3/21 Dodgers 5, Cubs 4
Alex Castellanos hit a three-run home run to lift the Dodgers to a 5-4 victory Thursday over the Cubs. The game was played in front of a sellout crowd of 11,118 at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium to benefit the Christina-Taylor Green Foundation. Green was 9 years old when she was killed in the 2011 Tucson shooting that critically wounded Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Her father, John Green, is a supervisor of amateur scouts for the Dodgers, and her grandfather, Dallas Green, is the former general manager of the Cubs.
Scott Hairston singled to lead off the Chicago second and was safe at second on a throwing error by pitcher Stephen Fife, who was trying for a double play on Dave Sappelt’s grounder but threw into center field. Hairston moved up, and scored on Brent Lillibridge’s single. Castro made it 2-0 in the third with a solo home run. Lillibridge doubled to lead off the fifth and scored on Scott Feldman’s single to close to 4-3.
Feldman, who will start the fourth game of the regular season for the Cubs, gave up four runs on seven hits over five innings. He’s been hitting well this spring. But that’s not a high priority. The right-hander admits he still has work to do, and will have some time. Feldman is slotted into the No. 4 spot in the rotation and will open the Cubs’ series in Atlanta on April 5.
“I feel pretty good with three out of four of my pitches but the changeup is one I haven’t thrown enough in spring, and the ones I have thrown, they’re not game ready,” Feldman said. “It’s something I need to hammer out the last 10 days or however long I have to pitch. It’s something I have to work on a lot and get it straightened out.”
It’s tough to gauge pitchers in Arizona because the dry air makes it difficult to get a good grip on their breaking pitches. But with Matt Garza and Scott Baker sidelined because of injuries for the start of the season, Feldman becomes a key piece in the Cubs’ rotation.
He is making the transition from the American League to the National League at the plate. With two on and none out in the fifth, Feldman lined a single to left center, perfectly timed as the shortstop was shifting to cover second base. The first person Feldman looked for in the dugout? Assistant hitting coach Rob Deer, who talked to the pitcher during batting practice.
“He tried to take credit for that hit,” Feldman said of Deer. “He told me, ‘If you get a hit today, I better be the first one you look at when you’re standing at first.’”
Feldman is now 2-for-4 at the plate with one RBIs. Did Deer say anything helpful?
“He’s Rob Deer,” Feldman said. “He’s a better hitter than I am. I’ll listen to it.”
* Up next: On Friday, the Cubs travel to Maryvale to face the Brewers. Carlos Villanueva will get the start against his former team. The right-hander, who will open the season in the rotation, will be making his fifth spring start, and is hoping to bounce back from a rough outing in Las Vegas against the Rangers. Friday’s game will be broadcast on WGN TV and Cubs.com.
– Carrie Muskat