Cubs Practice: The Grinder (VIDEOS)

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With Javier Baez still hanging out with Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic (and doing quite well, mind you), the Chicago Cubs rolled out a modified Sunday lineup that looked very much like what they could use on Opening Day:

As you can see, Joe Maddon is rigging this for the pitcher batting eighth on the regular.  Spring training allows for the Cubs to throw some extra plate appearances at guys like Matt Szczur, who needs to convince the front office to keep him around or at least show other teams that he’s valuable.  Here are some notes from the Cubs contest against the Oakland A’s, who are now squatting the Cubs’ old home at Hohokam Park:

  • Jake Arrieta got through three relatively trouble-free innings, although he caused all the jams because of some wildness.  He did strike out five guys, but walked three to explain how he could give up an earned run without even giving up a hit.  So Jake was unhittable, technically speaking.

Jake had some things to say about his random loss of command after starting off so well…

But hey, like he said, at least the games don’t count right now.  And Jake left the game feeling just fine.

  • Koji Uehara was first out of the bullpen and gave up two annoying infield hits, but no runs.
  • Kris Bryant is still very good at baseball, with a couple run-scoring hits.  The big one was this:

Bryant has been trying to hit with power towards the opposite field, and this certainly qualifies.

  • Bryant’s souvenir company co-founder, Anthony Rizzo, also had a hit.  Rizzo’s was a two-run double before he left the game for a pinch-runner.

He also fouled off a ball that broke a window:

  • Jason Heyward did not have any hits, but did drive a couple fly balls deep to the outfield, so let’s call that a win for now.
  • Arrieta’s new personal catcher for the year, Miguel Montero, got on base three times with a walk and two solid hits.
  • As mentioned before, Matt Szczur is out of options and needs to earn his place on the team.  Right now it’s between him and Tommy La Stella.  While I think Tommy ultimately gets the nod, Szczur had two hits and a walk to at least make the front office think about it.
  • Albert Almora had good at-bats despite not getting the results.  The grinding approach was a hallmark for everyone in the lineup.
  • Oh yeah, and you know the new leadoff hitter, Kyle Schwarber?  Another triple, scoring two runs.  The triple would have been a home run if the batter’s eye hadn’t gotten in the way.  Grumble.

  • Justin Grimm relieved Uehara and fired a quiet scoreless fifth inning.  By this time most of the regulars had left the game, and I pretty much stopped keeping track because honestly, it just doesn’t matter.

The Cubs play on Monday against the rebuilding San Diego Padres.  Just a reminder to keep having fun with baseball.  And if you want something sportsy to really care about, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament bracket is out!

 

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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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