Cubs Practice: The Return of (Good) Jason Heyward? (VIDEOS)

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One day after Jon Lester had his Cactus League debut, fellow ace-type pitcher Jake Arrieta made his debut on his birthday.  This is all part of the plan to delay the debut of the major players in the Chicago Cubs rotation, saving their bullets for the games that matter in the regular season and October.  For what seems like a new, welcome pattern now, the Cubs’ bats continued to be on fire, but then again, it’s spring training when all the pitchers are working on something and/or suck, so take everything with a grain of salt.

We’ll run through the major players…

  • The Cubs ran out their potential regular season lineup, with Kyle Schwarber leading off followed by Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo (after a few days off due to a stiff back), and Ben Zobrist.  I guess it’s not surprising that everyone got at least one hit in this group, including a triple that was almost a homer from Schwarber, who showed that his knee was just fine.

It must have been the sun, because you’d think Mike Trout would have been able to catch that. Never underestimate Schwarber power!

  • Jake Arrieta started the game and got in his two innings.  Jake had an outing similar to Lester’s from Sunday, in which he had a clean first inning but then got squared up a bit in the second inning.

It didn’t help that Schwarber had a goof in left field, but better to get those hiccups out of the way now.

  • Albert Almora had his left calf flare up while taking the field in the first inning and was lifted before his plate appearance in the top of the second.

  • Pitching depth guy and future back-of-rotation hopeful Eddie Butler had a mixed outing, giving up a couple runs.  It didn’t help that the defense seemed to fall asleep at some point and gave up a delayed steal of home.  Oh well.  He still got through two innings, and by then the rout was on.
  • Munenori Kawasaki, a long shot to make the roster out of spring due to how packed it is, but still a good guy, had a pretty good day with two hits, including this:

  • The guy you probably want to hear more about is Jason Heyward, who was 0-for before today.  You knew he was going to break out at some point given the reviews of his batting practice swing and what we’ve heard from the front office and coaching staff.  So today was splendid for us Heyward believers…

But wait, he’s not done!

He did foul out and ground out to second (ewwww) as well, but the sound of the ball coming off the bat sure is different relative to what we experienced last year. At least the glove still works, right?

We obviously would want to see more of this, and for the new swing to translate to positive results in the month of April, before we get too excited, but good results are better than bad results.

  • Prospect-y things: Ryan Williams pitched two clean innings, and Jeimer Candelario was back in the game as a substitute after having to leave a game this weekend on a hit-by-pitch.  The Cubs also played Ian Happ, Eloy Jimenez, and Jacob Hannemann, probably just giving the kids more exposure before they’re sent back to minor league camp once the regulars hit their stride.

The Cubs will host Team Italy on Tuesday before a scheduled day off on Wednesday.  As you know, Javier Baez has left the team to play for Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, but enough guys are left over to make this exhibition game very intriguing for us fans.



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About Rice Cube

Rice Cube is the executive vice president of snark at World Series Dreaming. He loves all things Cubs, with notable exceptions (specifically, the part of Cubs fandom that pisses him off). Follow on Twitter at cubicsnarkonia

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