03/13/12 7:12 PM ET
Mather shaping up to be big asset for Cubs
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
The versatile Mather, 29, started at third base Tuesday against the Giants. He's played in the outfield and also can play first base. In seven games, he's batting .500 (7-for-14) with four homers, three doubles and six RBIs. Compare that to one year ago when he hit .145 in 25 games in the Braves' spring camp.
"It's been pretty impressive to have a guy do what he's done with the bat, especially against right-handed pitching," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Mather, a right-handed hitter. "It's not like he's going out there against left-handed pitching and doing it.
"It's a huge asset to the manager," Sveum said. "He can probably play every infield position and get by with a day up the middle. He can play the corners, play every outfield position."
Which is a big plus for the Cubs, who have more left-handers in the lineup with the addition of Ian Stewart, Bryan LaHair and David DeJesus. Mather gives the Cubs more options on the bench than Tony Campana, who also is trying to lock up a spot.
"You talk about our lineup and the way our team stacks up, it's a perfect fit when you have two corner guys who are left-handed hitters and your right fielder is a left-handed hitter, and they need days off," said Sveum, projecting Mather could sub in left field for Alfonso Soriano as well.
"He's proven the athletic ability and the baserunning and the bat fits our team to a tee right now," Sveum said.
Mather also has speed. He's stolen three bases so far this spring as well. He signed with the Cubs as a non-roster invitee and has Major League experience with the Cardinals and Braves.
"You can tell he's a baseball player who knows how to run the bases," Sveum said. "He comes to play, comes to work every day to make himself a better player. He's going to be a huge asset."
Volstad strong with arm and bat vs. Giants
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Volstad is a career .133 hitter and surprised himself in his first at-bat Tuesday against the Giants and Madison Bumgarner.
Volstad, the Cubs starter, somehow singled to left and would eventually score in a 5-4 win over the Giants.
"I don't know what happened," Volstad said. "That first swing was pretty terrible. I guess I fooled them."
The Cubs are more interested in what Volstad does on the mound. He held the Giants to two hits over three scoreless innings and now has not been charged with a run in six innings in two spring starts. So far, so good.
"I was just trying to pound the strike zone, get ahead of guys and let the sinker work," he said.
This is his first spring in Arizona after spending the last four seasons with the Marlins. He's noticed the dryness.
"My slider wasn't that great today," Volstad said. "I was getting underneath it and it flattened out. I've heard that before [about problems in Arizona] but I'm taking the approach, 'Don't think about it and throw like you normally would.' To think about that and force it makes it worse."
One part of his repertoire that's working is a four-seamer.
"It's not new for me, it's just using it more and using it in the correct way is the big thing," he said.
Sveum not concerned with Marmol's struggles
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In his last two outings, Carlos Marmol has given up seven earned runs on six hits and two walks and hit two batters over 1 2/3 innings. Is manager Dale Sveum worried about his closer?
"Concerned? No," Sveum said Tuesday. "Breaking balls like his aren't going to do a lot down here in Arizona. You're always going to struggle with it and you're going to try to throw harder and make it spin more. It's actually a counter-effect. His fastball command is the biggest thing. We know the breaking ball will come back when we get up north. It's just getting the fastball and getting work."
Marmol didn't take Monday's outing against the Reds as well. There was an overturned garbage can in the clubhouse as a result.
What the Cubs want Marmol to do is be able to make adjustments to correct himself when his mechanics are out of whack.
"We've got to be able to do that out on the mound when the first pitch of the inning, I fly right open and the ball goes up and away and I have to be able to go back on the mound and make that adjustment," Sveum said, putting himself in the right-hander's shoes. "He knows the adjustments that have to be made. We have to slow it down and be able to do it on the mound."
There isn't a problem with Marmol's work habits.
"It's a confidence thing," Sveum said. "Don't try to crank the breaking ball -- it's not going to work in Arizona. There's no air here, nobody's breaking balls break here. That's why you see a lot of 15-14 games. It's all the fastballs and all the breaking balls that don't break that much. You just have to be careful to not get frustrated about that."
The Cubs assigned right-handed pitchers Esmailin Caridad and Casey Weathers to the Minor League camp Tuesday. Weathers, acquired from the Rockies in the Ian Stewart deal, also was outrighted off the 40-man roster, which is now at 39.
Caridad did not appear in a Cactus League game while Weathers totaled two innings over two games, giving up two runs on one hit and three walks.
The Class A Daytona Cubs celebrated their Florida State League championship Monday night with a ring ceremony at Fitch Park in Mesa, Ariz. Some of the Daytona team's front office as well as manager Buddy Bailey and all the players in camp, including Matt Szczur, attended the event.
The Cubs clubhouse guys need spell-check. Marlon Byrd's locker nameplate was incorrect and he was listed as "Bryd."
Infielder Junior Lake's left ankle was taped as a precautionary measure. He fouled a ball off his ankle Monday but stayed in the game.
"He's not able to run at 100 percent," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
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.