Same Time, This Year

MESA, Arizona -- Last year, I got into a bit of a feud with the good folks at Royals Review, when in this recap of a 13-10 Cub spring win over KC, I said "The Royals are a really, really bad team". (Say, incidentally, Royals Review -- you guys never did pay off on the bet we made after that!)

Second verse, same as the first -- and the winning run was scored by the same guy who hit the three-run walkoff to win last year's game, Ronny Cedeno, who had just hit a triple which juuuuuust made it inside the RF foul like to score Felix Pie with the tying run. The Cubs came from behind to beat the Royals 6-5 in a game they should have won easily, and would have, had it been played under regular season conditions. And Cedeno was capping off a fine day in which he singled, doubled and tripled -- and didn't even get into the game until the sixth inning.

They don't do that here, of course, and after Aramis Ramirez' three-run homer -- his first of the spring -- gave the Cubs a 4-1 lead, Lou gave everyone the rest of the afternoon off. Kosuke Fukudome had followed A-Ram's HR with a walk and then, stealing second, appeared to tumble and hurt himself, giving, as Mike said to me right afterwards, heart failure in the dugout and in the executive suites. Dome, however, got up and walked off the field under his own power and seemed fine, and was probably going to be lifted anyway, as were the rest of the starters.

Tim Lahey -- who had a shot at making this team -- then came in and got plastered around the yard by some miscellaneous Royals, some of whom may even be wearing major league uniforms come March 31. After four straight hits and a groundout gave KC a 5-4 lead, Lahey issued a walk and then Lou had seen enough. What I didn't understand is why Les Walrond was the next pitcher into the game. There are other pitchers who have a better shot at making the staff that deserved a look, I thought. Yes, Walrond dispatched the next two hitters, and if that's the last action he sees in a Cub uniform, let it be said that it was good.

However, I heard today that there are scouts looking at Neal Cotts for a possible trade. So why wasn't Cotts in the game? He hadn't pitched since he gave up that monster HR to Jim Thome in Tucson on Saturday.

I was also surprised to NOT see Kerry Wood throw today; I suppose that means that he'll go in one of the split-squad games tomorrow (probably the day game) and then on Thursday afternoon. Instead, Kevin Hart threw the 9th inning and had an easy one, with two strikeouts. I think Hart's made the roster and Lahey set himself back today. Can anyone here post the correct information on how the Cubs can keep him while NOT placing him on the 25-man roster? Earlier today, it was suggested that the Cubs have to expose him to waivers to return him to the Twins -- is that correct?

Jason Marquis had a shaky first inning, giving up a leadoff triple which led to a run, but settled down after that. After giving up a leadoff hit in the sixth, he must have hit a pitch count, because Lou came out immediately to yank him. He seems to have the upper hand over Ryan Dempster for the last spot in the rotation; Dempster will pitch the afternoon game tomorrow.

Despite the game-time temperature being announced as 63 degrees, it was a gorgeous, sunny, warm day on the LF berm, with not a single cloud visible all afternoon, and that's supposed to be the weather for at least the next week, with warmer temperatures each day. Tomorrow's day game, incidentally, starts at 12:05 Arizona time -- that's 2:05 Central time, or an hour earlier than has been the case since the Daylight Saving Time switch.

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