Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro feels interpreter will help mound visits
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org March 14, 2013 9:49PM
Updated: March 14, 2013 11:38PM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The waiting game for at least one of the Cubs’ top prospects just got a few weeks longer.
Outfielder Albert Almora, the first draft pick of the Theo Epstein regime, tweeted Thursday night that he broke the hamate bone, presumably in his left hand. It’s a fairly common injury in hitters’ bottom hand.
“Not a good day! Broke my hamate bone!” he tweeted.
Almora broke the bone swinging a bat and will require minor surgery. The Cubs said he will need three-to-four weeks before resuming baseball activity.
Almora is projected to open the season at Class A Kane County, and he’ll begin on the disabled list. He should return to game action in late May.
Talk is cheap
It’s not going to do much for baseball’s efforts to speed up games, but Dioner Navarro, for one, is all for the new rule that allows an interpreter to join the pitching coach or manager in visits to the mound.
He made good use of it while catching reliever Kyuji Fujikawa in a game Wednesday after the two struggled to communicate earlier in the inning.
“It was a little weird in the beginning,’’ Navarro said of having a translator on the field during a game. “It’s something I guess we’ve got to get used to. It was my first time catching him. I wanted to get on the same page with him.”
Fujikawa, whose command was off, downplayed the importance of having interpreter Ryo Shinkawa on the mound.
“I don’t think it’s going to be that big of an issue in those situations,’’ he said through Shinkawa, adding he doesn’t think it helps that much during brief exchanges.
“It’s all about communicating personally with the pitching coach and the catcher,’’ he said.
And, maybe, throwing strikes.
“And trying to get outs,” he said, smiling.
Manager Dale Sveum laid out his rotation for the start of the season. Right-hander Edwin Jackson, the Cubs’ marquee free agent of the winter, will start in the home opener April 8 against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Jeff Samardzija, Jackson and Travis Wood will open the season in Pittsburgh. Scott Feldman and Carlos Villanueva will start the first two games in Atlanta.
Wood, the only left-hander in the rotation, is 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA lifetime at PNC Park.
Third baseman Ian Stewart returned to action Thursday for the first time since suffering a strained left quad in an intrasquad at-bat Feb. 21.
He started on the minor-league side of camp to allow the team to better monitor his baserunning. He had five plate appearances batting in the leadoff spot, hitting a home run and a single.
Right-hander Matt Garza (left lat) responded “great” the morning after pushing his throwing routine slightly, Sveum said. Garza is scheduled to play catch again Friday.