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A Chicago Cubs Fan Community Since February 9, 2005

Updated: 2018-02-24T18:10:01-06:00


Cubs 6, Rangers 1: Power, defense and speed


The Cubs used all of the above to post their first spring win. MESA, Arizona — Once again, do not let the sunshine in the photo of Anthony Rizzo above fool you. It was just 55 degrees at game time, which might be the coldest temperature I can remember for any spring training game I’ve attended. The sunshine made it feel nice on the berm at Sloan Park, though, and the Cubs’ performance in a 6-1 win over the Rangers made everyone feel good. Javier Baez started the show with a couple of sparkling defensive plays in the early innings. There was no TV of this game and no video available, so let me see if I can describe these Javy highlights for you. With two out in the first inning and a runner on first base, Nomar Mazara bounced a ball over Rizzo’s head that appeared headed for right field. Javy raced over, dived and stopped it as Rizzo headed back to the bag, and threw Mazara out. The play at first wasn’t particularly close, either. Then, in the third inning, this time with a runner on first and one out, Jurickson Profar bounced a ball off Cory Mazzoni’s glove. Javy, who was headed toward the bag for a possible double play, speared the ball and made one of those cross-body throws that he makes that you can’t possibly believe they’re going to be accurate, but this one was, as it usually is. Once again, the play at first wasn’t particularly close. The Rangers had taken a 1-0 lead in the second when Eddie Butler got himself in trouble with walks. He walked the first two hitters he faced. Willson Contreras threw one of them out, but there was a scary moment at second base. Javy and Addison Russell appeared to have their signs crossed on who was supposed to cover, and they nearly collided. Fortunately, no one was injured, and Addy caught the throw for the out. A single then put runners on first and third, and got Butler out of the game. Mazzoni’s first pitch got away from Contreras for a passed ball to score the run. But the Cubs got those runs back and more in the fourth. Kris Bryant had a really nice at-bat off Rangers reliever Connor Sadzeck, fouling off several pitches and then drawing a walk. Rizzo followed with a two-run homer to left-center, and Contreras made it back-to-back to almost the same spot on the left-field berm. After that it was farewell to major leaguers and Cubs non-roster guys and minor leaguers played the rest of the afternoon. The Cubs got two nice innings out of Luke Farrell, who struck out three, and those were actual Rangers major leaguers before they, too, made their substitutions. Dillon Maples showed off a good fastball in his one inning of work; he allowed a double and a walk, but then induced a nice double-play ball, a bouncer in front of the plate picked up by Taylor Davis, who threw to third for a force play, and then Jason Vosler got the runner at first to end the inning. The Cub subs put a pair on the board in the sixth on a single by Ryan Court, a walk to David Bote and an infield hit and a throwing error with Charcer Burks at bat. Court doubled with one out in the eighth and after a hit by Bote, Burks beat a relay throw to first and Court scored. Court also made a couple of nice plays in the field and stole a base. Obviously it’s early but this is the guy I’d much rather have stashed at Iowa as an infield injury replacement than Mike Freeman. Don’t read too much into the Cubs’ win today; other than Jose Leclerc, who threw a 1-2-3 third, not one of the Rangers relievers who went in this game have any real chance to make their 25-man roster. For that matter, we’re two games in and have yet to see any Cubs reliever who’s going to be on the 25-man. Perhaps tomorrow. Oscar De La Cruz threw the ninth, and he showed off a pretty good fastball. He issued a walk, which really should have been a strikeout as plate umpire Kerwin Danley was calling a pretty tight zone. Sloan Park was pretty much as it was a year ago; there’s a new “Jim Beam” sponsored bar in the left-field corner and old Chicago favorite Portillo’s is no longer sponsoring the Italian [...]

Brewers 2, Cubs 1: It don’t matter now


Spring training has started, even though the weather doesn’t agree. PHOENIX, Arizona — By the time the Cubs’ 2-1 loss to the Brewers in the Cactus League opener ended, just before 4 p.m. local time, it was downright cold and sprinkles began to fall at Maryvale Baseball Park. Honestly, it would have been a fine weather day for a Cubs home opener, but for spring training? Temperatures not getting out of the 50s, when the average high this time of year is 73? Yuck. A ragtag squad of mostly Cubs minor leaguers lost to a Brewers team featuring several of their regulars, playing likely because it was a Milwaukee home game and the game was being televised back to the folks in Wisconsin. Kyle Schwarber debuted his new svelte form by walking and striking out in two plate appearances before heading out; he had no fielding chances. The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Mike Freeman singled, advanced to second on an infield out and scored on a single by Tommy La Stella [VIDEO]. src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> TLS looked good at the plate and made a nice fielding play, too. There’s no doubt he could start at second or third base for some teams; he’s a nice bench player to have for this edition of the Cubs. Michael Roth, who’s likely going to be in the Iowa rotation this year, threw two decent innings. Rob Zastryzny relieved him and should have been out of his inning 1-2-3, except for an error by Freeman. I’ve been down on Freeman for some time, and this is why. The Cubs usually stash someone at Iowa just in case of injury, as happened to Addison Russell last year. Freeman came to the major leagues last August and didn’t play well defensively, and games like today are for evaluation. Truth be told, I’d rather see Ryan Court, who finished the game at shortstop, get some reps in the field to see if he can be that guy instead of Freeman. Rob Z got out of his inning on this spectacular diving grab [VIDEO] by Ian Happ. src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> If Happ doesn’t catch that ball, three runs score, as the Brewers had the bases loaded. For his part at the plate, Happ, who might get some consideration in the leadoff spot he occupied Friday, he was 0-for-2. Dario Alvarez, who’s vying for a spot as one of the “Iowa shuttle” relievers, did not have a good debut. The first three Brewers reached against him, the third being a two-run triple by Eric Sogard. Before that, Alvarez and Victor Caratini had also allowed a stolen base by Hernan Perez. Those two runs were all the Brewers needed, as Joe Maddon emptied his bench after the middle innings. The Cubs managed just two hits and a couple other baserunners on errors, walks and hit by pitches after the third inning, and did have the tying and lead runs in scoring position with two out in the eighth, but “best beard in camp” Ali Solis flied to center to end that threat. The headline of this post is just to let you know that nothing that happened Friday really matters that much. Almost all of the guys who are going to be starting for the Cubs stayed back in Mesa for batting practice, and many of them should be in Saturday’s home spring opener against the Rangers. Other than that... it was still great to get back out to the ballpark for baseball, a few days short of four months since I was last at a ballgame. Seems like a longer offseason than just four months, doesn’t it? The smallish crowd of 4,489 seemed about half Cubs fans, and now that extensive renovations are planned for Maryvale Baseball Park (check out the renderings, it looks pretty cool) after the Brewers finish this spring season, I’ll probably make another trip out there in 2019. Saturday, Eddie B[...]