5 Players The Chicago Cubs Can’t Afford To Get Hurt
Chicago Cubs: 5 Players They Can't Afford To Get Hurt
2013 has not been kind to the Chicago Cubs during Spring Training as the team has currently lost six players due to injuries. With a team that struggles as much as the Cubs, you can't help but feel nervous for what the upcoming season will bring for one of the worst teams in baseball.
As of right now, Matt Garza, Josh Vitters, Ian Stewart, Scott Baker, Starlin Castro, and Brent Lillibridge have all been sidelined due to an injury. The Cubs are hopeful that Vitters, Stewart, Castro, and Lillibridge will return soon, but Garza and Baker are expected to be out for quite awhile.
This is bad news, Cubs fans. This team that seems to have an endless streak of bad luck is now down two pitchers, two third basemen, a shortstop, and an outfielder.
That presents some massive problems and the regular season hasn't even started yet. Are they prepared enough to face the new season with a shaky roster filled with rookies and back up players? Let’s not even think about any more potential injuries that might occur before Opening Day.
As miserable as Spring Training has been with the ever-growing injury list, I think Cubs fans should look at what they do have rather than what they don’t. We’re lucky that several of our key players are healthy and are prepared to play on April 1.
With that said, let’s be thankful for the five strong players that we have and pray that we don’t lose them to an injury as well.
Second baseman Darwin Barney is a crucial part of the Cubs infield. Barney won a Gold Glove in 2012 for his performance at second base, starting 156 consecutive games without an error, tying an MLB record. He's the first Cubs' second baseman to win a Golden Glove since Ryne Sandberg.
Barney has been a key player to not only the Cubs defense, but offense as well. He hit .254 with an on-base percentage of .299 in 2012.
With his impressive work at second base and his ability to get on base while batting, Barney is an asset that this team could never afford to lose.
Kyuji Fujikawa, a newcomer to the Cubs, may look at being the closing pitcher this season. While the job technically belongs to Carlos Marmol right now, the Cubs are rumored to be shopping their veteran closer, which may give Fujikawa the opportunity to take over.
The 32-year-old pitcher was known in Japan for his fastball, clocking in around 92 miles-per-hour, as well as a forkball and a curve ball to keep the batter guessing. He also saved an impressive 220 games for his team in Japan over the course of 12 seasons.
We all the know that sending Marmol in to close a game is a risky decision, but maybe Fujikawa's addition can provide some help to this struggling bullpen.
Given the persistent hype that surrounded first baseman Anthony Rizzo when he made his Cubs debut last year, the only way to describe him sustaining an injury would be 'catastrophic.'
Rizzo provided Chicago with a bit of hope last season when he hit 15 home runs with a batting average of .285 during his 3 1/2 months in the big leagues. His performance at first base has been exceptional as well, considering his young age.
The 23-year-old is arguably the Cubs strongest hitter, therefore making him the most valuable player on the team. Although he will always need some help from his teammates, the Cubs would be in a world of trouble if they were to ever lose Rizzo to an injury.
With the recent injuries to third basemen Josh Vitters and Ian Stewart, Luis Valbuena has been in the spotlight, showing manager Dale Sveum why he should be considered for the job at third.
Valbuena spent the second half of the season as a bench player with the Cubs in 2012, but his recent opportunity to start at third for most of Spring Training has convinced Sveum to guarantee the 27-year-old a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Whether Valbuena will be playing third on April 1 is another story, but Cubs fans should be thankful that this young man has stepped up and showed his team that they can count on him during this injury crisis with the infield.
Finally, the Cubs would be lost without their ace pitcher, Jeff Samardzija.
Samardzija, who has already been named the Cubs' Opening Day starter, has always been one of the few pitchers the team could rely on. He proved to be a solid relief pitcher in 2011 and was moved to the starting rotation in 2012, ending the season with a record of 9-13 and a 3.81 ERA.
The right-hander has the potential to lead the Cubs to a winning season. Sveum believes Samardzija is an asset to the team because he has called the pitcher a leader on and off the field.
With his strong throwing arm and his confident attitude towards the game, Samardzija just might be what the Cubs need to win.