Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum talks to Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke before the game at Maryvale Baseball Park. Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
OKLAHOMA CITY -- I'm in a hotel resting up from the first day's drive, ready to head out Sunday morning to make it to the Phoenix area so I can head to Mesa on Monday. It was an uneventful drive, sunny much of the way, though it is raining here now. You don't care about that, I know. What you do care about is today's crisply and quickly played 6-1 Cubs win over the Brewers.
It was good all the way around, including again the time of game, a fairly quick 2:31. All six Cubs pitchers had pretty good days, save Marcos Mateo, who gave up the Brewers' only run, a solo homer by Logan Schafer. Ryan Dempster threw three good innings, and probably could have come out for a fourth since he hadn't thrown that many pitches, but this early in the spring, the point of these games is to get pitchers their scheduled work.
One of Dempster's pitches had a little fun with former Cub Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez had announced before the game that he was going to bunt on Dempster's first pitch. Dempster took care of that by throwing a wild heave way over everyone. Instead, A-Ram wound up hitting into a double play. He later struck out. Given Ramirez's comments earlier in the day, I wouldn't blame some Cubs fans for booing him.
Me, I won't do that. Ramirez produced for more than eight years in a Cubs uniform and produced many thrills for us and helped the team to three playoff appearances. He should get polite applause. I hope he does well against every team except the Cubs.
Hitting-wise, Starlin Castro smacked his first home run of the spring, a line shot. Darwin Barney had an RBI triple, and Joe Mather, vying for a backup roster spot, again had an extra-base hit and is hitting .500 for the spring. On the radio broadcast I was listening to in the car, Pat & Keith made the point that sometimes a spring training hitter does so well that he forces a team to keep him. That isn't always a good thing -- Micah Hoffpauir is a good example of that -- and spring numbers can be deceiving. But Mather has had success in the minor leagues and some limited success in the majors. Most likely, he'll wind up at Iowa as a possible injury backup.
One of the reasons for that is Blake DeWitt, who had two hits today and (sigh) played left field. If he hits this way, I'm reasonably certain he makes the team as a backup infielder/outfielder, even though he's not very good at the latter.
Alfredo Amezaga, another backup possibility, also had two hits. What Amezaga has going for him is that he can actually play shortstop -- the Cubs didn't really have a qualified backup shortstop last year and it would be nice to have someone who could spell Castro on occasion.
Sunday, Matt Garza will make his second spring start against our old buddy Ted Lilly. NOTE! Don't forget to set your clocks ahead tonight as Daylight Saving time begins in most areas, although not in Arizona. Despite that, Sunday's game will start at 2 p.m. Central Daylight Time -- that's noon in Arizona; apparently the Dodgers asked for the earlier start for their own TV broadcast. It'll be on WGN-TV again, and internet audio on cubs.com.