We’re nearing the last few days of Spring Training, and the Cubs are gearing up for the regular season. A couple of mild (and freak of nature) injuries aside, the Cubs look healthy, and, despite a recent streak of Spring Training losses and ties, it’s all about figuring out who goes where. Here’s a recap of the last few days in Cubs camp.
Putting In Work:
Last week, Jake Arrieta only put in one-third of an inning of work against the Giants due to a blister. The Cubs didn’t seem too worried about it at the time, and now we have confirmation that it isn’t much of an issue. It’s been reported that he will make the Opening Day start despite the blister issue, which was regarded as “minor” by the team. Arrieta threw a successful bullpen session Sunday morning, according to that report.
Dexter Fowler was removed from Sunday’s game with mild left side tightness. Fowler did not start Monday’s game, but reports say he is okay. On the other hand, Javier Baez is dealing with some left thumb problems. No pun intended.
Fowler is fine. Tightness in left side even before he homered. Says no worries. Baez talking to training staff
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) March 28, 2016
Jon Lester had a top notch start against the Brewers, going five innings, only giving up two hits and one walk, while striking out two. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Jason Hammel, who gave up nine runs in 4.1 innings of work, and John Lackey, who gave up five runs in five innings, though he struck out six. Kyle Hendricks also struggled in Monday’s game, although it was the first shaky start of the spring for him. On the bright side, it’s still just spring training. Still, these kind of starts won’t cut it once we get to the other side of Opening Day, so Cubs fans should hope these pitchers figure it out soon or are just focused on getting their work in.
Jason Heyward has been getting some work in center field recently and hasn’t been glaringly below average at it. For all intents and purposes, he’s been doing quite alright there, even in spite of the bees. More on that later. Offensively, Heyward is still producing, hitting home runs and all that good stuff. Should he keep this up—and there’s no reason he shouldn’t—the Cubs look to have a pretty good outfield for the season.
Matt Murton hit a home run in Monday’s game. It was in the 9th inning of a 7-6 game and helped give the Cubs extra padding in their lead. That didn’t end up being a lead after the bottom of the 9th, however, as the game went on to finish in an 8-8 tie.
There hasn’t been much to report in the way of transactions except a few minor things. First baseman Matt Clark was released on March 25. Clark signed a minor league contract with the Cubs with an invite to spring training and hit .333/.429/.845 in 12 at-bats. He only appeared in nine games.
The Cubs announced Monday that they optioned Spencer Patton to Triple-A Iowa. Patton, who was traded to the Cubs from the Texas Rangers in November, impressed in eight innings of work this spring, where he put up a lot of zeroes on the board. It wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, be a surprise if he gets called up sometime in the season to help the bullpen out.
Remember how I mentioned bees earlier? Well, on Sunday, Sloan Park was invaded by bees and caused a delay of game. The bees took charge of center field, where Heyward was stung a couple of times, but it wasn’t enough to keep him down. After the bees swarmed out, Heyward hit a home run, so the obvious implication is that he now has super powers.
There were also some cubs at camp the other day. Not to be confused with Cubs of Chicago, these were actual baby bear cubs:
Cubbie bois pic.twitter.com/0RCNnd7XAk
— jheytwotwo (@JasonHeyward) March 25, 2016
Nothing boosts morale like Cubs with cubs.
3/25: Brewers 5, Cubs 4: This was a fairly good game until the end. Ben Zobrist went 2-for-3, Kelly Dugan hit a home run, Jon Lester had a solid start, but Clayton Richard pitched the ninth and gave up all five runs in relief.
3/26: Giants 5, Cubs 2: The good news is that the bullpen pitched cleanly. The bad news is that John Lackey gave up five runs in five innings. Despite getting nine hits, the Cubs just couldn’t get it going and left six runners on base.
3/27: Mariners 12, Cubs 9: Hammel didn’t exactly have a great start, nor was it good, or even average. This shaky performance meant that the Cubs’ nine runs of offense weren’t enough. Robinson Cano homered three times against Cubs pitching in this one.
3/28: Cubs 8, Angels 8: Only four of the eight runs the Cubs gave up were earned, which could be looking on the bright side of things. The downside? The Cubs had three errors—one from each of Montero, Bryant, and Kawasaki. At least there’s still a week of Spring Training left.
Lead photo courtesy Rick Scuteri—USA Today Sports