Chicago Cubs pitcher Travis Wood during a spring training game. Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE
The plan was for Travis Wood to throw at least two, maybe three, innings and keep up the competition for the fifth starter role this season.
Best-laid plans and all, Wood was terrible. He didn't even make it out of his first inning of work; his batters faced did, in order: strikeout, walk, walk, hit by pitch, double, dropped fly ball by Reed Johnson (that was pretty embarrassing), double, single.
Six runs had scored before Dale Sveum had mercy on poor Travis and lifted him in favor of Manuel Corpas, who struck out Norichika Aoki and got Nyjer Morgan to ground into a force play to end the carnage. Morgan and Aoki were about the only Brewers who didn't do anything in today's 10-2 crushing of the Cubs by Milwaukee; both went 0-for-4.
The Cubs might have had a bullpen decision made a bit easier today, too; Casey Coleman was also horrendous. He faced 12 batters and seven of them reached base, three by extra-base hit and two by walk; Coleman and Wood gave up all ten Brewers runs. I had thought Coleman might have enough talent to stick in the major leagues as a fifth starter, but he's already been not very good at that and he doesn't appear to have the right makeup to be a middle relief guy, either. Back to Iowa, I'd think, and probably the same for Wood, who still has options.
As for the Cubs offense, it never really had much of a chance to get off the ground. Three straight hits by Starlin Castro and Ian Stewart (doubles) and Jeff Baker (single) in the fourth inning produced the only Cubs scoring of the day, and apart from that one inning, the club was limited to a pair of harmless singles and four miscellaneous walks.
Hey, it happens. Better now than during the season, right?
HoHoKam Park was as it has been for many years; it was nice to get back to see the place in what is its penultimate season. Food prices went up slightly and souvenir prices, though still the most expensive in the Cactus League, didn't have the huge price increases they've had over the last couple of years. I would still recommend buying your Cactus League souvenirs elsewhere. Also, I learned that Fergie Jenkins' autograph booth, which has for several years had a prime spot behind third base, has been exiled to an area behind center field as the concessionaire (Ovation, if you want someone to blame) sold the spot to another food vendor.
Presumably, when the Cubs move into their new place in two years, they'll have enough room for everyone. The golf course which currently occupies some of the land on which the new complex will be built is closing this Sunday, so the process is beginning.
Attendance watch: the biggest HoHoKam crowd of the year, 11,682, showed up today, making the season total for six dates 52,050 (average 8,675). The crowd included a large and loud contingent of Brewers fans, many more than I had ever seen at a game not at the Brewers' home park. Guess winning does that. The Brewers, though, left Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez at home today; neither has played in a Cactus League road game. Braun, I understand, given his current situation; I'm not sure what's motivating A-Ram to not play away from Maryvale.
Finally, nice to meet Wendy Thurm today; she tweets as @hangingsliders and also writes for us at Baseball Nation. Good to hang out and talk baseball with a fellow writer.