I don’t know off-hand the Cactus League record for ties, but the Cubs are on a quest, today notching their third tie of the spring season.
I’m glad I could see the game today, because there were a ton of performances I wanted to get some eyes on. The rub, of course, is that I have to pull back my own reins – I want to share with you my thoughts on what I saw, but I also don’t want to read too much into a sample of one, much less a sample of one Spring Training game. So, I guess, take everything that follows with a huge grain of salt about the context.
- Jon Lester’s spring debut was a couple innings, and although he gave up some hard hits in the second inning, he was pounding the zone, and basically just getting in his work. An aside – from which I don’t want you to take anything at all, I just thought it was interesting – after Lester got four quick outs: he got the next batter to two strikes, shook off Willson Contreras about five times, they had a mound meeting at which Lester said what he wanted to throw, and the next pitch was slapped hard the other way. It was a reminder that these two will continue to develop their working relationship, and this is part of that process (not the result, mind you – just having these little moments moves the ball forward, so to speak).
- Wade Davis made his debut, and while I don’t want to alarm anyone about a Spring performance, it was full of a lot of meatball pitches that got smacked around (and a walk). Davis didn’t finish his inning, as Joe Maddon came out for what appeared to be a friendly chat and sent Davis in for the day. With veteran players like Davis, you just can’t take anything away from a performance like this, even when you can see the pitches were not good. Who knows what the plan was for him – it was “just go out there and warm up your arm” for all we know. As long as he’s where he needs to be come April and feels physically fine, I don’t really even care if the pitches look like BP fastballs all Spring long.
- Koji Uehara, by contrast, looked really good. He’s not a blazing fastball guy at this point, obviously, but it had it’s usual good ride, and the swings against him didn’t look strong. Justin Grimm also made his Spring debut and looked good.
- Rule 5 lefty Caleb Smith gave up a lot of hard contact, including two homers. Alec Mills didn’t get great results, but overall, I do like what I’ve seen from him so far in his two outings. Not overwhelming stuff, but the potential to achieve that back-of-the-rotation upside seems very legit.
- The Cubs’ big offensive blows came on a grand slam by Albert Almora, and a two-run shot by Willson Contreras. Tommy La Stella also took one the opposite way in the first inning.
- Jeimer Candelario was doing his thing again today, notching two more hits, before he left the game after a hit by pitch. Unfortunately, the pitch caught him completely flush on the lower left leg, just above the ankle, where there’s not much meat to protect the bone. He walked off with some assistance, but I don’t think we’re going to know much of anything until there’s an X-ray (or a decision that no X-ray is necessary). And, even then, a bone bruise can be a nagging thing for a little while. Hopefully everything will be fine, because not only is Candelario excellent insurance for the Cubs’ bats at the corners, he’s got the potential to break out even further at AAA this year – putting himself in position for a great many possible future paths.
- Speaking of prospects with potential leg injuries and a positive outcome: a fun moment late in the game for Jacob Hannemann, who fouled one off of his own leg (always a dreaded one), was down for a little bit, but then got back in the box, and really rocketed a single on the next pitch. Hannemann, 25, has dealt with various injury issues in his time in the Cubs’ organization, which, coupled with a late start on baseball in college, have probably slowed his development a little bit. And yet, he has still shown enough ability to be added to the 40-man roster this past offseason, figures to start the season at AAA Iowa, and is part of a very talented group of outfielders there. With good base running ability and plus defense, it’s not at all hard to see a big league future for him if the bat takes just a small step forward this year.
- Really enjoyed watching this dude today. Just has a big-league-lookin’, very confident swing:
Ian Happ pic.twitter.com/uXeANaxX2K
— John Arguello (@CubsDen) March 5, 2017
- The back of those shirts, by the way, is freaking amazing:
Need to get me a shirt with this logo pic.twitter.com/avdFSMxnnf
— John Arguello (@CubsDen) March 5, 2017
- Following these Spring Training games on Gameday is advised only as a way to entertain yourself:
It's Spring Training for Gameday, too. pic.twitter.com/XEEJ7AeLSX
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) March 5, 2017