The Cubs had an early lead, but dropped this one late to the Royals 7-6. Old friends Jon Jay and Jorge Soler each had a hit and drove in a run in this one. Were it the regular season, side eyes would be given.
- Ian Happ did not hit a leadoff home run in this game, so I presume the Cubs are reconsidering the leadoff plan.
- Justin Wilson had his first rough inning of the spring, giving up a walk and three hits (striking out one). The pitch tracking mechanism is notoriously wonky in Spring Training, so I won’t use it TOO much to judge. If it was accurate for this one, though, everything that got hit was a middle-middle meatball, but the walk featured a couple close misses. Could be that his command was totally not there. Could be that he was working on something (maybe trying to get middle up, but not quite getting there). Could be nothing at all, and the Royals just knocked some good ones. If it were anyone but Wilson, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed.
- Sounds like it was an especially rough control day for Dillon Maples, who was giving up hard contact, missing his catcher, walking guys, and hitting guys. You can only tell so much in audio and in print, but it is probably one he’ll want to try to shake off quickly. Maples has big league caliber pitches. GOOD big league caliber pitches. But the command has to be at least passable for it to matter. Not good. Just passable. He made it work last year for the first time in his professional career as he rocketed up through the system from A-ball to the big leagues. But assuming he will automatically still have it working right out of the shoot this year is probably unfair to him. Consistency takes time.
- If Maples doesn’t make the bullpen out of the gate, and if the Cubs decide not to hang onto Justin Grimm, might someone like Eddie Butler be a surprising final bullpen addition? He’s not a reliever by trade, but he’s out of options, and if the Cubs have an open spot and don’t want to lose him on waivers for nothing …
- Alec Mills pitched a couple scoreless innings at the top of this one against his old mates. After a season lost to injury last year, it would be nice to see him healthy out of the gate at AAA Iowa to see what the Cubs might have in him as a depth starter. Remember, he was a well-regarded swing-guy-type when the Cubs traded Donnie Dewees to get him before last season.
- Randy Rosario, who figures to begin the season at AA or AAA, pitched a couple scoreless innings to finish the game. He has yet to give up a run this spring, and you’ll recall that he was one of the Cubs’ early waiver claims this offseason – and survived the whole way. I reckon the Cubs like him.
- Meanwhile, Jon Lester got in his work elsewhere:
#Cubs Lester tuned up vs Triple-A Reno in Scottsdale today, throwing 89 pitches over 5 1/3 innings. He gave up 8 H 3 ER 1 BB. Struck out 6
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 14, 2018