The weather in Chicago has flipped back to what we might consider “normal” winter temperatures (at least before global climate change), but down in Arizona, it looked really nice out as the Cubs got into some split squad action to open their Cactus League exhibition slate. It is truly baseball season once again, and there are many signs, including:
The wife just yelled at Clark the Cub to wear some pants, so baseball season is back again.
— Rice Cube (@CubicSnarkonia) February 25, 2017
The main goal of this part of the year is for our heroes to stay healthy while getting into game shape for the games that do matter. The game against the A’s was televised, and we saw some early signs of life but also some rust, as both pitchers and hitters were periodically struggling with command and timing.
Mike Montgomery, one of the pitchers vying for the fifth rotation spot, only pitched one inning due to command issues, but did strike out two guys and gave up no hits and no runs. Jason Heyward only had a few plate appearances but appeared to at least generate a different sound with his bat, albeit resulting in outs. It was through the efforts of a few non-regulars, including newcomer Jon Jay, top prospect Ian Happ, and a lucky bounce off the bat of Matt Szczur, that got the Cubs on the board early. New pitching acquisition Brian Duensing also had a clean inning. Anthony Rizzo had a couple of strong at-bats as well, which is always good to see, and the rest of the lineup for the most part grinded out their plate appearances against the A’s. The regulars were pretty much out of the game by the end of the fourth inning. One exciting prospect didn’t do so hot:
Jose Rosario has given up a couple of long balls this inning. Tied 3-3 v A's. Top 4
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) February 25, 2017
In Scottsdale against the Giants, Javier Baez got on base a couple times, including a run-scoring double, before he left the game. As in Mesa, most of the regulars had left the game by the middle innings. Nobody got hurt on either side, except for Willson Contreras, who took a foul ball to the jewels but danced it off.
Available videos include:
Mike Montgomery looking good on a strikeout, even with the couple walks he gave up…
Matt Szczur getting some luck on his run-scoring single…
Jason Heyward hitting the ball hard…but into the ground…but he drove in a run!
Bonus! Cubs prospect Charcer Burks with the go-ahead homer!
And from the other game, Jeimer Candelario with a timely hit to score Javy…
Speaking of Javy, he got to drive in Eloy Jimenez on a hustle double that allowed Eloy to keep going!
Since results don’t really matter, as long as the Cubs get out of each day healthy and in good spirits, I’ll consider it a win and fly the W.