Believe It Or Not, This Is A GOOD Sign

Last year, as you might recall, every time I listened to a spring training game on the radio, the Cubs lost.

Nevertheless, I was excited to listen to today's game, since there simply aren't that many broadcast games this spring.

The curse worked again. The Cubs lost again, 11-3 to the Giants at Scottsdale. It got so bad that I turned it off in the fourth inning after they went down 10-3, with Reynel Pinto, a pitcher with some promise who has zero chance of making the major league team this year, taking most of the damage in a six-run third inning. The worst of it was a grand slam by the Giants' starting pitcher, Jason Schmidt.

Matt Clement didn't throw that well either, getting pounded for two walks, four hits and four runs in a two-inning stint that had him throwing way too many pitches.

The good news is that Todd Wellemeyer came in and threw three good innings, striking out four, and keeping him in the running for the bullpen slot(s) that may be available with Mike Remlinger and Kent Mercker both hurt.

Scott McClain hit his third home run of the spring. This is almost completely meaningless, as McClain, who is 31 and spent the last three years playing in Japan, will almost certainly start 2004 as the starting first baseman at Iowa. He can also play third base, so he's a useful spare part to have at Triple-A in case of injury.

Meanwhile, the other half of the squad was in Tucson losing to the Rockies 7-2. Mark Grudzielanek made the trip and went 1-for-3. Really, I'm reaching for highlights here.

This game was apparently a long bullpen audition, as candidates Gary Glover (who was bad, allowing two homers, three walks and five runs in three innings) and Jimmy Anderson (stellar, four strikeouts in three scoreless innings) also attempted to prove they can fill the last slot in the bullpen.

These games are too confusing. There is only one more split-squad day, next Saturday when both splits will again be on the road, one in Maryvale against the Brewers and the other in Phoenix against the A's (and yes, I know Maryvale's actually within the city limits of Phoenix). I'll be attending the Maryvale game, as I like that ballpark and it probably gives a chance to see players who wouldn't otherwise get a chance to play.

Ron Santo seemed less irritating on the air today than he usually does to me; maybe that's because of the virtual meaninglessness of the game. The two of them spent a lot of time discussing their attendance guess. The 11,395 reported is about 1,000 over the listed capacity of Scottsdale Stadium, and the 8,739 the Rockies drew for the other half of the Cub squad is more than double the usual attendance for Rockies exhibition games, showing the drawing power of the Cubs even a two-hour drive from Phoenix.
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