GLENDALE, Ariz. – Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Javier Baez have become the big names for Cubs fans, even though they’re years away from playing together at Wrigley Field, if that day ever comes.
It says something about the explosion of information across the Internet, the power of social media and where the Cubs are as an organization. It’s the mash-up of Big Data and The Foundation for Sustained Success.
Manager Dale Sveum was out on Thursday night with the team’s media relations director at a WGN-sponsored event in Scottsdale when the beat writers started sending text messages wanting to know what happened to Almora.
The Cubs spokesman confirmed the tweet that caught fire: “Not a good day! Broke my Hamate bone!”
[RELATED: Elite prospect Almora breaks hamate bone]
When asked if he follows Almora on Twitter, the old-school manager responded: “You guys know I don’t twit.”
The Cubs obviously guard that kind of information closely, and would have been fine with making an announcement on Friday morning. But they aren’t overly concerned about Almora’s condition. The first player drafted by the Theo Epstein administration will need minor surgery that will likely keep him out of game action until late May.
“It’s not a career problem or anything like that,” Sveum said at Camelback Ranch. “It’s just more of a pain-in-the-butt-type thing that happens to quite a few hitters over the history of the game. That little bone doesn’t mean anything – you don’t even need it.
“It will end up costing him, who knows, four to six to possibly eight weeks, I guess, before he gets in a game. But the good part about it is it’s one of those things where you just take it out and be done with it.”
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Almora, who will turn 19 next month, injured his left hand on Thursday while taking a swing. Along with Soler, the $30 million Cuban outfielder, and Baez, the 2011 first-round pick, he has become a focus for all the diehards on Twitter, as well as a talking point for the front office.
“It’s exciting for the road to come,” Almora said recently. “Just looking forward to this year first and then we’ll move on to next year and the year after. But I’m just excited to be a part of this. This organization’s going to do great things.”
But the early projections for 2013 had Almora at Class-A Kane County and Soler and Baez at Class-A Daytona. The Cubs know they don’t have a ton of players knocking down the door at the upper levels.
Josh Vitters – the third overall pick in the 2007 draft – appeared in his first Cactus League game on Thursday as he recovers from a quadriceps strain. Once he’s healthy, the Cubs have talked about using him at third base and in the outfield at Triple-A Iowa this season.
“There’s always urgency in this game,” Vitters said, “because there’s always guys coming up that can take whatever position it is that I have. So, absolutely, I want to get back on the field and play every day as soon as (it’s) the right time for me. I’m just going to be smart about it and make sure that I’m ready 100 percent before I do so.”
As much as the fans and the media have hyped certain prospects, the Cubs know they can’t count on a player here and a player there. They need waves and waves of talent to be crashing onto Clark and Addison.
Brett Jackson (sore right shoulder) was scratched from Friday’s lineup, while Junior Lake (fractured rib) was optioned to Iowa and will continue his rehab at Fitch Park. With good health – and maybe bad luck at the big-league level – those two prospects could be reinforcements this summer.
[MORE: Injury knocks Junior Lake out of the picture]
“That’s part of the whole process when you’re putting together a team,” Sveum said. “We don’t have that core of major depth, whether it be pitching or position players right now at the higher levels. Lake was getting there – he was going to be in Triple-A and be a phone call away.”