Reds 9, Cubs (ss) 5
Dexter Fowler had two hits, including a solo home run, and scored two runs but it wasn’t enough as the Reds beat the Cubs split squad, 9-5, in Goodyear, Ariz. Jorge Soler drove in a run, and now has 10 RBIs.
Cubs (ss) 18, Rockies 4
Jake Arrieta belted a three-run homer and a two-run double, and Kris Bryant went 4-for-5 to power a 21-hit attack and lead the Cubs to an 18-4 victory over the Rockies at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz. Arrieta struck out five over four innings, then went to the bullpen to finish his work day with another 30 pitches. He homered in a seven-run first and added his double in a three-run second in front of a sellout crowd of 15,266.
* On Sunday, Edwin Jackson and the Cubs face the Royals in Surprise, Ariz. The game will be broadcast on WGN TV and on WBBM radio.
Jake Arrieta belted a three-run homer in a seven-run first and added a RBI double in the second, struck out five over four innings, and then did a little extra work in the bullpen on Saturday. It was a good work day, he said.
Arrieta gave up three hits over four scoreless innings, then went to the bullpen to throw another 30 pitches. The right-hander took advantage of batting eighth, a strategy manager Joe Maddon has been experimenting with this spring.
“I like it,” Arrieta said. “I think it allows us to put a little speed behind me. I feel I can handle the bat well. Depending on the
situation, I feel I can put a bunt down effiiciently.”
The Cubs pitchers have a friendly competition as far as their hitting stats, and Arrieta said they’re trying to simply put together good at-bats.
“It is the pitcher, and it seems like a break in the lineup, but we feel we can do some damage there and help us out,”
The Cubs sent 11 batters to the plate in the first. Anthony Rizzo reached on a fielding error by second baseman Charlie Culberson, advanced to third on Bryant’s double off the right field wall, and then scored when catcher Michael McKenry’s attempted pickoff throw skipped into left field.
Bryant tallied on Addison Russell’s bunt single as Rockies starter Jon Gray bobbled the ball. Ryan Sweeney hit a RBI single
and another run scored on David Ross’ suicide squeeze which Gray again had trouble handling. Arrieta then launched his
first spring homer to left for a 7-0 lead. Gray struck out Jonathan Herrera, and was lifted.
Gray, the Rockies’ first-round pick in 2013, gave up seven runs — six earned — on four hits and one walk over two-thirds
of an inning.
“I just didn’t feel like myself at all,” Gray said. “I didn’t get strikes early. I didn’t give my team a chance. I think I
was too worried about being in the zone that I left some too hittable.”
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs granted left-hander Felix Doubront his unconditional release on Saturday. They will owe the left-hander 45 days of termination pay, which is about $473,000. He had signed for $1.925 million.
In four spring games, Doubront gave up nine earned runs on 17 hits over seven innings. He had only pitched in relief. At the start of camp, he was being considered for the fifth starter spot. Last season, Doubront was 4-5 with a 5.54 ERA in 21 games (14 starts) with the Red Sox and Cubs.
– Carrie Muskat
Manager Joe Maddon may be closer to finding the “mystery man” to fill the No. 2 spot in the Cubs lineup, and it might not be who you’d imagine. While Chris Coghlan is a strong candidate for the spot, Maddon has other ideas.
“An out of the box candidate could be [Jorge] Soler,” Maddon said of the right fielder. “With him, it goes beyond his power. This guy looks over a baseball now. This guy has great decision-making ability at the plate. That bleeds into either you’re driving in the second leadoff hitter plus one, or he’s setting up somebody after him because the guy is going to take his walks.
“He’s a really interesting baseball player,” Maddon said. “I’d heard good things, but his impression on me has been really strong.”
Kris Bryant has been the focus of attention in camp. Soler, 23, who was batting .333 this spring with three home runs in 14 games, has been playing under the radar.
“Beautiful for George,” Maddon said. “The fact that he doesn’t really understand or speak English very well could work in his favor right now. He’s a beautiful man. I really, really enjoy the way he is. He’s like Vladimir [Guerrero] with plate discipline.”
The Cuban outfielder has made a good impression.
“As a scout, my God, if he was in U.S. as a Draft choice, he’d be the No. 1 pick, there’s no doubt,” Maddon said. “No. 1 overall. I’m impressed with how he is, too. He’s just a great guy.”
– Carrie Muskat
Anthony Rizzo joked with bench coach Davey Martinez that he’d like to lead off, so that’s where the Cubs first baseman will bat on Saturday against the Rockies.
“It’s something I always wanted to do,” Rizzo said. “They’ve been messing with the lineup a lot, so why not? I think it’ll be fun.”
Martinez had been scheduled to manage the Cubs in Mesa with Joe Maddon going on the road in the split squad game against the Reds, but they switched. Rizzo figures Maddon just wants to see how he does batting first.
“I think I’m your prototypical leadoff hitter,” Rizzo said. “I’m going to try to see some pitches, get on base. We don’t steal much on this team anyways.”
Don’t be surprised if he tries to steal.
Does he model himself after anyone?
“I’m going to try to do my best Dexter Fowler impression,” Rizzo said.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs have set their pitching probables for the final week of Cactus League play. Here’s a schedule. Remember, it’s subject to change:
Sunday at Royals: RHP Edwin Jackson
Monday vs Giants: RHP Kyle Hendricks
Tuesday at Rangers: LHP Eric Jokisch
Wednesday vs Brewers: RHP Jason Hammel
Friday at Diamondbacks, Chase Field: RHP Edwin Jackson
* When will Jon Lester pitch? The left-hander is scheduled to start in a Minor League game on Tuesday in Mesa in his final game action before the season opener on April 5 at Wrigley FIeld. Travis Wood will start in a “B” game on Monday. Also, Dallas Beeler, sidelined this spring with soreness in his right bicep, will throw two innings in a sim game on Tuesday.
– Carrie Muskat
Cubs vs. Rockies in Mesa:
Cubs at Reds in Goodyear:
The Cubs will open the regular season in eight days. Have you picked the final 25 players? The spring roster is now at 40 and consists of 20 pitchers (one non-roster invitee), four catchers (one non-roster invitee), nine infielders (three non-roster invitees) and seven outfielders. Here’s who’s left:
* Note: Beeler, Turner and Wada will likely open on the disabled list.
* Note: Denorfia will likely open on the DL
Jorge Soler and Chris Coghlan each belted two-run homers and Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro each added a solo shot to power the Cubs to a 6-3 victory Friday over the White Sox and former teammate Jeff Samardzija.
Samardzija, who was the Cubs’ Opening Day starter last year, will kick off the season for the White Sox this year.
Jason Hammel got the win. He gave up two runs on six hits over six innings but also got bragging rights against Samardzija. The two played golf earlier this spring, and both joked about the possibility of facing each other now that they’re on different Chicago teams.
“I didn’t actually think it was going to happen,” said Hammel, who singled off Samardzija in the second inning.
He was happy with his hit, although he had been looking forward to pitching to Samardzija.
“We have a good relationship, a good friendship, and I was kind of ticked off he didn’t get an at-bat because they put the [designated hitter] in for him,” Hammel said. “I love Samardzija. Hopefully, we can face each other in the World Series.”
– Carrie Muskat
Whether or not Kris Bryant will be on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster has been a hot topic, and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Friday that no decision has been made regarding the team’s top prospect.
What should be noted is that in his career, Epstein has never had a player make his Major League debut on Opening Day, other than a Rule 5 pick or a Japanese player. While most of the focus has been on Bryant’s call-up being linked to the start of the service time clock, Epstein said this is not a business decision.
“It’s for baseball reasons, and it hasn’t been about anything else besides baseball reasons,” Epstein said Friday. “We spend a lot of time thinking about which players to draft, how to get them off to a good start in their professional careers, how to help them advance in the Minor Leagues, and how to help them make that final leap to the big leagues and when and how to do it to put them in a position to succeed.”
Bryant has been the center of attention because of his Major League-leading nine home runs and .406 batting average, and because his agent, Scott Boras, has been outspoken about how the third baseman is being treated.
“It’s not about business,” Epstein said. “People are trying to make this about business. There are valid baseball reasons. The process of developing a player, taking them from amateur to Major League player and every step along the way, that’s a baseball process and those are baseball decisions, and that’s what we’re doing here.”
What Epstein is looking for is the right moment. Last year, the Cubs promoted Javier Baez and Jorge Soler to the big leagues, and both moves came when the team was on the road in hitter friendly ballparks.
“We haven’t made a decision yet,” Epstein said regarding Bryant. “We’re going to make a good baseball decision based on what we think is best for his development and what’s best for the team and the organization and other players affected. We haven’t made the decision yet.
“I look to things that have worked in the past for me as sort of a presumptive guideline for what to do in the future,” Epstein said. “I’m not saying it’s perfect, but I do think if you stack it up and look at some of the young players, it’s a pretty good track record. We haven’t made a decision. Whatever we decide on this one, it might be wrong, I’m not saying I’m right all the time, but it’s my professional judgement.”
– Carrie Muskat