Spring Training Notebook- 3/14/11


After the first week of Spring Training, the games begin to be redundant and lack any appeal to the fans. Like the case for the past two weeks, all three of the Cubs competition battles remain wide open. For the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation it would seem that Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner are the favorites, but manager Mike Quade told reporters today that  he is no closer to making a decision on the final two rotation spots. As for the backup infielder competition, considering that Augie Ojeda has not received much playing time, indicating that Darwin Barney probably has a leg up in the battle. Lastly, for the battle between Reed Johnson and Fernando Perez for the fifth outfielders spot, it seems that Perez’s speed puts him on the inside track to win the spot. Here is the latest from Spring Training, as we are two weeks away from Opening Week around the majors.

  • Braden Looper Quietly Turning Heads

At age 36, non-roster invitee Braden Looper was not given much of a chance by the media to make the 25 man roster when camp originally started. However after another solid performance on Sunday, it would seem that Looper may have a a decent chance at making the team after all.

In 8.2 innings pitched so far this Spring, Looper has given up 5 runs on 9 hits while striking out 5 batters. However most of the runs Looper has given this Spring, were the result of one bad outing. Looper’s start to Spring Training has also attracted to interest of scouts watching the Cubs, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times. But if Looper does not make the Cubs roster, he has already admitted that he would call it a career and spend time with his family.

At this point it remains to be seen if Looper can somehow leapfrog past Andrew Cashner for a spot on the team as the fifth starter. But as long as Looper continues to impress in his final 3 outings of Spring, he may find a spot on the Cubs 25 man roster as part of their bullpen.

  • Bobby Scales Pushing For A Roster Spot

When the Cubs opened camp a month ago, the consensus was that either Darwin Barney or Augie Ojeda would be one of the backup infielders on the Cubs 25 man roster. However after Augie Ojeda has essentially disappeared from the field during Spring Training, long time minor leaguer Bobby Scales is making a push to make the team as backup infielder.

Scales is off to a hot start this Spring hitting .438 while showing good whereabouts when he is on the field. New Cubs’ bench coach Pat Listach told the Chicago Sun Times that Scales is definitely opening up some eyes in camp.

To be honest, whether or not Scales makes the team is directly related to the Cubs’ plan for Darwin Barney. Barney is considered by some to the be the team’s future starting second baseman, and the future may be now for the 25 year old. With Blake DeWitt off to a miserable start and Jeff Baker not good enough to man the position on a full time basis, Barney-who is hitting .308 in Spring-may have the opportunity to take over the position this season. Obviously if Barney makes the team, that would significantly hinder the chances of Scales making the team.