The Cubs introduced their new Spring Training facility to the world with a loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday. The ballpark looks beautiful and as I sit in Illinois, apparently in the bullseye of Winter Storm Titan (it just sounds intimidating), I wish Spring Training would have been on my agenda this year.
It was nice that the first game of Spring Training was televised. I’m always glad when we go from the “(Insert player name here) is in the best shape of their life.” story-lines to game reports. Spring Training games, especially early games are great opportunities to see a lot of the players that we’ve really only heard about or read minor league reports about. Even if you follow the minor leagues pretty closely, at some point you will still say, “Wait, who is that?”
The Cubs lost and were not able to generate much offense, which is something we have become accustomed to. But if you are going to live and die with every win and loss, don’t do it in Spring Training…and don’t do it with the 2014 Cubs. With Spring Training, we look at individuals, so let’s do that now.
Jeff Samardzija got off to a rough start with a four-pitch walk, but settled things down and in his two innings pitched, Samardzija gave up 2 hits, walked 1 and struck out 2. After that first walk, Samardzija looked pretty sharp. We are going to see a driven and focused Samardzija in 2014 and his trade/extension situation will be a main story-line in 2014. Numerous Cubs beat writers commented on the “many” scouts from other teams there at Cubs Park to watch Samardzija.
We talked about the good pitching, so let’s talk about the bad pitching Wesley Wright earned the loss when he came into the game in the 5th inning and gave up 3 runs on 2 hits, including a HBP and a home run. Pedro Strop, will start the season as the set-up man and is the eventual closer. Strop had a real hard time finding the strike zone. He gave up a hit and walked 2 in his inning pitched.
On this week’s episode of the podcast, Brett from Bleacher Nation told us that Mike Olt’s performance at the plate is the story-line he is most interested in this spring. Olt had two at-bats. The first was almost over by the time the CF camera had focused on home-plate. A one-pitch pop-out. In his second at-bat, Olt worked the count and ended up striking out looking (har har).
Also in this week’s podcast episode, Kurt talked about Castro’s and Rizzo’s ability to bounce back from their 2013 seasons. Yes, small sample size (my favorite term to toss around February – April), but Starlin Castro looked very comfortable at the plate. Castro went 2-2 with a single and a double. Although there was no good camera angle, it looks like Castro could have stretched that double into a triple but he apparently took a spill rounding 2nd base.
While we’re talking about the positives, it’s worth mentioning that during his time with Len and JD yesterday, Theo Epstein commented on the morale in the minor league system and said that it’s probably the highest morale he’s seen in his 23 years in baseball.
Today, the Cubs will play the Angels and the new Pat Hughes/Coom Dog broadcast team will bring it to us on WGN 720AM. The game will also be aired on the MLB Network at 12 midnight Central time tonight. So set your DVR’s and watch some more Cubs baseball in the morning.
Here’s the line-up for today’s game vs. the Angels:
Filed under: Spring Training |