Cooking up controversy: Opening Day starter drama

Some managers have an easy task when choosing an Opening Day starter. Maybe it’s the guy who won the Cy Young award last year, or the big name free agent you just signed. The Chicago Cubs have no true ace, so Rick Renteria has yet to decide who will take the mound in the Cubs’ first game. Does that mean Renteria just wants to get a good look at who’s pitching well this spring or could something more sinister be lurking in the shadows?OD

The Cubs are no closer to finding common ground on a potential contract extension with pitcher Jeff ­Samardzija than they were a year ago. In some ways, they’re further apart.

He is considered the club’s top commodity for the July trade market, but could he be dealt before the season starts in five weeks?

Two industry sources said Monday they believe a trade is a strong possibility, although a third source said no such talks are happening.

So what did Renteria say that leads Gordon Wittenmyer to believe that he hasn’t already chosen Samardzija because of the likelihood he’ll be traded?

“So many things can happen over the course of the spring that I’m not going to lock myself into trying to divulge something that I can’t really determine will be in the end,” Renteria said.

So many things, including injury, someone pitching horribly or yes, trade.

“That’s a terrible thing to do when you name somebody and then all of a sudden it changes,” Renteria explained. “Obviously, we give you a name and then by elimination everybody starts deducing and speculating. And I’ve got a large group of guys that are very talented, and I want to see what they can do, and we’ll determine that as the days move forward and we get closer to [the opener].”

Doc said in yesterday’s comments that he thinks Samardzija is a goner before Opening Day. Anyone else have a feel for the situation? Gordo mentions that Texas and Toronto are still looking for pitching but not willing to shell out what Ervin Santana wants. But is the market better in July when more teams will be looking? Or will it be a buyers market because more pitchers will be available?

Also in yesterday’s comments was a discussion of Dan Vogelbach showing up to camp having lost 30 pounds in the offseason. If you missed Gordo’s tweet with a photo, click that link. Carrie Muskat talked to Dan about why and how he went about losing said weight (hint: it wasn’t Deal-A-Meal).

“In the offseason, I really took it seriously to get myself in shape so there was no question about whether I could play first base or am I only going to be a DH?” Vogelbach, who ranked No. 10 among the Cubs’ Top 20 Prospects in 2013, said. “I want to play first base, I want to be on the field. That’s the type of player I am, I want to be on the field at all times.”

And the how…

How did he lose the weight? It helped that his brother is an athletic trainer and could guide him. Vogelbach did one hour of cardio every day. Last November at a Cubs mini-camp, he met with a nutritionist.

In the first month, he lost 15 pounds. He dropped seven more in November, and lost 10 more during the holidays. He eliminated bread from his diet, drank lots of water, and ate an overload of grilled chicken, black beans and rice. He’s not a big fan of vegetables, so the nutritionist recommended vitamins that would fill that void. Breakfast was either a hard boiled egg or a protein shake.

Take that, Keith Law! So now that he’s smaller, will he lose some of that power that’s made him stand out?

“I think I gained power,” Vogelbach said. “I got a lot stronger with Doug [Jarrow, Cubs strength coach] and being home lifting a lot. I’m a lot looser with losing the weight. I can move better, not only in the field but swinging. I actually feel better at the plate than I usually do.”

Watch out, Anthony Rizzo. Vogelbomb is coming for you.

10 thoughts on “Cooking up controversy: Opening Day starter drama

  1. Dusty Baylor says:

    Again, I hope he makes the Cubs have a tough choice at 1B in a couple of seasons.
    go Vogelbach!!!

  2. juliedicaro says:

    Intrasquad game today! Here area the lineups:

  3. J says:

    The sooner the Cubs trade Shark, the sooner he can go get injured playing for another team. I say get it done before Shark’s 3rd Spring Training appearance.

  4. mightybear says:

    If I were betting, I’d bet on the home team. Cubs baseball starts today! I’m all a tingly.

  5. juliedicaro says:

    I wish this game was being broadcast. Siiiiigh. Tomorrow, then.

  6. Doc Blume says:

    I’m really hoping that once Selig leaves, the NL adopts the DH. Then any concern about where to put Vogelbach (despite his wish to still play 1st base) would be put to rest.

    At the very least, if Vogelbach continues to develop, he could be key to getting the Cubs some decent starting pitching prospects, assuming Rizzo turns things around.

    1. psymar says:

      “I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing astroturf and the designated hitter.”

  7. Doc Blume says:

    Look…I personally hate the DH. But one thing I hate more than the DH is the fact that there are different rule sets between the AL and the NL. With interleague play actually existing and not going away (which I also hate), the fact that we have to continually switch between two different rule sets during the course of the season is stupid. The reality is that the DH is never going to be removed from the AL. As a result, I’m forced to say that I think the NL should adopt the DH.

    We also need to accept the fact that there really aren’t two leagues anymore. There is one major league with two conferences. Baseball doesn’t have two separate league offices anymore. The umpires have been combined into a single group and aren’t separated by leagues. Even the baseballs that are used in games aren’t specific for the NL or AL. It’s time for there to be a common rule set as well.

  8. Doc Blume says:

    And I know this is an old argument that we’ve had over and over again. Sorry.

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