Friday, March 5, 2010

Make it 2-0: Cubs 8, Arizona 7

Game Recap
Besides Carlos Zambrano, who was the starting pitcher, the Cubs that took the field at HoHoKam Park today were essentially the "B" team. Big Z retired all six batters he faced in his two innings of work.

Starlin Castro was batting leadoff and starting at short stop. He went 2-4 with a double and a single. Early on, the game was low scoring. After Casey Coleman worked the 3rd and the 4th for the Cubs, the Cactus League battle was scoreless. Then in the bottom of the 5th, the Cubs bats came to life against former Cub Aaron Heilman. Jim Hendry sent Heilman to the D'backs in November, and so far the move looks like a good one. Aaron allowed 4 ER on 5 hits in his inning of work. A Brett Jackson triple was the highlight of the frame.

In the 6th, Arizona got the runs right back, scoring 5 against Jeff Stevens. The Cubs acquired Stevens in the Mark DeRosa trade with Cleveland. He pitched a good fifth, but after one inning of work he fell apart, and was unable to make it through the 6th. Stevens was replaced by another hurler that came over in the DeRo deal, lefty John Gaub. In 1.1 innings, Gaub allowed just two hits but one was a solo homer to make it 6-4.

The Cubs then put a rally together to tie in up, but in the top of inning number 9 the D'backs untied it with a run against Justin Berg to take the 7-6 lead. Brad Snyder came through for the Cubs, cracking a double in the bottom of the 9th to bring Scales and Fuld home to win the game 8-7.

The Cubs have started off the Cactus League with a 2-0 record and have played fairly well in both games. Marcos Mateo, an underrated pitching prospect, also looked good in his one inning on the hill. Josh Vitters was the starting third baseman. The former first round pick had 2 hits and scored twice.

Tyler Colvin has really impressed Cubs brass early on in camp. He has three things going for him:
1. Last year he played great defense when he was called up in September, and the Cubs are hoping to improve their outfield defensively.
2. He put on 20+ pounds of muscle this offseason, and Piniella took notice.
3. He's played great in the Cactus League's first two games, going 2-3 with 2 RBIs today.

Koyie Hill was the starting catcher today. He drove home a run with an RBI single. The Cubs top pick from the 2009 draft, Brett Jackson, reached base all three times. Jeff Baker got the start at second base and went 0-2.

Bullpen Health Update
Carlos Marmol has the closers' duty locked up, but beyond that everything is up for grabs in the Cubs' bullpen. Now, Angel Guzman will most likely not be ready to go on Opening Day. He still has discomfort in his shoulder, and he was going to undergo an MRI today. Jeff Gray is also still sidelined, and he may not be ready to go for the start of the season either. Hendry is working the phone lines, but if he does not bring in any help this bullpen could be in trouble. However, that would give guys like Jeff Stevens, David Patton, Mike Parisi, Mitch Atkins, Andrew Cashner, Thomas Diamond, and John Gaub a chance to make the 25 man roster. Hopefully somebody can step up and become a dependable relief option for Piniella.

Looking Ahead
Tomorrow the Cubs take on the White Sox at 2:05 CT on WGN TV and Radio. Carlos Silva, who reported to camp out of shape, will take the mound for the Cubs. Carlos is trying to prove that he's worthy of a spot in the rotation after coming over for Milton Bradley this winter.

Alfonso Soriano will get into game action tomorrow for the first time since being shut down because of a knee injury late last year. Sori is expected to start in left field, with Xavier Nady serving as the Cubs' DH. Both the Cubs and Sox have agreed to use the DH despite the fact that the game will be played at HoHoKam Park.

Bruce Miles has posted the list of all the pitchers that will go this weekend. Tomorrow afternoon Silva will be followed by Carlos Marmol, James Russell, Andrew Cashner, Jeff Kennard, and John Grabow.

On Sunday the Cubs will play a split squad, with Jeff Samardzija pitching against the White Sox on WGN-TV and Tom Gorzelanny going against the Dodgers. Both games get underway at 2:05.

Other Notes:
  • Lou Piniella will not go to Vegas when the Cubs travel there for two games against the White Sox March 12-13. Instead, Piniella will stay with the half of the split squad team that will play in Arizona both of those day. Alan Trammell will manage the team that is Las Vegas.
  • Mike Fontenot has a minor shoulder injury suffered while running the bases on Thursday. He will not play again until Sunday.
  • Sam Fuld's homer on Thursday landed near his wife Sarah and his young son Charlie. A women picked up the ball, and the Fulds tried to bargain with her for it, offering photos and autographs. However, the lady wanted no part of that and kept the ball.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted on everything Cubs as always!

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