Another practice game is out of the way, and since the regulars/MLBers only play half the game, they have time to go out and do good in the community, like Anthony Rizzo and Clark the Cub did yesterday:
Had the opportunity to hang w/ Audrey. This girl, just like all of the other kids around the world battling cancer are a true inspiration. pic.twitter.com/B3mu5zVdXy
— Anthony Rizzo (@ARizzo44) February 26, 2017
Depth piece Jake Buchanan had a pretty good start, generating a bunch of ground balls and generally peppering the zone against the Indians’ mostly-MLB lineup. I couldn’t watch as it was only streamable off MLB.tv (darn lack of paid account), but did get to listen to The Score with Len Kasper and Ron Coomer. Plenty of others were at the park and got to see Buchanan firsthand.
— Bernie Pleskoff (@BerniePleskoff) February 26, 2017
Buchanan is probably something like Plan E on the emergency starter list, but it was nice to see him limit the Indians to a single walk even if it was just spring training. The infield defense, mostly made up of minor leaguers plus Javier Baez, didn’t fail behind him. Matt Szczur, fighting for the final bench spot, had a timely hit to tie the game and had a couple plays on defense. Eloy Jimenez added another hit to his Cactus League statsheet, and the Cubs showed us the goods…
Hitting that niche. pic.twitter.com/wZbXBXBodk
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) February 26, 2017
Jason Heyward got on base against Indians starter Danny Salazar (who has some nasty stuff), showing that he can still gauge the strike zone even if the bat hasn’t heated up just yet. He’s going to need some time to get the wrinkles out before he has any hope of reverting to non-sucking-on-offense Heyward mode. Alas, he didn’t stay on base long…
And what game would be complete without Javy doing Javy things (with a little help from Chesny Young)?
One more before ending his day…
Szczur’s RBI infield hit:
Speaking of starters coming up:
Cubs' probables for next three games: Anderson vs. White Sox, Mills vs. Angels, Butler vs. KC (at Surprise).
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) February 26, 2017
That would be Brett Anderson, who is theoretically slotting in as a “hybrid” fifth starter along with Mike Montgomery, who had a decent albeit lengthy inning in his first start. According to Joe Maddon:
“We can fold one into the bullpen while the other one starts,” Maddon said Saturday. “It’s in theory right now, but we haven’t laid it down on paper. We feel pretty fortunate. You’ve got six guys you like right there. These guys have not been satisfactorily stretched out. We want to keep them both.”
The other guys, Eddie Butler and Alec Mills, will serve as emergency depth and likely stay in Iowa for development until they are needed. It gets me to think about how the Cubs will try to divvy up the innings to keep everyone healthy and fresh, and also how they will keep every guy happy with enough playing time. In particular, Mike Montgomery has something to prove before he becomes arbitration eligible after 2018, and Brett Anderson’s contract is loaded with incentives that he likely wants to hit to get his max contract before he hits the free agent market again. There are plenty of off days in April, especially with the opening series in St. Louis and the home opener at Wrigley just a week later. That means the regulars will have some breathing room, and the Cubs won’t have to create any creative piggyback situations until closer towards the summer.
Might not be able to get to many of the spring training game recaps until after school is done most days, so please bear with us during the week.