Spring Training Miscellany: Cubs Lead the Spring, Joc Crushes Again, Williams Solid, Strop Returns, More

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Spring Training Miscellany: Cubs Lead the Spring, Joc Crushes Again, Williams Solid, Strop Returns, More

Chicago Cubs

You already know the big fun from today’s game, with Rafael Ortega hitting a walk-off grand slam (in the 7th inning). It was a 9-8 win for the Cubs, who extended their Cactus League lead to a full game over the Royals. Clearly, the Cubs are the best around.

Trevor Williams generally looked good again today, throwing three innings, allowing a single run on back-to-back doubles. He struck out two and walked one.

Craig Kimbrel looked pretty meh again today (which I don’t mean in a good or bad way – just meh), giving up a long homer to Matt Chapman on a 94 mph dickball:

There’s very little Kimbrel could do this spring that would leave me massively worried about his coming regular season, though the velocity not coming up would be the big one, as we’ve discussed.

I liked what I saw from Dillon Maples today, despite the run given up. It came on a bouncer that went off of Maples glove, and then a double on a really odd pitch call – an elevated slider at the shoulders? he put it up where it was called, but that’s maybe just a spring experiment. Otherwise, he was pounding the zone again. That’s really all I want to see from him this spring.

Joc Pederson’s scorching spring continues, with a double off the wall and this shot:

I have thought to myself that Pederson’s stance looked different than I remembered, but I’d been chalking it up to (1) the camera angles in the spring, and (2) me not really being as familiar with him pre-2021 as I would be a Cubs player. But actually, it does look like the open stance is not just a camera angle artifact, and he’s more hunched over, too. You can really see the difference here:

Eric Sogard debuted with an RBI single:

Heh:

The MVP Vote Getter is up to live batting practice:

And we’ve been wondering where Brad Wieck has been – he’s also throwing live BP:

Pedro Strop is back with the team after his COVID protocol violation. I guess there was enough time between risked exposure and multiple negative tests? Seems quick, but certainly helps with his chances to win a job in the bullpen (which was already a longer shot than many of the other competitors). I don’t want to linger on this, but it remains really disappointing. Strop will hopefully get into some spring action before too long so that the Cubs can better evaluate where he is.

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Author: Brett Taylor

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