrist problem similar to the one that has plagued ex-Cub Mark DeRosa, whos been limited to just 73 games combined over the last two seasons and is now in camp with the Washington Nationals.

Its something that they tell you takes six weeks to heal, Mather said. And when you come back, you find out thats not necessarily the case. You lose a lot of the whip in your swing and kind of everything that you taught yourself to do. You have to adjust.

After years of frustration, its gone smooth enough that manager Dale Sveum has talked about riding out Mathers hot bat for as long as possible, and called him a perfect fit for a team that has left-handed corner players.

Sveum said the lineup he wrote out for Fridays game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at HoHoKam Stadium looks like the one you will see on Opening Day at Wrigley Field against the Nationals:

1. David DeJesus, RF (L)
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Starlin Castro, SS
4. Bryan LaHair, 1B (L)
5. Alfonso Soriano, LF
6. Ian Stewart, 3B (L)
7. Marlon Byrd, CF
8. Geovany Soto, C
9. Ryan Dempster, P
Mathers not in there, but it sounds like he can take some at-bats and become much more than the 25th man on the roster. He can play first and third base and in Sveums mind all three outfield spots at an above-average level. He once even pitched two innings for the St. Louis Cardinals during a 20-inning loss to the New York Mets in 2010.

I told him in his meeting: Youre a guy who can do a lot of things, Sveum said. Hes the kind of guy that you just ride out, whatever position it might be (and) hopefully it will last a long time.

Dont ever think youre just a bench player and youre not going to be pushing somebody to play every day.

Mather, 29, has spent time on the Triple-A level in each of the past five seasons. He went to high school in the Phoenix area and lives here in the offseason, which gave him a support system that helped him stay focused and relaxed during camp.

Mather showed enough power for the Cardinals in 2008 eight homers in 133 at-bats that you wonder how much more is in there now that hes back at full strength.

I think if someone would have told me that I (would have) this (kind) of camp, Mather said, I would have been jumping up and down. Its been awesome. They gave me quite a bit of opportunity and I was able to play well. It feels really good to take advantage.

Bears Talk Podcast: Reacting to acquisition of QB Mitch Trubisky

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USA TODAY

Bears Talk Podcast: Reacting to acquisition of QB Mitch Trubisky

In the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Bears traded up to No. 2 overall and drafted QB Mitchell Trubisky out of North Carolina. Chris Boden, Alex Brown, and Hub Arkush sat down and talked about the moves made by Ryan Pace and what this means for the franchise's future. 

Also, hear from Trubisky himself speaking at the podium in Philadelphia as well as his former Tarheel Head Coach, Larry Fedora on what the signal caller can bring to the Bears. Finally, listen to the full podium availability of Pace after day one of the draft.

Listen to the Bears Talk Podcast below.

Bears will not have quarterback competition: ‘Glennon is our starter’

Bears will not have quarterback competition: ‘Glennon is our starter’

The Bears’ aggressive decision to trade up and draft Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 pick won’t create a quarterback competition this summer and fall, general manager Ryan Pace said. 

Pace made it clear that Mike Glennon, who the Bears signed in March, will be the team’s starting quarterback when they open the 2017 season Sept. 10 against the Atlanta Falcons. 

“There’s no quarterback competition when Mitch gets here,” Pace said. “Glennon is our starting quarterback. We’ll focus on Mitch’s development and Mike Glennon winning games for the Chicago Bears.”

Both Glennon and Trubisky, though, are no strangers to quarterback competitions — and coming out on the wrong side of them. Glennon, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, lost his starting job midway through the 2013 season to Josh McCown, then permanently was relegated to backup duty when Jamies Winston was picked first overall in 2014. 

Trubisky, too, was unable to beat out Marquise Williams for North Carolina’s starting quarterback job in 2014 and 2015, only taking over after the graduation of Williams, an undrafted free agent who didn’t stick on an NFL roster. Pace pointed to Williams having “chemistry” within the Tarheels’ offense, though, which powered North Carolina to an 11-win season in 2015. 

Pace said the Bears don’t have a timetable for when they expect Trubisky to take over as the team’s starter. But given Glennon’s contract is structured so the Bears could cut him for $2.5 million next year — bringing his guaranteed money to $18.5 million — there could be an opening for Trubisky as soon as 2018.

It’s worth noting, too, that it’s rare for quarterbacks in the same range as Trubisky to not play in their rookie years. The last quarterback drafted in the top 10 to not start a game their first year in the league was Tennessee’s Jake Locker (eighth overall) in 2011. And the last time a quarterback effectively was benched his entire rookie year was 2004, when fourth overall pick Philip Rivers appeared in two games and attempted eight passes for the San Diego Chargers.

But the Bears won’t plan on Trubisky taking playing time away from Glennon this fall, and feel they have an ideal situation set up to develop their highest draft pick since the AFL-NFL merger. 

“I talked to Mike tonight, he understands the competitiveness of our business at every single position,” Pace said. “Mike also understands he’s our starting quarterback. Mike’s been here working hard all the time, already developing leadership with his teammates. I’m extremely excited about Mike Glennon this season and I’m extremely excited about adding Mitch to our roster.”