3/4 Cubs 6, Athletics 4

* Justin Ruggiano and Anthony Rizzo combined for three runs, Albert Almora delivered a tie-breaking RBI single and Mike Olt smacked a two-run home run to lift the Cubs to a 6-3 victory Tuesday over the Athletics’ split-squad team. Ruggiano hit a RBI double in the first and a two-run homer in the third, driving in Rizzo both times, and Almora delivered a tie-breaking RBI single with one out in the eighth as the Cubs won for the second straight game.

Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year after going 13-4 at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, gave up one run on two hits and three walks over two innings in his first Cactus League start. The right-hander walked three batters in four of his 27 starts last season, and posted a 1.058 WHIP for the season.

* Last spring, Mike Olt struggled to bat .194. On Tuesday, he collected his first Cactus League home run in just his third at-bat and it wasn’t a relief as much as affirmation that everything is going well. Olt, hoping to find a spot on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, belted a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the eighth.

“I’ve been feeling good at the plate the last couple days and as long as I’m feeling comfortable, I think good things will come,” Olt said.

The infielder was dealing with vision problems last year, although it took him while to figure that out. He went 6-for-31 in 19 spring games last year with the Rangers, including two home runs. He was assigned to Triple-A Round Rock, where he continued to struggle, batting .213. Texas included Olt as one of the four players in the deal to get Matt Garza from the Cubs. Tuesday’s home run was another step in Olt’s comeback.

“It’s really not me getting hits,” he said. “It’s about me seeing the ball well and that’s my main goal in Spring Training. Obviously, you want hits and you want to perform but the main goal in Spring Training is to get comfortable and it’s definitely a noticeable difference just the way I feel right now, and that’s what I’m happy about.”

* Cubs reliever James Russell has yet to appear in a game this spring. He said Tuesday it was because of his allergies but manager Rick Renteria said the lefty is going through a “dead arm” phase, which Russell has dealt with in the past. Russell is coming off his second straight season in which he appeared in 70-plus games. Renteria wasn’t worried about the lefty, who threw on the side Tuesday.

* Looking ahead, Jeff Samardzija starts on Wednesday against the Rockies and will be followed by Chris Rusin. Travis Wood will go Thursday, and James McDonald will make his first Cactus League start on Friday against the Angels in one of the Cubs’ split squad games. Edwin Jackson will get his second spring start in Mesa against the Indians. McDonald gave up six runs on three hits against the Angels in his first outing last Friday.

* Samardzija on the addition of Ted Lilly to the Cubs front office: “I wouldn’t have had the success I did my rookie year without Teddy.”

– Carrie Muskat

12 Comments

A “dead arm” issue in spring training? I do not like the ring to that. Dead arms are something one encounters well into a baseball season from overuse or overwork. What Renteria opines here does not pass the smell test. What is your opinion? Is my dementia rearing its ugly head here, or is myself onto something?

Please! Give me a break. I was one of Renteria’s biggest supporters for the job. I wanted a non-Joe Girardi. I coveted getting a hungry manager sans major league experience. But myself did not sign on to getting a manager who is an apologist for players who are not ready to perform after having at least five months to prepare for the new season.

I will have to wait & see on this one jhosk. The team seems to be getting along well, with an upbeat attitude.
It also could be that reporters are wanting to know why Russell has not been scheduled to pitch, so Renteria threw something out there to give them something to write about. Russell has pitched alot of games the last two years. Some guys dont need a whole month to get ready, if we dont see Russell the last couple weeks, then he might have a problem.
Too soon to call Renteria an apologist in my opinion.

If I were looking for a negative to throw out there this early, it would have to go to the Pitching Staff. Walks always concern me, I hate walks. 27 in 44IP with at least 3 hit batters that I know of. Thats alot and makes me think that Marmol and K Wood are out there somewhere.

Olt is the biggest piece to this team being terrible or slightly below average…. a healthy normal Olt has potential to be a great value. And also allow Baez to replace Barney in july at 2B.

I am all for that. Even a platoon of Murphy/Watkins or Valbuena/Murphy. Roberts makes the team? Maybe Bonifacio makes the team? Just very tired of watching Barney pull the ball.

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Dead Arm = DL

Walks = More Walks

More Walks = Bosio Getting Fired

Bosio Getting Fired = Samardzija Ripping FO

Samardzija Ripping into Theo = July Trade of Shark

July Trade of Shark = More Prospects

More Prospects = Another Year of Development

Another Year of Development = 90 plus losses in 2015 for the Cubs

You should write the rest of the 2014 story CubsTalk, that way we wont have to bother watching or listening to the games.

2014 will be no different then the last few years……..I have to tell everyone one thing about this ball club……by 2015, this payroll will be one of the lowest in the league with all these Rookies we will have here…………….and major free agents will still not come here based on where this team is at (last place)….and the lack of facilities they have to offer to players……Wrigley is still a 19th century ball park and while other teams have 21st century ball stadiums…………if Theo traded away Rizzo & Castro for prospects….Edwin Jackson could be our highest paid player.

Is there any major FA’s that may be worth signing after this year? With the contracts signed by Ellsbury, Cano and others this year, I dont know that anybody is worth that kind of money. I am very pleased that Tanaka chose the Yankees and not the Cubs.
You bring up Rizzo and Castro, after watching Baez at SS and Bryant in the AZ Fall League, I think they will be very good Major League players. Should Rizzo & Castro struggle, it would not bother me a bit if they were traded. 2015 Bryant at 1B and Baez at SS. Thats if, Castro & Rizzo struggle this year.
So as you can see, if Jackson is the highest player on the team next year, so be it.
Which FA would you have signed that would have made a difference this last off season?

I really didn’t like any of the past FA’s…….I did like Bailey & Masterson in 2014-15 offseason, but they are off the market.

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