A few items from Cubs camp as I wonder if the former pope, now that he'd retired, might show at Wrigley to see the anointed one from Notre Dame pitch for the Cubs:
SOLER POWER: Big time outfield prospect Jorge Soler's cannon throw from right field to nail Oakland's Josh Reddick trying to go first-to-third Thursday was still part of the morning buzz at Cubs camp Friday.
``Very impressive throw. Accurate, too,'' manager Dale Sveum said. ``All his throws ... That's obviously another added plus to a guy with the tools. A lot of times you might have the arm but it's all over the place. But he's got a pretty good feel of accuracy, throwing one-hoppers and that. ... Even his at-bats. I know he's been striking out a little bit but at least he's seeing pitches. It's not a premeditated-type swing."
Sveum, who didn't see much of Soler beyond video until the 20-year-old got to spring training, already seems to have the powerful, 6-foot-4 projected slugger on his radar.
Until 34 games at the low- and mid-Class A levels last year, Soler hadn't played for a team in about two years, as he waited for residency status after defecting from Cuba.
The lack of pro experience and roughness around the edges is obvious, with six strikeouts in 10 official spring at-bats, to go with a single and a double. But so is the ability the Cubs hope to unlock as quickly as possible - with a towering home run in his first competitive at-bat of the spring, in last week's intrasquad game, and then Thursday's throw.
Soler is likely to start the season at advanced-A Daytona. Depending how well he does in the first half, he could have the opportunity to finish at AA, which for many players is just a phone call away from the majors.
Spring days like Thursday make you wonder how fast he could get to Wrigley.
STARLIN GAZING: All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro is likely to remain sidelined with that tight hamstring at least through the weekend, manager Dale Sveum said Friday morning.
"We'll probably look more towards Monday than this weekend," the manager said. "We've got a lot of games left. We don't have to do anything [too quickly] that way."
Castro left Wednesday's game when his left hamstring tightened while running out a grounder.
The two-time All-Star said Thursday afternoon he felt much better, said he'd only miss a couple of days, and even jogged slightly as he headed to the field for his match in the camp bunting tournament.
ALL ABOARD! The D-Train is back up and running, according to the Cubs.
Dontrelle Willis, who's in the Cubs' minor-league camp, left after just seven pitches in his only Cactus League appearance Monday, because of shoulder tightness.
But the Cubs said Friday morning the former 22-game winner is pain-free and throwing again.
No word yet on whether/when he'll get invited again as an extra backup pitcher for one of the big-league spring games.