2/22/2014 4:59 P.M. ET
Vizcaino impresses in return attempt from Tommy John
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
MESA, Ariz. -- When Arodys Vizcaino finished throwing his live batting practice session, one of the first people to shake his hand to congratulate him was Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.
The Cubs have waited a long time for Vizcaino, 23, to show what he did on Saturday. The right-hander, acquired from the Braves in the Paul Maholm trade in 2012, was rehabbing at that time from Tommy John surgery on his elbow. He had a setback last season, but on Saturday, he looked healthy.
"I would've never known [he was hurt] just from the way he looked today," said catcher Eli Whiteside, who caught Vizcaino. "He looked really good."
It's too early to say who will be the surprise of Spring Training, but Vizcaino may be the leader so far.
"He looked very, very good," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said of Vizcaino, who is projected to pitch out of the bullpen. "We're very pleased with his session. Very sharp, live fastball, breaking ball, he was burying his pitches when he needed to. He's progressing well. We're happy to say there are no setbacks and we hope it continues that way."
The right-hander does have some Major League experience, pitching in 17 games in relief for the Braves in 2011. That's the last time he appeared in a game, missing both '12 and '13.
"I thought his stuff looked really good today," Whiteside said. "Most of his stuff was down in the zone. He obviously had good velocity. The ball was coming out of his hand good. I think that's really what you're looking for now is how the ball's coming out of their hand. He had spin on his breaking ball, was able to locate down in the zone. It all looked good today."
Ryan Sweeney thought so, too. Sweeney had to face Vizcaino in the live batting practice session.
"I'd never seen him before and I didn't know he throws a changeup," Sweeney said. "He throws a hard changeup, too. There was a 10-mph difference from what his heater is, and that throws you off a little bit. His slider was good, too. It looked like he was throwing with good command, too, this early in camp."
The radar gun was hitting 97, 98 mph on Vizcaino's fastball. That's encouraging. His take?
"Everything felt good -- my elbow, shoulder, everything," Vizcaino said.
That's what the Cubs want to hear.
Schierholtz still sore after collision with Lake in drill
MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz had a sore jaw and headache after a Friday collision with Junior Lake during a drill.
"I just got knocked around a little bit out there," Schierholtz said Saturday. "I didn't lose consciousness, but I saw stars for a second. I took it easy the rest of the day and I feel good today."
Lake hit Schierholtz on the right side of his jaw and head. Schierholtz wasn't exactly certain what body part he collided with, but he did feel it.
"I don't know what it was," Schierholtz said. "I don't remember the play. ... Full speed, it's never a good combo when two guys collide."
Ironically, this was a drill to work on communication.
"It's not ideal," Schierholtz said. "There were almost a couple close calls out there. Next time I'd rather just let the ball drop."
This is why teams do these drills in Spring Training.
He was expected to take part in Saturday's practice, but was not part of early work by some of the outfielders.
"I'm fine," he said. "I feel good, aside from a sore jaw and side of my head."
• Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta, slowed by tightness in his right shoulder, threw off flat ground from about 90 feet on Saturday.
The key will be how Arrieta feels Sunday, Renteria said, before they determine the next step. So far, Arrieta is making progress, but whether he'll be ready by Opening Day has not been determined. He has yet to throw off a mound.
• Renteria, 52, threw batting practice Saturday and plans to continue to do so as long as the players let him. The problem, besides a few aches and pains, is location.
"I just have to throw strikes," Renteria said, sounding like a pitcher.
He can tell if he's doing well because there aren't many balls in the cage after the batting practice session.
"I had a lot of balls back there," Renteria said. "Usually I have one or two, and today I had 10 or 11. That's not good."
• The Cubs have more than 50 Minor League players taking part in a mini-camp at the team's new complex. One player who fans most likely won't recognize is Daniel Vogelbach, who lost 30 pounds this offseason. Vogelbach is the Cubs' 10th-ranked prospect, according to MLB.com.
• The best investment by Cubs players this spring? Goggles for the new hydrotherapy pool in the complex. Carlos Villanueva, who likes to incorporate swimming into his routine, spent $20 on a pair, and is encouraging others to do so.
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.