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National League capsules
Question of the Day
He’s Here: RHP Matt Garza, 1B Carlos Pena, RHP Kerry Wood, RHP Braden Looper, INF Augie Odeja, RHP Todd Wellemeyer.
He’s Outta There: OF-1B Xavier Nady, LHP Tom Gorzelanny, OF Sam Fuld.
Projected lineup: 2B Jeff Baker (.272, 4, 21) or Blake DeWitt (.250, 4, 22 in 53 games with Cubs), SS Starlin Castro (.300, 3, 41), CF Marlon Byrd (.293, 12, 66), 3B Aramis Ramirez (.241, 25, 83 in 124 games), 1B Carlos Pena (.196, 28, 84 with Tampa Bay), LF Alfonso Soriano (.258, 24, 79), RF Tyler Colvin (.254, 20, 56), C Geovany Soto (.280, 17, 53).
Rotation: RH Ryan Dempster (15-12, 3.85 ERA, 215 1-3 IP, 208 Ks), RHP Carlos Zambrano (11-6, 3.33 ERA, 36 games and 20 starts; 8-0 over last 11), RH Matt Garza (15-10, 3.91 ERA, no-hitter with Tampa Bay), RHP Randy Wells (8-14, 4.26, 209 hits allowed), RH Carlos Silva (10-6, 4.22 in 21 starts) or RH Andrew Cashner (2-6, 4.80 in 53 relief appearances).
Key Relievers: RH Carlos Marmol (2-3, 2.55 ERA, 38 saves in 43 chances), RH Kerry Wood (1-4, 6.30 ERA in 23 games with Cleveland; 2-0, 0.69 in 24 games with Yankees), LH Sean Marshall (7-5, 2.65 in 80 appearances), LH John Grabow (1-3, 7.36 in 28 games), RH Jeff Samardzija (2-2, 8.38 in 7 games, 3 starts), LH James Russell (1-1, 4.96 in 57 games).
Hot Spots: Leadoff, 1B, and No. 5 starter. Can Baker or DeWitt get it started at the top of the lineup if they platoon? Cubs hoping Pena, signed to a one-year deal, can go above the Mendoza Line and add left-handed power and a great glove at first. Silva, who got off to a quick start last year, had a rough finish after being bothered by heart and elbow problems. He’s scuffled this spring and scrapped with Ramirez, but earlier said he shouldn’t have to compete for a spot.
Overview: Far out of the race last season and with no pressure, the Cubs played well in going 24-13 after third-base coach Quade took over on an interim basis following Lou Piniella’s abrupt retirement. Garza is being counted on to be a stopper and he’s struggled this spring. And which Zambrano will show up? The one who was sent to anger management counseling last year after another emotional outburst _ this one directed at teammates _ or the new and calmer one this spring? Zambrano went 8-0 down the stretch last season, helping Quade get the job on a full-time basis. No sophomore slumps please for the three Cs from last season, all of whom played well as rookies in spurts _ Cashner, Colvin and Castro. Also, how much does Soriano have left in left? His shaky fielding in the outfield is a concern, but not as much if he can add to his 24 homers from last season. What the Cubs really need as they try to end their 102-year World Series title drought is a fast start in the cold weather, especially from their two corner power hitters in Ramirez, slowed by injuries last season, and Pena. Wood, a fan favorite, was brought back on a $1.5 million contract to strengthen the bullpen and provide leadership in a clubhouse after prominent players such as Ted Lilly and Derrek Lee were traded away last season.
2010: 57-105, last place.
Manager: Clint Hurdle (1st season).
He’s Here: RHP Kevin Correia, 1B Lyle Overbay, OF Matt Diaz, LHP Joe Beimel, LHP Scott Olsen, LHP Garrett Olson, INF Andy Marte, 3B Josh Fields.
He’s Outta There: LHP Zach Duke, LHP Wil Ledezma, RHP Joe Martinez, 3B Andy LaRoche, INF Delwyn Young, OF Lastings Milledge.
Projected Lineup: LF Jose Tabata (.299, 4, 35), 2B Neil Walker (.296, 12, 66), CF Andrew McCutchen (.286, 16, 56, 33 SBs), 3B Pedro Alvarez (.256, 16, 64), 1B Lyle Overbay (.243, 20, 67 with Toronto), RF Matt Diaz (.250, 7, 31 with Atlanta) or Garrett Jones (.247, 21, 86), SS Ronny Cedeno (.256, 8, 38), C Chris Snyder (.207, 15, 48 with Arizona and Pittsburgh).
Rotation: LH Paul Maholm (9-15, 5.10), RH Kevin Correia (10-10, 5.40 with San Diego), RH Ross Ohlendorf (1-11, 4.07), RH James McDonald (4-6, 4.02), RH Charlie Morton (2-12, 7.57).
By Robert N. Tracci
Congress must use its appropriations power to secure the border
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