Cubs spring training news & notes: Feb. 22

Left fielder Alfonso Soriano said he enjoyed one evening with the Ricketts family in January as they attended a dinner during their trip to the Dominican Republic to look at the Cubs’ training facility there.

Like most Cubs players we’ve talked to in spring training, Soriano feels a stable franchise with hands-on owners is a good thing.

Soriano was also very happy to have Marlon Byrd in camp. Byrd and Soriano were teammates during the 2006 season. Soriano said that Byrd and former teammate Milton Bradley are both nice guys, but that Byrd doesn’t bring with him the baggage that Bradley did.

  • Canada’s 5-3 loss to the United States in Olympic hockey cost native Canadian Ryan Dempster big time. The glib Cub pitcher referred to his losses as “peanut butter sandwiches” in reference to his wagers with teammates. Dempster kidded that he’ll be paying off teammates in those sandwiches for a long time. Needless to say, Dempster was a popular figure among teammates in the clubhouse on Monday.

  • Manager Lou Piniella is unsure who will back up Byrd in center field this season. In discussions with the front office and other coaches, Piniella said they’re trying to decide whether to go with an offensive backup or defensive backup. Among the players being considered are Sam Fuld, Brad Snyder and Tyler Colvin. Piniella said he may use Kosuke Fukudome at times in center again in 2010. Fukudome had 105 starts in center field last year for the Cubs. The Japanese outfielder in his third year with the Cubs had difficulty recognizing the slide of the ball in center field last season. Fukudome is an above average right fielder who is more comfortable in this spot.

  • The Cubs missed out on signing the versatile Chan Ho Park to a contract on Monday. The veteran pitchers signed a one-year, $1.2 million contract with the New York Yankees with an opportunity to make another $1.3 million in performance bonus incentives. Due to a locked-in payroll around $142 million, the Cubs were unable to match the offer.

  • In his media session on Monday, Piniella said the Cubs would continue to seek a relief pitcher during spring training. The Cubs’ ranks have been weakened due to injuries to right handed pitchers Jeff Gray and Angel Guzman. Both will be anywhere from 10 days to two weeks behind the rest of the bullpen. As reported here ad nauseam, the Cubs will continue to monitor right handed pitcher Luke Gregerson from San Diego and Toronto’s Jason Frasor as part of their spring training must-see list for their scouts.