We’re less than two weeks from Opening Day, people.
Many of the roster questions heading into Spring Training are still unanswered, and manager Joe Maddon is providing clues but no clear-cut answers.
Jesse Rogers writes about four remaining “mysteries”: Will Mike Olt win the Opening Day third-base job? Will the Cubs keep three catchers? Who will be the fifth outfielder? And, will Javier Baez make the team out of camp?
Olt seems to be a pretty good bet, I would think. He has had a nice spring, displaying both patience and power. His health issues from last season seem to be behind him and it sounds like he’s more comfortable at the plate after making some adjustments.
The thought of carrying three catchers still doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but Welington Castillo hasn’t been moved yet. And he has continued to produce during Spring Training. I still think he’ll be traded before the season starts.
Rogers thinks that Matt Szczur and Junior Lake have the leg up over Ryan Sweeney to make the club, and I’d have to agree. I never would’ve thought I’d like to see Lake on the Cubs after last season, but his skills and athleticism are always tempting to buy in to. If he could just put it all together, he could be really dangerous. And I could live with the Cubs only using him in speed and defense situations.
Szczur has had a surprising spring, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him head to Chicago to start the season. I’d be OK with him or Lake over Sweeney.
Baez has had a rough spring at the plate, but Joe Maddon continues to praise other parts of his game. “He tags as good as anyone,” Maddon said. “I’m a tag freak. It’s about run prevention.”
Not sure I’ve ever heard a player praised for his tagging abilities before. I can’t tell if Maddon is trying to build Javy’s confidence with these kinds of statements, or if he really is excited about the young infielder.
My thought is that it’s a little bit of both. I suppose we’ll find out when we hear whether Baez will break camp in Chicago or Iowa.
As for these “mysteries,” I’m kind of expecting some surprises. “Beyond the more obvious stuff,” Maddon told Rogers. “What about his defense? How does he run the bases? What does it take to win a ballgame? A lot of answers lie below the surface.
“There’s some stuff here I really like that I don’t think is being talked about a whole lot.”
I can’t wait to find out what this Mad(don) scientist has cooking for the 2015 Cubs.
* Starlin Castro should be back on the field on Tuesday, according to Patrick Mooney. The shortstop was kept out of the lineup this weekend because of a tight right groin, but it sounds like it’s nothing too serious. The Cubs have an off-day today.
* Kris Bryant could be in the outfield on Tuesday, Carrie Muskat says. We have heard this was coming at some point this spring. With Mike Olt playing well, the Cubs may want to have both bats in the lineup once Bryant is brought up to the big leagues. Olt is the better defender, so of the two, it would probably make more sense for Bryant to make the move to the outfield. The announcement is also probably good news for Bryant’s shoulder, which forced him to miss some time in the field last week. I don’t think the Cubs would be putting him out there if the fatigued shoulder was a serious issue.