Greetings from Arizona.
Like everyone else, many players in Florida and Arizona are taking time out of their workday this morning to fill out March Madness brackets and join the team pools, an annual spring tradition in almost every camp.
Chicago Tribune baseball writers LaMond Pope, Meghan Montemurro and Paul Sullivan will be providing updates from the Cactus League on Monday through Friday throughout spring training.
Sign up for our sports newsletter, delivered daily each morning.","type":"text
Forecast: Partly cloudy with a high of 73.
Forecast: Partly cloudy with a high of 73.
A driving factor
Dallas Keuchel is scheduled to make his first start this spring Thursday against the Kansas City Royals, White Sox manager Tony La Russa said Sunday.
Keuchel went 6-2 last season with a 1.99 ERA and finished fifth in American League Cy Young Award voting.
But his AL wild-card start, in which he allowed three earned runs in 3 1/4 u2153 innings in a Game 2 loss to the Oakland Athletics, is a driving factor for the upcoming season.
“Not getting it done last year in Game 2 has really left a sour taste in my mouth, and that’s something that I’m out to prove this year,” Keuchel said Sunday. “I’m not goal-oriented. I just want to be healthy and out there. But if I had something to look forward to, it would be getting back on the wagon and asserting myself in the playoffs.”
Let’s go to the film
Former Cubs manager and current Angels skipper Joe Maddon loved to reference the TV show he loved, “The Office,” during his five seasons in Chicago.
So what are Cubs manager David Ross’ viewing preferences? He said he has been watching a Korean drama and likes old-school movies, mentioning “Dumb and Dumber,” “Tommy Boy” and “Major League.”
“I’m a classics guy,” Ross said. “There’s some different stuff that I’m watching in my personal life, but I’m kind of classic, old-school. If you’re going to hear a line, it’s going to be probably one of those out of me.”
Ross’ viewing options skew beyond classic comedies. With his kids visiting him in Arizona, he expects his viewing routine might be adjusted.
“All the stuff that probably none of the young kids can relate to at all,” Ross said of his favorites. “The kids are in town, so give me a week and I’ll have a good list for you.”
What we’re reading this morning
Yasmani Grandal “was a rookie in terms of enthusiasm” when the White Sox catcher made his Cactus League debut.","type":"text
Dylan Cease, Carlos Rodon and Reynaldo Lopez are competing for the fourth and fifth spots in the White Sox rotation.","type":"text
Anthony Rizzo is “very optimistic” about his future with the Cubs but wants to focus on the team — not contract extension talks.","type":"text
Can Jake Marisnick be more than just an elite defensive player for the Cubs?","type":"text
Digging in the dirt
Digging in the dirt
White Sox closer Liam Hendriks was pleased after throwing a perfect inning in his Cactus League debut Friday, with one exception.
Lucas Giolito, who started and pitched four scoreless innings with five strikeouts, made things a little more difficult for the next pitcher.
“It sucked to follow Gio because he decided to dig a big hole in the ground,” Hendriks said. “First couple of warmup throws, I slipped into that.”
Giolito enjoyed the ribbing.
“The first thing he tells me when he comes in the dugout was, ‘What’s with that hole you’ve got over there? You’re tearing up the mound,’ ” Giolito said with a laugh. “But it’s great. He’s been a great presence in the clubhouse, really keeping things light and fun. It’s what we’re all about. I’m looking forward to this year, having him close out some games for us.”
The Oakland A’s gained prominence as an organization ahead of the curve in analytics with the 2003 release of the book “Moneyball,” which later was made into a film with Brad Pitt starring as general manager Billy Beane. On Sunday the A’s made another leap into the future, announcing the price of a full-season suite at one Bitcoin.
“We’re excited to be one of a handful of teams to accept cryptocurrency for payment and the first to price tickets in crypto instead of U.S. currency,” A’s President Dave Kaval said in a statement.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the A’s are thought to be the first team to price tickets in cryptocurrency, which changes in value depending on when it is purchased. On Sunday, the value of one Bitcoin was a little below $60,000. Suite sales in Bitcoin will end April 1.
Around the Cactus League
Los Angeles Angels starter Jose Quintana has not allowed a run in six innings over three Cactus League starts. The former Cub changed his strength and conditioning program in the offseason and is altering his mechanics, particularly the alignment of his front shoulder on his release. “This is a great opportunity to be back in the game,” he said. “Now I have a lot of expectations on myself and my team.” Angels manager Joe Maddon, who managed Quintana with the Cubs, said Quintana is so pumped before starts, “there is fire coming out of his eyeballs.” … San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt revealed his unexplained absence from camp early this spring was due to a bout with mononucleosis, which he incurred a month after getting COVID-19 in January. … Arizona Diamondbacks first-base coach Dave McKay, whose diet and fitness routines are renowned in baseball circles, suffered a broken rib and lacerated spleen last week after tripping in the dugout at Scottsdale Stadium and falling into a metal railing. The 71-year-old McKay, a coach on Dale Sveum’s staff early in the Cubs rebuild, is expected to return by opening day.
“Some players recognized the existence of those constraints and were willing to be creative on their end with structures in deals that worked for them as well. Where we were able to line up with players really did revolve around whether there was an appetite for creativity.” — Milwaukee Brewers President David Stearns to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on free agents Kolten Wong and Jackie Bradley Jr. deferring money to help keep the 2021 payroll manageable
This day in Cubs/Sox history
March 15, 2004: Cubs pitcher Mark Prior throws his first bullpen session in three weeks after being sidelined with what was described as an inflamed right Achilles tendon.
“Everything went fine,” general manager Jim Hendry said after the session. “No irritation, he felt good; no prediction (on Prior’s return).”
Prior was sent to Chicago days later for examination of a sore right elbow, which the Cubs labeled a “precautionary” exam.
“They ran every test known to man,” manager Dusty Baker said.
Prior’s starting date was delayed until early May, and he didn’t wind up making his first start until June 4. He went 6-4 with a 4.02 ERA as the Cubs blew a wild-card spot in the final week. Prior lasted two more seasons in the majors and is currently the pitching coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Cubs: off Tuesday.","type":"text