Extra bases

• If Thursday was Opening Day, Starlin Castro would be in the Cubs' lineup, but because it's early March, the shortstop is still rehabbing. Castro has been sidelined since Feb. 27 with a tight hamstring. He could return Monday, or the team may take advantage of Tuesday's off-day and give him one more day before having him play Wednesday.

"If it was Opening Day, he'd be playing," manager Dale Sveum said. "I don't think he has to worry about his job."

Brent Lillibridge, who injured his groin on Feb. 27, also is projected to return to the lineup either Monday or Wednesday.

• Scott Baker threw 31 pitches over two innings of a simulated game on Thursday, and the next step will be to pitch in a Minor League game. If all goes well, the right-hander, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, would then make his first Cactus League appearance.

"He got up to 89 miles an hour today in the second inning and let it go today a lot more," Sveum said of Baker's velocity. "He felt good, finished good. It all went really well, especially the second inning when he cranked it up a little bit."

 

• Rule 5 Draft pick Hector Rondon continues to impress. He gave up one hit and struck out one in one inning on Wednesday against the Rangers. He has given up two hits over four innings in four outings this spring.

"His fastball was OK, but it was impressive how he snapped off the breaking balls that he's been working on," Sveum said. "It wasn't really in his tool box coming into spring, and [pitching coach Chris Bosio] has been working on a little bit better breaking ball. [Rondon] pulled them off in some key spots."

• Defending champion David DeJesus advanced to the elite eight in the Cubs bunting tournament, beating Castro. DeJesus needed 35 points in the final round to beat Castro, and perfectly placed his bunts, hitting the "20" mark, then the "10," then the "5."

Edwin Jackson also advanced, upsetting Casey Coleman, who won the pitchers' side of the bracket last year, then lost to DeJesus in the finals. Jackson will face the winner of the Sweet 16 match between strength coach Tim Buss and pitcher Hisanori Takahashi.

The other Elite Eight pairings include Michael Brenly vs. Edwin Maysonet and Blake Parker vs. video staffer Nate Halm.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.