Spring Training Miscellany: Angels 7, Cubs 5 – Mills and Smith Debut, Russell Bombs, More

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Spring Training Miscellany: Angels 7, Cubs 5 – Mills and Smith Debut, Russell Bombs, More

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

It’s not a tie! I’ll take it.

The Cubs lost 7-5 to the Angels today at Sloan Park, as an unfinished 6th inning by non-roster invitee Maikel Cleto led to five hits, a walk, a wild pitch, and four runs. That came after the regulars had exited the game.

  • Alec Mills made his Cubs debut as the starter in this one, and went two innings loaded with weak contact. A few of those balls in play went for hits – as they sometimes do – but he wasn’t being squared up. Mills was around the zone, generally looked like he had good command, and had good velocity on his fastball, too (hit 93mph). The stuff did not look overwhelming, though I did see what looked like a very sharp slider. All in all, for those who didn’t see, I would best describe the performance as not overwhelming in either direction. He looked … fine. And I truly don’t mean that in an overly praising or overly criticizing way.
  • Rule 5’er Caleb Smith made his debut in relief of Mills, and he looked like a guy who would be an imposing presence against fellow lefties. He has a bit of a 3/4 delivery, and definitely brings some good velocity and a nice breaking pitch. I can see why the Cubs are looking at him as a reliever after his conversion there late last year. I still think it’s going to be tough for him to make the bullpen on Opening Day, but he’s surely in that lefty mix. Even the homer he gave up to powerful C.J. Cron came on a well-located low fastball, as did the following deep drive. Maybe that’s actually a bad sign, but we’ll see. All I can say is that I liked the look of the guy. #NotAScout
  • Fellow lefty Brian Duensing (currently signed to a big league deal, but at $2 million, he’s not making so much that his job is guaranteed if he’s not going to improve the pen) went two innings in this one, which is interesting. Although he’s been a full-inning guy for much of his post-starting days, he was dramatically better against lefties than righties two of the past three years. I would assume he’s mostly being viewed as a LOOGY contender, but two innings today. Like I said. It’s interesting. In Spring Training, though, given that guys need various things simply to get them into position for the season, I try not to read too much into things like that.
  • On the positional side, the Cubs got another homer from Addison Russell, which is fun. Bring that power, young man. Matt Szczur had yet another hit (it was a triple that was slightly mis-played in right, but he also really got ahold of it).
  • It was more of the same (so far) for Jason Heyward in this one: I like some of what I’m seeing in the revamped swing, but the hard contact hasn’t been there consistently. Yet? Hopefully yet. His final out on the day was a reasonably well-struck fly ball that made it to the track in right – carried a lot further than I thought it would off the bat. Could be one of those where a little exit velocity data would help us a bit to quantify whether it was harder than it looked. But we don’t have it in the Spring consistently. Sorry.
  • Albert Almora had a double, and also did what he does in center field with a nice catch up against the wall.
  • It was rainy all day before the game, but actually got rather beautiful just before the game began:

  • And the ground clearly dried up enough for extra running:

  • Some upcoming pitching details:

  • You can do some good on Friday if you’re in the area:


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.