Brownlie heading in the right direction

Brownlie heading in the right direction

MESA, Ariz. -- Bobby Brownlie may have been assigned to the Minor League camp on Saturday, but he's headed in the right direction career-wise.

Brownlie, 25, the Cubs' No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft, had reported to the big-league camp in mid-February with the other pitchers. This was his first spring with the Major League players, and he took advantage of it.

"It's night and day from what I experienced the last three years in the Minor League camp," said Brownlie. "It's not that the Minor League camp is so bad, but it's nice to come up here and see the guys you always hear about, and you're able to talk to them and pick their brain and things like that. It's nice being in this atmosphere and playing in a Spring Training game in front of 12,000 fans. It prepares you for the season."

In three Cactus League games, Brownlie gave up one run on three hits over three innings. More important, he was able to talk to some of the veteran players, such as Glendon Rusch, whose locker was next to Brownlie's.

"It's not so much [talking] about baseball but everything, handling everything, how to balance things," said Brownlie.

The right-hander has moved up a level each season since starting his pro career in 2003 at Class A Daytona. Last year, at Triple-A Iowa, he went 6-7 with a 4.74 ERA in 27 games (14 starts). He worked at least six innings in eight of his starts, and went 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA in 13 relief appearances.

When he was drafted out of Rutgers, he had some problems with his right shoulder, but the shoulder is now healthy and he's feeling strong.

"I went back to a personal trainer [Todd Sak] who I used my senior year of high school," he said. "He helped take me to the next step. He's a guy I used this offseason. I concentrated on strengthening my legs, and a lot of core and leg stuff. It was more body-weight stuff -- body-weight squats and body-weight lunges. I didn't use a lot of weight, but that worked on endurance stuff to get into the seventh, eighth innings to prepare for the season."

On the move: Brownlie and right-hander Bryan Corey were reassigned to the Minor League camp. The Cubs' Minor League players will have an intrasquad game on March 17, and their first spring game will be March 20.

On the pine: No injuries to report.

Names in the game: Former Cubs pitcher Fergie Jenkins was in camp to offer some advice to the pitchers. Jenkins, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991, compiled a 284-226 record over 19 years, including six consecutive seasons (1967 to 1972) of at least 20 wins with the Cubs.

They're No. 1: The Cubs are eager to see if Ryan Harvey can cut down on the strikeouts. Harvey, the No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft, hit .257 at Class A Peoria with 100 RBIs last year, and led the league with 24 home runs. He also struck out 137 times.

Stat machine: Brian Dopirak is batting .500 (7-for-14) and Brandon Sing is hitting .333 (4-for-12) as the two young first basemen take advantage of Derrek Lee's absence. Lee is playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

Class of '05: Oneri Fleita, the Cubs' player development director, is excited about the top six picks from last year's draft, including left-handers Mark Pawelek and Donald Veal, right-handers Mark Holliman and Scott Taylor, and infielders Dylan Johnston and Kyle Reynolds. Pawelek appears headed to Peoria this year, whereas Veal and Holliman could be assigned to Class A Daytona.

Peoria manager Jody Davis, who was the Cubs' catcher from 1981 to 1988, has been working with Yusuf Carter, who is a nephew of big leaguer Joe Carter. Davis told Fleita that the younger Carter, selected 12th in the 2005 draft, has the skills and ability to handle the position.

What they're saying: "The way guys have shown up and the condition they're in is off the charts." -- Fleita, on the Minor League players who reported on March 7. Cubs coaches and trainers called each player on the first and 15th of each month to make sure they were following their offseason exercise programs.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.