MESA, Ariz. _ Another cold, wet day in Mesa, but the Cubs got most of their work in outdoors today, including live batting practice. That’s never a fun day for the hitters, even if they do know what’s coming from the pitchers. I asked Reed Johnson how many swings he’d take against Carlos Marmol, and Reed said: ‘Oh, I don’t know. Zero.” Good answer. There were plenty of “bees in the bat” off the likes of Matt Garza and Carlos Zambrano.
Rains finally forced everybody inside.
“I was trying to decide if we were dedicated or nuts,” said manager Mike Quade. “And I settled on the first one. It’s just so important for these guys to see hitters a couple of times. I don’t think the hitters are too interested in swinging anyway. They rarely are early on…Hey look, we had two days of rain and got a ton of work in.”
UPDATES: We've got some good stuff up online at dailyherald.com. Kerry Wood was gracious enough to sit down with me the other day. Here is our main story:
We've also got Kerry dishing on a few other topics:
Here are some tidbits:
--Q was asked what he wants shortstop Starlin Castro to work on. “Defense _ and that’s it,” Q said. “Every aspect of defense.” Castro said he still feels like he has to make the team.
We've got some more on that, too:
--Had a chance to see new outfielder Fernando Perez take live batting practice. He was batting left-handed. He’s listed as a right-handed hitter, so I asked him afterward if he’s going to take up switch-hitting again, and he said yes.
--The Cubs won’t decide on their pitching for next Sunday’s Cactus League opener until Tuesday, said Q, who will defer to pitching coach Mark Riggins. Q said he’s focused more on the Wrigley Field opener than the Cactus League opener. They’ll work backward from the regular-season opener, so read nothing into who starts next Sunday vs. the Athletics. “At some point, he’s got to set this up,” Q said of Riggins. “You have much more flexibility at the back end, especially with the two days off before the start of the season. My understanding is the first three spots need to be decided before too long.”
--Lefty James Russell is being stretched out to start. I asked Q if Russell could end up in the bullpen if he doesn’t crack the rotation or if he’d start at Iowa.
“Those are some of the tougher decisions that don’t get talked about,” Q said. “Those are decisions that don’t get made until later. You’re talking about, not only the ballclub, but his future, his future with the organization. I think those kinds of decisions will wind up being made by not only myself and my staff, but you really involve Oneri and Jim and Randy at that point. This is a big decision. If you’re going to try and stretch somebody out for a spring here in Arizona, and then you scrap it, it’s just an important decision, both for the organization and the kid’s mindset, for me. Russ will be whatever we ask. That’s just the way he is. That’s one reason you feel OK doing this, one of the reasons. That’s probably something you look at in late March.”