PHOENIX _ Never let it be said that there isn’t competition for jobs in spring training. Sometimes it seems that way, but this year, the Cubs generated a few surprises, all based on competition. They announced the final spot on their roster today, and it went to Park Ridge resident Brian Schlitter.
Schlitter pitched for the Cubs in 2010, but elbow and shoulder injuries derailed his career, so much so that waiver claims on him by the Yankees and Phillies were voided. To me, Schlitter and John Baker making the team as the backup catcher are the two biggest surprise in camp.
Fred Hoiberg and Kevin Ollie never made the playoffs with the Bulls. But on a night when those two former Bulls squared off as coaches in the NCAA Tournament, the current Bulls clinched a playoff spot.
The Bulls turned in a lackluster performance Friday and lost to Portland 91-74 at the United Center. But when New York lost at Phoenix later in the night, a playoff berth became official.
By the way, Ollie's Connecticut squad beat Hoiberg and Iowa State in the East regional semis. Some might say Hoiberg was at a disadvantage having lost one of his top scorers last week to a broken foot. I say he had more than enough to win with.
MESA, Ariz. _ It’s Cubs-White Sox today at Cubs Park in the Cactus League finale for both teams. The White Sox will take off for Birmingham after the game, and the Cubs will head over to Phoenix to play the Diamondbacks at Chase Field Friday and Saturday.
There is more Cubs news to report. General manager Jed Hoyer told us the Cubs have finalized their position-player roster. Third baseman Mike Olt and outfielder Ryan Kalish have made the team. Outfielder Chris Coghlan and infielder Ryan Roberts were the final cuts.
Kalish is a nonroster man as is infielder Emilio Bonifacio, whose making the team was a foregone conclusion.
MESA, Ariz. _ Cubs manager Rick Renteria was talking up three backup-catcher possibilities this morning at Cubs Park. And then there were two. The looming Cubs roster crunch eased a bit today as the Cubs released backup catcher George Kottaras and saw utility infielder Donnie Murphy claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers.
The Cubs also announced that John Baker had won the backup catcher's job over Eli Whiteside, who will be assigned to Class AAA Iowa.
“Those are two guys that have a tremendous amount of experience, are known for being very good receivers, blocking," said manager Rick Renteria.
The Illinois Libertarian Party has announced their candidates for statewide office. Now, the party has to gather 42,000 signatures by this summer to get their candidates on the ballot.
Here's their list:
Governor: Chad Grimm of Peoria
Lt. Gov.: Alex Cummings
Attorney general: Ben W. Koyl of Downers Grove
Comptroller: Julie Fox
Secretary of state: Chris Michel, Romeoville
Treasurer: Matthew Skopek of Lemont
U.S. Senate: Sharon Hansen of Pontiac
Since Stevenson guard Jalen Brunson is the son of former Bulls player and assistant coach Rick Brunson, this is an appropriate topic for All Bulls.
Brunson was spectacular in Friday's state semifinal loss to Whitney Young, scoring a state finals record 56 points, including 26 in the fourth quarter. The 6-4 junior guard hit 16 of 30 shots, 7 of 14 3-pointers and 17 of 23 free throws.
The Peoria Journal Star ran a photo from the game where Brunson appeared to be raising middle fingers to the crowd. Here is video of that moment late in the contest. Brunson swung his arms in frustration after a made 3-pointer was waved off due to a foul coming before the shot. Judge for yourself, but it didn't appear that he was gesturing at Whitney Young fans, as has been depicted by some.