Spring headlines: Brandon McCarthy faces first batters since injury, Alfonso Soriano wants to win

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

Before Monday, the last time Brandon McCarthy faced a batter was Sept. 5, when Erick Aybar lined a ball off McCarthy's head. A skull fracture, brain contusion, epidural hemorrhage and two hours of surgery followed, making it one of the most gruesome things to happen on a baseball field in 2012.

McCarthy took a big step toward game action Monday: facing live hitters with his new team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. McCarthy, one of the funniest baseball players on Twitter, wasn't cracking jokes about this.

From MLB.com's Steve Gilbert:

"It honestly is completely normal," McCarthy said. "Anything you would have thought might have been there wasn't. I was more nervous about where my command was at, where my stuff was at."

So no apprehension?

"There's that thought of, 'Is something going to happen? The first time they swing, are you going to duck for cover and run for center?'" McCarthy said. "But it really wasn't there. I threw the first pitch, he didn't swing and it was, 'Oh, this is easy, let's go back and do this again.'"

D-backs general manager Kevin Towers says he expects McCarthy to be one of the team's top starters this season, and with what he saw Monday, Towers says McCarthy is on track for that:

Cubs trade Tony Campana to Diamondbacks: The Chicago Cubs sent speedy Tony Campana and his inconsistent bat to the Diamondbacks, a move that seemed probable for the Cubs last week when the they designated Campana, a fan favorite, for assignment.

In return, the Cubs received two 17-year-old pitching prospects from Venezuela: Erick Leal and Jesus Castillo.

[Also: Brewers' Mat Gamel tears ACL for second straight year, out for season]

Last week, the Chicago Tribune quoted young Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo saying that Campana needed a fresh start:

"He’s a good player and he’ll be pretty successful. I know everyone over here is pulling for him. Right now, I just think our team isn’t the fit for him, to be honest. We need more power instead of speed, I think."

Campana stole 30 bases with the Cubs last season, but managed only .264/.308/.299 at the plate.

Soriano wants a winner, and hopes it's with Cubs: Speaking of the Cubs, outfielder Alfonso Soriano is thinking "win now or leave."

Sounds like Soriano, he of the eight-year, $136 million contract, isn't going to settle for another 101 losses like in 2012. If things start on that pace again, he's likely to make a "Contender or Bust" sign and hitchhike out of town.

From Carrie Muskat at MLB.com:

"At my age, I don't want to be part of a losing team," Soriano said. "I hope we start good and everybody stays healthy and we send a message, because I believe in this team and the people we've got. My point is, I signed here to win the World Series, I don't want to go somewhere else and win. If we have a bad start, I have to think about moving somewhere else. I only have two years left in my career."

Cubs RHP Matt Garza to undergo MRI: Even more Cubs news, following up a note from Monday: Matt Garza will get an MRI to see how severe his side injury is. Garza, who missed the final two months of 2012 with an elbow injury, re-injured himself on his first day back.

The Cubs initially called Garza's injury a ''mild strain'' but general manager Jed Hoyer said Monday that the right-hander will undergo further tests so team doctors will have a better sense of how long Garza will be sidelined.

''The good news is his arm felt really strong,'' Hoyer said. ''It's unfortunate and it's going to set him back a little bit. But we're still really confident. Our concern was with the elbow injury that shut him down last year.''

If Soriano has any chance of fulfilling his World Series dreams in Chicago this year, Garza will need to be on his A-game — and probably also needs to go about 35-2.

[Also: Bobby Crosby excited to give baseball another try]

Tweet of the Day: Boston Red Sox catcher Mike Napoli tells teammate Will Middlebrooks to step his culinary game up.

Photo of the Day: Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel nailed his first hole-in-one Monday at Chipper Jones' and Tim Hudson's charity golf tournament. It was a 177-yarder, into the wind.

Spring training is here. Stretch out with us.
Follow @MikeOz and @bigleaguestew, on Twitter, along with the BLS Facebook page.

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