The undefeated (!) Cubs take the field as the visitors Monday at Glendale, Arizona, facing the Dodgers.
Wins and losses mean very little at this stage of the spring, of course, but winning is always better than losing. Better than that are the ways runs are scoring: players picking up situations with runners in scoring position, taking extra bases, and waiting for good pitches to hit.
It's early, but if those things continue, it shows that the new "Cubs Way" is in fact taking hold. These are good signs.
"I was just telling a story about [Carlos] Marmol being my catcher in rookie ball," Willis said of the Cubs' current closer. "I'm so happy for him and how he's progressed and learned how to pitch. I actually got a chance to face him and that wasn't fun at all." Marmol could always throw. He was converted from catcher to pitcher because he struggled at the plate. Did Marmol remember catching Willis? "He was crazy," Marmol said of their days together in the Rookie-level Arizona League.
Marmol hit .295/.355/.380 in 142 plate appearances for the AZL Cubs in 2001, the year he was Willis' teammate there; he struck out 30 times. He hit .236/.250/.309 combined between the AZL and the Cubs' then-affiliate in Lansing in 2002 before being converted to pitching. For his part, Willis might not make the Cubs' major-league squad this year -- probably won't -- but if he shows well enough in minor-league games, maybe he can be stashed at Iowa as an injury replacement.
Also, Ken Rosenthal was pretty impressed with Jorge Soler (who isn't playing in today's game).
Valbuena 2B, Barney DH, Schierholtz RF, Hairston CF, Nelson 1B, McDonald LF, Castillo C, Lake 3B, Gonzalez SS
Gordon SS, Schumaker 2B, Hairston RF, Uribe 1B, Punto DH, Castellanos CF, Castro C, Amezaga 3B, Gwynn LF
The Cubs will send Carlos Villanueva to the mound today for his first spring appearance. He'll be facing Dodgers righthander Chad Billingsley. Other Cubs pitchers expected to throw today: Jensen Lewis, Blake Parker, Michael Bowden, Robert Whitenack, Barret Loux.
Today's game is a webcast on cubs.com (and via the MLB At Bat app) with Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie. The webcast will be online starting at 1:50 p.m. CT. You can also watch this game! It's on MLB.TV (on your computer or via the At Bat app only) with the Dodgers announcing team; I have been told it'll also be available on DirecTV channel 693.
For spring-training games, we'll have a first-pitch thread at game time and one overflow thread, 90 minutes after game time (because I know how you all like overflow threads!). For today, that will be 2 p.m. CT and 3:30 p.m. CT. These threads will not post individually onto the front page; instead, you can find links to them in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page. They will also appear in this StoryStream™. The pitcher box and regular-season stats will return on Opening Day.
Discuss amongst yourselves.