Notes: Santo hoping wait is fruitful
Veterans Committee to make annual selections Tuesday
MESA, Ariz. -- Ron Santo is a little anxious. He'll find out Tuesday if the Veterans Committee has voted him into the Hall of Fame.
The 84-member Veterans Committee, which is comprised of all living Hall of Famers, votes every other year, and it has yet to elect anyone since its formation in 2003. Santo, the Cubs' longtime third baseman and current WGN Radio broadcaster, was at camp Monday.
"I'm nervous," he said.
The announcement is expected at 1 p.m. CT. Santo is one of 27 former players on the ballot.
"The way he played the game, the numbers he has, to me, he's well deserving," Cubs pitcher Mark Prior said. "For me, I think it's a no-brainer. I know it's tough with the Veterans Committee because they want to try to keep it an exclusive club. Hopefully, they'll find it in their hearts that he is deserving and that he belongs. I think we'll all be praying for him because he deserves it."
Santo, who turned 67 on Sunday, has made it no secret how much he wants to be in the Hall of Fame.
"Ron's pretty resilient," Prior said. "He'll get over it, but we hope he doesn't have to get over it. He's definitely well deserving of the honor. I think that will be an awesome day to see him get up there and give a speech at Cooperstown."
Cubs manager Lou Piniella feels Santo is deserving.
"He was the dominant player at that position in his era," Piniella said. "He's a good ambassador for baseball. He's got all the qualifications."
Arms race: Angel Guzman, Carlos Marmol, Juan Mateo and Jason Marquis were among the pitchers who threw to hitters Monday, and some made a good impression on Piniella, who said he's impressed at the quality of arms in camp. Guzman and Sean Gallagher, a 12th-round pick in 2004, made good impressions.
"Guzman looked good," Piniella said of the right-hander, whose career has been slowed by injuries. "The ball really comes out of his hand nice and easy. He's got good movement. It was impressive. The other kid [Gallagher] hasn't been pitching all that long, but he had really good stuff."
Catcher Henry Blanco can see a difference in Guzman, who tuned up by making five starts in winter ball in Venezuela.
"It's a big difference from last year," Blanco said of the right-hander, who was 4-4 with a 4.04 ERA in 15 starts last season at Triple-A Iowa and 0-6 with a 7.39 ERA in 15 games with the big-league team. "His velocity is back; he has better command."
Angels in the outfield: Relays and cutoff throws were the order of business Monday. Alfonso Soriano did just fine in center field. Expect to see him there a lot this spring. Piniella was asked if he was concerned about the outfield defense.
"The answer is no but with one reservation -- let's see how we line them up," he said. "It shouldn't be. We've got some athleticism. We've got [Matt] Murton and [Cliff] Floyd, who are basically left fielders. Then we've got two other kids in the outfield who are very athletic, [Jacque] Jones and Soriano. I told Jones today to take a few balls in center field from time to time."
Soriano will get the most playing time in center.
"He's getting good jumps off the ball and reading it well," Piniella said. "The games will tell more than anything else. The big thing is he's willing to do it, he's willing to try it, and he feels comfortable out there.
"I wouldn't call [the outfield defense] iffy, I really wouldn't," Piniella said. "Are we going to have the best outfield defense in baseball? Probably not. We're certainly more than capable of making all the plays, the routine plays, and a few extra, and that's what we're going to strive for."
Extra bases: Expect Kerry Wood to get in a Cactus League game early next week. ... Marmol showed his quick reflexes when he dodged a comebacker during live batting practice. The pitchers did not have screens to protect them Monday. ... Catcher Michael Barrett is popular with the Fitch Park grounds crew. For the second straight year, he treated them to lunch. ... The "Race to Wrigley Field" 5-kilometer run will be held March 31. Pre-registration is $30, and on-site registration is $35. Participation will be limited to 5,000 runners.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.