Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Travis Wood throws at HoHoKam Park. Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE
Meanwhile, a squad full of Padres scrubs, veterans trying to hang on, rookies looking to make it and six guys wearing numbers 90 or higher defeated the Cubs 5-1 in front of a sellout crowd of 12,872 and a WGN-TV audience.
Seriously, the only Padres who played in this game that I had actually heard of before today were Yonder Alonso, Will Venable, Jeremy Hermida, Yasmani Grandal (and only because he had been included in the Mat Latos deal) and starting pitcher Anthony Bass. And their starting third baseman's name was Jedd Gyorko, which PA announcer Tim Sheridan pronounced (I assume correctly) "Jerko".
Now if that were your name, wouldn't you say it differently?
If you think I'm trying to avoid talking about today's game, you'd be right. However, the purpose of a recap is to, in fact, recap the game. So, follow me past the jump for some thoughts about Saturday afternoon's loss.
Travis Wood actually deserved better than he got on Saturday. Here's what Wood said after his outing previous to this one:
"You get traded for a guy like [Sean] Marshall, who is an outstanding pitcher. you want to come over here and show them what you can do and I haven’t been," he said. "But it’s all going to work out. I’m going to get it together and get after it."
Well, there's what likely has been a big part of Wood's problem. The minute you put pressure on yourself because you were traded for someone you perceive as "outstanding" (which Marshall is), you're going to fail. Wood has talent and shouldn't be on the mound comparing himself to anyone -- he should just be himself.
Saturday, he was, for the most part. He had a good sinker working and got through three innings with little trouble, giving up one hit in each inning and getting five of the first nine outs on ground balls. He got into trouble in the fourth when he gave up a single and then hit Hermida. He managed to get an out, but then a single and an error by Alfonso Soriano scored a run and put runners on first and third.
Padres pitcher Anthony Bass then executed a well-placed bunt, which wound up as a force play at second, with another run scoring.
Dale Sveum then came to get Wood. He must have reached a pitch count. Personally, I'd have left him in, but it also appeared that Sveum wanted to see how Trever Miller reacted in a situation with runners on and two out and a lefthanded hitter up.
Badly, as it turned out; Will Venable doubled in the third run of the inning. So overall, I thought Wood's outing was pretty good.
Meanwhile, the Cubs' offense for the first six innings consisted of a double by Soriano, a fly ball by Jeff Baker advancing him to third, and a sac fly by Darwin Barney scoring him, all in the second inning. Other than that, the Cubs had just two baserunners in the first six frames; David DeJesus reached on an error to lead off the bottom of the first but was erased on a double play, and Barney walked in the fifth. That was also followed by a double play.
Someone missed a sign, and it appeared to have been Baker; Byrd took off for the plate on what looked like a suicide squeeze, only Baker didn't bunt. After several throws, Byrd was tagged out at the plate. I don't have a real issue with this; that's what spring training is for. Nice to see the team try something aggressive. Now next time, perhaps they'll be able to execute the play.
And Lendy Castillo again showed he's not nearly ready for a major league bullpen; he's got a good arm but little command. He issued a pair of walks. The Cubs' choices would seem to be: offer him back to the Phillies, or try to work out some kind of deal so they can send him to Double-A to work on his control. He's got talent, but it's a year or two from being able to help a major-league bullpen.
Attendance watch: the sellout brought the 2012 season total to 108,932, an average of 9,903 for the 11 dates. That hasn't provided much happiness for the home crowds -- the Cubs are just 2-9 at Mesa this year, winning only on March 6 against the Rockies and March 12 against the Reds.
Sunday, the team travels to Goodyear to face the Indians in another WGN-TV and radio game. I'll get my first chance to see Rodrigo Lopez, who gets the start against Cleveland's Jeanmar Gomez. If you're around Mesa, you can see Ryan Dempster throw in a minor league game at Fitch Park at 1 p.m. Arizona time.