Spring Training Notebooks

Cubs Spring Training Notebook: Wesneski sparks joy while Cubs whittle down spring roster

1 year agoTony Andracki

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PEORIA, Ariz. — The Cubs whittled their roster down with the first cuts of 2023 Spring Training Monday morning.

Eight players were reassigned to minor league camp, including:

LHP Brailyn Marquez
C Bryce Windham
INF Esteban Quiroz
INF Chase Strumpf
INF Andy Weber
INF Jared Young
OF Darius Hill
OF Yonathan Perlaza

That brings the Cubs’ spring roster down to 66.

None of the players are on the Cubs’ 40-man roster and all figure to serve as minor league depth to begin the year either in Triple-A Iowa or a lower level.

Quiroz and Young both made their MLB debuts last season while Marquez appeared in a big-league game at the end of the 2020 campaign. However, the left-handed pitcher has not appeared in a game since — at any level — as he has battled injuries.

Marquez was once a top prospect in the Cubs system as a big southpaw that could dial it up to triple digits with his fastball.

Young is actually away from the Cubs at the moment, working out with Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic. 

Of the remaining 66 players in camp, 9 of them are also currently with their WBC teams, including Matt Mervis (Israel), Marcus Stroman (Puerto Rico), Javier Assad (Mexico), Nelson Velázquez (Puerto Rico), Roenis Elías (Cuba), Miles Mastrobuoni (Italy), Vinny Nittoli (Italy), Ben DeLuzio (Italy) and Danis Correa (Colombia).

The battle rages on

The Cubs have a number of position battles on the roster this spring, especially now that Seiya Suzuki is on the shelf with an oblique injury.

One of the most intriguing battles is the final spot in the Opening Day rotation and it is a decision that could come down to the final days of camp.

Assad made the most of his early time in Cubs camp with 4 shutout innings where he allowed only 1 walk and 0 hits. His velocity has spiked this spring, dialing it up to 95-96 mph in his appearance Friday during the team’s combined no-hitter.

Veteran Adrian Sampson is also in the mix and will start Tuesday for the Cubs. He joined the rotation midway through the season last year and was one of the team’s most reliable pitchers down the stretch with a 3.11 ERA in 104.1 innings.

Rookie Hayden Wesneski got the ball Monday against the Mariners and permitted an unearned run in 2.2 innings with 3 strikeouts, a walk and 4 hits.

He has not allowed a run yet this spring and leads the staff with 7 strikeouts in 4.2 innings.

“What stands out to me is he does know a lot about how he wants to go about his business whether it’s in the weight room, his bullpens or competing,” David Ross said. “It’s just very much a veteran-type presence to how he goes about his business and what he wants to do.

“He works well with the coaches, he speaks the detailed language of some of the analytics and the spin and the shapes he wants to see out of his pitches. When you have somebody that aware of what they’re doing, it’s very easy for our coaching staff to work with him and be on the same page. He’s been a real joy to get to know because it is all about how he’s setting up for success, which is gonna help us have success.”

The only run Wesneski allowed Monday came after his own error, when he threw a ball away in the 3rd inning. After the game, he was more upset about that error than anything else and joked he need to get some more work in during PFPs (Pitcher Fielding Practice).

“You try to take away the good and bad and digest it,” Wesneski said. “Every time I go look at stuff like that, usually the good is worse than I think it is and the bad is usually better than I think it is. It’s trying to meet in the middle somewhere and we’ll figure out what we gotta do.

“I didn’t mind it. I wish I threw a little more strikes and got a few more outs when I needed it.”

Hendricks on the right path

Kyle Hendricks threw Monday at the Cubs complex, his first official bullpen since July 5 of last season. He had previously thrown a couple low-key bullpens that have been described more as “touch-and-feels” but this session dialed up the intensity to 100%.

He tossed 25 pitches and plans to throw 10 bullpens total as he works toward building his way back from a right shoulder injury.

Hendricks likely won’t get into a Cactus League game and will not be a part of the Opening Day roster. Ross isn’t getting too caught up in a schedule for Hendricks but the Cubs expect the pitcher back around the beginning of May.

“I take that day to day,” Ross said. “I’m not checking in with him daily. I haven’t heard anything that would indicate otherwise.”

Sweet swingin’

Billy Williams addressed the team Monday morning at the Nike Performance Center.

Williams spoke to the Cubs players before their workout Monday. Ross said he always tries to take advantage of the Hall of Famers in attendance during Spring Training and thinks it’s invaluable for players to hear the perspective of a guy like Williams.

Next Up

Sampson gets the nod Tuesday as the Cubs visit the Rangers in Surprise, Ariz. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. on Marquee Sports Network.

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