03/23/2013 4:13 PM ET
Clevenger, Gonzalez in running for final bench spot
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
MESA, Ariz. -- The competition for the one opening on the bench has come down to Steve Clevenger and Alberto Gonzalez, but the Cubs are looking outside for help.
Clevenger helped his case by delivering a pinch-hit single on Friday against the Brewers.
"That's the kind of thing Clevenger can bring to the table," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Saturday. "Then you can pinch-hit [catcher Dioner] Navarro without worrying about things."
A left-handed hitter, Clevenger made the Cubs' Opening Day roster last year as the backup catcher, and can also play first and third. He's done well against left-handed pitchers this spring, too.
"He had a great at-bat and lined one through the hole," Sveum said of Clevenger's at-bat Friday. "That's what you're looking for in the long run is the pinch-hit and double-switch at-bats that can keep the line moving."
The Cubs are a little short-handed heading into the season with third baseman Ian Stewart expected to begin the year on the disabled list with a sore left quad. Luis Valbuena will get most of the starts at third, and the Cubs were expected to keep versatile Brent Lillibridge on the 25-man roster.
The Cubs are looking for multi-taskers. Brian Bogusevic batted .410 in 20 Cactus League games, but was assigned to the Minor League camp on Friday.
"We just had enough outfielders and with the ability for Lillibridge to play in the outfield and play all three positions, we needed a little more versatility out of that spot," Sveum said about the decision to send Bogusevic down. "He did a great job. He really surprised me how good an outfielder he was at both corner spots, probably as good as anybody in camp as far as the jumps and angles he took on balls.
"It's unfortunate for him -- it was a numbers thing," Sveum said. "If he was in some other camp that needed outfielders, it would've been a different story because he did a nice job."
Last season, the Cubs' third basemen combined to bat .201 with 12 home runs. In a perfect world, the club would add a left-handed bat that can provide some pop, but Sveum wasn't too concerned heading into the final week of spring games.
"We're not panicking; we're covered," he said.
Coleman enjoying Florida Gulf Coast's tourney run
MESA, Ariz. -- Casey Coleman went to Florida Gulf Coast University because the school's baseball team would let him both pitch and play infield. Coleman is older than the school, which played its first collegiate baseball game when the Cubs right-handed pitcher was in high school in Ft. Myers, Fla.
On Friday, Coleman found out he was being assigned to the Cubs' Minor League camp, but later that day, he was able to celebrate. Florida Gulf Coast University, a 15th seed, had done the impossible, upsetting No. 2 seed Georgetown, 78-68, in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
"I knew they were good," Coleman said Saturday of FGCU. "I don't know if I'd give them enough credit to beat Georgetown, not because I didn't think they could, but because Georgetown is an unbelievable team. I'll tell you, after meeting that coach, I knew he wasn't going to let them go in there intimidated."
It's been a wild year for the Eagles, who beat Miami and played Duke, Iowa State and VCU this season. Next up in the NCAA tournament is seventh-seed San Diego State on Sunday. Coleman has been keeping track.
"The good thing is Georgetown is a Big East team that slows the pace down, and they're big and long and that's where they kill you, and FGCU is a team that gets out and runs, and they were able to not let Georgetown set anything up," Coleman said. "Seventy-eight points -- Georgetown never gives up 78 points."
Coleman had gone to Phoenix on Friday for the Cubs' game against the Brewers, and was keeping track of the action on the bus ride back to Mesa. He got to watch most of the second half.
"Everyone was surprised at how athletic they were," Coleman said of the Eagles. "I knew they were athletic and knew they could shoot some threes. I knew there was a chance -- but it's tough to envision them actually beating a team like Georgetown."
Did Coleman pick his school in his bracket?
"I didn't fill out brackets this year," Coleman said. "I let family and friends do the ones here. They did not pick them."
Hindsight is easy, but would he have picked FGCU if he did his own bracket?
"With there not being a clear cut No. 1 this year, it would've been fun to pick them," he said. "Personally, I would've seen Georgetown losing to Florida anyways, so why not pick a team like FGCU to have fun with it? Florida's going to be tough. FGCU has a tough matchup against San Diego State, but that's a winnable game, too. When you get to Florida, that'll be interesting. If they can get to that Sweet 16 against Florida, that'll be a fun story."
Coleman has enjoyed seeing all the attention FGCU has gotten. Some of the big league players in Ft. Myers, Fla., near the school have been using social media to show their support.
"It's cool to see [Jacoby] Ellsbury tweeting about them," Coleman said. "The really cool thing is the program is getting out there now. Dick Vitale is in Sarasota, which is 45 minutes from campus, and he said he's going to go down to the campus. It's cool seeing that kind of stuff about your school."
Recruiting should improve at FGCU, which already has an edge. There's a beach on campus. At 25, Coleman is older than the school itself.
"What they did, [beating Georgetown], that'll be talked about forever," Coleman said. "They're going to be a big school. They're going to get football in the next 10 years. [Ohio State coach] Urban Meyer's daughter goes there. He's been around the campus giving them ideas on how to start it up. I think Dan Marino's son went there. They've got a bunch of name guys who will help the school and help it grow."
Eagles coach Andy Enfield has gotten a lot of media attention because of his supermodel wife. Coleman has met Amanda Enfield, but was hoping the television broadcast would focus more on the game, not her.
"That coach, he's such a positive guy, he'll take any media and turn it into good media," Coleman said. "He's real energetic."
Baker to be examined by club's orthopedic specialist
MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs pitcher Scott Baker, shut down after his only Cactus League start because of soreness in his right elbow, was to be examined by the team orthopedic specialist on Sunday. The good news is Baker has no more pain.
Baker, who underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2012, has not thrown since March 17 when he threw 23 pitches against the Athletics. He had an MRI on his elbow the next day.
"It's a positive sign that it's responded to the medication and the treatment," Baker said. "We'll let [Dr. Stephen Gryzlo] get his hands on me and see what he has to say.
"I'm happy with the progress it's made," he said.
Baker, expected to open the season on the disabled list, hasn't seen the MRI but said he expected the Cubs medical staff was going to have him take time off after his outing.
"Obviously, we're doing something right as far as treatment and the medication is helping and there's nothing wrong with taking it easy either," Baker said. "A combination of that and it feels a lot better."
Cubs may not finalize bullpen until next weekend
MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs may not finalize their bullpen until the last exhibition games in Houston, manager Dale Sveum said Saturday.
Four pitchers -- Rafael Dolis, Hisanori Takahashi, Cory Wade and Zach Putnam -- are vying for one opening. Dolis has been bothered by a blister and not pitched since March 17. Takahashi is the only lefty in the mix.
Sveum said he doesn't need to see the pitchers go in back-to-back games. There is no favorite.
"It's completely undecided now," Sveum said. "We'll sit down and weigh all the options and everything, and the teams [they're facing] and durability. All that stuff comes into play."
The truck leaves Mesa on Wednesday for Chicago. Sveum has tried to have all roster decisions finalized by then. The Cubs will play the Astros in two exhibition games Friday and next Saturday at Minute Maid Park.
"In these kind of situations, unfortunately, you might not be able to make those decisions because the truck is leaving," Sveum said.
Sappelt secures roster spot as extra outfielder
MESA, Ariz. -- No one has said anything to Dave Sappelt about whether he should be packing for Pittsburgh. That decision should be formalized this week as the Cubs finalize the Opening Day roster. But Sappelt checked his Twitter account and apparently he's on the Cubs' 25-man roster.
"My Twitter was blowing up [Friday]," Sappelt said. "I guess I'll find out."
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Friday that Sappelt had secured a spot as an extra outfielder.
"It was my job to lose coming into Spring Training and I had to get back on track hitting-wise, and show them I could play center because it's a big role that somebody is going to have to be able to fill," Sappelt said.
The Cubs do have David DeJesus as the regular in center, but were looking for some backup help. Center has been Sappelt's spot until he joined the Cubs for the 2012 season, acquired from the Reds along with lefty Travis Wood for Sean Marshall.
Last season at Triple-A Iowa, Sappelt played mostly right field, while Brett Jackson handled center.
"I was defensive player of the year two years with the Reds in center," Sappelt said. "Usually the top prospect or somebody -- I wasn't a high Draft pick -- they have to get the look in center.
"I bounced around when I got here," he said. "I don't have a problem with it. The corners are easy. You can make a lot of good, cool plays. Center is kind of wide open, you can catch them standing up, and the corners you can dive, run into the wall."
Sappelt should provide some web gems. His nickname is "Mighty Mite," which Reds manager Dusty Baker gave him.
"Whatever I'm listed at, I'm probably not that height," said the 5-foot-9 Sappelt, "and I can probably hit the ball pretty far."
His goal this year is to keep his batting stances to a minimum.
"I go through 100 stances; I have to try to stick to one," he 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.