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Cub Tracks’ balancing act

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Quintana’s delivery, he who hesitates is Darvish, Rizzo joins the ballet, and other bullets

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Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago Cubs
@faridyu reflects
Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Thank you for once again accessing the Cub Tracks continuum — I wrote this yesterday so you can read it today. Things could have gotten tense.

In the tilt between the Cubs and the Rangers, there were tense moments, but Yu wouldn’t allow them to continue for long, and KB remembered where the fence is, just in time for the regular season. Here’s Al’s recap.

The beat writers have been busy — Mark Gonzales and Carrie Muskat have a bevy of bulletins and Gordon Wittenmyer gathered the notable quotables. There’s plenty to dig into from these and other reputable sources.

Pardon our dust — We’re doing spring cleaning and some small renovations. Here’s the news. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Previous editions by this author:

Cub Tracks surfs the net.

Baseball history unpacked, March 21.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1962 - Roger Maris declines to pose with Mets coach Rogers Hornsby because the veteran had criticized him in the recently published autobiography, My Wars with Baseball. In the book, the Yankees slugger is dismissed by the 65 year-old Hall-of-Famer as a mediocre hitter who couldn’t bat .400 if all of his averages were added up. (1)
  • 1962 - A former Giant, requesting anonymity, reveals that Bobby Thomson’s home run in the 1951 playoffs against the Dodgers was helped by a sign-stealing clubhouse spy. The spying is claimed to have gone on for the last three months of the season. Thomson and former manager Leo Durocher vehemently deny that any help was received, but a source close to the team confirms the spy operation. (2)
  • 1986 - The Yankees announce Britt Burns, an 18-game winner with the White Sox, will miss the entire season due to a degenerative hip condition. The 26 year-old southpaw will never throw another major league pitch, ending his eight-year career, played entirely with Chicago, with a 70-60 (.538) won-loss record. (1)

The other other Mark Prior?

Cubs news and notes:

Catcher Willson Contreras said Darvish is even better than he expected him to be.

“I faced him hitting, and he was nasty,” Contreras said. “And everything moved. Now that I’m behind the plate and I’m behind the ball, I don’t know how the hitter hits the ball. Because everything goes just like a Frisbee. Like a hard Frisbee baseball.

“This spring training seems to have blown by,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s almost been too quick, where you’re looking for maybe another couple days to figure things out. We’re just going to have to make our best call.”

Gordon Wittenmyer.

The cat is back:

Cubs strength coach Tim Buss dressed as Uncle Sam as Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA plays while the Cubs warm up.
Jesse Rogers ESPN

“Jose Quintana’s delivery is so precise that youngsters want to copy it.

”I grew up with that, and I try to keep doing the same things,” Quintana said. “I try to get really good extension, that’s most important for pitchers. Every coach said, ‘You have a really good delivery.’”

”I’ve had meetings with some of the young guys, the Hispanic kids, and they reference watching Quintana,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s really made an impression and that’s worth its weight in gold. He’s a young veteran, ‘Q’ is, and you get that guy out there who’s really good and he’s willing to share, that’s when you get good. You get young talented guys who are being not raised by wolves, it really matters.” — Carrie Muskat.

ESPN: David Ross’ son gets everybody going [VIDEO].

  • Bill Baer (NBC Sports): 2018 Preview: Chicago Cubs. “Perhaps motivated by a 2017 season that underwhelmed, the Cubs did anything but stand pat.”
  • Sahadev Sharma (The Athletic {$}): Joe Maddon wants another week of spring, but these Cubs look ready for the regular season. “Maddon just wants to make sure they get in all the spring work he had planned.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Yu Darvish enjoys return to Surprise in beating former team Rangers. “A lot of familiar faces,” Darvish said.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Darvish playing ‘Frisbee’ again with breaking pitches. “He’s just insane. It’s going to be fun to watch,” said Contreras, who will have a good view.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Darvish gives whole new meaning to tipping pitches. “Darvish was on his game and off his balance Wednesday against his former team in the aptly named Surprise Stadium.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Darvish feels stronger than ever, and has developed bond with Willson Contreras. “I feel at my best currently,” Darvish said.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Getting to know Yu: Q&A with Darvish. “...he can hit and he speaks English well.”
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Jose Quintana’s potential seen 10 years ago in Dominican Republic. “It was just the way the ball was coming out of his hand. The arm worked nice,” said Carlos Chantres.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Could switch from starter to bullpen suit Eddie Butler — and Cubs — long term? “We haven’t discussed that. He definitely still has starting capabilities,” Maddon said.
  • Sam Fels (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Bullpen flexibility and a missed opportunity. “There is a chance for real innovation or flexibility here, and it’ll be just a tad upsetting if they don’t take advantage of it.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs narrowing roster options as bullpen watch resumes. “The Cubs have 18 pitchers left in camp and could carry as many as 13 until they elect to carry an extra position player.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Decisions loom for Cubs in final rush toward next week’s opener. “For a remarkably healthy camp that appeared to have no jobs available when it opened, the final week involves several important decisions.”
  • Jim Callis (MLB.com): Pipeline report: Cubs camp. “Chicago farm focused on developing pitchers.”
  • Kevin McCaffrey (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Searching for the next Contreras. “Miguel Amaya is the closest direct comp...”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Ben Zobrist adds another position to his arsenal: First base. “Zobrist has played 23 career games at first and hasn’t started a game there since 2010.”
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): Best. Camp. Ever? Zobrist explains why Cubs are in a good place right now. “It’s a special experience compared to any other spring training I’ve ever had,” said Zobrist.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Leaner, eager Kyle Schwarber fueling optimism with strong all-around spring. “I just want to put the barrel on the ball,” said Schwarber.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Maddon’s HOF comp explains how Cubs’ faith in Schwarber may be rewarded. “The one thing I’m seeing is that he’s not swinging as hard,” Maddon said of Schwarber’s new approach.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Cubs’ leadoff man to be named later: Ian Happ. “You’ll probably see him there a bit,” Maddon said.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Leading the way: Happ thriving at top of lineup. “I think he has answered that he’s capable of doing this and that he wants to do this,” Maddon said.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Happ has earned a large chunk of leadoff duties to start season for Cubs. “You’ll probably see him there a bit,” Maddon said Wednesday. “I really haven’t finalized anything.” Happ on leadoff duties [VIDEO].
  • Peter Keating (ESPN*): The Dominant 20: The teams that made the biggest impact. The list has a certain Chicago flavor.
  • Michael Clair (Cut Four): Koji Uehara returned to the Tokyo Dome for the first time since 2008 and received a thunderous ovation. “If you want to know just how much the fans love Uehara, they didn’t count his absence in years, but days.”
  • Julian McWilliams (The Athletic {$}): Trevor Cahill is glad to be back with the short-staffed A’s, who hope he salves their arm issues. “I thought I was going to be here a lot longer, but then the trade happened. You know, I loved my whole experience in Oakland. It’s good to be back, especially since I know the whole staff pretty much,” Cahill said.
  • Madeleine Kenney (Chicago Sun-Times*): Former Cubs OF Milton Bradley charged with battery: report. “...the misdemeanor charge against Bradley stems from a January incident in which cops were called to Bradley’s home...”

Food for thought:

  • Paul Voosen (Science): A dusting of salt could cool the planet. “...finely powdered salt spread through the upper troposphere could hold off the sun’s rays and cool the planet, researchers reported here today at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.”
  • Dan Garisto (Science News): First pedestrian death from a self-driving car fuels safety debate. “until we know what happened, we can’t really know what this incident means”
  • Katie Langin (Science): Scientists have brewed a hoppy-tasting beer—without the hops. “...hop flowers are expensive, and producing them takes 100 billion liters of water a year in the United States alone...”

Thanks for reading. Where to get my books.