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arizona cactusThe Cubs lost another late lead (1-0 in the 7th, so kinda), and lost to the Reds at Sloan Park today 5-2. They fall to 0-2-1 on the Spring.

But we care far less about that than the things …

  • Jon Lester’s debut went about as well as you could possibly hope – by which I mean, he threw his two innings and then went to the bullpen to get in additional work. Because he was so efficient he needed it. Because he felt good. And left the game healthy. That’s what I mean about “as well as you could possibly hope.” With an ace veteran in Spring Training, that’s really all that matters. As far as the performance, itself, he mixed pitches, pounded the zone, and gave up only a broken bat blooped single over his two innings of work. He struck out three.
  • Junior Lake had to leave the game early after he knocked his head or face on Brandon Phillips’ leg or foot (details, I’m sure, are forthcoming) while sliding into second. He left under his owner power after being down for a little bit. Hopefully it was nothing serious. The early word from Carrie Muskat is that it was just a contusion – i.e., a bruise – and he’s OK.
  • Javier Baez ripped a ball in his second at bat, which might as well as count as a hit even though it was caught:

  • And in his final at bat, he hit another liner that was snagged for an out. In his first at bat, however, Baez swung through three straight pitches (with hard swings, according to those in attendance) with a runner on third and one out. The final strike was on a high fastball, which was a particular problem for him last year. It’s just one at bat, it’s Spring, and we don’t know what he was told, but that sure seems like a situation you’d like to at least see him working on that reduced, shorter, put-the-ball-in-play swing. As I said, that’ll be something to watch this Spring.
  • Kyle Schwarber got in a little action behind the plate, so that’s cool. He allowed a passed ball from Pedro Strop (why don’t *you* try catching that slider!).
  • Strop, Hector Rondon, and Jason Motte got in scoreless innings of work. Motte was reportedly around 93/94 mph on the gun, which doesn’t tell us a whole lot just yet – some guys start lower in the Spring before building up. All we know for sure is that Motte was around 96/97mph a couple years ago when he was at his best, and, after returning from Tommy John surgery last year, he was more like 94/95 mph.
  • Zac Rosscup is in the lefty mix, and pitched a perfect inning with a strikeout.
  • Brian Schlitter, who appears to be on the outside looking in, had a really rough inning, giving up five runs on four hits (one homer) and a walk. At least he had a couple strikeouts, including a really fun one:

  • Mike Olt worked some deep counts on the day, including a walk after being down 0-2. For the most part, that aspect of his game is not in question – he does it well. The question is whether he can get better at consistently driving hittable pitches. To be determined.
  • Outfield prospect Billy McKinney notched another hit today, and I’m reminded just how awesome that Smokies outfield is going to be this year.
  • Kris Bryant struck out to end the game, and someone somewhere joked about a demotion to AAA Iowa.

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