Cubs looking at three candidates for leadoff
DeWitt, Baker, Fukudome to be rotated during spring games
MESA, Ariz. -- Blake DeWitt, Jeff Baker and Kosuke Fukudome are the three leading candidates to be the Cubs' leadoff man.
Cubs manager Mike Quade plans on rotating the three during Cactus League games and would like to see someone assert himself and take the job.
Fukudome, who has a career .368 on-base percentage in his three seasons with the Cubs, may be the best fit there.
"You can't lose sight of the fact that if 'Fuke's' in the lineup and it's his day and he's playing well, he's the guy who fits best to me," Quade said.
Quade did use Baker at the top of the order against some left-handed pitchers last season. Baker boasts a .350 average against lefties.
As for DeWitt, Quade said he's still getting to know the second baseman, acquired from the Dodgers in the Ted Lilly trade.
"His development is crucial to how important he becomes in the middle of this lineup," Quade said. "He's got plenty of work to do."
Quade wants Cubs to shore up defense
MESA, Ariz. -- Only the Nationals and Pirates made more errors than the Cubs did last season, and one of manager Mike Quade's goals is to have the team play better defense.
"We need to be better, period," Quade said Thursday. "We talk about [Blake] DeWitt and we talk about [Starlin Castro], and those are two kids who have a lot of work to do in the middle of the diamond.
"If [Aramis Ramirez] is healthy, we should be fine," Quade said. "I've seen [Carlos Pena] play very good first base. Our catcher, [Geovany Soto], needs improvement throwing. Whether we improve marginally or a little bit or whatever, it will be a point of emphasis [this spring].
"These guys will understand we need to be better defensively. I believe, like most clubs, pitching and defense will be huge. We've got some arms we're excited about, but we've got to make plays behind them."
The Cubs finished with a .979 fielding percentage, tied for last in the National League with the Marlins, Nationals and Pirates.
As for the outfield, Quade isn't concerned about Alfonso Soriano's defense or even thinking now about lifting him late in a game.
"I want him coming in here expecting to play nine innings every day and to get better and to continue to work and be as good as he can defensively," Quade said. "When it comes time to start playing ballgames, we'll see where we are."
Cubs, HoHoKams to host charity golf tourney
MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs and Mesa HoHoKams will host the inaugural Chicago Cubs Charities Amateur Golf Tournament on March 18 at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa.
Proceeds from the event will benefit Chicago Cubs Charities, which supports the HoHoKam Foundation, Sunshine Acres Children's Home and the Banner Cardon Children's Medical Center in Mesa.
Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Billy Williams are among those scheduled to participate. Registration is now open and more information is available at cubs.com/golf.
Players will be grouped into foursomes and assigned a celebrity guest for the tournament. The event includes breakfast, 18 holes of golf, a luncheon at HoHoKam Stadium and tickets to the Cubs' Cactus League game against the Reds.
The tournament format is full scramble with a shotgun start. Prizes will be awarded to the top three finishing teams. Participants also receive a gift bag, and each foursome will receive an autographed photo with their celebrity partners.
Check-in at the golf course begins at 6:30 a.m. MST, and the shotgun start takes place at 7:30 a.m. MST.
The HoHoKams are a volunteer organization, and include some of the city's influential business owners and public officials.
Cubs pitching coach Mark Riggins positions himself with the catchers to watch the pitchers as they throw in their side sessions. He wants the same view that a hitter has. "You can see the delivery better, see the front side better, see their alignment better, see the action on the pitch, whether it's moving," Riggins said Thursday. "[You can see] whether the breaking balls are loopy or breaking too early. You can see all of that much better from the hitter's side." ... Young catcher Welington Castillo will get a good look this spring. Cubs manager Mike Quade was impressed by his defense. Castillo needs to learn more about the mental aspect of catching and handling pitchers. ... The only position players not in camp are Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Starlin Castro and Kosuke Fukudome. Catcher Max Ramirez has been delayed because of visa problems but was expected Friday. ... The Cubs didn't waste any time getting pitcher Robert Coello some work. The right-hander, acquired from the Red Sox, threw a side session on Thursday.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.