Inbox: Who will back up Pena at first base?
Beat reporter Carrie Muskat answers questions from fans
Tyler Colvin, Carlos Pena, James Russell and the bullpen are among the topics in this week's Inbox. E-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and please include your full name and hometown.
Who will back up Pena at first base? Is Colvin going to get some time at first this spring?
-- Tim S., New Albany, Ind.
Yes, Colvin will start at first base in Cactus League games. During workouts so far, Colvin does early drills with the outfielders, then switches gloves and rotates with Pena at first on defensive drills. Pena may be his best teacher. He's a Gold Glove winner, left-handed and, so far, has been eager to help. Who knows? Maybe Colvin is the Cubs' first baseman of the future. See the next question.
What are the odds the Cubs have any chance of picking up Albert Pujols next year? It seems like we have too much money invested in Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and now Carlos Marmol to do anything with him. Could the Cubs decide to sign Pena to a longer deal this year?
-- David W., Augusta, Ga.
Yes, Pujols will be a free agent at the end of the season, but he wants to stay with the Cardinals, and St. Louis will do everything it can to keep him. The Cubs do have some contracts to deal with in 2012, but Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome and Carlos Silva all come off the books after this season. That should give general manager Jim Hendry a little more flexibility than he had this past winter. As for Pena, the Cubs want to see how he bounces back from last year and how he adjusts to day games and the National League before talking about a new deal.
Are the Cubs going to consider going after a lefty for the rotation? I don't see a left-hander getting into the rotation on the current roster.
-- Brandon P., Wallingford, Conn.
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They very well could be all right-handed unless Russell wins a spot. You want the five best pitchers, and although some variety is good, that may not be an option. The Cubs could counter by having as many as four lefties in the bullpen with John Grabow, Sean Marshall, Scott Maine and Russell if he doesn't start.
Even with the addition of Kerry Wood, the Cubs are still severely lacking in experience in the bullpen. There are still free-agent relief pitchers who would be rather inexpensive and are productive veterans like Chad Durbin. Is there any interest in adding another veteran to the bullpen at this point?
-- Aaron S., Oxford, Iowa
They have some veterans in camp already who fit your description in Braden Looper and Todd Wellemeyer, both non-roster invitees. The makeup may seem young, but they also get Grabow back and Marshall isn't a rookie anymore.
What are the Cubs' plans with Hayden Simpson, the first-round pick? I understand he was experiencing a setback because of illness, but he should progress quickly. Any thoughts on his chances to be looked at closely this spring?
-- Paul B., Hartland, Wis.
Simpson has been in Mesa, Ariz., working out and will take part in a Minor League mini-camp, which starts later this week. He'll be watched closely, just like everyone else.
When do the Spring Training tickets for the Cubs' games in Las Vegas go on sale?
-- Janet M., Arcadia, Calif.
They're on sale now through the Las Vegas 51s website.
I noticed the Cubs will be playing in Boston this season. When was the last time they played at Fenway Park?
-- Sam H., Oklahoma City
This will be the Cubs' first trip to Fenway since the 1918 World Series. The last time these two teams met was an Interleague series June 10-12, 2005, at Wrigley Field, when the Cubs won two out of three. Greg Maddux and Wellemeyer were the winning pitchers in the first two games.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.