USA TODAY Sports
The Cubs are back to playing just one game, after six in three days over the weekend. But they still don't have a regular third baseman.
SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- The Cubs will open the 2013 season in Pittsburgh two weeks from today!
Opening Day is always exciting, no matter how bad you think your team will be. Renewal, spring, etc.
Unless the Cubs find someone on the waiver wire, they are likely going to be starting 2013 with a platoon of Luis Valbuena and Brent Lillibridge at third base. (Ugh.) No matter how many times we hear that Ian Stewart is going to be the team's third baseman this year, it doesn't look like it's going to happen. Let's examine the chronology, shall we?
- February 23: Stewart suffers a quad strain, but says he'll be ready for Opening Day.
- March 3: Stewart takes some swings in the batting cage; Dale Sveum says "mid-March" is the target date for his return.
- March 5: Stewart takes some ground balls, but Sveum is still skeptical about whether he'll make the team, because he'll get only "20 to 30 Cactus League at-bats."
- March 8: Good news! Stewart has been hitting in the cage for "five or six days" and hopes to play "by the middle of next week."
- March 11: Stewart will make his Cactus League debut Thursday. (Hint: this did not happen.)
- March 15: After having five at-bats in a minor-league game, Stewart says he "felt really good" and plans to play in another minor-league game Saturday, March 16. (Hint: this did not happen.)
- March 18 (Hey! That's today!): Dale Sveum says Stewart doesn't have "enough time" left to make the Opening Day roster, and will have another MRI on his quad Monday.
It has seemed to me pretty obvious almost from the time Stewart injured his quad right at the beginning of camp, that it was unlikely he'd make the Opening Day roster. It would have been nice if Stewart ever recovered the ability that made him a top prospect in the Rockies system, but now it looks like that'll never happen.
So Valbuena and Lillibridge play stopgap for another year, I guess. Maybe the Cubs will find gold somewhere on the released-player list in the next two weeks. That's, um, "unlikely", though.
Sappelt RF, McDonald CF, Soler LF, Baez SS, Clevenger C, Maysonet 1B, Lillibridge 3B, Gonzalez 2B, Jackson P
Must have been a rough weekend in Vegas. Almost all the starters from there (plus some from the Phoenix-area games) are getting the day off. And, most probably, we get our last 2013 look at Jorge Soler and Javier Baez in big-league spring-training games before they get reassigned to minor-league camp later today.
Cabrera SS, Amarista 2B, Venable RF, Kotsay LF, Maybin CF, Blanks 1B, Baker C, Ransom 3B, Richard P
This is the first game I've seen this spring with pitchers batting for both sides. And no Chase Headley for San Diego; he jammed his thumb Sunday and now is doubtful for Opening Day, which is really bad news for the Padres.
Today's game is a webcast on cubs.com with Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie. It should be online and available on the MLB At Bat app around 2:50 p.m. CDT.
For spring-training games, we'll have a first-pitch thread at game time and one overflow thread, 90 minutes after game time (because I know how you all like overflow threads!). For today, that will be 3 p.m. CT and 4:30 p.m. CT. These threads will not post individually onto the front page; instead, you can find links to them in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page. They will also appear in this StoryStream™. The pitcher box and regular-season stats will return on Opening Day.
Discuss amongst yourselves.