The Rundown: Imanaga Shoving, Counsell Comfortable with Cubs, Busch Named Potential Breakout Star, Roberts Egged in Seoul

Shōta shoves. Can I just leave it at that?

The Cubs have a nice top end to their rotation in Justin Steele, Kyle Hendricks, and Shōta Imanaga. I also love Jordan Wicks as the fourth starter in the absence of Jameson Taillon. Still, I can’t help dreaming about Cade Horton and I’m looking forward to this afternoon’s Spring Breakout game against the White Sox. Horton won’t break camp with the Cubs, but he’s about five good Triple-A starts away from forcing his way onto the team.

The back of Chicago’s rotation won’t remain static all year, at least according to Craig Counsell. The Cubs’ new manager wants to maintain flexibility while occasionally resting starters, including Imanaga, who will be adjusting to a five-day routine. Counsell won’t go to a six-man rotation, but he will work in a sixth starter on occasion. That will open up starting opportunities for Javier Assad and Hayden Wesneski once Taillon returns. Horton will eventually get some starts, too.

Imanaga is the story this morning, however. Few expected the 30-year-old rookie to be so dialed in so quickly. If the Cubs got more of the good Marcus Stroman last year and less of the bad version, Imanaga might be pitching elsewhere. Things worked out very fortuitously for the North Siders if early returns are any indication.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

This is a pretty incredible story about Gaylord Perry.

Climbing the Ladder

“Feel the new wind of change on the wings of the night.” – Pink Floyd, On the Turning Away

Imanaga has 19 strikeouts and just two walks in 9.2 Cactus League innings, a very Kerry Wood-like accomplishment. David Bote leads the Cactus Cubs with five home runs and nine RBI after going yard yesterday but still may be squeezed out of a roster spot. Owen Caissie has been in minor league camp for about a week but he still leads the Cubs in hits with 11. Seiya Suzuki had a pair of doubles against the Athletics and is slashing .364/.417/1.053 this spring. Wicks has a 1.46 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP in four appearances.

Stat of the Day: Luke Little has allowed opponents a svelte .105 batting average in 19 at-bats. That’s good.

Central Intelligence

Spring Training News & Notes

The Padres and Dodgers arrived in Seoul for next week’s season-opening series, but someone threw an egg at Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts.

The price for Dodgers tickets is soaring — both home and away — since the team’s acquisition of Shohei Ohtani.

The Angels had an opportunity to retain Ohtani on the same deal he got from the Dodgers, according to the New York Post’s Jon Heyman.

Freddie Freeman is baseball’s friendliest player to chat with according to his peers.

Gerrit Cole will avoid the knife, at least for now. The Yankees’ ace right-hander does not require Tommy John surgery and can treat his ailing right elbow conservatively, with the hope of returning to the rotation in 10-12 weeks.

White Sox fans will miss Dylan Cease, but most are excited about the prospects Chicago received from the Padres.

Fans were thrilled to see a ball/strike challenge system at the Spring Breakout match between the Pirates and Orioles.

Friday Morning Six-Pack

  1. The Bears made a big trade yesterday, acquiring six-time Pro Bowl WR Keenan Allen from the Chargers for a 4th-round draft pick. Allen is due a $5 million roster bonus on Sunday, so it will be interesting to see if the front office tries to extend and rework his deal.
  2. GM Ryan Poles caught many fans by surprise when the trade was announced.
  3. Aaron Rodgers denied a CNN report that he floated conspiracy theories about the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.
  4. The 6% commission on buying and selling homes is gone after the Realtors Association agreed to a seismic settlement.
  5. Today is the Ides of March, and to celebrate, someone will betray me in the comments section below.
  6. The Justin Timberlake Tiny Desk Concert is well worth 30 minutes of your time.

Extra Innings

You’ll need a subscription to link to the entire article, but the significance here is that Matt Shaw is rated above Masyn Winn.

They Said It

  • “I think every bullpen has to evolve. It should evolve. You shouldn’t be stuck on, ‘This is how it’s gonna be.’ You have to be ready to change your mind because it’s a hard job. It’s fickle and the sample sizes are small. That messes with it. First and foremost, what’s their role? To get outs.” – Counsell
  • “I think we make too much of lineups. Ultimately, we want a lot of good hitters to go have great at-bats. And that’s how we’re going to score runs. Of course, at points, we’re going to line them up in a way where they can kind of protect each other. And that’s when you’re talking about the left-right stuff so that we don’t get matchups later in the game that makes it easy for the other side and somebody really good at one thing. But overall, we just need to get our good hitters a lot of at-bats.” – Counsell

Friday Walk-Up Song

This is amazing and I urge you to check the list of guitarists who contributed. This is also my favorite March playlist song. By the way, this song dropped Tuesday and entered the charts this morning at No. 1.

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