CHC@SEA: Baez's monster solo shot ties ballgame at 2

LAS VEGAS -- Javier Baez used to prefer playing second base over shortstop. This week, he'll be back at second for the Cubs.

Baez took grounders at second again on Sunday, and expects to start a game there early this week. It won't be the first time Baez has played second -- he did so in high school.

"Then our shortstop went away, so I moved to short, and I didn't really like it, so I started playing center field, and then I came back to short," Baez said Sunday. "I used to like playing center field. I would do diving catches and stuff like that."

The Cubs top prospect, Baez will open the season at shortstop for Triple-A Iowa. But the Cubs want to have the infielder get some action at second to improve his versatility and give the team some options.

It hasn't been that tough for Baez to relearn the footwork needed at second.

"It's pretty much the same thing," he said.

Wada remains in the mix for rotation spot

Tsuyoshi Wada allowed four runs on Saturday. (Rick Scuteri/AP)

LAS VEGAS -- Tsuyoshi Wada will continue to start for the Cubs as the team works on completing the rotation in the last two weeks of Spring Training.

Wada gave up four runs on five hits and two walks over two innings on Saturday against the Mets.

"He's still scheduled to be a starter, so we have to continue to try to stretch him out," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Sunday of the Japanese lefty.

Another candidate, Chris Rusin, started Sunday, and James McDonald, a free agent who signed in February with the Cubs, will pitch on Monday in a split-squad game against the Athletics.

One name apparently not in the mix unless necessary is Carlos Villanueva, who will return to the role of swing man, a reliever capable of making a spot start or throwing multiple innings in a game.

"'Villa' was big for us last year with the [Matt] Garza situation," Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio said in Mesa. Ariz., about Villanueva, who filled in when Garza was injured last year. "For me, Villanueva is probably one of the most valuable swing guys in all of baseball because he's done both and had an incredible start last year to the season."

Villanueva went 1-1 with a 2.29 ERA in five starts last April. He finished 1-7 with a 4.50 ERA in 15 starts and posted a 3.03 ERA in 32 relief appearances.

"He's been a swing guy here before, so I don't think we have any problem of him adjusting if he needs to," Renteria said. "He's capable of doing both."

Long-term view helping Jackson click

Brett Jackson hit a homer and a game-winning single Saturday.

MESA, Ariz. -- The results weren't there for Brett Jackson in his first 11 spring at-bats this year. In his two most recent -- a homer and a game-winning two-run single on Saturday -- they were, rather emphatically.

But results have become relatively immaterial to the Cubs outfielder this spring, and he has maintained the same demeanor, regardless.

"With more experience, you learn to handle the adversity better, and you learn to have a different perspective when it comes to takeaways from at-bats," Jackson said. "In years past, I certainly put a little more weight on what the result was at the end of the day and what my numbers were at the end of spring, [instead of] 'how am I feeling, how am I improving because of this at-bat.'"

Jackson started the spring 1-for-11 before his two hits in the late innings on Saturday. But he also had four walks -- which he believes are indicative of how well he is seeing the ball.

"A lot of what plate appearances are in Spring Training are to iron out timing, to see the ball better and to work on your approach," Jackson said. "It's not always about the results. There's something to take away from a strikeout, there's something to take away from a hit, there's something to take away from a walk. I think I've been very productive with the way I've looked at at-bats."

Jackson, the Cubs' first-round pick in 2009, is hopeful to earn a spot on the big league roster coming out of camp, but he understands there's only so much he can control.

"Personally, I'm preparing myself for every opportunity that's presented," Jackson said. "Yesterday I got the opportunity."

Sim game goes well for Arrieta

Outlook: Arrieta needs to improve control

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta threw 30 pitches in a simulated game Sunday without feeling any effects of the stiff right shoulder that has sidelined him this spring.

Arrieta also threw about 30-35 pitches in the bullpen before taking the mound on the Cubs' practice field and facing live hitters.

Given the timing of the injury, Arrieta preached caution when it comes to his progression. He may not be ready in time for Opening Day, but he feels he shouldn't miss much time, assuming he can avoid any setbacks.

"Sometimes you get a feeling that you're uncertain with," Arrieta said. "That's where some of the caution comes. The last thing I want to do is be on the DL for three months, fighting to get on the field with my team. Only to miss a start or two, I think, isn't the worst case."

Should Arrieta not feel any unusual soreness Monday, he said the next step is throwing live batting practice sometime early in the week. If that goes according to plan, he's hopeful to see his first Cactus League action shortly thereafter.

Arrieta came over to the Cubs in a trade with Baltimore in July, and after making the move, he went 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA in nine starts. After a strong finish to the 2013 season, Arrieta doesn't think the injury will hinder his progress.

"It's just a week or two setback -- two starts," Arrieta said. "I think in the grand scheme of things, it's really not that big of an issue. It would have been nice to not miss these couple weeks, but I think health is the biggest priority."

Arrieta threw all of his pitches during the sim game and seemed to have no complaints about how the outing went. He was specifically pleased with the numbers on the radar gun.

"Today was really good," he said. "Everything felt crisp. I feel like the strength was good, the velocities were good. Those are all good signs."

Worth noting

Travis Wood was passed up for the Cubs' Opening Day starter spot in favor of Jeff Samardzija, and Wood maintains he's completely fine with manager Rick Renteria's decision -- especially given what he's seen from Samardzija.

"I was excited for him," Wood said. "He's an outstanding pitcher. He's got electric, electric stuff. Last year he threw eight innings Opening Day, so I'm sure we'll get more of the same."