Cubs players know the key to avoiding trade scrutiny
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter February 18, 2014 10:32PM
Updated: February 19, 2014 2:30AM
MESA, Ariz. — As the Cubs’ full squad of players fills the clubhouse this week, it doesn’t take a Ph.D. in Recent Cubs History to identify which players are candidates to be traded for prospects this summer.
Those who have experienced it each of the two previous seasons under team president Theo Epstein know the only way to combat it is to make waves in April and early May — which makes the most relevant part of the season about as long as the spring training time they’ll get to prepare for it.
‘‘If you win ballgames, that doesn’t happen,’’ second baseman Darwin Barney said. ‘‘Our goal every year is to not let that happen, to put pressure on them to build us as a team. We all know what’s coming, so let’s try and get off to a good start and see what happens.’’
Like last season, the early schedule doesn’t look forgiving, with 12 of the first 15 games coming against 2013 playoff teams (plus two games at Yankee Stadium) and 25 such games in the first six weeks of the season.
That could put guys such as Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel on the clock fast.
‘‘I know it’s baseball and it’s part of the game,’’ pitcher Travis Wood said.
But, Barney said, ‘‘It’s too early to think of that and think of who those guys are going to be. The best we can do now is develop good relationships, try to create some chemistry and win as many games as we can.’’
Joining the party
Most players already have been informally working out at camp leading up to the first official full-squad workouts Wednesday. Two notables expected to make their first appearances Wednesday are shortstop Starlin Castro and newly acquired utility guy Emilio Bonifacio.
Anthony Rizzo, Ryan Sweeney and Javy Baez all played H-O-R-S-E after early workouts, with Rizzo quickly eliminated and Sweeney then beating Baez. It might be the most compelling competition in camp this spring.