Recap and Photos: Russell, Contreras HR but game ends in another tie for the Cubs

It was a cold, wet, windy day in Arizona.  And by cold, I mean 65 degrees...but once you're here for a while, 65 feels downright brisk.

The game ended after 9 innings with the score tied 4-4 as things really started to cool down and the rain began to fall a little harder.  Here is the box score link.

Here are some of the highlights of today and some quick reports on the pitchers...


  • Brett Anderson did pretty much what we expected him to do.  He pitched at 89-91 with good sink and mixed in an excellent change that kept hitters off balance.  We know he can pitch very well in short stints, the key for him is durability.
  • Seth Frankoff was solid.  He pitched in the 90-92 range, kept the ball down and changed speeds very well.  He kept the Sox off balance for most of his outing, but seemed to lose his rhythm a bit late in the 3rd.
  • Pierce Johnson may have been the most impressive pitcher of the day.  He worked at 93-94 and topped out at 95.  He threw that power curve (or slider) that was in the low 80s.  One of them got star prospect Yoan Moncada looking.
  • Brad Markey had a tough outing.  He was at 92-95 mph and threw one real nice curve at 77 mph, but he was getting squared up pretty well on this day.
  • Dylan Floro was another pitcher in the 89-91 mph range.  He showed great control, kept the ball down, and got the Sox hitters to hit the ball on the ground.  His performance didn't look a whole lot different from starter Anderson's outing, but a thin frame and some effort in his delivery likely make him an RP.
  • Jhondaniel Medina was at 92-94 mph but more importantly threw strikes and kept the ball down.  He made quick work of the White Sox in his one inning of work.
  • Daury Torrez velo was down in the 90-91 range and he got hit a little and ended up giving up the tying run.  Last spring I saw him in the mid 90s, though part of his velo issues may have been due to the cold.  The drop surprised me because Torrez looks like he has filled out a bit, but I wonder if he lost some of the looseness he had in the past.
  • Juan Carlos Paniagua mixed at 93-95 mph FB with a CB in the upper 70s in his scoreless inning.


  • Addison Russell hit a long HR that was either deep onto the LF berm or cleared it...I lost track.  Wherever it landed, it had to be the longest, hardest HR I have seen so far this spring.
  • Willson Contreras hit a HR as well, just clearing the LF wall to make it 2-0.
  • Chesny Young had a huge two out hit after a fantastic AB in which he worked the count full, fouled off a couple of pitches and then hit a line rive up the middle to tie the game with a two run single.


  • Jemile Weeks made the play of the day, leaping high into the air to snag a Taylor Davis throw and then swooping down to make the tag -- ala Javy Baez -- to catch a runner stealing.  Unfortunately Weeks was hurt on the play -- worrisome because he is coming off a major leg injury, but he did walk off under his own power,  He left the game and his status is unknown as of this writing.
  • Jeimer Candelario made a nice play on a slow roller to 3B and then almost made a better one on a chopper only to see the runner just barely beat it out.


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    John, I thought that Almora would be the breakout player of the year, but now mentioning Russell's HR I think that he could also be--and could an AS who drove in 95 runs last year be a breakout player? Pierce Johnson could be a very interesting piece of the staff this year too.
    There will be so many stories this year, and we know that in ST since there are so many more players in camp you'll be writing about so many more than in the regular season. Keep your strength up because every day will be interesting. thanks again John.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    A lot of people think it might be Russell this year. I think Almora is a good pick for 2018.

    I thought Johnson was very good and a lot of the depth guys look like solid arms that can help in a pinch.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Russell is also my pick for breakout player. Here's my reasoning.

    On August 23rd last year, Russell had 19 hrs and had driven in 82. In his remaining 33 games he had two homers and 13 rbi and his average cratered to .238. I think it was a case of him approaching historic numbers for someone of his age/position, as well as the grind of a long season.

    Just maintaining his pace from August 23rd would've had him sitting at .251 24 hr and 105 rbi.

    With his added maturity and experience, I think he'll approach .270 30 hr 115 rbi. For a 23 year old ss with GG defense, that would be incredible, but I think it's also quite possible this year.

  • In reply to Glen Krisch:

    I think Russell looks poised to break out as well. Here's something to think about; in 2016 the Cubs had 4 players at 4.0 fWAR or above. They lost one of those players in Fowler but it is not unrealistic to think that they could have 7 or 8 players above that mark in 2018.

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    In reply to TC154:

    At first I thought your 7-8 estimate unrealistic. Then I started listing guys that I thought could get there and I came up with 8 pretty fast and don't feel I "exhausted" the list. Since it is likely that there will be some regression I doubt that all the ones on my list will make it to 4 fWAR but imagining some combination of 7 of them doing it is pretty easy. Not assured, but not necessarily wildly optimistic either.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I don't know that I was actually making a prediction of 7-8 guys over 4.0, it's a long season and baseball is a funny game, but the very fact that it's possible is testament to the team these guys have built. Pretty much anything over 4-5 guys in that category would be historic.

  • In reply to Glen Krisch:

    Solid reasoning. If he can pick up where he left off. I really like the increasing walk rate and decreasing K rate as well. It tells me he is starting to read MLB pitchers better.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    In an article yesterday, ESPN picked Schwarber as its top breakout player for the whole league. It's crazy to think he hasn't play a full season yet. I have a feeling Baez is going to breakout and make it very hard for Maddon to keep him out of the lineup. So many options for what is still a young team.

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    In reply to Cubswin09:

    I wouldn't mind that. If we have Zobrist as a PH off the bench that would be incredible! He is a switch-hitter with some power (not much, but some) and can put the bat on the ball. But he would also be there to "spell" someone with a possible drop off on defense but not necessarily much on offense. Just a different skill-set.

  • I predict Bryant will break out this year.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Haha :) That is a bold one!

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    In reply to wastrel:

    Make-or-break year for Rizzo. They sign him to a big deal effectively buying out his arbitration years and even first year or two of FA and it's time he start living up to that contract. LOL

  • I like seeing good reports on Candelario's defense. Somehow, rumors started swirling about his defense at third this off-season, which played havoc with his rankings. Frankly, I have never seen anything but solid to outstanding defense out of Candelario since I began covering him way back in 2013.

  • In reply to Tom U:

    I sometimes wonder about that. Never heard any worries about his defense from the Cubs people, usually from other teams.

  • I was worried back in 2012-13 as his range wasn't very good and he had the type of body that I thought could get worse and force him to 1B. But he has stayed in good shape, hasn't added any bad weight and I think has improved his first step. He is never going to be amazing over there, but I have not been concerned about him being a liability for some time.

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