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Harden-ly Worth The Trip: Cubs 1, Yankees 10

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- I opted to spend a beautiful Arizona afternoon in the sun rather than watch most of today's game (I did see most of the middle innings). Turned out that was the right choice; the Cubs were really never in today's 10-1 loss to the Yankees. In fact, it seemed like the entire weekend was a Yankee-fest, celebrating the opening of their new park, although it seemed like about half of the announced crowd of 48,917 this afternoon didn't bother to show, on a windy day (watching the uniforms flap around, it seemed almost as breezy as it was a week ago Wednesday in Scottsdale). I'd like to hear from any BCB'ers who were at the game regarding the weather conditions. It didn't look too pleasant. Alfonso Soriano homered, his sixth of the spring, for the Cubs' only run.

The wind helped lead to four Yankee homers, three of them off Rich Harden. Mark Teixeira homered twice and Shelley Duncan ended the barrage with a blast off Luis Vizcaino, who would surely have been cut long ago if the Cubs didn't owe him four million dollars.

And that's the only thing we are still concerned about -- the final two spots in the bullpen. All the candidates -- Jeff Samardzija, Chad Gaudin, Angel Guzman and David Patton -- threw this afternoon, and none allowed a run, although Patton did give up a single and pair of walks to load the bases before he got out of the inning. Only Vizcaino among Cub relievers allowed any scoring today, and I'm sure if Jim Hendry could get anyone to take him, he would.

As I wrote the other day, it wouldn't be the worst idea to just let him go and eat the $3 million ($3 million instead of $4 million because at the minimum salary, someone will probably pick him up, taking on this year's minimum and Vizcaino's $500,000 buyout for next year).

That's a decision for tomorrow, says Lou:

"This is what you would call judgment day," said Lou Piniella before pitching all four of the candidates in the second game played at the new ballpark in the Bronx.

After the game, Piniella didn't appear much closer to making a final decision.

"We'll get this thing settled," Piniella said. "I guess we'll have word for you Sunday."

By which time the Cubs will be in Houston; they are scheduled to land about 8:30 pm CDT tonight and will have a workout at the Juice Box tomorrow, before Monday night's opener. The Cubs finished the spring season 18-18 (18-19 if you include the 3-2 exhibition loss to Japan). But that's in the past now. Come October, will anyone remember that the Angels had the best spring record at 25-8? Or the Diamondbacks the worst at 11-22?

Of course not. The excitement begins on Monday. Enjoy the off day.