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News » Chicago Cubs Notes, Quotes 2008-11-07

Chicago Cubs Notes, Quotes 2008-11-07

Chicago Cubs Notes, Quotes 2008-11-07
--C Henry Blanco had his $3 million option declined by the Cubs, and he became a free agent. The Cubs would like to have the 37-year-old back, but a significantly lower salary. Blanco was a valuable mentor to Geovany Soto and had his best year at the plate, hitting .292 with three homers in 58 games.

--If the Cubs and Blanco can't agree to a new deal, it's likely they'll allow Koyie Hill to compete for the backup spot behind Rookie of the Year candidate Soto. Hill saw time with the Cubs this year and in 2007. He's a switch hitter who specializes in defense and handling pitchers, much as Blanco did.

--LHP Rich Hill is pitching winter ball in Venezuela and having an up-and-down time of it. Hill opened the 2008 season as the Cubs' No. 4 starter, but command problems, which began in spring training, forced him to the minor leagues in early May. Hill still figures into the Cubs' plans if he can work things out. However, he had 13 walks and a 6.28 ERA over his first four winter starts, in which he was 1-1.

--RHP Angel Guzman reportedly is hitting upward of 97 mph on his fastball during winter ball in Venezuela. Guzman, who has been hampered by injuries for several years, will be out of options next spring. If he's healthy, he could land a bullpen spot.

--CF Felix Pie has begun winter ball in the Dominican Republic. Pie was the Cubs' Opening Day center fielder before losing his job and ending up in the minor leagues. There is a chance Pie could share time with Reed Johnson in center field next year, but there's also a chance he could be traded. Pie batted .241 in 43 games with the Cubs in 2008.

BY THE NUMBERS: 10 -- The Cubs used 10 starting pitchers in 2008, including RHPs Jon Lieber and Angel Guzman, who made only one start each. Given the health problems of RHPs Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden and the possible departure of RHP Ryan Dempster via free agency, the pursuit of Padres RHP Jake Peavy has shot to the top of GM Jim Hendry's priority list.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's not a club to overhaul. It's a club to just do your best to make it better by the time you get to spring training and try to address some of the things that look like needs. It always starts with trying to keep your pitching solid." -- GM Jim Hendry, on his approach to the offseason.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: November 7, 2008

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