Spring Training Notebook: An update on Cubs’ starting rotation
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Wade Miley has yet to throw in a Spring Training game, but there’s no cause to panic, manager David Ross assured reporters Sunday morning.
“He’s that old veteran that’ll move along at his pace,” Ross said.
Miley has been playing catch and Ross said he’ll appear in a game relatively soon.
“Somewhere I’ve got a date,” Ross said. “I’ve got a lot of dates circled.”
That doesn’t take away the role the Cubs hope Miley will play this season. Ross emphasized that he’s a part of the Cubs rotation this season. The starting staff includes plenty of options for Ross.
Miley will join veterans Marcus Stroman and Kyle Hendricks in that rotation. Beyond that, there’s some different arms that Ross can turn to. The Cubs signed veteran Drew Smyly to a major-league contract as an option. They also have in-house options like Justin Steele, Keegan Thompson (who makes a start on Monday) and Alec Mills, who pitched 2 innings against the Dodgers on Sunday.
“Just being a short spring, there could be times where maybe we piggyback off each other,” Mills said after his outing. “But there’s plenty of options that I’m sure it’s gonna be a unique first few months of the season for sure.”
With the shortened spring, Ross is keeping his options and trying to line up his starters to have them in the best position to succeed. The versatility that the Cubs have in the potential starting corps allows Ross to try and do just that.
Someone like Steele has options and could be sent down to the minor leagues if some of the veteran pieces are stretched out and ready to go.
“Depth is a real big piece here so I think we’re gonna watch him compete and see if it’s a spot where he can be in the rotation or he’ll be Triple-A depth for us,” Ross said. “We’ve got a lot of those guys in that boat that have options, so we’ll see where everybody’s at. Right now, we’re planning on him building up to start.”
Ortega seeking to improve against lefties
Last season, Rafael Ortega proved to be one of the revelations for the Cubs, hitting .304 with an .870 OPS in the leadoff spot. But much of Ortega’s success came against right-handed pitching, hitting .321.
Against southpaws, Ortega slashed just .128/.293/.128.
“It was really tough for me because honestly, against righties I was batting really well and against lefties, I couldn’t connect off of them,” Ortega said.
This offseason, Ortega emphasized improvements against lefties, focusing on modifying his stance a bit against southpaws and trying to lay off breaking pitches outside of the zone.
“I’ve tried to simply stay closed in my stance and try to send the ball the other way against lefties and hopefully that can help me from here on out,” Ortega said.
- Tommy Nance was in camp today. He was placed on the COVID-19-related injured list as he goes through the intake process, but Ross was expecting him to play catch Sunday.
- Brailyn Márquez and Harold Ramírez have not yet reported to camp, yet as they are having visa difficulties getting into the country.