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Making A List, Checking It Twice

MESA, Arizona -- No, it's not Santa Claus making a list, but Dusty Baker and the coaching staff, trying to find a pitcher to temporarily replace Mark Prior in the rotation.

I could just see them scratching another name or two off the list today after the 10-7 loss to the Rangers.

Gary Glover started. OK, this is a stretch to begin with, and I think he pitched himself off the team today. He was awful, giving up five hard hits in the first inning, including two homers, one by Hank Blalock and one by Alfonso Soriano, who was playing his first game ever at Ho Ho Kam Park, and you couldn't blame him if he wanted to stay, because he homered again off Bryan Corey in the 7th.

So at this point, that empty starter's spot is still open, no one having laid a good claim to it. I know Jim Hendry was quoted as saying they wouldn't push new acquisition Andy Pratt, because he's thrown only eight innings this spring, but why not? No one else has stepped up. Yet.

Today was Jeff & Krista's first day in the sunshine and it showed, they were both pretty pasty white. I brought a scorecard for Jeff but he didn't want to score today, wanting to ease into it, and Krista spent much of the afternoon napping, and it was a pretty somnolent game, punctuated by huge rallies; after the Cubs went down 6-0, they mashed around a couple of mediocre Texas relievers. Everyone hit today, just like yesterday, and not a single regular player was taken out (other than the pitchers), which is highly unusual for a spring training game. I'd suspect that several regulars will get the night off tomorrow at Peoria against the Padres, and so will be fresh for Sunday's televised game at Mesa.

Also ran into Bob the baker (he's not a baker any more, but that's what we call him) and his wife, who are down here for a week or so, and chatted with them for a while. Carole & Ernie took off for the Grand Canyon this morning, and will return in time for the night game tomorrow.

Sammy Sosa had three hits and three RBI and appears to be ready. One thing we learned today is that Todd Hollandsworth is a really bad first baseman; he attempted to start a 3-6-3 DP and threw about 15 feet off the bag; luckily, Alex Gonzalez was there to complete one putout back at first, but the failure to get the lead runner cost the Cubs the sixth run of the game in the third inning off Todd Wellemeyer.

I shouldn't say that all the pitchers stunk today. Kent Mercker, who has thrown very well all spring, struck out all three batters he faced, and Mike Wuertz, who wasn't even on the radar screen earlier, struck out five in two innings and he may have put himself in a position to make the team, now that Juan Cruz is gone.

But, after the Cubs had actually taken a 7-6 lead, Bryan Corey came in and gave it right back and Joe Borowski had a poor inning of work, though in fairness, Tom Goodwin almost made a spectacular catch on what woound up as a David Dellucci triple to CF.

Today, for the first time all spring, there were a couple of people smoking in the back of the lawn area. Smoking is completely prohibited at Ho Ho Kam, by Mesa ordinance, and the Mesa police had to come by and ask them to stop. Yes, it's outdoors, but it's still annoying, and I compliment the city of Mesa (and also Tempe, where they have a similar prohibition) for this forward-thinking ordinance.

Finally, in the first inning, a plane flew over -- and this happens often, as Ho Ho Kam is directly in the landing path for Sky Harbor Airport. Suddenly I heard cheering, and looked up, and realized it was Air Force One. The president was in town today for a two-hour appearance and the plane was actually a little off the flight path to Sky Harbor, but indeed did wind up landing there. (I originally wrote that he was headed to Luke Air Force Base, but today's Arizona Republic confirmed he did indeed land at the international airport, delaying many flights.) Many of you know that my political leanings are away from the current occupant of the White House, but I still have respect for the institution of the presidency. Still, it's kind of silly to applaud an airplane -- after all, no one on board could hear. Maybe the president knew his old team, the Rangers, were playing and he wanted to get a glimpse of them... naaaaaaaah.