I’d forgotten what it was like to have several stories to sift through to find quotes and such. So if I have omitted anything that you’ve found interesting, please feel free to mention it in the comments. First up today is Arodys Vizcaino, one of the two pitchers received from Atlanta in the Paul Maholm trade. He hasn’t yet pitched for the Cubs at any level after missing the last two years due to injury. He’s healthy now, and ready to show why he was once a highly rated prospect.
About two hours later, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and a group of team officials watched Vizcaino throw 25 pitches in a bullpen session at Cubs Park. They believe he has what it takes to one day become a high-end closer or a frontline starter. That’s why they made him the centerpiece of the Paul Maholm/Reed Johnson trade with the Atlanta Braves in July 2012 — four months after Dr. James Andrews reconstructed his right elbow.
“He’s exciting,” Hoyer said. “His stuff is certainly as good as anyone in this camp when he’s healthy. And he’s healthy right now.”
He hasn’t pitched in two years, but he’s still only 23. As far as being a frontline starter, it won’t be this year, as they watch his pitch counts in his comeback.
“It’s been an unfortunate two years for him with the Tommy John and the setbacks,” Hoyer said. “As far as setting expectations about the beginning of the year or whether he breaks with the team or not or what his role’s going to be, I think we’re too early for that. We’re all just excited to see him on the mound here, and then we’ll make a decision later in spring.”
While we dream about a potential young top-of-the-rotation starter, we may be seeing one in his last go-around as a Cub…
Poor Jeff Samardzija doesn’t see a contract extension in his future, and thinks this might be his last training camp as a Chicago Cub.
“All I can do is increase my value as much as possible, and I think in the end it’s going to help the organization no matter what,” he said Friday as the Cubs held their first official workouts of the spring. “Either it helps the organization by keeping me here and proving to them that I’m that guy, or I increase my value and it helps them get prospects in return.”
“Both sides are justified; it’s not like anyone is asking for some outlandish concept,” said Samardzija, whose inability to reach an agreement has more to do with his confidence in his rising value as a potential frontline starter and a skepticism over how committed the organization is to ending this rebuilding process any time soon.
Is he just always honest? Is he going to talk about it all spring, or is this just him getting it out of his system right at the start? After our brief Jeff Samardzija interlude, let’s get back to news of forgotten prospects. Brett Jackson is in camp early and ready to win his way back into our hearts and minds. After his call up in 2012, he had a horrible 2013, ending in AA Tennessee.
“Everything was with the best intention,” Jackson said. “Everything was to make me the best player possible. Dale was always in my corner and believed in me. Unfortunately, kind of ironically, along the way I kind of lost some belief in myself.
“In making those changes, I (fought) my nature, my natural swing. They had the best intentions, but I feel back to being myself. I feel rejuvenated and I’ve never felt this good coming into spring training.”
He’s still only 25, so there’s time for him. Plus, he’s handsome.
“Last year just kind of fell apart,” Jackson said. “It was one of those snowball-effect years. (But) I’m grateful for it. It was a huge struggle, a huge challenge for me to overcome. I’m obviously not excited with the way it turned out, but I think those are the type of years that propel you forward.”
It’s like that annoying inspirational phrase I’ve seen on facebook about arrows needing to be pulled back before they can shoot forward or something.