2/13/2014 5:42 P.M. ET
Epstein has resources to pursue impact player
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said the club still has money in its budget to add players if needed this season.
"In the two previous offseasons, we've spent every dollar available to us, and this is the first winter where we ended up keeping some in reserve to be used on players [that are] hopefully prime age, impact-type players down the road," Epstein said. "It gives us a bit of a leg up as we look toward next winter or an in-season move that might make the present and the future better.
"Rather than just spend the money to spend it, if we can book that and have it available to us to sign that international free agent who comes along in the summer or to acquire a player in a trade who carries a significant salary but fits for the long term, or to just start out next offseason knowing we can be a little more aggressive on the guys we really want early because the money will be availble to us, that made more sense than spending the money now just to spend it."
One thing the Cubs are focusing on is adding more pitching. Epstein said they will do so in the First-Year Player Draft, although not necessarily by picking a pitcher with their first-round selection.
Vizcaino, Fujikawa showing progress in rehab process
MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs are eager to see right-hander Arodys Vizcaino this spring. He's been slow in rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, which he had in March 2012.
"I think his stuff is as good as anyone in this camp when he's healthy, and he's healthy right now," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "As far as setting expectations for the beginning of the year or whether he breaks with the team or not or what his role will be, it's too early for that. We'll see him on the mound and see him in games and then make a decision later this spring."
Vizcaino, 23, will be used in the bullpen.
Another pitcher who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, Kyuji Fujikawa, also is making progress. He underwent surgery on his right elbow last June, and is now throwing off flat ground. In his last session, he threw 25 pitches, 20 for strikes.
"I don't want to put any specific date timetables on him, but he should be [throwing] off a mound here pretty soon," Hoyer said. "Any time you have a Tommy John guy, you have concerns about setbacks. It's been a really good process so far. He's really excited about how good he does feel and how well the ball is coming out of his hand."
Among the other pitchers to watch this spring are Justin Grimm, 25, who has the potential to be a closer, and Cuban right-hander Armando Rivero, 26, who pitched at Class A Kane County, Class A Advanced Daytona and Double-A Tennessee last season as well as the Arizona Fall League. Rivero posted a 4.15 ERA in 20 Minor League games in relief combined, striking out 45 and walking 12 over 30 1/3 innings.
Barney an early arrival at Cubs camp
MESA, Ariz. -- Darwin Barney was one of the early-bird position players at the Cubs' spring complex on Thursday. At the Cubs Convention in January, the second baseman said there was no reason the Cubs couldn't do what the Red Sox did and go from a last-place finish to first.
"Baseball's a funny game, we all know that," Barney said. "We'll just see how it goes. We're working hard and making some adjustments as a team. We have some fresh faces at the helm, and I think that will help as well."
In years past, Barney has spent the offseason trying to gain weight and eating as much as he could. This winter was different.
"This year, maybe I'm getting a little older and I had to watch my carbs, per se," he said. "I tried to get back to the weight I was at a few years ago and maybe be a little more agile on defense."
Barney said he's never been as big as he was last year, joking, "I was like [Anthony] Rizzo's size."
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.