The Cubs dropped their inaugural game at Cubs Park against the Diamondbacks today, setting their fake Spring season off to an inauspicious start. Among the interesting performance notes:
- Starlin Castro ripped two hits today, one to left and one to right center. He does look a bit stronger, and he was right on the ball (still in his wide open stance, by the way). It’s obviously as early as it gets, but that’s a nice early return.
- Justin Grimm looked particularly sharp in his inning of work, sitting in the mid-90s with a very sharp slider. Theo Epstein was in the booth a couple innings later saying very complimentary things about him. Grimm gave up a single and struck out one in his scoreless inning.
- Pedro Strop was all over the place, which has been his bugaboo in the past. That’s why the Cubs were able to get him at all from the Orioles, so I guess you take the good with the bad.
- New relievers Wesley Wright and Jose Veras were charged with all of the damage today. I didn’t think Wright looked all that bad, and it’s worth remembering that his in-season role will probably skew lefty specialist, rather than whole-inning setup dude.
- Hector Rondon struck out the side in his inning, and he may be picking up right where he left off in the second half last year when he was quietly excellent.
- Mike Olt got two at bats. Eyesight: undetermined. His first at bat was a first pitch pop-up, and his second at bat was a long one where he watched a lot of pitches (and struck out looking).
- Matt Szczur made another diving catch in center field. He really appears to be improving his game out there. In his post-draft days, I recall reading that it was his athleticism – not necessarily his ball-reading, route-taking, etc. – that allowed him to be a serviceable outfielder. As he gets more experience and gets better and better overall, he could turn into a very good defensive center fielder, and that could get him to the big leagues as a 4th outfielder, perhaps next year.
- I discussed Jeff Samardzija’s performance earlier.