Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011
By Patrick Mooney
Braden Looper who has started 97 games and saved 103 more in his 12-year career, but did not pitch last season is among the 21 non-roster players the Cubs have invited to major-league spring training.
The Cubs agreed to minor-league deals with the 36-year-old Looper and infielder Augie Ojeda on Thursday, and they are part of the group that will gather in Arizona next month. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report on Feb. 13, and the teams first full workout will be Feb. 19 in Mesa.
Several of those invited are ex-Cubs trying to work their way back to Chicago, including pitcher Todd Wellemeyer, outfielder Reed Johnson and reliever Angel Guzman, who is recovering from arthroscopic shoulder surgery.
Some of the organizations top prospects will also be given a longer look in camp. First-round picks Josh Vitters (2007) and Brett Jackson (2009) will be there, along with pitchers Chris Carpenter, Jay Jackson and Trey McNutt.
PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.
It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.
Sosa hit the 30-homer threshold on June 21, 1998 in only his 71st game of the season. For perspective, the 2018 Cubs leader in homers on June 21 is Javy Baez with 14 and Mike Trout leads all of baseball with only 23.
At this point, Mark McGwire was ahead of Sosa, but the Cubs slugger was pulling closer. McGwire had 33 dingers on June 21 while Ken Griffey Jr. had 28 and Greg Vaughn had 25.
Sosa' June 21 homer came off Tyler Green and was his 5th blast of the series against the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field that year. But the Cubs lost that series, despite Sosa's efforts.
Fun fact: Sosa drove in 10 runs in the three-game series with the Phillies that summer while the rest of his teammates combined for only 9 RBI.
The Cubs have been a different team the last six weeks, looking a lot more like the resilient bunch from 2016 than the sluggish 2017 squad that lacked energy. After some wacky circumstances Monday and a tough loss in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, the Cubs came out and showed what they’re made of in the last two games of the series against the Dodgers, a team that knocked them out of postseason play last fall.
Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki sum up the longest short homestand (or shortest long homestand?), updating the status of Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, the Cubs pitching staff and how the team is rounding into form as the season’s halfway mark approaches.
Check out the entire podcast here: