Cubs invite 19 players to spring camp
Fox, Hill, Closser, Colvin among non-roster invitees
CHICAGO -- The Cubs have invited 19 non-roster players to Spring Training, including right-hander Chad Fox, catchers Koyie Hill and JD Closser and No. 1 Draft pick Tyler Colvin.
Pitchers and catchers report to the Cubs' camp in Mesa, Ariz., on Feb. 13, with the first workout the next day. Position players are scheduled to report Feb. 18, and the first full-squad workout will be the next day at Fitch Park.
Fox, 37, has not pitched since 2005, when his season ended because of a right elbow strain. This is his second turn with the Cubs after making 11 relief appearances in 2005. In 214 career relief appearances, Fox has a 3.57 ERA.
He is one of seven pitchers invited, joining left-handers Ed Campusano, Geoff Jones and Les Walrond and right-handers Esmailin Caridad, Jose Ceda and Mike Smith.
Campusano, 25, was re-acquired by the Cubs on Oct. 10, after he missed last season recovering from left elbow surgery while with Detroit. Originally signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in July 2001, he produced a 3.17 ERA and 224 strikeouts in 109 Minor League games, including 19 starts.
Caridad, 22, was signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent on Dec. 19. The right-hander spent 2007 with the Hiroshima Carp. He was 1-2 with a 4.02 ERA in 25 relief appearances for the Carp's Dominican club and later appeared in two Central League contests.
Smith, 30, spent last season with Triple-A Memphis in St. Louis' farm system and finished second in the Pacific Coast League with 127 strikeouts in 159 2/3 innings. Signed by the Cubs as a Minor League free agent on Nov. 20, he has appeared in the Majors with Toronto (2002) and Minnesota (2006), pitching in 15 games (seven starts).
Jones, Ceda and Walrond were all in the Cubs' Minor League system last year. Jones, 28, spent most of the season at Double-A Tennessee, posting a 4-2 record and 1.02 ERA in 39 relief appearances. Ceda, 20, enters his third season with the Cubs after being acquired from San Diego on June 31, 2006, in exchange for Todd Walker and cash considerations. He held opponents hitless in his final 23 1/3 innings for Class A Peoria last season. Walrond, 31, went 11-5 with a 4.77 ERA in 27 games (24 starts) for Triple-A Iowa. This will be the third straight invite to Chicago's Major League camp.
Besides Hill, Closser and Colvin, the position players invited include catchers Welington Castillo and Josh Donaldson; infielders Andres Blanco, Luis Figueroa, Micah Hoffpauir, Casey McGehee and Bobby Scales; and outfielders Josh Kroeger and Andres Torres.
Hill, 29, batted .322 in 47 games with Iowa last season and played in 36 games for the Cubs from June 1-Aug. 20. The Cubs were 17-8 in games he started behind the plate.
Closser, 27, spent time in the Majors with Colorado (2004-06), batting .239 with 10 home runs and 48 RBIs in 160 contests. He began last season with Triple-A Nashville in Milwaukee's system before he was traded to Oakland on May 4. He completed the year at Triple-A Sacramento, hitting .238 with 11 homers and 45 RBIs for the River Cats.
Castillo, 20, batted .271 last season for Class A Peoria, and has a .273 batting average in 168 Minor League contests since he was signed by Chicago as a non-drafted free agent in December 2004. Donaldson, 22, was named a Short-Season All-Star by Baseball America while his .460 on-base percentage between Mesa and Boise ranked third-best among all Minor Leaguers, and his .590 slugging percentage ranked 13th. A second-round pick in the 2007 Draft, he batted .346 in 49 games for Boise.
Blanco, 23, spent the first seven seasons in Kansas City's system and signed with the Cubs as a Minor League free agent on Nov. 20. He missed time last season because of hamstring strains in both legs.
Figueroa, 33, batted .302 with 22 doubles and 53 RBIs in 117 games for Triple-A Fresno last season, and his one strikeout per 14.47 at-bats was the best in the Pacific Coast League.
Hoffpauir, 27, batted .319 with 16 home runs and 73 RBIs in 82 games for Iowa last season before he injured his left knee in July and missed the rest of the season. McGehee, 25, spent the majority of 2007 with Tennessee, hitting .273 with nine home runs and 54 RBIs in 105 games.
Scales, 30, signed with the Cubs as a Minor League free agent Dec. 7 after batting a career-best .294 with 28 doubles, 11 home runs and 57 RBIs in 122 games for Boston's Triple-A Pawtucket affiliate last season.
Colvin, 22, has batted .288 with 27 home runs and 134 RBIs in his first two Minor League seasons, including a .299 mark between Class A Daytona and Tennessee last year.
Kroeger, 25, combined to hit a career-high 21 home runs while batting .330 between Tennessee and Iowa last season, including a .382 mark to begin the year with the Smokies. A career .283 Minor League hitter with 85 homers and 471 RBIs over 887 games, the left-handed hitter batted .167 in 22 games for the Diamondbacks in 2004.
Torres, 29, signed with the Cubs as a Minor League free agent on Nov. 20 after batting .292 between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo in Detroit's farm system last season. He has appeared in 89 Major League contests with Detroit (2002-04) and Texas (2005).
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.