02/25/11 4:28 PM EST
Guzman to face hitters for first time since '09
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Guzman, who underwent right shoulder surgery one year ago in March to repair a significant tear, was scheduled to throw a live batting practice session on Wednesday. It may be a workout on a side field, but it's a big step for Guzman, whose career has been slowed because of injuries.
The right-hander has yet to throw full speed in his side sessions and will make his last tune-up on Sunday. The Cubs had talked about having Guzman throw to hitters in mid-March but have moved up the date because of the progress he's made.
"Now I feel I can let the ball go," Guzman said. "Now, it's important for me to get into a rhythm."
The last time he faced hitters was Sept. 8, 2009. He pitched in 55 games that season in relief, the most in his young career. But that was his final game of the year because of pain in his shoulder at that time.
Dr. James Andrews did the surgery in March 2010 -- as well as Guzman's other elbow and shoulder procedures -- and the pitcher has been rehabbing since. What's been key to his progress is how well Guzman feels the day after he throws.
"They're happy because of the way I'm feeling," Guzman said. "I'm happy, too."
Cubs to give Fukudome early look at leadoff
MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs manager Mike Quade posted Cactus League lineups for the first three games and has Kosuke Fukudome leading off for two of them.
The right fielder will lead off Sunday and Tuesday, and seems to be the best fit there despite batting .193 in the No. 1 spot last year, Quade said Friday. What Quade is looking at is Fukudome's career .335 average in the first month of the season and hoping to take advantage of that.
Sunday's lineup could be a preview of Opening Day, April 1, when the Cubs face the Pirates with the exception of the starting pitcher. On Sunday against the Athletics, the Cubs will go with Fukudome in right, shortstop Starlin Castro, center fielder Marlon Byrd, third baseman Aramis Ramirez, first baseman Carlos Pena, left fielder Alfonso Soriano, catcher Geovany Soto, second baseman Blake DeWitt and pitcher Carlos Zambrano. Quade has already named Ryan Dempster as the Opening Day pitcher.
On Monday against the Brewers, Reed Johnson will lead off and start in center, but Fukudome will be back at the top of the order on Tuesday against the Giants in Scottsdale.
Quade said he did not look at Fukudome's leadoff numbers before writing the lineup. Fukudome has a career .233 average in the No. 1 spot.
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"I looked at the overall numbers," Quade said. "The other thing is, I was so happy with the way he finished."
Fukudome did have a strong August, batting .365 with a .467 on-base percentage, and followed that with a .210 September. He batted third the majority of his career in Japan. How does he feel about leading off?
"I don't hate it," Fukudome said.
The only players who appear to be locked into spots in the lineup are Castro in the No. 2 spot and Ramirez in the four-hole.
"I'm not locked into anything," Quade said. "Marlon is the best fit right now [in the third hole] without question and is prominent. Could Marlon find himself in the five-hole protecting Ramirez? Absolutely."
The only glitch to Quade's organization is that he needs to check the calendar. Fukudome pointed out the date for the third game was listed as Feb. 29. There is no leap year.
"What is it -- an Olympic year?" Fukudome asked Quade.
Some things are just lost in translation.
Quade doesn't believe in naming captains
MESA, Ariz. -- The only "C" the Cubs players will be wearing will be for Chicago or the team name. Mike Quade doesn't believe in naming captains.
"I don't do the 'captain' thing," Quade said Friday. "I get hockey and other sports, but I'm the captain, and that's not my line. Somebody else used that who was a lot smarter and better than me -- it was probably [Jim] Leyland.
"I don't believe in putting that on somebody because everybody leads a different way," Quade said. "All of a sudden the 'C' is on your jersey, and I know some great players who were not comfortable with that at all. I would never put that on people. Performance more times than not starts leadership happening. Some guys do it verbally, some guys do it behind the scenes."
His feeling is that players understand their roles, he said, and that's all that matters.
The last time the Cubs had designated captains was in 2000, when manager Don Baylor named Mark Grace, Sammy Sosa, Kevin Tapani and Rick Aguilera the captains. They were the first on the team since Ron Santo held that distinction in 1969.
Cubs second baseman Blake DeWitt is changing his swing and eliminating a tap step, which was a timing device. Manager Mike Quade has seen improvement already in camp. "I love to see him work to the middle of the field," Quade said. "He looked to me, when we first got him, a little pull happy. His average will suffer, his outer half protection will suffer, and so on [if he does that]. I'd like to see him use the whole field." ... The Cubs moved to HoHoKam Park after Friday's workout. They will practice there Saturday -- no intrasquad game -- and then kick off Cactus League play on Sunday. ... Friday was Hall of Famer Billy Williams' 51st wedding anniversary with wife, Shirley. It also was their granddaughter Nicollete Simpson's 21st birthday. She is an outfielder on the University of Illinois softball team. ... Friday also would've been Ron Santo's 71st birthday. ... Sunday's game at HoHoKam will be played at 1:05 p.m. MST and be the first WGN Radio broadcast with Pat Hughes and his new partner, Keith Moreland.
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.