Baker, Stewart suffer injury setbacks
MESA, Ariz. _ One more day in paradise for yours truly has turned into an eventful one as the Cubs have a couple of injury situations that will affect the opening-day roster. Pitcher Scott Baker has suffered a setback in his attempted return from Tommy John surgery. His throwing program has been shut down, and he’ll see the team orthopedist over the weekend. Baker came out of Sunday’s start against the A’s sore. He had an MRI Monday.
Third baseman Ian Stewart also had an MRI Monday. It showed fluid in his left quadriceps, and he will open the season on the disabled list. The injury has bothered Stewart for a month. He recently took some minor-league at-bats and said this morning he felt muscle soreness during some of his at-bats.
The upshot of all this is that Luis Valbuena will be the opening-day third baseman. He held that job most of the second half of last year. Manager Dale Sveum said that’s the plan for now and that the Cubs would continue to look at the waiver wire.
Of course, with these situations come opportunities for other players. Ex-White Sox infielder-outfielder Brent Lillibridge, who is 11-for-24 (.458) this spring, is a virtual lock to make the team as a nonroster man. Steve Clevenger, who is No. 3 on the catching depth chart behind Welington Castillo and Dioner Navarro, also is in the mix. He was drafted as an infielder, and he has been getting reps at first base and third base in spring training. Sveum pointed out that he got his big-league break with the Brewers when Paul Molitor suffered an injury.
The starting rotation, with Matt Garza on the DL, is Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman, Travis Wood and Carlos Villanueva. Lefty Chris Rusin, who is bidding to make the team out of the bullpen, starts today against the Rangers. For tomorrow’s “take” in the paper, we’ll talk with Sveum about what he likes about this year’s lineup. They’ll run out something today that looks like an opening-day lineup, minus the DH:
Former Cub Randy Wells is on the list of pitchers scheduled to throw today for the Rangers. We also might see ex-Cub Jeff Baker. Former Cubs farmhand James Adduci also is in the Rangers’ traveling party.