The Cubs are emphasizing versatility among their position players, and trying to get all Minor Leaguers to play at least two positions.
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Jason Motte has had back-to-back rough outings, but Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he wasn't worried about the right-hander, who may simply need a little mechanical adjustment. Motte served up three runs on one hit, a home run, on Saturday, and has given up seven earned runs on four hits in two-thirds of an inning in his last two appearances.
"I'm not worried about him," Maddon said of Motte. "I think the velocity is real good, the shape of his pitches are a little different and I think it'll get better."
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Joe Maddon is eager to get to Wrigley Field to see his new digs.
"I'm curious about my office," Maddon said Sunday. "I keep hearing it's one-third of the size of the one I have here [in Mesa]. I like space, but I won't have space.
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Cubs have less than one week before Opening Night, April 5. What's left for Joe Maddon to do?
Besides trimming the 38-man spring roster to the final 25, Maddon said he'll be inserting players into the remaining Cactus League games as if it were the regular season so they can get used to their roles.
MESA, Ariz. -- Jake Arrieta belted a three-run homer in a seven-run first and added an RBI double in the second to lift the Cubs' split-squad to an 18-4 victory over the Rockies on Saturday.
Kris Bryant went 4-for-5 and scored three runs for the Cubs, who collected 21 hits in front of a sellout crowd of 15,266 at Sloan Park.
MESA, Ariz. -- Anthony Rizzo joked with bench coach Dave Martinez that he'd like to lead off, so that's where the Cubs' first baseman batted on Saturday in a split-squad game against the Rockies.
"It's something I always wanted to do," Rizzo said before the game. "They've been messing with the lineup a lot, so why not? I think it'll be fun."
MESA, Ariz. -- Manager Joe Maddon may be closer to finding the "mystery man" to fill the No. 2 spot in the Cubs lineup, and it might not be who you'd imagine.
While Chris Coghlan is a strong candidate for the spot, Maddon has other ideas.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Using four runs in the first inning and four more in the fourth inning, the Reds cruised to a 9-5 victory on Saturday over a Cubs split-squad.
Todd Frazier led Cincinnati with two hits and four RBIs, including a three-run home run to right field. With one out in the inning, Frazier sent Minor League reliever Frank Bautista's first pitch over the fence in right field for his team-lead-tying fourth homer of spring.
MESA, Ariz. -- On Saturday, Jake Arrieta batted eighth, the first time he's done that this spring. It worked out well in the first inning vs. the Rockies, as he belted his first spring homer, a three-run shot. Arrieta isn't the first Cubs pitcher to be moved up out of the traditional No. 9 spot. It may become more of the norm with manager Joe Maddon's lineup.
MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs granted left-hander Felix Doubront his unconditional release on Saturday. Doubront is owed 45 days of termination pay, or about $473,000. He had signed a contract with the team for $1.925 million.
In four spring games, Doubront gave up nine earned runs on 17 hits over seven innings. At the start of camp, he was being considered for the fifth-starter spot, but never got a spring start. Last season, Doubront was 4-5 with a 5.54 ERA in 21 games (14 starts) with the Red Sox and Cubs.
MESA, Ariz. -- Jeff Samardzija got a rude welcome by his former teammates on Friday.
Jorge Soler and Chris Coghlan each belted two-run homers, and Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro added solo shots to power the Cubs to a 6-3 victory over the White Sox and their former teammate at Sloan Park. Samardzija, who struck out nine, was the Cubs' Opening Day starter last year, and he will begin this season for the White Sox.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
MESA, Ariz. -- Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija, teammates last season on the Cubs and again when packaged in a trade to the Athletics, played golf earlier this spring, and both joked about the possibility of facing each other now that they're on different Chicago teams.
"I didn't actually think it was going to happen," Hammel said.
MESA, Ariz. -- Whether or not Kris Bryant will be on the Cubs' Opening Day roster has been a hot topic, and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Friday that no decision has been made regarding the team's top prospect.
In his career, Epstein has never had a player make his Major League debut on Opening Day, other than a Rule 5 Draft pick or a Japanese player. While most of the focus has been on Bryant's callup being linked to the start of the service time clock, Epstein said this is not a business decision.
MESA, Ariz. -- Joe Maddon was a little worried about Javier Baez after a collision at second base during a double play on Thursday.
"I asked him when was the last time a Puerto Rican had played in the NFL, because he just felt it right there," Maddon said of the crash with the Angels' Kole Calhoun on a double play. "[Baez] got smoked. I didn't know what was wrong with him, but he got hammered. I loved it."
MESA, Ariz. -- When Joe Maddon took over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, lots of people -- Lou Piniella included -- felt they were on a dead-end street, trapped in the American League East like a house hunter on a budget in the Hamptons.
Every preseason publication -- including the baseball preview in Cigar Aficionado -- started with the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays and then, just to be nice, threw in a couple hundred words about the Rays. That was life in baseball's best division, and Maddon loved it.
Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
MESA, Ariz. -- If Kris Bryant could pick one outfield spot to play, it'd be center, which prompted a playful exchange with his locker mate, Dexter Fowler, who doesn't want to lose his job to the Cubs' top prospect.
"Center's fun," Bryant said on Friday after his outfield debut in left Thursday night. "You don't have to deal with the hooks and slices of the ball, they're more true, they're more back-spun out to center."
MESA, Ariz. -- In a matter of hours Thursday, Cubs utility infielder Chris Valaika experienced some of the benefits and drawbacks of being on the periphery of a Major League roster.
Valaika's day started out at Chicago's state-of-the-art clubhouse, with a man handing out portable charging stations to any interested player. Valaika was one of many Cubs who snagged a free electronic.
Ari Kaye is a graduate student in the journalism masters program at Arizona State University. This story is part of a Cactus League partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs' Jon Lester threw 54 pitches in a Minor League game Thursday, and that was enough for manager Joe Maddon.
"What I was really watching was him and watching his face and he never seemed like anything bothered him, so I know his arm feels great and that's all I was worried about," Maddon said of the Cubs' ace. "He felt good and his energy was good today. He threw some nice fastballs, nice cutters, yeah, yeah, yeah, but I thought he looked comfortable and that's the most important thing."
MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs outfielder Chris Denorfia, who has not played since March 17 because of some soreness in his left hamstring, is expected to get at-bats in Minor League games next week, but most likely will not be ready to go by the start of the season.
"Opening Day is probably in jeopardy," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Thursday.
Travis Wood is a pitcher. As a pitcher, he is expected to look overmatched at the plate, bringing joy to us like those guys who try to win a barrel of cash by scoring from mid-court:
But Wood is the rarest of beasts: He's a good-hitting pitcher, with nine career home runs to his name. His .700 OPS last season was second among pitchers in 2014 (behind Madison Bumgarner, natch) and would have put him on par with Chase Headley had he qualified. And Headley just signed a $52 million deal.
MESA, Ariz. -- Kris Bryant passed all the tests Thursday his first game in left field for the Cubs, but the move didn't help his hitting.
Bryant has played third base since he was drafted second overall in 2013 by the Cubs, and manager Joe Maddon wanted him to consider playing the outfield. Being versatile can sometimes give a player a better chance on a big league squad. Bryant enthusiastically agreed. The only concern was with his arm because Bryant had missed time at third base with fatigue in his right shoulder.
MESA, Ariz. -- Albert Pujols belted a three-run homer and an RBI double and C.J. Cron added a two-run triple to back Jered Weaver and lift the Angels to a 8-4 victory on Thursday over the Cubs. Weaver, expected to be the Angels' Opening Day starter, struck out eight over 5 1/3 innings.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
MESA, Ariz. -- Travis Wood may have started Wednesday night, but that didn't stop the Cubs pitcher from getting an extra at-bat on Thursday, and he took advantage of it.
Wood led off the fifth with a pinch-hit home run off the Angels' Jered Weaver for his first spring homer, and 32nd by the Cubs.
MESA, Ariz. -- Sighs of relief all the way around for Chicago Cubs loyalists. Jon Lester is OK. He is all right. In fact, he is much better than that.
Lester had missed a Cactus League start Saturday because of the dreaded, yet commonplace, "dead-arm" syndrome. Because he is a centerpiece of the Cubs' expected revival, because he is worth $155 million over six years to the Cubs, this development was viewed in some quarters as dreadful, ominous and further evidence that gloom and doom have a permanent home at Wrigley Field.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
The Cubs also assigned 10 non-roster invitees to Minor League camp, including right-handed pitchers Daniel Bard, Anthony Carter, Jorge De Leon and Gonzalez Germen; left-handed pitcher Francisley Bueno; infielder Chris Valaika; outfielders Albert Almora, Mike Baxter and Adron Chambers; and catcher Kyle Schwarber.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Joe Maddon has made it known he's impressed with Javier Baez's defensive play and the young infielder's baseball acumen, but neither the manager nor anyone else in the front office has told Baez that he has made the Cubs' Opening Day roster.
Maddon denied a report that Baez was on the final 25-man roster, and added that neither Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein or general manager Jed Hoyer gave the infieder the go-ahead either.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Young Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker hurled six more scoreless innings Wednesday, and catcher Mike Zunino hit his fourth home run of the spring as Seattle defeated the Cubs, 3-2, in a night game at Peoria Stadium.
Travis Wood, battling for the fifth spot in the Cubs' rotation, allowed three runs and five hits over five innings. The lefty was happy with his outing.
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Edwin Jackson's misdirection didn't go over too well with Cubs manager Joe Maddon.
Jackson went to the wrong ballpark for his start on Tuesday because he followed the directions on his Google Map app, which sent him to Phoenix Municipal Stadium. The trouble is, the game was being played at Hohokam Stadium, just 3.6 miles from where the Cubs train.