Of course, this is also the first Sunday of 2013 with competitive(-ish) Cubs baseball, so there's that to monitor.
Speaking of, a quick note about Cub Tracks content. I'm not going to post game recaps in here, as those will get posted elsewhere. Cub Tracks is focused on the (slightly) bigger picture. But as always, let me know if you have comments or suggestions about how to improve this feature, which will now be published on Sundays, Tuesdays, & Thursdays.
And a quick prediction. If Brett Jackson continues to bat 1.000, he will make the team.
From Comcast SportsNet
- There are no guarantees for Ian Stewart, which means his quad strain is a case of very bad, and potentially costly, timing.
- (Video) The Cubs are going to follow Jeff Samardzija. Though he's not "the leader" yet, he is leading by example and making his case to be a true "#1".
- CSN identified five players to watch this spring. They are: Ian Stewart, Brett Jackson, Scott Baker, Kyuji Fujikawa, and Jorge Soler.
- Speaking of Soler, he's making quite an impression as a coming attraction.
- At least the Cubs are setting a reasonable bar for Welington Castillo. All they're asking is that he be just like Yadier Molina.
- The Cubs are looking past opening day and taking it slow with Scott Baker.
- This was in a fanshot (seriously, those are functionally dead now, right?), but it is too weird not to repost. A Cub fan, and Iraq war veteran, got a Cubs logo put on a prosthetic eye.
- (Videos) When Dale Sveum talks, we listen. Link 1 has comments on Fujikawa and Soler. Link 2 is on the start of spring training.
- (Video) Anthony Rizzo talks about 2013 and beyond with David Kaplan.
- (Video) Shockingly, many of the Cubs are excited about the prospect of having a better team.
From Cubs Den
- Infield prospect Logan Watkins is looking to make an impression this spring. He's a player who could be part of the Cubs' plans in the near future.
- The injury to Ian Stewart could open the door for Luis Valbuena. (That sound you hear is Al writing a 'get well soon' card to Ian Stewart.)
From Cubs.com (all have video link options, auto plays are marked)
- Speaking of Luis V, he is impressing early. My commentary: I sure don't want Valbuena to be the "plan" at third base. However, he was a fairly well regarded prospect at one time and just turned 28 late last fall. So I don't think it is quite time to conclude "he is what he is". Let's see what the guy can do.
- Scott Baker is making progress, but he's getting anxious to throw a hook and a sinker.
- Blake Parker, who many fans probably didn't know was still around, says his elbow is feeling good.
- Brooks Raley got the proverbial cup of coffee last fall. Now he's hoping to make the best of his next opportunity. But it sure looks like Brooks will be back in Des Moines to start the year, barring a rash of injuries and/or pitcher departures.
- As a guy with a football mentality, Matt Szczur is obviously not alone in the Cub locker room.
- Travis Wood is settling in and is ready to fight for a spot in the rotation.
- I missed these next two on Thursday. They sure aren't big news, but I'm not here to play favorites. So Robert Whitenack is making progress on the comeback trail. Meanwhile, non-roster invitee Jensen Lewis uses an unconventional delivery.
- (Autoplay video) The Cubs say fans make some, ahem, unusual requests.
- (Autoplay video) The Cubs talk about the core of this year's squad.
- (Autoplay video) The players also have a wish list for a new training facility.
- Matt Garza isn't worried about spring starts.
- Brett Jackson's new swing? So far, so good. Until his first three strikeout game, at which point fire and brimstone will surely rain down from the internet.
- The Cubs say they are fine with the new HGH testing policy. Of course, even if you did disagree, you'd have to be rather dense to say so.
- Cub fans have high expectations for Jorge Soler. But the young man from Cuba is setting the bar high on his own.
- (Video) The Cubs can be silly. In this case, it's about the Arizona snow storm. Sorry Arizona - no sympathy here.
- Some more spring training photos, for the visually inclined.
- For a team that is pretty likely to have another trying year, there are surprisingly few spots on the roster that are actually open.
- As Len Kasper and Cub fans break in new broadcast analyst Jim Deshaies, we are reminded that broadcast chemistry doesn't come easy. Exhibit A is from the south side of the city where "Hawk and Stoney" say they've patched things up. It's hard to imagine there's enough room for both of those egos in one booth. You can still count me among the Steve Stone "defenders", as I think he's an awfully solid analyst. But it is hard to look good when you're saddled with the worst play-by-play guy in the business.
- James Russell is ready for anything out of the Cubs' pen.
- Cub prospects are getting their licks in early.
- (Video) Travis Wood talks about his spring debut.
From the Chicago Sun-Times
- Dontrelle Willis is back and hoping to return to form.
From the Daily Herald
- Darwin Barney is a solid choice at second base.
Today's food for thought
- This isn't 'new', but it was news to me. But I think algae-powered street lights are a cool idea.