With the first day of Spring Training workouts taking place yesterday, plenty of the questions we had coming in were addressed right away.
For instance, what’s going to happen with catcher Welington Castillo? After the Cubs traded for Miguel Montero and signed veteran David Ross, it appeared Castillo would be the clear odd man out.
But he’s still here. And that’s where he wants to be, Castillo told the media on Friday.
That’s all well and good, but you have to figure Castillo will more than likely be moved before Opening Day. The only way I could see him sticking around with the Cubs would be an injury to Montero or Ross.
The Cubs are probably waiting for a team to get desperate. An injury at the catcher position is bound to occur somewhere across the league. At least Castillo has the right attitude and doesn’t look like he will be a distraction.
Another question heading into Spring Training: What to do with Edwin Jackson. The Cubs will stretch him out as a starter this spring, but what then?
Will he grab the fifth rotation spot? Will he be moved to the bullpen?
Manager Joe Maddon, for one, has faith in the RHP. “This guy’s one of the best athletes I’ve ever had as a pitcher,” Maddon told Patrick Mooney. “Great guy on top of that. And I’ve seen him perform at a really high level. I believe a lot in Eddie Jackson and I know what he’s able to do.”
Maddon has history with Jackson from their days in Tampa Bay. He probably realizes this kind of optimism is the best way to reach him. Whether it will work or not remains to be seen.
And what about third base? Until Kris Bryant joins the team, the starting job is up for grabs, writes Jesse Rogers. Mike Olt, Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez all are possibilities.
I’m rooting for Olt to lock down third base, but he’ll need to show he can make more consistent contact than he did a year ago.
Reactions to pace-of-play changes
A couple of the Cubs players don’t seem to be huge fans of MLB’s new changes aimed at shortening games. The new measures include hitters having to keep one foot in the batter’s box between pitches, managers having to stay in the dugout when making challenges, and time limits on between-inning warmups.
“It’s a great game. How many times are they going to flip these things and change the rules and bend them here and there?” RHP Jason Hammel told Gordon Wittenmyer.
I love this quote from RHP Jake Arrieta: “I don’t think you completely change the way the game’s been played forever because we can’t get people to put their iPhones down.”
“Flagrant violators” of the new rules could face fines up to $500. I’m interested to see how closely the measures are enforced, and whether the players abide.
TV broadcast schedule
The Cubs have announced their TV broadcast schedule, with the first three games being on ESPN 2, WGN and ABC-7, respectively.
This will be the first year of broadcasting games for ABC — it might feel a little weird at first. But at this point, I don’t care what channel the game will be on. I just want to see some live baseball.