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Cubs and Sox Open Spring Training

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Feb 23, 2010 6:40PM

Sure, we're still digging out from yet another serving of snow but spring is just around the corner. We know this because the Cubs and White Sox have finally opened camp in Arizona. Cubs pitchers and catchers arrived in Mesa last Wednesday, while the Sox battery showed up in Glendale on Sunday to kick off Spring Training. With the entire season ahead, fans of both teams can still express optimism for the upcoming season, but both teams are coming off disappointing seasons without playoff appearances. Has either team improved enough to change that in 2010?

In their first off-season under control of the Ricketts family, the Cubs didn't do much to change the fortunes of a team that won only 83 games in 2009 after winning 97 the year before. The mood is perhaps more tempered this year.'s Jon Heyman was not impressed by the Cubs' offseason moves, naming then one of eight teams that didn't improve this winter. The Cubs practiced addition by subtraction, achieving their top off-season goal of trading Milton Bradley, who was a constant distraction last year. But the team was forced to take on Carlos Silva and his giant ERA in return. Replacing Bradley in center field is Marlon Byrd, who the Cubs signed to a 3-year, $15 million deal. The Cubs also added Xavier Nady to their roster. But these are not the kinds of moves that make them a favorite to reach the World Series.

With their roster in place, the Cubs come into Spring Training still trying to determine who will bat lead-off. While it won't be Alfonso Soriano, who hopes to be full strength by Opening Day after knee surgery, there's a battle between Kosuke Fukudome and Ryan Theriot to see who'll bat at the top of the order.

Meanwhile, the White Sox finally landed a true lead-off hitter during the off-season when they acquired Juan Pierre from the Dodgers in return for prospects. Other new faces for the Sox in '10 include third baseman Mark Teahen, outfielder Andruw Jones, and shortstop Omar Vizquel. The Sox were in contention for Johnny Damon this past week, but he signed with Detroit instead. So the Sox lineup and pitching rotation seems to be pretty hammered down as camp opens this year. Manager Ozzie Guillen named Mark Buehrle the Opening Day starting pitcher, in spite of Jake Peavy's presence on the team.

While it may be a quiet Spring Training for the Sox in that there are no position battles to be decided, the fact that MLB Network has selected the Sox front office to feature on its reality show "The Club" this season means Ozzie could be in top form. The show will document the goings on of the Sox skipper, GM Kenny Williams, and team owner Jerry Reinsdorf from Spring Training through the trading deadline in July. We can't wait to see what Ozzie and Kenny are like together in real life. Chicago Now blog Top Ten Chicago Sports lists the ten things they'd like to see on the show.