Chicago Cubs infielder Anthony Rizzo reacts to a play against the Oakland Athletics during a spring training game at HoHoKam Park. Credit: Allan Henry-US PRESSWIRE
And then the game went into the fourth inning and when Sveum began to empty his bench, the maybe-not-ready-for-prime-time players Jeff Beliveau and Dae-Eun Rhee got pounded. Beliveau couldn't find the plate and walked three. Sveum had apparently planned for him to throw a whole inning, but not with that many pitches already thrown. Beliveau didn't get anyone out and Rhee compounded the bad inning by giving up a grand slam to Brandon Allen, who had seven RBI overall.
And then Rhee gave up another homer to Eric Sogard.
To wit, a perfectly ordinary spring training game was happening today at Mesa. The Cubs wound up losing the game 12-10.
By the time Rhee and Beliveau were done, the Cubs trailed 9-3. Naturally, as soon as the A's and Cubs both emptied their benches in favor of minor leaguers, the Cubs came back. Brian Fuentes gave up a home run to Welington Castillo (who started today and committed a passed ball before his homer), and then Edgar Gonzalez loaded the bases and Adrian Cardenas, who is in the mix for a backup infield job, cleared them with a triple.
Darwin Barney doubled in a pair of runs before he was given the rest of the day off.
No, I don't have anything to say about Rodrigo Lopez. OK, fine. He threw two scoreless innings. Big whoop. The good news is that Cubs pitchers other than Beliveau, Rhee and Marcos Mateo (who had a rough ninth inning, giving up the eventual winning runs) threw 6.1 innings combined and gave up just one hit, one walk and one run.
Which is to say, again, that this was a typical first spring training game, almost more like the intrasquad games played the last couple of days. The nice weather (low 80s, without a cloud to be seen), along with the return of baseball for the season, probably contributed to a nice first-day crowd of 10,366. The somewhat later start to the spring season likely also helped; 2011's first home game, also played on a Sunday, happened on Feb. 27 and drew just 6,892. Other attendance reports from various Cactus League venues seem to indicate that attendance could be up this season.