Pena aims to keep it simple
New Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena
is looking forward to a fresh start.
MESA, Ariz. _ The weather was supposed to be lousy today, but it was bright and sunny here at Fitch Park. Position players report tomorrow, but first baseman Carlos Pena was here today and working out. He took his turn in the batting cage and then fielded grounders at first alongside Tyler Colvin, who may become a protégé at that position.
“I couldn’t wait to get out there,” Pena said. “I’m so happy that spring training has arrived. We all want to get it going. I loved the workout today, how guys are going about their business and just getting acquainted with my new team, my new teammates and the new spring-training site. It couldn’t have gone any better.”
Pena, whose .196 batting average of last year seems to be his most-cited stat, said work with Rudy Jaramillo has gone well since some previous work. “Sometimes the simplest form is the best,” Pena said.
--Pitcher Robert Coello arrived after his trade from the Red Sox. He threw off the practice mounds today.
--Speaking of young pitchers, the one eye-opener today was Trey McNutt, who features a hard breaking ball. Scouts say he has three plus pitches he can throw for strikes. There’s the fastball and change. Nobody’s quite sure how to characterize the breaking pitch, curve or slider, only to say it’s hard and breaks late. It was fun standing behind the fence and watching him. McNutt could be here sooner rather than later. They feel McNutt’s presence takes some of the sting out of losing Chris Archer in the Matt Garza trade. McNutt was a 32nd round pick in 2009 out of Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Cubs were on him early and often in their scouting, with scouting director Tim Wilken getting look-sees along with other scouts. He’s a kid to watch.
--Mike Quade says Blake DeWitt is in the mix to lead off and that it will be a challenge for him. Q reiterated that Kosuke Fukudome is probably the best option to hit first on the days that he plays.
--Q was asked if a guy like Alfonso Soriano would have to “earn” his playing time. The reply: “Certain veterans have established that they’re front-runners for the deal. We’re all responsible for our performance. But you expect Soriano to be an important part of this group as we do all of them. I’d like to think you’ll see an even better Sori than we did the last two years and he’ll be a pillar, if you will. We’re going to need some people to come back. We’re going to need Rami (Aramis Ramirez) to have a big year, Sori would help, Marlon (Byrd) to have another good year. There’s going to be some people who have to improve off of last year for us to do well, and that’s just a few names. The fact that they’ve done it before and they’re capable of it, keeps me very optimistic. But the rest of it, we’ll just see. I like people coming into this camp, even the guys that have jobs, to have something to prove. You come to practice and you come to play every day like you’ve got something to prove.”