Starlin’s amazing race
All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro is in a weeklong race to avoid the disabled list now that he has resumed full baseball activity in practice, nearly three weeks after injuring his hamstring March 2. Castro said he felt nothing in the hamstring going through drills and hopes to load up on at-bats in minor-league games starting Saturday. But manager Rick Renteria wasn’t as aggressive with a timeline Friday, suggesting a heavy day at the plate might not come until early in the week. The Cubs break camp next Saturday, making a DL stint look like a close call. And cold weather isn’t considered ideal for iffy hamstrings. “In the next couple days, hopefully we’ll have a better idea where he’s at,” Renteria said.
Top prospect Javy Baez gave the Cubs a scare when he came up limping after hitting the first-base bag hard on a sixth-inning ground out. He left the game, but the team said he suffered nothing worse than a bruised right heel.
Travis Wood, the 2013 All-Star who’s scheduled to make his season debut April 2 in Pittsburgh, threw 102 pitches in a six-inning start on the minor-league side of camp Friday (7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 9 K).
Chris Rusin continues to impress in the battle for fill-in fifth starter, throwing five scoreless innings — giving him 12 in his last three starts — and allowing two hits and no walks against the Sox. But with four days off in the first three weeks of the season and the Cubs’ desire to keep starters on a regular fifth-day cycle, Rusin is more likely to open at Class AAA Iowa. Carlos Villanueva figures to take the fifth spot.
The Jake take
Starter Jake Arrieta, who will open the season on the DL because of a lengthy program to rehab his shoulder, threw a two-inning simulated game Friday without incident. Barring a setback, he’ll pitch again Wednesday for the equivalent of three innings, likely in a minor-league game or another simulation. He’s expected to join the rotation in mid- to late April.
Reds at Cubs, 3:05 p.m., Ch. 9, 720-AM, Edwin Jackson vs. Tony Cingrani.