New Cubs’ spring training facility might help attract free agents
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org
Fans try to get out of the way after Chicago Cubs' Christian Villanueva lost his bat during the fifth inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Colorado Rockies, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
MESA, Ariz. — You can see the Cubs’ new spring facility from the freeway just a few miles down the road from HoHoKam Stadium.
As the Cubs work at HoHoKam this spring on trying to win in 2013, manager Dale Sveum sees the work down the highway as a means to on-the-field success in the future, perhaps as soon as next year when the facility is scheduled to open.
‘‘It’s not going to make you win. It shouldn’t,’’ he said.
But the convenient and more attractive location, near Scottsdale at the junction of two major highways, might be as big an advantage as its size and its state-of-the-art amenities.
“When you have players that walk into that complex that you [want] to sign, instead of maybe going somewhere else, he picks the Cubs for numerous reasons,’’ Sveum said, ‘‘because of our venue at Wrigley, and then you have something like that that’s so nice. And so many players live in Arizona.
‘‘That’s the way it can make you win, luring players when you get facilities like those things and our new clubhouse [at Wrigley] going in next year.
‘‘Those are the things that sometimes sway a big-time free agent.’’
Big day for Vizcaino
Right-hander Arodys Vizcaino, who missed much of last season because of Tommy John surgery, threw a bullpen session Tuesday for the first time since the Cubs acquired him from Atlanta in a trade for Paul Maholm last July.
Vizcaino, ranked No. 54 on the just released Baseball Prospectus top-prospects list, fared well in the 25-pitch session. He’s not expected to make his game debut until sometime in April during extended spring training.
Vizcaino, who finished the 2011 season in the majors with the Braves, has time to work his way back to the majors this season, ‘‘if everything goes well, if everything goes as planned,’’ Sveum said.
Baker the BP maker
Scott Baker, the $5.5 million free-agent starter who missed all of last season after Tommy John surgery, threw live batting practice (25 pitches) for the first time.
Barring issues Wednesday morning, Baker is expected to throw another live BP later in the week and move on to a simulated game at some point next week.
Sveum estimates a mid-March debut and a mid-April regular-season debut for the former 15-game winner for the Minnesota Twins.
Security personnel at HoHoKam Stadium insist Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips hasn’t been anywhere near the premises, but somebody got to Darwin Barney’s locker stall Tuesday, affixing an athletic-tape outline of a box in front of his locker.
On the white tape, in handwriting clubhouse workers seemed to recognize from their own staff, somebody wrote: “Private. Stay out! Barney’s locker area. P.S., I won a gold glove.”