MESA, Ariz. — Keep an eye on pitching prospect Armando Rivero this spring.
Cubs officials certainly are.
The lanky Cuban right-hander the Cubs signed for $3.1 million a year ago was the center of attention during a live batting-practice session Saturday in which he buzzed fastballs and bent breaking pitches past some of the Cubs’ big-leaguers.
“He looked good,” shortstop Starlin Castro said. “Threw hard, good curveball.”
Rivero, who started at low Class A Kane County, then went to high Class A Daytona before finishing at Class AA Tennessee last season, made an impression while the manager, pitching coach and top front-office executives watched — and while his agent recorded the session with his iPad.
“His arm is live,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Any tweak or suggestion that [pitching coach Chris Bosio] gives him, he seems to take in and he executes. . . . He’s pretty impressive.”
Rivero, who also pitched in the Arizona Fall League after his Tennessee stop, is 26 and mature enough to believe he could get to the big leagues quickly. But Renteria cautioned against expecting too much too fast from a guy who went more than a year without pitching in a game.
“We know he’s really good, and he’s happy with how he’s throwing the ball,” Renteria said.
Outfielder Nate Schierholtz was back to work and feeling “normal” one day after an outfield collision with teammate Junior Lake left him “seeing stars.’’ Lake was fine after the incident.
† Pitcher Jake Arrieta, who has proceeded with caution this spring after experiencing shoulder “tightness” earlier this month, played long toss from 90 feet and appeared to fare well. But despite Arrieta’s optimism that he could be scheduled to start throwing from a bullpen mound as a next step, the Cubs say he has more flat-ground throwing to get through before that happens.
† Hard-throwing right-hander Arodys Vizcaino, who’s trying to make the Opening Day bullpen after elbow surgeries derailed his last two seasons, looked very sharp again, Renteria said.