Spring Training Miscellany: Sampson’s Best Day, Not So for the Bats, Madrigal’s Glove, Reliever Competition, More

The Cubs lost 5-1 to the Giants today, with not much to say on the offense. The bats were quiet once again, as they have been frequently this spring. It’s not like it was the full starting lineup in there for the full game or anything, so whatever. But I think we all expect it to be a bit of a lighter offense, especially while Seiya Suzuki is out. “Average” would probably be a win.

  • That was definitely the best Adrian Sampson has looked in Cactus League play, striking out six over his 4.1 innings of work, and generally keeping the ball on the ground. He was using all of his pitches, and looked serviceable for the first time this spring. I’m not sure it’s enough to impact the rotation decision at this point, but that almost doesn’t matter; whether he’s the fifth starter out of the gate or he’s heading to Iowa as a depth starter, the Cubs will need him eventually. So him clicking by the end of Spring Training is pretty darn important.
  • This is a tough throw coming in and going across the diamond – harder play than it looks on TV:
  • That second play wasn’t too bad, either. Ultimately, Madrigal has made every play asked of him at third base this spring, albeit in a very small sample. Given Christopher Morel’s struggles at third last year, given Patrick Wisdom’s dramatically reduced defensive performance at third last year, and given that Zach McKinstry isn’t even really seeing time over there, I have to ask an unthinkable question … is … Nick Madrigal the Cubs’ best defensive third baseman right now?
  • Today’s was the first really bad day of the spring for Michael Rucker, who is otherwise in that group under consideration for the final one or two spots in the bullpen. He survived the offseason on the 40-man roster, despite the earlier crunch, so the Cubs clearly have belief in him. But even if they want to retain him on the 40-man, he does have options left.
  • Speaking of that decision, Mark Leiter Jr. would need a 40-man spot to make the team, and he looked good again today against a set of lefties (he allowed a run on a walk (which featured a really borderline call) and a double), but otherwise struck out two on nasty pitches. If the Cubs have any questions about lefty Brandon Hughes, then they might reeeally want Leiter to make the bullpen, because he’s so good against lefties.
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    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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