I’m still just so happy about yesterday. Not just the Cubs win, of course, but the fact of getting to do a normal Opening Day at Wrigley Field for the first time in three years. Turns out, I really freaking missed it. Like I said yesterday, there will be ups and downs this year (on and off the field), but I just want to keep myself open to having the fun when it’s offered up. And yesterday, it really was. Thanks to everyone who made it a really special day, including the many folks I got to meet along the way!
• Among the very cool things? Getting to be there in the Wrigley Field (right field!) bleachers as Seiya Suzuki took the field for the first time in Major League Baseball:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 8, 2022
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) April 8, 2022
• He showed off the strong arm a couple times in pretty casual moments, so that was fun to see confirmed. At the plate, he obviously had a good debut, with two walks and a solid single. Not too shabby when your first assignment is facing a guy who has stuff unlike anything you’ve ever faced before:
Seiya Suzuki saw 19 pitches in his 4 PAs today. Said Burnes' cutter was "stuff that I've never seen before."
Was most satisfied with his two walks."
"I was able to be myself. So I just enjoyed the game today," he said via interpreter Toy Matsushita. pic.twitter.com/o0nJli3v1j
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 7, 2022
• Before scoring the first run of the season for the Cubs, Suzuki also showed off his good speed:
• Bryan with an interesting note on the Nico Hoerner homer, which came on a hard slider:
Nico on sliders over 85 mph in 2021: .131 wOBA and 74.2 average exit velo.
Now Burnes hung this one pretty badly, of course, but…
Nico hit it harder than 74 https://t.co/TBWSRhqFJ0
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) April 8, 2022
929 days between home runs.
Worth the wait! pic.twitter.com/TjiIax2xzK
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) April 8, 2022
• That fan’s joy was everyone’s joy, by the way. Hoerner clearly has the ability to take advantage of the alleys at Wrigley Field and hit some homers this year (that was his first homer since 2019), but I’ll be more interested to see that he keeps showing off some hard contact in the air. If it goes out, cool, but I just think his game will play so much better overall if he’s showing that ability. Keep the outfield honest, stay off the ground a little more, and force pitchers to be careful (at which point it’s up to Hoerner to stay within himself, and attack only the pitches he can drive, until he gets to two strikes). That leads to more slugging overall, more walks, AND it can help keep the BABIP elevated.
Javy, just now, “I saw Nico (Hoerner) homered. That was cool….Did they win?”
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) April 8, 2022
• You know Michael was happy he got to tweet this:
Ian Happ casually leading MLB with a 436 wRC+, and it’s clearly sustainable.
My column: pic.twitter.com/6ShyOCVFlJ
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) April 8, 2022
• Anyone else wondering who the two anonymous players are?
• Fun among Happ and Hoerner, via Marquee:
Hoerner will forever be the answer to the trivia question “Who hit the first home run of the 2022 MLB season?” And he’s not the only person in the Cubs’ clubhouse who’s accomplished a first home-run-of-the-season feat.
“I’ll ask Ian Happ about how to handle that notoriety,” Hoerner said with a smile.
Happ, after all, homered on the very first pitch of the 2018 season in Miami.
What advice do you give someone who hits the first home run of the season?
“Keep hitting more,” Happ said with a smile. “Don’t just hit the one. I did it in Miami and then kinda went cold for a little bit.
“Try not to get cold after that.”
• Corbin Burnes was pretty quick to explain away his outing (Brewers.com): “Obviously, throwing from behind all game is tough and three walks is something I’m trying to avoid, but they didn’t hurt me,” said Burnes, who was charged with three earned runs on four hits and three walks over five innings and 83 pitches. “They strung a couple of hits together and really, we were one pitch away from [limiting it to] one run in that inning. Obviously, it was unfortunate that I had that one pitch, the backup slider, make things look worse than they were. Command-wise, I have to be better.”
• Sounds like the back issue that put Alec Mills on the IL to open the season is not serious, and the Cubs are calling it a “precaution” because of the long season, the lack of a need for a 5th starter immediately, etc. (Cubs.com)
• Doesn’t mean he’ll be the everyday “closer,” but the first clear save opportunity of the season went to David Robertson, which makes a lot of sense to me, given his many years of experience in the role, and how good his stuff is looking right now.
• While the Yankees work on a last-minute extension for Aaron Judge, the Mariners and JP Crawford have pulled one off:
Shortstop J.P. Crawford and the Seattle Mariners are in agreement on a five-year, $51 million contract, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN. Deal will start this year and buys out two free agent seasons. Crawford, 27, is an elite defender whose bat has steadily improved.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 8, 2022
• That seems like a great bet for the Mariners, as Crawford is still young and got his bat into the average range last year (to pair with the exceptional defense at short). For Crawford, though, it’s a nice guarantee in case last year was the offensive peak, and he settles back into being a below-average bat, good-glove type from here.
• Shohei Ohtani was nasty in his debut, striking out nine over 4.2 innings, and touching 99 mph:
• And, thanks to the new Shohei Ohtani Rule, Shohei Ohtani was permitted to stay in the game as the DH even after he was pulled as the starting pitcher. Also … lmao, sound on:
— Uncomfortable Sports Moments (@awkwardsport) April 8, 2022
• Yu Darvish threw a no-hitter last night for the Padres! … well, through 6.0 innings before he was pulled (and the Padres bullpen gave up four in the 9th to lose the game):
• Awkward post-Braves-departure stuff for Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña Jr (some of those Braves “rules” are … hmm, cringey/unequally applied?):
Ronald Acuña Jr. was just on IG Live and according to our resident bilingual r/Braves user, he said:
– He won't miss Freddie Freeman.
– They had friction.
– Freeman didn't care when he was plunked.
– He was overbearing.
– He wasn't someone Ronald could talk to ever.
— Baseball GIFs (@gifs_baseball) April 7, 2022
— Juan Toribio (@juanctoribio) April 7, 2022
• So happy for, and proud of, Joe for what he’s accomplished with Obvious Shirts, which opened its physical store north of Wrigley yesterday, and it was beautiful:
— OBVIOUS SHIRTS® (@obvious_shirts) April 8, 2022
— Mike Lowe (@MikeLoweReports) April 7, 2022
— Kevin Doellman (@KevinDoellman) April 8, 2022