Today is a special day. Certainly many couples are heading out to celebrate Valentine’s Day (which the restaurant owners appreciate). And in my house it’s a birthday.
Neither of those is the special thing about today that I’m talking about, though. Today is the day that pitchers and catchers officially report to Spring Training. It signals the end of the off season and the beginning of Spring Training and the pre-season.
For the Cubs, their 40-man roster will be showing up entirely soon, plus an additional 24 players:
Twenty-four major-league hopefuls have been invited to spring training by the Cubs as non-roster players, the team announced Friday.Among them are prospects Ian Happ and Eloy Jimenez, left-handed-hitting utility infielder Munenori Kawasaki, 35, who spent some time with the team last season, and switch-hitting second baseman Jemile Weeks, 30, who has played 260 games during his six-year career.
By opening day on the road against St. Louis only 25 of those 64 men will be in the dugout. The experts are fairly united that 22-24 of those 25 slots are essentially filled unless there’s an injury or surprise out in Mesa during Spring Training. Joe Maddon, the Cubs’ manager and Hoyer and Epstein in the front office last year kept a pitcher-heavy roster and used position players who had some ability to shift position:
Versatility is a plus for manager Joe Maddon, who likes to move players around. Not everyone on the Cubs’ roster will be asked to play three different positions in one game, which Kris Bryant did twice, but being able to play more than one spot could help in determining who will make the final 25
The first Cubs game in Arizona (Cactus League play) is on February 25th, less than 2 weeks away. I’m counting down the days. Other teams start that Thursday or Friday as well, but the Cubs will play (as a split squad) both the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics that day. I’m sure I’ll have a post on the games the following Monday morning.