The Rundown: Rotation Battles Start Tomorrow, Ross May Use Six-Man Rotation, Dr. Fauci Expresses Optimism Regarding Return to Nomalcy

Pitchers and catchers officially report to the Cubs’ Cactus League facilities at Sloan Park tomorrow and thanks to one of the gloomiest stretches of winter weather in recent memory, seeing players going through their first drills of the spring will be a welcome sight. As a writer, it’ll be nice to once again peruse the internet for relevant quotes from players, coaches, and managers. Camp battles make great storylines, too.

If you’re looking for Cliff’s Notes on what to follow in Mesa, it’s pretty simple: The battle for rotation spots will be the primary focus through most of camp. Kyle Hendricks, Zach Davies, and Jake Arrieta are the team’s likely top three, and a cast of what seems like hundreds will battle for the remaining two slots. Early favorites are Adbert Alzolay and Trevor Williams, with Alec Mills and Kohl Stewart serving as swingmen. It may be tough for Shelby Miller to grab a roster spot, but hopefully he competes enough to force his way into the discussion.

The battle for those last two slots should be fascinating, especially if rookie Brailyn Márquez makes a strong effort to head north with the team at the end of March. The young lefty expects to show enough to at least garner some consideration from David Ross and Jed Hoyer. Though it’s unlikely, adding Alzolay and Márquez to the back of that rotation really makes things interesting.

Other than that, the battle for second base should be fun or tragic, depending how one sees things and assuming Hoyer doesn’t add someone like Eric Sogard to compete with Nico Hoerner and David Bote. In case you missed it, Jason Kipnis, who many thought was a lock to come back, signed with the Braves yesterday. We’ll also hear plenty of trade rumors surrounding Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras, though both should be safe at least until the July 31 trade deadline.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Burl Carraway must be from Milwaukee, where 15 degrees with overcast skies is widely considered “shorts and sandals weather.”

Tuesday Stove

The 2021 season promises to be defined by the ongoing pandemic.

That said, Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed optimism regarding the potential for fans to attend baseball games during the 2021 season

Carter Kieboom, oft-mentioned in Bryant trade rumors, is listed as one of five NL players expected to break out this season.

Mets fans believe Matt Chapman should be the team’s number one trade target.

The Mets agreed to terms on a one-year deal with outfielder Kevin Pillar, New York’s ninth big league addition in free agency.

Yankees outfield prospect Jason Dominguez is getting some over-the-top hype as ESPN prospect insider Kiley McDaniel compared the teen star to Mike Trout at the same stages of their careers. McDaniel proclaimed that Dominguez, who has yet to have one single professional at-bat, is “more advanced” at this point. I apologize for the clickbait.

The Marlins farm system, barren when Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman took over, is now festooned with six top-100 prospects and is ranked No. 2 in all of MLB by ESPN. Miami is led by righty pitcher Sixto Sánchez, who teased and flashed in seven starts last season.

With or without Sánchez, the Marlins have assembled what may be one of the best rotations in the game.

Bartolo Colon signed a one-year contract with the Acereros de Monclova of the Mexican Baseball League on Monday, according to Beisbol Puro’s Roberto Espinoza. Colon will turn 48 during the upcoming season.

Extra Innings

We shouldn’t expect miracles, but it’s nice the Cubs and Arrieta have reunited.

They Said It

  • “Day by day, I used my time [at the alternate site] to work hard and get the best out of myself so that in 2021, I can try to give the best of myself when Spring Training starts. It’s what I’ve been doing since my first year: Work hard, not put in my mind, ‘I can’t’, but, ‘Yes, I can do it’, and that way I can keep moving forward.” – Brailyn Márquez
  • “As you get to the late spring, early summer, gradually you’re going to see a loosening up of those restrictions. So they will be able to go to a ball game, you may not have a packed house, but I’m fairly certain that as we get into the summer that if the infection rate does go down the way I believe it will, then you’ll be able to go to the ballpark and watch a game.” – Dr. Anthony Fauci

Tuesday Walk Up Song

Tighten Up by The Black Keys – Opening Day is just 44 days away.

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