Results tagged ‘ Cubs ’

Final Angels 8, #Cubs 4

Mike Olt hit a two-run homer and a triple, and Travis Wood smacked a pinch-hit home run but it wasn’t enough as the Cubs lost, 8-4, to the Angels on Thursday at Sloan Park in Mesa in front of 15,246. Jered Weaver struck out eight over 5 1/3 innings for the Angels, who got home runs from Albert Pujols. The Cubs did turn four double plays, including one by left fielder Kris Bryant. Bryant was making his first start in the outfield. The Angels had a runner at second with one out in the sixth and Bryant caught Collin Cowgill’s fly ball in left and fired to Javier Baez at second to get the runner and end the inning.

#Cubs Wood smacks 1st spring HR

Travis Wood may have started Wednesday night but that didn’t stop the Cubs pitcher from getting an extra at-bat on Thursday, and he took advantage of it.

Wood led off the fifth with a pinch-hit home run off the Angels’ Jered Weaver for his first spring homer, and 32nd by the Cubs.

Last season, Wood belted three home runs, second most in the National League behind the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner (four). He’s 1-for-7 in his career as a pinch-hitter with a double. The lefty does like to hit, and is in favor of manager Joe Maddon’s lineup move to have the pitcher bat eighth, which he now has done three times.

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs extra bases: Almora, Baez, Jackson

* Manager Joe Maddon is still tinkering with what he wants to do with the batting order. He’s experimented with the pitcher in the No. 8 spot twice (Jason Hammel and Travis Wood), and said he likes having Arismendy Alcantara follow in the No. 9 spot because it’s like having another leadoff batter.

* Javier Baez led off Thursday, the second time he’s done that this spring.

“Part of it is to try to increase his confidence and let him know we support him,” Maddon said.

They’re hoping Baez can focus on hitting the ball up the middle and getting on base.

* Junior Lake moved to the infield Wednesday, and that’s also part of Maddon’s machinations. He doesn’t expect to start Lake at third, but could move him there if needed.

“I like to be able to try to present all the options in advance so they’re not surprised when the actual moment shows up,” Maddon said. “Players like that little bit of heads up.”

* Albert Almora, 20, the Cubs’ first-round pick in 2012, was assigned to Minor League camp Thursday.

“He’s kind of a complete baseball player and really young,” Maddon said. “He’s the kind of kid who you know will be a great teammate. Ego does not get in the way at all. I see him as a fine Major League baseball player.”

* Maddon was not happy that Edwin Jackson arrived late to his game in Mesa on Tuesday and spoke to the pitcher about it in private.

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Maddon liked what he saw of Lester’s outing

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was happy with what he saw from Jon Lester’s outing Thursday in a Minor League intrasquad game. Lester threw 54 pitches, facing 12 batters.

“What I was really watching was him and watching his face and he never seemed like anything bothered him, so I know his arm feels great and that’s all I was worried about,” Maddon said. “He felt good and his energy was good today. … He threw some nice fastballs, nice cutters, yeah, yeah, yeah, but I thought he looked comfortable and that’s the most important thing.”

Lester has already thrown 70 pitches in a spring outing before he was shutdown with a tired arm. His next start also will be in a Minor League game.

“I’d imagine he’ll be 75 to 80 [pitches] next time out, which puts him right around a hunskey, 95 or so for Opening Night. … I liked what I saw today,” Maddon said.

A “hunskey” is 100.

Maddon wasn’t worried about Lester’s frustration with some pitches.

“I’ve worked against him and I know what he’s like,” Maddon said. “He’s a perfectionist and a wonderful professional. He’s really good. Guys like that are normally very difficult on themselves.”

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs trim 12 from spring camp

The Cubs assigned 12 players to Minor League camp to reduce the spring roster to 40 players.

Right-handed pitcher Blake Parker and left-handed pitcher Joseph Ortiz were optioned to Triple-A Iowa.

The Cubs also assigned 10 non-roster invitees to Minor League camp, including right-handed pitchers Daniel Bard, Anthony Carter, Jorge De Leon and Gonzalez Germen; left-handed pitcher Francisley Bueno; infielder Chris Valaika; outfielders Albert Almora, Mike Baxter and Adron Chambers; and catcher Kyle Schwarber.

The Cubs spring roster now consists of 20 pitchers (one non-roster invitee), four catchers (one non-roster invitee), nine infielders (three non-roster invitees) and seven outfielders.

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs freckly Jon Lester: “Today was a normal day”

Jon Lester threw 54 pitches in a Minor League game Thursday, and didn’t want to look ahead to Opening Night, but focus on his next start and what he needs to do to prepare for that.

Lester struck out three of the 12 Double-A Tennessee batters he faced and gave up one hit and walked one. It was easy to determine which pitches the left-hander wasn’t happy with as he expressed himself with a few expletives.

“You can tell how I like a pitch or don’t like a pitch by my reaction,” Lester said. “It is what it is, it’s who I am. It’s something people have tried to change with me, but it’s who I am.”

Catcher David Ross, who was behind the plate for the early workout, has heard it before.

“That’s why he’s the pitcher he is,” Ross said. “He competes hard and he’s a perfectionist.”

This was Lester’s first “start” since he was scratched from a Cactus League game on Saturday because of a tired arm. He will make at least one more start before the season opener April 5 at Wrigley Field, but didn’t know if it would be in another Minor League game or in a Cactus League game.

“Today was good, today was a normal day,” Lester said. “[I’ll] come back tomorrow and go about work again.”

Did Lester’s arm look tired?

“It looked nice and freckly when I saw it,” Ross said, smiling. “No tan — farmer’s tan, lot of freckles. I couldn’t tell whether it was tired or not.”

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs lineup vs Angels for Thu 3/26

Eric Jokisch takes the mound Thursday night for the Cubs as the play host to the Angels at Sloan Park in Mesa. This will be Kris Bryant’s first game in the outfield with the Cubs — he’s starting in left field. Here’s the lineup:

Baez 2B

Russell SS

Bryant LF

Soler RF

Rizzo 1B

Olt 3B

Castillo C

Jokisch P

Szczur CF

Final: Mariners 3, #Cubs 2

Travis Wood is ready for the regular season. The Cubs lefty gave up three runs on five hits over five innings against the Mariners on Wednesday night in a 3-2 loss.

“I was able to locate pretty decently and keep them off balance,” said Wood, who struck out three.

He’s still not sure of his spot on the Cubs, or what it will take to convince the front office he should be the fifth starter.

“Not a clue,” Wood said. “Tomorrow’s a new work day, get after it and get ready for the next start.”

The Cubs totaled five hits off the Mariners pitchers, including an infield single by Starlin Castro who was making his first start since last Thursday. Castro had been sidelined by a tight right groin. Matt Szczur hit a RBI triple in the ninth.

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs: Wrigley will be ready Opening Night

A Cubs spokesman said Wednesday night there is no truth to a rumor that Major League Baseball has asked the Cubs to work on a Plan B with the White Sox to play games at U.S. Cellular Field because of delays in construction at Wrigley Field.

“Even a goat would tell you this reaches an absolute new low for Wrigley rumors,” Cubs spokesman Julian Green said Wednesday. “‎All is proceeding well and we look forward to Opening Night at Wrigley Field.”

The Cubs will open the regular season on April 5 against the Cardinals. The Cubs began an extensive renovation project in October at Wrigley, and the bleachers will not be ready for the opener. Green said the rest of the ballpark will be fine.

– Carrie Muskat 

Maddon: No decision yet on #Cubs Baez

Joe Maddon has made it known he’s impressed with Javier Baez’s defensive play and the young infielder’s baseball acumen, but neither the manager nor anyone else in the front office has told Baez that he made the Cubs’ Opening Day roster.

Maddon denied a report that Baez was on the final 25-man roster, and added that neither Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein or general manager Jed Hoyer gave the infieder the go-ahead either.

“I have no idea where that came from,” Maddon said. “That hasn’t been decided yet.”

Baez was called up to the big leagues last August, and batted .169 in 52 games with the Cubs, striking out 95 times in 213 at-bats. Baez has been slow to adjust at each level, and the Cubs wanted to give him a head start going into the 2015 season.

This spring, Baez was 5-for-39 with 14 strikeouts. Conventional wisdom, Maddon said, is to send a player still struggling to the Minor Leagues because they don’t want him to scuffle at the big league level, then have to demote him.

“There are the occasions where sometimes it works in reverse,” Maddon said. “A guy like him, to go back and accept going back in Triple-A and getting it done there, he might renege at that thought and maybe you’re not going to get the full adjustment you’re looking for and it might take longer.

“If a guy fails at the Major League level and thinks he belongs in the Major Leagues and then knows he failed, if he goes back, it might be easier to get the point across.”

Bottom line, they’re still deciding what to do.

“The conclusion will be as we get together, what is the best method to make him a better Major League player sooner, and that’s what the discussion is about right now,” Maddon said.

– Carrie Muskat

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