Duensing heads to DL; Cubs finalize roster

With move, Szczur, La Stella both make team for Opening Day

Duensing heads to DL; Cubs finalize roster

MESA, Ariz. -- With lingering concerns over Brian Duensing's back spasms, the Cubs placed the reliever on the 10-day disabled list to start the season and will break camp with both outfielder Matt Szczur and infielder Tommy La Stella on their 25-man roster, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein announced Wednesday ahead of the team's final spring game in Arizona.

That leaves the club with seven relievers among its 12-man pitching staff, and 13 positional players.

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Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Almora among top prospect performers

Almora among top prospect performers

Trevor Williams saved his best for last. Needing a strong performance to help him win a spot in the Pirates' rotation, the club's No. 18 prospect spun a gem in his final Grapefruit League appearance.

The 24-year-old right-hander, competing with fellow prospect Tyler Glasnow (Pirates' No. 1, No. 8 overall) for the final spot in the rotation, struck out six and gave up just two hits in four innings.

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William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jesse Sanchez

Schwarber goes deep twice in Cubs' 4-HR day

Schwarber goes deep twice in Cubs' 4-HR day

MESA, Ariz. -- The A's and Cubs combined for 30 hits and 26 runs, but in the end, it was the Cubs that walked off the field with the 15-11 victory in front of 15,448 at Sloan Field in the final Cactus League game for both teams.

With the victory, the Cubs finished with a 12-17-5 record while the A's finished 16-15.

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Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs ready to fill trophy case again in 2017

Cubs ready to fill trophy case again in 2017

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs collected plenty of postseason awards last year, including the coveted World Series trophy. The emphasis this spring has been on the team, but, looking ahead to this season, what individual honors could Cubs players capture?

The Cubs have the 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner in Jake Arrieta, and batterymates Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks finished second and third, respectively, in 2016. Any one of those three could win the top pitching award in 2017. The Cubs' five starters are vying for 200 innings each.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Holy Cow! Cubs should be even better in 2017

Unfortunately for the rest of the NL, the North Siders are still on the rise

Holy Cow! Cubs should be even better in 2017

Can it get any better for the Cubs? Socially, probably not. Their 2016 World Series championship ride was a once-every-108-years style of celebration.

But can they be better in 2017 than they were in '16? Absolutely.

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Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arrieta fans 7 Giants in final spring start

Arrieta fans 7 Giants in final spring start

MESA, Ariz. -- Matt Cain, vying to secure the fifth starter spot, gave up four runs over 5 1/3 innings and helped himself by hitting a two-run double in the Giants' 10-7 win over the Cubs on Tuesday in front of the largest home crowd this spring, 15,513, at Sloan Park.

The Giants are considering Cain or Ty Blach for the last spot in the rotation, and Cain kept himself in contention with his outing, his seventh appearance this spring. The right-hander retired the first seven batters he faced before Jake Arrieta singled with one out in the Cubs third. Chesny Young then homered to left. One of the runs charged to Cain scored when Josh Osich allowed hits to three of the four batters he faced in relief of Cain in the sixth.

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Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Has Baez earned full-time job at 2nd?

Inbox: Has Baez earned full-time job at 2nd?

MESA, Ariz. -- Javier Baez, playing time and pitching are among the questions in this week's Cubs Inbox.

Do you think the impact that Javy Baez had in the World Baseball Classic will influence the playing time and the role that was originally planned for him? Do you see him getting the full-time job at second base, sending Ben Zobrist to be the everyday left fielder?
-- Ben A., Barcelona, Spain

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Tito, Maddon reflect on Game 7 decisions

Tito, Maddon reflect on Game 7 decisions

MESA, Ariz. -- Another new and exciting Major League Baseball season is nearly upon us, but we'd be remiss in enjoying the Cubs' first World Series title defense in 108 years without revisiting the game that got them here one more time.

Chicago's 8-7 win in 10 innings over the Indians last Nov. 2 at Progressive Field was one for the ages, rich in twists and turns and managerial decisions that will be analyzed and second-guessed forever.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Russell's back improving as Zobrist returns

Russell's back improving as Zobrist returns

MESA, Ariz. -- Ben Zobrist returned to the Cubs lineup Tuesday after missing more than one week because of a stiff neck while Addison Russell remained day to day, still nursing a sore back.

"Missing a few games this spring is a lot better than a few games in the season," Russell said Tuesday. "I've talked to [manager Joe Maddon] and there's no hurry back. I think in Houston, I'll get reps, but as far as tightness, it's getting better."

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Happ, Young among top prospect performers

Happ, Young among top prospect performers

Mets' No. 5 prospect Robert Gsellman, who is likely to earn a spot in the Mets' rotation, put together another strong start as he continues to impress in Spring Training. Matt Adams tagged Gsellman for a three-run homer, but otherwise the right-hander was lights out.

The 23-year-old struck out six and gave up three runs on five hits in six innings, putting his Spring Training ERA at 2.31 through 23 1/3 innings.

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William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Montero launches effort to help sick children

Foundation aimed at improving medical care for Venezuelan kids

Montero launches effort to help sick children

MESA, Ariz. -- If Miguel Montero can help one child from his native Venezuela, it will be enough.

Montero and his wife have created the Miguel and Vanessa Montero Foundation to provide medical assistance to seriously ill children of Venezuela. Their goal is to bring one or two Venezuelan children a year to the U.S. to get medical treatment.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Munenori Kawasaki's Cubs greatest hits

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Munenori Kawasaki's Cubs greatest hits

Tuesday morning, the Cubs released 35-year-old utility infielder Munenori Kawasaki. Kawasaki only played in 14 games for the Cubs in 2016, and with a young and formidable core of position players returning for 2017, it was hard to see Kawasaki emerging with an increased role with the team.

Nevertheless, this news is quite sad. At the time of his signing with the Cubs last offseason, he was poised to become a fan-favorite in Chicago. Now, let's look back on his journey with the Cubs.

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Fans will get 15 Seconds of Fame at ballpark

New technology enables downloads of video clips from live telecasts

Fans will get 15 Seconds of Fame at ballpark

Brett and Chad Joshpe can still see the baseball coming down from the heavens one sublime day at Shea Stadium, closer and closer toward the brothers' seats down the right-field line.

If only they had a way back then to preserve their precious moment, like Major League Baseball fans of all 30 clubs are about to enjoy starting Opening Day for the first time in broadcast history. Imagine watching that play again and again, sharing the video clip on the other person's social media page and laughing together about the result.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lester pleased with final outing -- and his RBI

Lester pleased with final outing -- and his RBI

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Jon Lester tuned up for Opening Night against the team the Cubs beat in the last game of the 2016 season.

Lester faced the Cubs' World Series opponent, the Indians, on Monday night in his final Spring Training start, and gave up four runs on five hits and struck out five over six innings. Cleveland won, 4-3. But Lester did his part, hitting an RBI single in the sixth in his third spring at-bat.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Contreras HRs twice in Lester's last tuneup

Contreras HRs twice in Lester's last tuneup

GOODYEAR -- With the Indians hosting the Cubs on Monday night in front of a packed house at Goodyear Ballpark, the bases had "World Series Rematch" decals on the sides. It was a fun touch in this Cactus League setting, but the teams know that rematch remains a dream that will have to wait at least seven months.

In a 4-3 win for Cleveland, Indians starter Danny Salazar was electric with nine strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings and Cubs catcher Willson Contreras put on a show with a pair of impressive home runs. The game was played in front of a ballpark-record crowd of 11,624, which eclipsed the gathering for the Cubs-Indians spring matchup on March 19 last year.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Happ sent to Minors camp as Cubs trim roster

Butler, Zastryzny optioned to Triple-A Iowa

Happ sent to Minors camp as Cubs trim roster

MESA, Ariz. -- Ian Happ, the Cubs' first-round pick in the 2015 Draft, made the most of his first big league camp.

Happ, who was assigned to the Minor League camp on Monday along with John Andreoli and Taylor Davis, batted .417 in 24 Cactus League games, and he made sure to learn as much as he could from people like Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ross goes full '90s for 'Dancing' routine

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Ross goes full '90s for 'Dancing' routine

Last week, the day we'd all been waiting for finally arrived: David Ross made his debut on "Dancing with the Stars," complete with a bedazzled Cubs uniform and a light-up baseball field and plenty of well-wishes from his former teammates.

After he and partner Lindsey Arnold quickstepped their way to the third highest score of the opening night, what could the former catcher do for an encore? One word: Zubaz.

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Loaded Cubs could be quiet at Trade Deadline

Loaded Cubs could be quiet at Trade Deadline

MESA, Ariz. -- Last July 25, the Cubs had a seven-game lead in the National League Central, but management felt they were missing one piece for the postseason. Cue the music for Aroldis Chapman.

Chapman, acquired from the Yankees in a five-player deal, was key to the Cubs' postseason run, and helped them win the World Series. But the left-hander became a free agent after Game 7 and did not return to Chicago, instead signing a five-year contract to rejoin the Yankees.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Joe Posnanski

Heyward's intangibles balance out struggles

Heyward's intangibles balance out struggles

MESA, Ariz. -- Jason Heyward has never been a typical baseball superstar. He has never hit .300; his lifetime batting average is .262. Heyward has never hit 30 home runs in a season and only once hit even 20. He has never stolen 25 bases in a season and never come particularly close to 100 RBIs or 100 runs scored. Heyward has never finished in the Top 10 in the MVP Award balloting. He has only made one All-Star team -- during his rookie season almost seven years ago.

And yet, before the 2016 season, the Chicago Cubs gave Heyward the second-largest deal ever given to an outfielder (behind only slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who couldn't be more different from Heyward as a player).

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Joe Posnanski is a No. 1 New York Times best-selling author, an Emmy Award-winning writer and has been awarded National Sportswriter of the Year. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs hit 5 jacks, don't stop at 21 in Vegas

Cubs hit 5 jacks, don't stop at 21 in Vegas

LAS VEGAS -- Anthony Rizzo hit a home run on the first pitch he saw and Albert Almora Jr. smacked a pair of homers and an RBI double to finish with five RBIs and power the Cubs to a 22-4 victory on Sunday over the Reds in a split-squad game for both teams at Cashman Field.

Cubs prospect Bijan Rademacher added a grand slam in an eight-run sixth, and Victor Caratini drove in three runs for the game. Charcer Burks hit Chicago's fifth homer of the game, a three-run shot in the eighth, and Yasiel Balaguert capped the Cubs' scoring with a two-run double in the ninth.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mills, Cubs struggle to contain Padres

Mills, Cubs struggle to contain Padres

MESA, Ariz. -- Brett Wallace and Jabari Blash powered the offense and Trevor Cahill shut down his former team for five innings to lead the Padres to a 9-4 victory against the Cubs on Sunday afternoon at Sloan Park.

Blash's fourth-inning grand slam off Jonathan Martinez gave the Padres an 8-2 lead. Wallace's three-run home run off Cubs starter Alec Mills capped off a four-run first inning that gave San Diego an advantage it would never relinquish. Colin Cowgill also hit a solo home run for San Diego's ninth run in the fifth.

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Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

With Bryant back home, dad talks prep work

With Bryant back home, dad talks prep work

LAS VEGAS -- When Kris Bryant got back to work on his swing this offseason, his father, Mike, wanted him to remember how he was pitched to in the Minor Leagues, and that's what they worked on. His mother, Susie, was busy handling all the wedding gifts.

Bryant returned home this weekend to play two games with the Cubs against the Reds at Cashman Field, and he hit a home run and a double on Saturday and added another double on Sunday. The best part for the reigning National League Most Valuable Player Award winner was that he could spend a couple of days at his new home here.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rizzo bats leadoff, hits monster shot

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Rizzo bats leadoff, hits monster shot

It has been a long time since Anthony Rizzo batted leadoff. He has never started a single game in the Majors or the Minors there, but on Sunday afternoon, Rizzo wanted to get his at-bats in early since he didn't play at all the previous day. So he asked to switch with Kyle Schwarber and bat first while the Cubs faced the Reds. It's certainly not a unique request from a veteran in Spring Training.

If Rizzo felt any kind of unfamiliarity leading off a ballgame instead of batting third or fourth, it was not at all apparent. On the very first pitch he saw from Tim Adleman, he unloaded and sent the offering deep into the afternoon Las Vegas sky.

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Bryant, prospects homer in Cubs' big frame

Bryant, prospects homer in Cubs' big frame

LAS VEGAS -- Chesny Young, Kris Bryant and Ian Happ all homered in the fifth inning on Saturday to spark the Cubs to an 11-7 victory over the Reds in a split-squad game at Cashman Field.

Cincinnati had just tied the game at 2 in the fourth on Arismendy Alcantara's two-run homer before Reds starter Robert Stephenson served up Young's leadoff blast in the fifth and a single to Kyle Schwarber. Bryant and Happ connected off Barrett Astin, who came on in relief, to open an 8-2 lead.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Yoga keeps Hendricks centered on mound

Yoga keeps Hendricks centered on mound

LAS VEGAS -- In the third inning of Game 7 of the World Series, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks knew he was in a tough spot. The Indians had runners at first and second and had just tied the game, and Hendricks was behind Francisco Lindor, 3-0. All the pitcher had to do was breathe.

"I stepped off for a second and I took a breath," Hendricks said. "I made myself aware of what was happening. I was like, 'This could be the complete momentum shift and it could be over.'

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Heyward homers, Anderson strong vs. Rockies

Heyward homers, Anderson strong vs. Rockies

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Pitching to be included on the Rockies' season-opening staff, right-hander German Marquez held the Cubs to two runs and struck out six in six innings of a 7-4 victory over the Cubs on Saturday in front of a Rockies Salt River Fields at Talking Stick-record crowd of 13,565.

Marquez, 22, who appeared in six games and made three starts in the Majors late last season, made a statement in the contest for two rotation spots and possibly a long-relief role by holding the Cubs to five scattered hits. Marquez ran his fastball to 97 mph and, at the urging of manager Bud Black, used his curve and slider -- heretofore inconsistent this spring -- to effective results.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bryant appreciates Las Vegas embracing Cubs

Bryant appreciates Las Vegas embracing Cubs

LAS VEGAS -- Kris Bryant gave his hometown fans a thrill, hitting a two-run homer in a six-run fifth inning in the Cubs' 11-7 victory over the Reds on Saturday at Cashman Field.

The reigning National League Most Valuable Player, who launched his fourth homer this spring, said that he's noticed a lot more Cubs caps in town since they won the World Series.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lackey sharp over six; Happ hits fourth HR

Lackey sharp over six; Happ hits fourth HR

MESA, Ariz. -- Starters Carlos Carrasco and John Lackey combined to give up just one run over nine innings as the Indians topped the Cubs, 4-2, on Friday afternoon at Sloan Park.

Carrasco, who was making his first Cactus League start since March 13 after he was skipped in the rotation with right elbow inflammation, held the Cubs scoreless for three innings.

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William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Schwarber sees first spring action at catcher

Cubs slugger plays 4 innings behind plate in Minors game

Schwarber sees first spring action at catcher

MESA, Ariz. -- Kyle Schwarber got behind the plate and caught four innings in a Minor League game Friday, his first game action at the position all spring.

The Cubs' 24-year-old slugger will log the bulk of his defensive innings in left field this season with Willson Contreras and Miguel Montero handling duties behind the plate, but Schwarber came up through the Minors as a catcher and he still has an affinity for the position.

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William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.