03/11/12 6:41 PM ET
Coleman calls ninth-inning outing 'fun'
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Coleman, who might be an option for the bullpen, closed the 6-1 win over the Brewers with a 1-2-3 ninth.
"It was fun," Coleman said on Sunday.
A starter most of his career, Coleman thought it might be boring sitting in the bullpen.
"But as soon as the phone rang, I was thinking, 'OK, maybe I'll be next up,' and nope, nope, nope," he said. "By the seventh or eighth inning, I thought I might have a chance to close the game because it was 2-1. It was pretty awesome."
Does his heart rate kick up each time the bullpen phone rings?
"Not any more," he said. "It's more excitement. You want to be the guy. Before, when I was the rookie and it would ring, I wasn't saying, 'Don't be me,' but at the same time, you get that nervousness. Now you want it to be you."
The Cubs are set with closer Carlos Marmol and also have setup pitcher Kerry Wood, but manager Dale Sveum is still sorting out the rest of the bullpen.
"There's a lot of bullpen spots open and guys competing," Coleman said. "I don't mind where I'm at. I can come in for one inning. As a starter I like to establish a sinker and throw different pitches. Out of the 'pen, I can hit 93, 94 [mph] if I need a good fastball.
"I've developed a new slider where I drop down a little bit, and that's a strikeout pitch. I feel [that] overall I can adapt better to the bullpen now with what I have. Last year, at the beginning of spring, I was throwing normal stuff, and I didn't think I would be effective in the bullpen. Now I'm striking out a few more guys and making pitches when I need to. I think I could adapt to that very easily."
Sveum said that Coleman has good velocity and command of his breaking balls and just needs to be consistent with his pitches.
"He's interesting," Sveum said. "He's a great athlete. He can throw strikes [and] get ahead of the count, and keeps the ball down."
Cubs agree to terms with Cuban lefty Concepcion
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Cubs have agreed to terms on a five-year, $6 million contract with left-hander Gerardo Concepcion, the Cuban National Series Rookie of the Year in 2011.
"One of our focuses is to bring in more pitching depth," general manager Jed Hoyer said on Sunday. "He's a 20-year-old left-hander, has a really good feel for pitching, a three-pitch mix. He's had success at a young age in Cuba, and he's a guy we're excited to bring over here and work with."
Concepcion will receive a $3 million signing bonus, and the rest of the $3 million will be spread over the length of the contract. He went 10-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 21 games in the Cuban National Series last year. At 19 he placed among the overall league leaders in wins (tied for sixth), winning percentage (second) and ERA (ninth).
In 2010 the 6-foot-2 lefty pitched for Havana in the Cuban Junior National Tournament, and he went 2-2 with a 3.06 ERA in 15 appearances, six as a starter. He struck out 39, walked 15 and did not allow a home run over 47 innings.
The Cubs have scouted him extensively, and Hoyer said that they felt comfortable with the financial commitment.
"He's the kind of guy we want to keep adding to our system," he said.
Concepcion will report to Minor League camp and could appear in a Cactus League game, but the Cubs want to make sure he's ready for game action.
"He had success early on there, and he's advanced when it comes to a feel for pitching," Hoyer said. "I don't want to put any expectations on him. Let's get him to the Minor Leagues, let him perform, and we'll figure that part out. With any Cuban guy, there is an assimilation process, both socially and baseball-wise. We don't want to put undue expectations on a guy who does need to assimilate to our culture."
With the addition of Concepcion, the 40-man roster is at 40.
Garza putting tough outings behind him
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Garza is ready to move on from Sunday's outing.
The right-hander had a nightmarish second inning against the Dodgers. After Garza had thrown a 1-2-3 first, Jerry Sands singled to open the second, and Garza then hit Juan Uribe with a pitch. Trent Oeltjen singled, Tim Federowicz struck out, and Garza then walked both Justin Sellers and Matt Angle to force in two runs. Tony Gwynn Jr. delivered a two-run single, and Garza was pulled with the Cubs trailing by four runs.
"It's tough," Garza said. "I've been trying to keep myself on a strict program with just fastballs and changeups. It's tough, especially with hitters going up there ready to hack and looking for fastballs. I got myself in trouble more than anything. That's what it was. It's not anything I'm too concerned about. Just a bad day, and I'll get ready for the next one."
Hitting Uribe didn't rattle him.
"I think it was trying to be too fine in certain spots," he said. "It's tough to go with fastball, change. I don't mind it -- that's what I want to do."
This was Garza's second spring start, and right now the emphasis is on building up innings.
"Next week I'll open it up a little more and start facing the hitter, and not focus on me, and start getting ready for the season," he said.
Pitching coach Chris Bosio has emphasized an aggressive approach and keeping the ball inside.
"I love it," Garza said. "That's how I've made my living. I don't shy [away] from the inside part the plate. The hitters don't like it. A lot of them will try to take it away. They're going to try to take advantage, so why don't I try to get my 17 inches back, any way I have to do it?
"If you have to knock a couple of guys down, do what you have to do, so be it. I'm entitled to 17 inches. That's part of the game. If you can't pitch inside, then you're going to get a hitter dead red, middle away, the entire game, and that's kind of an unfair advantage."
It's all part of controlling the tempo of the game.
Manager Dale Sveum said that he'll likely name the Opening Day starter before the team goes to Las Vegas next weekend for split-squad games. The decision will likely come down to Garza or Ryan Dempster for the April 5 game.
"I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I'll be ready when the bell rings," Garza said.
Hoyer pleased with both Sveum and Cubs' camp
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- General manager Jed Hoyer likes the way Spring Training camp has gone so far.
"I think [manager] Dale [Sveum] has a lot of energy in camp," Hoyer said on Sunday. "Guys have played really hard so far. As far as results go, I don't think anyone is all that concerned about it. You want to stay healthy, and you want guys to play hard. Later in the spring, as we get close, you want them dialing in their focus and making pitches to get outs. Right now the pitchers need to stretch themselves out, and the hitters need to get their timing."
Sveum has been a stickler for detail.
"One of the things he focused on in the interview is that Spring Training is a tone-setter," Hoyer said. "That's how you build up the makeup of your team, by having that attention to detail and creating some camaraderie, too. It's not only about being a drill sergeant, but you also want to make sure guys are enjoying themselves and [getting] to know each other. That was a big focus of the interview process -- that this is the time you establish those things."
Sveum watched how other teams handle spring camps over the course of his playing and coaching careers. Now it's time for him to do it his way.
"He's done an excellent job with it," Hoyer said.
The Cubs have emphasized fundamentals this spring, and manager Dale Sveum said on Sunday that he's pleased with the defense so far.
"I've been happy with the effort," Sveum said. "Guys are putting a lot of extra little time into their defense. It'll pay off in the end."
Sveum has stressed to the players what the ramifications of the errors will be. For example, a throwing error could lead to another 15 to 20 pitches by the pitcher.
Sveum has been monitoring Starlin Castro from the first day but said it's too early to assess the shortstop's play.
"It's still a process on an everyday basis," he said.
The final four is set for the Cubs' bunting tournament, with David DeJesus advancing with a win over Castro on Sunday to complete the field. DeJesus now will face Welington Castillo in the semifinals, and Paul Maholm will face Casey Coleman. The championship is scheduled for Friday in Mesa, Ariz.
Former Milwaukee coach Sveum was asked if he ever noticed that Cubs fans are louder than Brewers fans at Miller Park.
"It was just weird to have the Cubs do something good and usually half the stadium was Cubs fans, or it sure seemed like it," he said. "It always took the luster out of the series, because our fans were never there. Only half were, it seemed like.
"Our players hated it. Now, being on this end, hopefully, we get three-quarters full."
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.