Third baseman Scott McClain of the Chicago Cubs swings during a Spring Training game at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report in just two days, rather than another retro recap of a regular season game, I thought I'd share with you a recap of one memorable spring training game from 2004 -- a season we entered with quite a bit of optimism after the near-miss of 2003 and the acquisitions of players like Derrek Lee and Greg Maddux in the offseason.
The hero of the game in question -- indeed, the hero of that Cub camp -- was Scott McClain, who had the spring training of his (or almost anyone's) life: 16-for-48 with five doubles, six home runs and 16 RBI. For that, he got released at the end of camp, and didn't play at all during the 2004 season. The Cubs brought him back to spring camp in 2005; he played that year at Iowa, hitting .291/.358/.577 with 30 HR and 93 RBI. For that, he got a September callup in which he went 2-for-14.
McClain had some talent, but was 33 by the time he had that big year in Triple-A. Bryan LaHair, who has had a similar career track, is somewhat younger at 29. Maybe he'll do this year what McClain couldn't. The photo on this post was taken during that year's spring (although not during the game that's recapped here -- the game I'm linking to was a night game). You can tell right away it's a spring photo by the "71" on his back.
This site did not begin until 2005, but some time ago I was able to import my baseball-related posts from my old blog into the database here. Hope you enjoy this recap of the Cubs' 1-0 win over the Athletics on March 22, 2004. (Note: the link to the Yahoo recap to which I linked in that post is no longer active.)