St. Paddy's brunch blog: Baez, Soler to be among cuts
PHOENIX _ We travel over to the east end of Phoenix for the Cubs’ split-squad game against the Oakland Athletics. The A’s eventually will move out of here and over to the Cubs’ old HoHoKam/Fitch facility in Mesa. We were just reminiscing about the old outdoor “press box” here. It was more of a concrete pillbox than a press box, and even in the afternoon, you could freeze your you-know-what off. And at night, you needed a parka.
If you're around a TV and WGN, I'll be the guest of Len and Jim Deshaies during the sixth inning. I'm looking forward to it and to hearing some of JD on the telecast. He's a witty guy who should blend in well with Len.
Scott Baker makes his first big-league appearance in a Cactus League game as he pitches against the A’s. Over in Las Vegas, Carlos Villanueva pitches against the Rangers. Everybody’s back tomorrow for the game in Peoria against the Padres.
The Cubs will officially announce roster cuts tomorrow, but some of those players are playing today and Monday. Here’s the way it looks:
--Third baseman Josh Vitters and infielder-outfielder Junior Lake will be optioned to Class AAA Iowa.
--Third baseman Christian Villanueva, who is playing here today, will be optioned to Class AA Tennessee.
--Outfielder Jorge Soler will be optioned to Class A Daytona.
--Shortstop Javier Baez, pitcher Barret Loux and catcher Rafael Lopez will be sent back to minor-league camp as they are nonroster men. Baez likely will be assigned to Daytona, allowing him to start the regular season in warmer weather, certainly much warmer than what he’d experience at Kane County with the Cougars. That also will keep him well away from the Chicago media, who might want to venture out to Geneva for a look-see.
Baez has hit 4 homers in the last two days, drawing praise from Alfonso Soriano.
“It’s unbelievable,” Soriano said Saturday, after homering himself. “Two homers yesterday and 2 more today, like bombs. I’m very impressed.
“I never saw him play before. I know he’s a big prospect in the organization. What I see in spring training is unbelievable. He’s got a lot of power, and very good defense, too. I’m very impressed because he’s only 20 years (old). We’ll see him soon in he big leagues.”
Like many other observers, Soriano compared Baez’s bat speed to that of Gary Sheffield.
“He’s got a lot more power than me,” Soriano said when asked if Baez reminded him of himself.
As for today’s game, Baker did not pitch last year because he underwent Tommy John surgery on April 17. With the Twins in 2011, he was 8-6 with a 3.14 ERA. He was 12-9 in 2010 and 15-9 in 2009.
We’ll have all the notes in the Monday paper, and for our feature, we talk to local guy Michael Bowden about settling in with the Cubs. Bowden is a graduate of Waubonsie Valley High in Aurora and a current resident of Oswego.
Happy St. Paddy’s.