Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Morning Gordo: Marm, Fuji, Stew and Clev

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Wondering how the sequestration crisis will impact the Blackhawks in their streak-buster-alert game against Detroit Sunday, as I wait for the Cubs to show at Scottsdale Stadium for this afternoon's game against the world champs.

Three predictions for the season based on first three weeks of camp:

1. The sizeable contingent of Japanese media planning to float between Milwaukee (Norichika Aoki) and Chicago (Kyuji Fujikawa) this season to cover their guys from back home will set up long-term camp at Wrigley when Carlos Marmol blows his first save.

Which could happen by tax day, given the fraught-with-danger series against Milwaukee and San Francisco that opens the home schedule.

Fujikawa, the former Japanese All-Star closer on a two-year contract with the Cubs, has impressed the field staff so far in camp.

Marmol's getting along with the funky, bleach-blond setup man and shrugs off the issue. "They told me I'm the closer,'' he said.

On Fujikawa, he says: "He's a great pitcher. I think we're going to have a good bullpen. He's kind of a cool guy, plays around a lot. Good guy so far."

2. Speaking of good guys, Ian Stewart won't pull off the two-week rampage of OPS hitting and everyday grind to win a roster spot in the maybe two-week window he'll have once he's back from his quad strain.

Not exactly rooting for the Cubs to open the season with Luis Valbuena as the starting third baseman, but it's hard not to see it that way now.

Stewart doesn't seem worried about that possibility. "I figure when I get back, I'll just be playing a lot, but I think that was the plan anyway," he said. "I feel like there is definitely [time]."

Stewart, who has big power when he connects and a good glove at third, has a little compensating to do this spring to overcome the perception that he was too willing to spend the rest of the season at home once he got permission to leave the team to be with his pregnant wife following his midseason wrist injury.

If he doesn't do it in his narrow window of opportunity late this spring, the Cubs have the option of saving $1.5 million of his $2 million contract by releasing him before the opener.

And don't discount the potential incentive for sending a message to the rest of a mostly young team about expectations and accountability in their efforts to supposedly change the "culture" of the team.

3. Catcher Steve Clevenger, Dale Sveum's new super utility player in the making, will drop one of the first three fly balls or popups hit his direction once the season opens.

"I mean, how hard is it to catch a fly ball?" Clevenger said Friday, sealing his fate.

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I do not agree here, Gordon. I think Marmol will be the closer all season and get a bundle of saves if the Cubs manage to score enough to get to a lot save situations. I also think Fujikawa will prove to be a great set-up pitcher.They obviously traded off the player who used to admirably fill that role. I hope the hitting is able to keep up a ton of support for the starting pitchers, so the closer and set-up mann are able to get plenty of rest.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on March 2, 2013 11:53 AM.

Morning Gordo: Buzz on Cubs' Soler, Castro's hammy and look who's back was the previous entry in this blog.

Cubs' Garza has setback, to open on DL; Samardzija named Opening Day starter is the next entry in this blog.

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