02/27/12 5:35 PM EST
Prospect Gibbs excited to fill in for Soto
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
"He told me to grab my stuff and one of the [clubhouse attendants] was going to drive me over here," Gibbs said, sitting in the clubhouse at Fitch Park on Monday, still looking a little awed by the news. "All they told me was [Geovany] Soto had a groin injury and to help out down here."
Soto, the Cubs' regular catcher, is unable to take part in practice on the field, so Gibbs was added to the Major League spring camp to fill in. A third-round pick in 2010, he played at Class A Peoria last year. On Monday, he had a new locker in between Cubs pitchers James Russell and Randy Wells, and just a couple of stalls away from Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood.
"All the other guys are so awesome, they're helping me out," Gibbs said. "It's been an easy transition."
He isn't just filling in to help pitchers throw on the side. Gibbs was working with Jason Jaramillo and Michael Brenly with the first team on defense on Monday. He's also assigned a pitcher to catch during the live BP sessions.
"It's guys you see on TV and everything," Gibbs said. "It's a very cool experience, especially seeing the name on the back of the jersey. It's pretty fun."
Soto, who was able to take part in the bunting tournament on Monday, is listed as day to day.
"He's been awesome," Gibbs said. "He's helped take care of me a little bit."
But has Gibbs told Soto to take his time and not rush back?
"Yeah, I did," Gibbs said, smiling.
Castro doing fine after getting drilled in BP
MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro had a little welt on his right forearm after he was hit by a Kerry Wood fastball during live batting practice on Monday.
Castro said he was OK, and the ball didn't hit him too hard. After he was plunked, Castro came out of the cage to be examined by assistant trainer Ed Halbur, but the shortstop did go back in against Wood later in the round. When Wood was finished, he went over to Castro to check on the youngster.
"He said, 'I'm sorry,'" Castro said. "It was a fastball in, and it hit me."
The pain must not have lasted long, as Castro lined a ball off the right-field fence off of Carlos Marmol in his next live BP session. Castro also participated in two batting practice sessions off of coaches.
"I'm OK," Castro said. "He didn't hit me too hard."
The shortstop admitted it did hurt a little, but that he's not afraid in the cage.
"I'm never scared about that," Castro said. "I'm never scared. I'm scared if it hits me in the head -- that's not good. ... It happens all the time, practice, games, everywhere."
Cubs manager Dale Sveum didn't expect Castro to miss any activities on Tuesday.
"He's fine," Sveum said. "I wasn't there to witness it, but it sounded a little more scary, but he's fine. He stepped right in and did all his drills after that. It was almost like he didn't get hit."
Sveum edges out Wood in bunting tourney
MESA, Ariz. -- Dale Sveum edged Kerry Wood to advance in the first round of the Cubs' bunting tournament on Monday, although the manager got a little help from the turf, as he advanced when Wood's last bunt swerved into the 30-point box rather than the 40 points that he needed.
"That was about as equal as you can get," Sveum said. "I was lucky the grass was growing the other way."
Sveum vs. Wood was Monday's last match, and the manager called on pitching coach and former teammate Chris Bosio to be the "pitcher" rather than coach Pat Listach, who had thrown to the players in the six previous matches. Wood needed to get three bunts into the 40-point box to beat the skipper, and came up just short.
"I got lucky by the way the grass was growing to the east," Sveum said. "The ball kind of fell off the white line. I thought I was done, and I was going to shake his hand, and the ball just trickled off the white line at the end."
The Cubs have created a 64-entry bracket, similar to the NCAA basketball tournament format, and have now completed all but one of the first-round matches. Paul Maholm has been ill, so his one-on-one with Rodrigo Lopez was postponed.
Sveum filled a spot because the Cubs had 63 players in camp. Strength coach Tim Buss had to take pitcher Chris Carpenter's slot after the right-hander was traded to the Red Sox to complete compensation for president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.
Others to advance on Monday included pitchers Carlos Marmol and Ryan Dempster. Position players that have advanced include Marlon Byrd, Geovany Soto, David DeJesus and Jeff Baker.
"It's a fun thing, but also a lot of people want to get better and care about it," Sveum said. "This tournament shows you guys who like to compete as well. Coming into a camp, you get a feeling of guys who are bearing down and competing, and some guys who aren't competing as well. You get to know somebody a little bit through this tournament."
MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs pitcher Paul Maholm was able to throw a side session on Monday, but was sent home afterward, as he is still recovering from the flu.
"I think he got a little lightheaded, and is still a little dehydrated from being sick," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
Maholm was supposed to participate in the team bunting tournament on Monday, but his match with Rodrigo Lopez was postponed. The lefty won't have to forfeit.
"That's a legitimate excuse," Sveum said. "I didn't want to keep him around and get anybody else sick. We'll make that match up probably [Tuesday] or the next day when he's better."
Lopez will start the Cubs' Cactus League opener on Sunday against the Athletics, and will be followed in the rotation by Ryan Dempster on March 5 against the A's, and Matt Garza the next day against the Rockies. Sveum said not to read too much into the order. Dempster was the Cubs' Opening Day starter in 2011.
"We'll make that decision in the middle [of spring]," Sveum said. "It's set up to where we're good with whatever we decide."
How different is Spring Training for Sveum, who was the Brewers' hitting coach for six years before taking over as Cubs' manager?
"I'd say [it's different]," Sveum said. "You're running the whole thing now. You're accountable for everything, you're staff's accountable. You have to hold them accountable for what's going on during the course of the day to make sure everything is running properly, and everybody's doing things the way you want them done. A lot of times you have two fields working fundamentals, so you can't be on the same field all the time.
"Yeah, it's completely different, especially the last few years after being the hitting coach, and all I had to do was be in the cage and watch people hit all the time."
The Ryan and Jenny Dempster Family Foundation awarded 15 charitable organizations grants through its second annual grant cycle. The foundation strives to lend support to charities and organizations supporting children with a 22q11.2 deletion, as well as other children's charities in need in Illinois.
Funds for the grant cycle were primarily raised through the Foundation's annual fundraiser, Casino Night, which was held in Chicago last July. The foundation's two-year total of grants and gifts has now topped $391,385.
The charities to receive partnership grants in 2012 include Advocate Charitable Foundation (for Advocate Hope Children's Hospital), Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (22q clinic), Children's Hospital Colorado (22q Clinic), Children's Memorial Hospital, Dragonfly Forest Camp, Light Center Foundation, March of Dimes Illinois Chapter, Maryville Academy, and Nationwide Children's Hospital (22q Center). Also receiving grants are Operation North Pole, Inc., PAWS Chicago, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's "22q and You" Center, The David and Erin Robertson Foundation: High Socks for Hope, The International 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome Foundation, Inc., and the Mind Institute at the University of California-Davis.
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.