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Category: Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs reportedly interested in Yu Darvish

The Chicago Cubs are one of numerous teams that have put in a bid for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, according to espn.comThe Chicago Cubs are one of numerous teams that have put in a bid for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, according to espn.com.

Bidding for Darvish, 25, closed Wednesday, and the Nippon Ham Fighters, his Japanese team, have until Tuesday to decide which bid to accept.

The bidding process allows major-league teams to send a blind, one-time-only bid to the Fighters to be the only team to negotiate a contract with Darvish. The winning team has 30 days to come to an agreement with the pitcher.

The posting fee, which is paid in addition to whatever contract the team and Darvish settle on, will be paid only if an agreement is reached. If a contract is not agreed on between the player and the highest-posting team, the money is returned.

The highest bid in history for a Japanese player was made by the Boston Red Sox, who bid $51 million to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Red Sox's general manager at the time was Theo Epstein, who now serves the same role with the Cubs.

The Angels and Dodgers were not expected to put bids for Darvish.

Darvish was 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA and a league-leading 276 strikeouts last season.

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-- Houston Mitchell

Photo: Yu Darvish with the Nippon Ham Fighters last season. Credit: Jiji Press / Getty Images

Chicago Cubs hire Dale Sveum as new manager

Fabforum

The Chicago Cubs hired Dale Sveum as their manager Thursday. Sveum replaces Mike Quade, who was fired by Theo Epstein, the team's new president of baseball operations. The Cubs finished 71-91 after a disappointing season that extended their infamous championship drought to 103 seasons.

Sveum has little experience as a manager, other than an interim stint for the Brewers late in 2008 after Ned Yost's firing. He also served as Boston's third-base coach when Epstein was the general manager.

Sveum also interviewed for the Red Sox manager's vacancy and met a second time this week with officials from the Cubs and Boston.

"I do my due diligence and video work and prepare as much as anybody," Sveum said. "As far as the stats, those are what they are, and we can use them to our advantage. It's a big part of the game now."

Sveum, who played 12 seasons with the Brewers and six other teams, did well in his limited run as Milwaukee's manager in 2008. After Ned Yost was fired in September, Sveum led the Brewers to their first playoff appearance in 26 years, winning six of seven down the stretch.

Milwaukee then decided to hire a more experienced manager in the off-season and went with Ken Macha, who lasted two seasons. Sveum stayed on as the hitting coach.

The Cubs will have a news conference Friday to formally introduce Sveum.

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-- Houston Mitchell

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Dale Sveum throws batting practice before Game 2 of the Milwaukee Brewers' 2008 NLDS playoff series against the Philadelphia Phillies. Credit: Jeff Zelevansky / Getty Images

The book on the Angels' Dan Haren

The Angels' lifted their team batting average 11 points -- to a still-anemic .226 -- in Sunday's rout of the Arizona Diamondbacks. But today the focus will be on pitching when right-hander Dan Haren takes the mound for the second time this spring against the Chicago Cubs in Mesa. Closer Fernando Rodney is expected to make his third appearance of the exhibition season in relief.

Haren is a workhorse who has made more starts (203) and more quality starts (137) than any pitcher in baseball since 2005. But here are some other things you may not know about the Angels' ace:

* Haren was an all-San Gabriel Valley player at La Puente's Bishop Amat High School. He grew up in West Covina in an area that has produced major-league standouts such as Jason Giambi, Cory Lidle, Aaron Small and former Angel General Manager Bill Stoneman.

* An All-American and West Coast Conference player of the year at Pepperdine, Haren was the ace of a staff that also featured left-hander Noah Lowry. Haren had a 2.22 ERA in 17 starts, Lowry's was 1.71 in 18 starts. The two men, born a month apart, were roommates in college, and both entered the baseball draft after their junior seasons, with Lowry going in the first round of the 2001 draft, 30th overall, to the San Francisco Giants. The slightly older Haren was taken in the second round by the St. Louis Cardinals.

* Haren is of Mexican and Irish descent. "My mom is 100% Mexican," Haren says. "My grandmother, my last living grandparent, speaks pretty much only Spanish.  I’ve always been able to understand it, which is good. But I’ve never been able to speak it too well." While speaking, Haren waves at teammate Ervin Santana, a Dominican who has the locker next to Haren's. "I could understand what he’s saying, but I can’t talk to him. But you know [he] understands English very well."

"Yeah," Santana says with a smile, "but you need Spanish too."

* Haren was heavily recruited to pitch for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic but declined. "With the amount of innings that I’ve logged over the year, I just feel like my obligation is to the organization that employs me," he said.

* Haren doubled off the Giants' Jason Schmidt on the first major-league pitch he saw. He was hitting .364 with a home run in 55 at-bats for Arizona last year before being traded to the Angels -- and the American League, where pitchers don't hit -- in July. He is a .226 lifetime hitter.

* Haren is unbeaten in the postseason, having gone 2-0 with a 3.26 ERA in five playoff series. He made two appearances, pitching 4 2/3 scoreless innings, for the Cardinals in their 2004 World Series loss to the Boston Red Sox.

Monday's lineup:

SS -- Erick Aybar

CF -- Peter Bourjos

2B -- Howie Kendrick

1B -- Mark Trumbo

DH -- Alberto Callaspo

RF -- Reggie Willits

3B -- Brandon Wood

C -- Bobby Wilson

LF-- Chris Pettit

P -- Dan Haren

-- Kevin Baxter in Mesa, Ariz.

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