Rumors are swirling about the Cubs playing in U.S. Cellular Field in 2013

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Not necessarily strong rumors. Not from any baseball insider types who usually chatter about goings on in MLB.  But this story from NBC Chicago about rumors of the Cubs moving to the south side to play in U.S. Cellular Field while Wrigley Field undergoes a renovation is interesting enough.

To be sure, the story leads with the Cubs’ denial of such a thing, with a spokesman for the Ricketts family saying “I have never heard of a done deal of moving home games to the ‘Cell.'”  But of course, that insertion of “a done deal” is an equivocation, no?  If there were a done deal lots of people would know about it.  What we want to know is if it’s actually being discussed as a realistic option.

Because some folks are discussing it:

Workers at U.S. Cellular tell a different story. They say they  are being warned of a much busier 2013 season (as in, prepare for double the games). Bridgeport bar owners tell a similar story.

Could be empty chatter. As Neil deMause of “Field of Schemes” notes, it could be a trial balloon to gauge public sentiment.  And of course, the Cubs don’t even have renovation money secured yet, so it may all be moot for now.

But it would be interesting seeing the Cubs play in U.S. Cellular Field.  If, for no other reason, we’d get to see if anyone would truly care about them without Wrigley Field as part of the equation.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.