As dominantly as the Cubs’ split squads performed yesterday, they showed the other side of the coin today, dropping both games.
- It would be easy to look at Scott Baker’s results today and conclude that his recovery from Tommy John surgery is not going well. He lasted just one-third of an inning, giving up three earned runs on three hits and two walks. He hit his pitch count limit before he got his second out, and his day was over. But let’s keep this in perspective: Baker was pitching in an actual game against a real opponent for the first time in a year, and for the first time since the surgery. Some yips are to be expected, and that’s really all we should conclude at this point. (The camera angle sure didn’t help our evaluation, since there was no centerfield cam.) We’ll see how he feels tomorrow – I care far more about that. (He also just missed a called third strike to the second batter, which would have netted a strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play, immediately before Chris Young hit a three-run homer.)
- Casey Coleman cleaned up nicely for Baker, with 1.2 clean innings, striking out two. I know I keep saying it, but I’m going to be very interested to see what Coleman looks like at AAA now that he’s been converted into a full-time reliever. I think there’s real potential there, assuming whatever that injury was at the end of last year doesn’t have lingering/permanent effects.
- Over against the Rangers, Carlos Villanueva had another rough start – four hits and three walks in his four innings (3 ER). I don’t think there’s any reason to worry, but, that’s what happened.
- Rafael Dolis also threw a nice 1.1 innings, though I still don’t think he’s a threat to make the bullpen right now. Cory Wade has his first really ugly outing (3 ER on 3 H and 1 BB in 2 IP), and Jason Berken (yup, he’s still around) got beat up by the A’s as well. Jensen Lewis also gave up three earned runs in 0.2 innings. The A’s bats were just ferocious, I guess.
- Javier Baez had a mere double and a single today, so I can see why he’s being cut from the Spring roster. Hell, he struck out twice.
- Brent Lillibridge hit a massive homer as well as a double against the A’s, and Dave Sappelt also had a two-hit (including a homer) day. He’s heated up quite a bit, and Lillibridge has been hot all Spring. You want my guess at the 5th outfielder and the 25th man as of today? It’s these two guys.
- Alberto Gonzalez had another couple hits. I think he’s an extreme longshot for the roster, but if Ian Stewart can’t make the Opening Day team – whether by way of release or a disabled list stint – maybe Gonzalez wins that extra final spot?
- Tim Saunders, a young man who hit like a beast last year after being drafted, even if he was an older prospect who is considered “fringy” by most, had a two-run homer today. So that was cool.
- Trey McNutt, who’s already been cut, threw a scoreless inning (1 H) and struck out two. We could see him mid-season if he really takes to the bullpen thing.