So, the sickness that I mentioned coming down with late last week has proved to be hand, foot and mouth disease. (That “disease” word at the end makes it sound more serious than it is.) It’s pretty common for kids to get it, and then they pass it on to their parents. Thing is, most adults get it without any symptoms. If the symptoms hit you, though, it kind of sucks – fever, malaise, wicked sore throat. Eventually you start to get the hallmark symptom: sores on your hands and feet and in your mouth (and on your butt, but I guess they didn’t want to call it hand, foot, mouth and butt disease). So far, my feet and butt appear safe, but my mouth’s got ‘em, and my hands are starting to get them. They kind of hurt, and a couple are on the ends of my fingers, where I type. Kids are awesome, man, but they are just mobile instruments of germ warfare.
- It’s amazing how one loss – one one-run loss – can change your perspective. Had the Cubs won yesterday, they would have been winners of their last three series, and within just five games of .500. As it stands, they’re just 5-5 in their last 10, and just 8-9 in May. Doesn’t sound nearly as good, does it?
- The essence of Travis Wood’s game is summed up in his quote about the two-run homer he gave up on a bad changeup yesterday. “I wish I could have that pitch back,” Wood said, per CSN. “I went with the changeup and was trying to get it down. I just happened to leave it up and he put a good swing on it. As soon as it left my hand, I didn’t like it. I was hoping he would pop it up or something, but he didn’t.” Travis Wood is extremely effective when he’s locating his pitches, and throwing them all with good action. But his stuff is not so overwhelmingly strong – particularly because of the velocity – that he can get away with too many mistakes.
- Wood did extend his consecutive quality start streak to nine to start the season. The last Cub to do that? Three Finger Brown in 1908. He also displayed the athleticism that helps him succeed at the margins – he made a nice play in the field on a comebacker, and hit a two-run homer that cleared the bleachers.
- Sahadev Sharma on Starlin Castro’s early-season struggles, and his increase in pitches per plate appearance this year to a very nice 3.82. That’s about the only thing that has improved this year, though, as Castro’s overall numbers are weak, and his walk rate – 3.7% – is anemic.
- Remember pitching prospect Josh Conway? He was the first round talent whom the Cubs got in the 4th round in 2012 because he’d just undergone Tommy John surgery, and who came back quickly and strong this Spring. He was pitching well in Extended Spring Training until early this month when a “pop” ended his final start. That pop, it turns out, was a fracture in his elbow – one of the bone pieces that was holding his ligament replacement together broke off – which is actually much better news than most feared. Conway told the Herald-Mail that he’ll rehab for about three months before he can start throwing again, which means there’s a chance he might be back in time for instructionals this Fall (or if you’re crazy optimistic, some late-season rookie league action).
- Speaking of Extended Spring Training, TCR/Arizona Phil has your stats update, which you should take with the largest possible grain of salt. The stats, because of the competition and the sample size, are virtually meaningless. But they’re still highly interesting and fun.
- Len Kasper lauds the Anthony Rizzo extension while pondering extensions for Jeff Samardzija and Matt Garza.
- If you’re going to reach for a home run ball and inadvertently spill your beer on your wife in the process, at least catch the ball. Because she’s going to return the favor with her beer.
- Don’t forget: I’m doing a Q&A/chat on Twitter and Facebook today, starting at 1pm CT. Come ready with your questions and we’ll make it fun/informative.