Spring Training Miscellany: Walk-Off Blast Wins It! Byrd, Leiter, Rucker, Ueckert, Givens, Rivas, More

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Spring Training Miscellany: Walk-Off Blast Wins It! Byrd, Leiter, Rucker, Ueckert, Givens, Rivas, More

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs were down two in the bottom of the 9th in this one when Alfonso Rivas singled, Jacob Wetzel doubled, and then 2019 24th rounder Grayson Byrd walked the Cubs off. Spring Training baseball is wild and fun, isn’t it?



⇒ Jack Leiter Jr. got the start and went three innings without allowing an earned run. He’s most likely to head to Iowa to pitch in the Triple-A rotation until needed, but as discussed this morning, he does have a minor league option remaining. So if and when he is added to the 40-man roster, the Cubs can shuttle him up and down as necessary to cover innings and maybe make some fill-in starts.

⇒ Michael Rucker kinda gets short shrift when we talk about the bullpen options, but he flashed impact stuff at times last year (and there’s a reason he was a buzzy guy a couple years ago). It was just that he’d show you eye-popping stuff for one outing, and then go a few looking pretty pedestrian. We’ll see if he’s looking better overall this year – certainly looked it today, with two dominant innings and three strikeouts.

⇒ Cayne Ueckert’s appearance: A couple hits (including a comebacker), a sac bunt, and then he was pulled mid-inning after just six pitches with no one ready in the bullpen. Obviously David Ross spotted something wasn’t quite right after Ueckert was hit by a comebacker, though it wasn’t clear on the broadcast what, if anything, Ueckert was actually feeling (because he made the sac bunt play thereafter). Hopefully it’s not a real issue, because that’s a studly bullpen arm you want to keep developing.

⇒ Most of the Cubs’ regulars this spring aren’t hitting at all. Tends not to mean much, but you do want to see guys having their timing in a good place. The youngsters keep hitting, though. Owen Caissie picked up another couple hits off the bench.

⇒ Mychal Givens made his Cubs debut after a bit of a spring delay:

⇒ I would now call it TBD whether Givens is ready in time for Opening Day.

⇒ If you missed it, Seiya Suzuki notched hit number two, and dinger number two, for the Cubs this spring (and the bow at third base – love it):

⇒ It’s just such a quick and casual swing, with the ball JUMPING off the bat. That’s pretty special. Doesn’t mean he’ll rake immediately, because there’s a lot more to hitting than having that kind of easy power. But, well, that helps.

⇒ Don’t worry. Frank will turn it on in time for the regular season:

⇒ Speaking of first base, Alfonso Rivas is such a great player to have around. I don’t know exactly what shape his contributions will take for the Cubs over the next few years, but they’re coming. Assuming he’s optioned to Iowa to start the season, I hope he continues to see time in left field (and maybe right, too?) to try to see if he can at least be passable out there. As a first baseman only, his profile might be a little tough to find a long-term fit. But as a utility guy/bench bat who can handle first and the corner outfield spots? That’s worth a roster spot long-term.

⇒ Willson Contreras had a touch of frustration today:

⇒ Meanwhile, in old friends whose situations I just can’t help myself but track closely … Since the White Sox share a spring park with the Dodgers, Craig Kimbrel was able to join his new team immediately and get right into a game. And, um, well:

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.