3/27 Cubs 7, Reds 4
What went right:
Welington Castillo, fighting for the backup catcher’s job, led off the ninth with his second spring homer, launching the ball to left center. Dave Sappelt added a three-run shot off the center field wall. Darwin Barney had three hits, including a RBI double in the third. Bryan LaHair was 3-for-5, and now is batting .309 this spring.
What went wrong:
Matt Garza had a 3-0 lead when he left the game in the fifth with two on and nobody out. New reliever Shawn Camp gave up a sacrifice fly and RBI single. Lendy Castillo, the Cubs’ Rule 5 pick, was called for a balk in the seventh, which led to a tying run. Blake Parker had a tough ninth in relief, facing seven batters.
“Predictions and odds are what they are. … The bottom line is when you have starting pitching like we do, you can do a lot of things if other people live up to half of their expectations during the season and you catch the ball and you’re getting timely hitting. The key to our offense is timely hitting as much as anything.” — Cubs manager Dale Sveum on preseason predictions.
Marcos Mateo continues to rehab from right elbow soreness. He will not be ready for Opening Day.
* Manager Dale Sveum and his staff will meet after Wednesday’s game to go over the roster. There are still 40 players in camp, including 20 pitchers. They need to get down to 25 players (12 pitchers). Said Sveum: “We’ll get everything 95 percent finished.” Still to be determined is backup catcher (Clevenger vs. Castillo), the final bench and the bullpen. James Russell will likely be the only lefty in the ‘pen. Casey Coleman is one of the candidates for the long man role. The right-hander has been hitting 94 mph on the radar gun.
* Kerry Wood is slated to pitch Saturday. It’s been his plan to cut back on Cactus League innings to prepare for the regular season.
* First base coach Dave McKay usually takes the All-Star break off but will likely be in Kansas City on July 10 as a coach on Tony La Russa’s National League staff. McKay and La Russa have been on the same staffs for 25 years, going back to time together in Oakland. “I owe him a lot,” McKay said.
Jeff Samardzija will make his fourth Cactus League start and fifth spring appearance on Wednesday when the Cubs play host to the Indians at HoHoKam Park in Mesa. The right-hander, hoping to secure a spot in the rotation, has struck out 11 and not walked a batter this spring over 14 innings. Expect Randy Wells to pitch at least one inning in relief. Wells will get another start on April 1. The game will be broadcast on Cubs.com.
— Carrie Muskat