3/4/2013 6:37 P.M. ET
Villanueva to start season in starting rotation
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
MESA, Ariz. -- Carlos Villanueva has been asked multiple times since he arrived in Cubs camp about starting vs. relieving. He won't have to deal with that topic for at least the first month.
On Sunday, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Villanueva will be in the rotation to start the season because of injuries to Matt Garza and Scott Baker.
"I'm kind of bummed out for Garza, knowing how he missed time last year at the end," Villanueva said Monday. "It's not the way you want to start the season."
Garza is expected to miss the first month as he recovers from a strained left lat.
"We'll need him," Villanueva said of Garza. "We'll need him later on. I'd rather him be 100 percent healthy and not rush into anything and feel bad. He's going to miss a week or two weeks, then so be it. Nobody really remembers the beginning, they remember the stretch run. As long as he's 100 percent ready for that, we're ready to have him back. For us in position now, we have to take advantage of the opportunity and help the team win."
In his career, Villanueva has made 56 starts, and compiled a 16-22 record and 4.80 ERA. As a reliever, he has a 3.76 ERA in 245 games.
Castro won't play until Saturday at earliest
MESA, Ariz. -- If this was the regular season, Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro would be in the lineup, manager Dale Sveum said Monday. But Castro, who has not played since last Wednesday because of a tight left hamstring, now is not expected to get into a Cactus League game until the weekend at the earliest.
Sveum said the Cubs want to take a cautious approach with the shortstop.
"He's fine," Sveum said. "He did everything [Sunday] and there's nothing going on. He took full [batting practice]. Today, he'll be out here on the field taking a round of [batting practice], same as yesterday. We can't even simulate any kind of discomfort or feeling in the hamstring."
So, why give Castro another week?
"Because we have plenty of time," Sveum said. "A week from now, you're talking the 10th or 11th [of March], and we have 20-plus games after that. That's plenty of time for him to get in Opening Day shape."
Castro, who injured himself as he ran to first base, said Sunday that he wanted to be careful and not aggravate the hamstring.
"If it was the regular season, he'd probably be playing," Sveum said.
The Cubs are already thin in the infield, with injuries to third basemen Ian Stewart and Josh Vitters, both of whom have been sidelined since Feb. 22 with strained left quads.
Cubs agree to terms for 2013 with 21 players
MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs agreed to terms with all 21 of their pre-arbitration-eligible players on the 40-man roster on Monday. Of note is second baseman Darwin Barney, who will earn $562,000 in 2013, and first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who will earn $498,000.
Pitcher Travis Wood will earn $527,500, reliever Michael Bowden $509,500 and catcher Welington Castillo $503,000.
Other players who agreed to contract terms include right-handed pitches Alberto Cabrera, Rafael Dolis, Trey McNutt, Hector Rondon, Arodys Vizcaino and Robert Whitenack; left-handed pitchers Brooks Raley and Chris Rusin; catcher Steve Clevenger; infielders Junior Lake, Christian Villanueva, Josh Vitters and Logan Watkins; and outfielders Brett Jackson, Dave Sappelt and Matt Szczur.
MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs Opening Day starter Jeff Samardzija will pitch in a Minor League game on Wednesday instead of facing the Rangers, and Hisanori Takahashi will make the start for Chicago. Takahashi, a non-roster invitee this spring who has pitched for the Mets, Angels and Pirates, has given up three hits over four innings in three games.
"He's everything we expect," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Monday. "He's a strike thrower -- he can throw every pitch for a strike. Obviously, the velocity isn't great, but he was 89 [mph] yesterday. He has command of his pitches and can do a lot of things. He can pitch long, get left-handers out. He's a veteran guy who knows how to pitch."
The Cubs appear to have only one lefty slotted for the 'pen in James Russell. Sveum would like another one.
"It'd be nice, especially a guy who can go multiple innings," Sveum said. "Right now, you could be in a situation where we don't have a long guy."
Scott Baker, coming back from Tommy John surgery, had his third live BP session on Monday. The next step for the right-hander is a simulated game this week, and if that goes well, he could get into a Cactus League game soon. Baker was projected to be ready for the regular season in mid-April.
• Darnell McDonald was concerned when his line drive deflected off Indians starter Carlos Carrasco in the first inning Monday.
"I was going to check on him, but figured since he threw two, three more innings, he was good," McDonald said.
Carrasco struck out Luis Valbuena to open the Cubs first, then was hit on the side of his head by McDonald's liner. The ball apparently deflected off his glove. Carrasco fell to his knees on the mound, and was tended to by the Indians athletic trainer, but he did stay in the game and lasted three innings.
"I definitely thought I had a knock right there," McDonald said of the liner off the pitcher. "Most important, you don't want to see anyone get hurt at this time of year. For him to stay in the game and do what he did, I knew he was OK. I'll just keep trying to hit the ball hard and hopefully, it'll fall in there. Right now, it's about feeling good and getting in a groove."
• Dan Vogelbach, the Cubs' second pick in the 2011 Draft, appeared in his first Cactus League game on Sunday and showed some discipline at the plate.
"He had a heck of an at-bat with the bases loaded," Sveum said of the first baseman's at-bat in the sixth. "The [pitcher] made a heck of a pitch with a back-door breaking ball to finish him off. He came right back the next time and took his walk in a big situation [in the ninth]."
Vogebach came up in the ninth and was ahead 3-0 in the count, and took a pitch.
"I would've liked to see him maybe swing at that 3-0 pitch -- I don't know where it was on the plate," Sveum said. "I know he's a young kid coming over, but he had the green light to swing away. It was nice to see his patience. I don't think he swung at a bad pitch. "
Sveum has been keeping an eye on Vogelbach.
"That's one guy, from all the video I've watched, you can just tell some guys can just hit," Sveum said. "They're more patient than other hitters. Obviously, the bat speed is fine. For a young kid, he's pretty polished already as far as pitch selection and trusting himself."
• The first roster cuts will likely be Friday, Sveum said. The Cubs still have four split-squad games remaining.
• Video staffer Nate Halm beat pitcher Travis Wood on Monday in a sweet 16 match to advance to the elite eight in the Cubs bunt tournament. Also moving on were pitcher Blake Parker, catcher Michael Brenly and infielder Edwin Maysonet. Infielder Logan Watkins also has advanced to the elite eight, beating Anthony Rizzo on Sunday.
• The Cubs will not use the designated hitter for the first time this spring on Tuesday. Feldman will bat for himself.
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.