Sure, it’s just Spring Training, and sure, it’s the first really convincing win the Cubs have had in a while, but … TAKE THAT, WHITE SOX!
- So, Chris Rusin really wants to make this fifth starter decision difficult. He put together yet another lights out performance (against a weak, but pretty regular White Sox lineup), allowing just two hits (no walks) over five scoreless innings. He struck out three. I could see the merit in letting Rusin get the job and run with it, but I still tend to think it should go to Carlos Villanueva (who is also pitching quite well of late). Villanueva cannot be optioned out like Rusin, and leaves an opening in the bullpen if he’s in the rotation (an opening that might be needed to carry a guy like Alberto Cabrera for a while, rather than exposing him to waivers). Also, Villanueva is a swing guy, so it’s pretty easy to swing him right back into the bullpen when Jake Arrieta returns, even if he’s pitching well. If Rusin has thrown two dominant starts at that point? Another tough decision (albeit one you’d love to have). I’m not sure there’s a clearly wrong answer here, because I’m certainly not complaining if Rusin gets a shot.
- Speaking of Cabrera, he threw another scoreless frame, walking one and striking one out. I think he’s going to wind up in this bullpen.
- Brian Schlitter and Jonathan Sanchez also threw scoreless (hitless and walkless, too) frames, striking out one and two, respectively. I don’t see either landing a job in the pen out of Spring Training without an injury or a trade, but, hey, the more good performances the merrier.
- The positional side of the day was full of stories. There was the Javy Baez injury, which we’ve already discussed.
- Then you had Luis Valbuena going off to the tune of two homers in three at bats (and a sparkling play over at third, too). I’ve carried the banner for Valbuena before, and I’m not going to stop now – he’s a great player to have on the team, and I think he could actually be an above average starter at third base (or at least in a platoon). But, he’s running into a buzz saw …
- And buzz saw, thy name is Mike Olt. Another day and another couple hits for Olt, including a double. He also walked once in his four plate appearances. It’s a small sample and it’s just the Spring and all that, but the guy is locked in right now. If he can play good defense at third base (shoulder issue), then he’s gotta be the guy at this point, right? I’ll still fall back on my thought that a month at Iowa to continue getting his footing wouldn’t be a terrible idea, but this is a guy who’s winning a job. It’s rare in Spring Training, but it’s happening right now.
- How about this: Junior Lake had two hits, including a double, and took a walk. No strikeouts. That’s the day we’ve been waiting for for a long time from him (and the kind of day that will make me look a little stupid for saying some things I did in a podcast episode recorded earlier in the day and not yet published). It’s just one day, but here’s hoping it’s the start.