Hoyer: Cubs will need pitching surplus


Hoyer: Cubs will need pitching surplus

GLENDALE, Ariz. For an organization that has undergone sweeping changes, the Cubs dont really have many jobs open in camp. The hardest and most important decisions will be at the back end of the rotation.

I dont see a six-man rotation, especially early in the year, when you have extra days off, general manager Jed Hoyer said Sunday. I hope we have that problem. I hope the problem is because guys pitch well, not because they struggled down the stretch.

But Id love to have a quandary, so to speak. Were going to use eight, nine, 10 starters this year if were lucky. So the idea that we have, kind of, seven guys competing for five spots, thats an Opening Day issue. Thats not a season-long issue.

Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Paul Maholm are essentially locks. Hoyer declined to say whether the Cubs have made any progress with Garzas camp on a potential long-term extension.

Manager Dale Sveum has been raving about Jeff Samardzija, how hes on a mission and built to throw 200 innings. The Cubs also like the upside of Chris Volstad, whos 25 years old, 6-foot-8 and a former first-round pick.

Randy Wells has a track record in the big leagues (27-30, 4.01 ERA in 500-plus innings). The Cubs thought enough of Travis Wood to make him the centerpiece of the Sean Marshall trade with the Cincinnati Reds last December.

The Cubs could be looking at a surplus of starting pitching, which is exactly what they wanted to create over the winter. Rodrigo Lopez, Casey Coleman and Andy Sonnanstine are insurance against the injuries that devastated the Cubs last season.

No Bears move yet on CB Deiondre' Hall except maybe to safety

No Bears move yet on CB Deiondre' Hall except maybe to safety

PHOENIX – If the Bears intend to cut ties with Deiondre' Hall after the first-year cornerback become involved in an ugly police incident last weekend, they have not indicated their decision yet. They have, however, begun looking at a possible position change for Hall as they gather information on events of last Saturday night.

Hall was tasered by police in Cedar Falls, Ia., after he and a former Northern Iowa University teammate were allegedly involved in a fight at a bar. Hall was arrested and cited for disorderly conduct, public intoxication and interference. Hall allegedly spit in the officers' faces, according to an affidavit, police saying that an officer used a Taser on Hall's legs in order to get him into a squad car.

GM Ryan Pace confirmed that the team is still gathering information and said, "it's just [that] the circumstances are a little disappointing, to be honest with you. We're aware of it, it's just kind of gathering more facts as we go forward."

Pace has spoken to Hall and said that the team wanted to investigate thoroughly, "but the circumstances surrounding it are obviously disappointing."

In the meantime, the 2016 fourth-round draft choice is slated to be tried at safety when the team convenes for the start of offseason work. Hall played the position in college, and has traits that the Bears value at the safety position.

"One of Deiondre's best traits is his ball skills, his ball clock, the ability to time the pass breakup," Pace said. "He's very natural at playing safety and that's one of the reasons we drafted him, because he has the versatility to do both. That's something we're going to talk about this offseason and he could start taking some reps there in the offseason program."

Cornerback Kyle Fuller, who missed all of last season following arthroscopic knee surgery in mid-August, will stay at cornerback.

Is Addison Russell still on track for Opening Night?

Is Addison Russell still on track for Opening Night?

MESA, Ariz. – Addison Russell believes he will be ready for Opening Night. Right now, Cubs manager Joe Maddon says his All-Star shortstop starting the season on the disabled list is an option that "I'm not considering."

But Russell hasn't played in a Cactus League game since March 22 and the Cubs have only three exhibitions left before facing the St. Louis Cardinals on national TV. The new 10-day disabled list would also allow the Cubs to backdate Russell's injury (stiff back) to March 30 and create a degree of roster flexibility. 

"We're trying to start the season out on a good note and definitely in St. Louis," Russell said Tuesday. "That's kind of the goal, but if the back doesn't feel well until then, maybe that's something that we'll have to do. With the way that I'm feeling, I don't think that's necessary."

The Cubs did get Ben Zobrist (stiff neck) back into the lineup that afternoon against the San Francisco Giants at Sloan Park. Russell estimated he's around "95 percent" and hoped to play Wednesday before the Cubs leave Arizona and fly out for two exhibition games against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.      

"We're not trying to take it too quick," Russell said. "Missing a few games here in the spring is a lot better than a few games in the season. I've talked to Joe and there's no hurry back."

Five days out from what should be an electric atmosphere at Busch Stadium, Maddon said athletic trainer PJ Mainville didn't sound concerned about Russell's back issue.

"PJ felt very strongly that he's going to be fine over the next couple days," Maddon said. "From Addison's perspective, knowing baseball players who've been doing so well, you take a couple days off, you're concerned that you're going to lose it. 

"I'm certain he's going to be fine. Actually, I'm OK with him getting some rest right now. The biggest thing is: Medically, is he going to be fine? Everybody thinks that he is, so I'm not concerned."