It turned out to be quite an eventful day as the Cubs played their next to last 2016 Spring Training game here in Sloan Park. Jake Arrieta managed to quell some fears — for the time being, at least — as he threw 5 innings of 2 hit, one run ball. He walked two and struck out 5. Arrieta is saying the blister is already gone and that it will not be a concern.
The Cubs continued to mash on offense, hitting 5 HRs. Addison Russell hit his team leading 5th, Kyle Schwarber his first, and David Ross hit his 2nd. A couple of players who factored in the Cubs final roster maneuvers, also HR’d. Munenori Kawasaki surprised everyone with his first HR of the spring and Matt Szczur hit his second in as many days. Szczur went 3 for 3, with a double, single, run scored, and 2 RBI overall.
The Cubs won 9-5 and you can read the box score here.
It was a celebration of sorts for Szczur, who essentially made the Opening Day roster when the Cubs placed Javier Baez on the DL with a thumb contusion. Tommy La Stella also made the team as a backup infielder and valuable bat off the bench. On the pitching side, Neil Ramirez, as expected, made the final cut. The RP was out of options and had begun to pitch well again of late.
The Cubs also got some good news from 3 non-roster players who just missed the cut. Munenori Kawasaki, Manny Parra, and Shane Victorino were all re-signed to minor league deals and, along with Spencer Patton, are likely to be among the first call-ups during the season.
#Cubs have also re-signed Kawasaki, Parra and Victorino to minor-league deals.
— Patrick Mooney (@CSNMooney) March 29, 2016
Notes from the backfields
- LHP Carson Sands turned in a solid start, pitching 4 scoreless innings. The fastball was 88-90 mph, down a bit from last spring, but the curveball was better today. He’s still not clicking on all cylinders, but he took a step closer today.
- Eric Leal worked 5 quick innings and allowed just one run. He was 89-91 mph FB and also had his good curve working.
- Pitching in relief for South Bend were Junior Marte, who was 90-92 and mixed in a slider, Jose Paulino, a lefty who was at 91-95 mph, and Pedro Silverio, who pitched in the 90-92 range with a solid curve.
- On the Myrtle Beach side it was Dillon Maples, who was in the 93-94 mph range and once again used his curve as an out pitch when ahead on the count. He had a quick first inning and then ran into a bit of trouble in his second frame, when he lost his feel for the strike zone, walked a batter, then allowed a soft single — but what was really impressive was that Maples, who sometimes allows those kinds of things to snowball, worked out of it by getting the next hitter to ground into a double play.
- Ryan McNeil was at 93-94 on his 4 seamer, high 80s on his 2 seamer, and also threw in an occasional slider/cutter.
- In the South Bend game, Eloy Jimenez tied the game in the bottom of the 9th with a long solo HR that I lost in the cloudy white sky. Judging from the OFers reaction, it probably landed on the roof again.
- PJ Higgins showed he has one of the quickest releases of any catcher in the organization, popping a 1.91 sec time on a steal attempt. The runner was safe, but that was no fault of Higgins, who got rid of the ball quickly and uncorked a perfectly placed throw to 2B.
- Gleyber Torres had pair of doubles in the Myrtle Beach game and Ian Happ ripped a triple down the LF as a RH hitter.
- Also of interest, Donnie Dewees (South Bend) and Shawon Dunston, Jr. (Myrtle Beach) both played CF and played well, Dewees, in fact, made a diving catch coming in and to his right, then ran down a ball in the gap in the opposite direction.
- AZ Phil has the recap from the AA/AAA games and we have some pics from the A ball games below.
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