Neither game was pretty and there's some potentially bad news coming from Mesa, but the Cubs won twice this afternoon, 8-7 over the White Sox in Las Vegas (sweeping the pair there), and 11-4 over the Reds in Mesa.
The bad news is that Aramis Ramirez left the Mesa game with a sore tricep; he's day-to-day. (Aren't we all?) Let's hope this early exit was just a precaution -- that's usually the case in spring training, although Derrek Lee was supposed to return today from fouling a ball off his foot. Now we hear he may not be back until Tuesday.
Fortunately, there are still three weeks till Opening Day.
Bryan LaHair came in to replace Ramirez (and play 1B with Chad Tracy moving to third), and he made a nice defensive play and went 2-for-4 with a home run. Reds pitchers Micah Owings and former White Sox Jon Adkins got pounded after starter Homer Bailey did pretty well, as did the Cubs' Sean Marshall. So far, Marshall has the leg up in the fifth-starter derby -- at least that's what I think. Good news: Ted Lilly's ahead in his rehab schedule, so maybe he'll even be ready to take a turn by mid-April and we won't have to worry too much about starting pitching.
In Las Vegas, Ryan Dempster was touched for only one unearned run in his three innings, but J.R. Mathes (who's probably not in the running for a bullpen slot) got nailed for four. John Gaub and Justin Berg looked pretty good -- Berg gave up an unearned run in the ninth inning when substitute left fielder Matt Camp made a Brant Brown-like drop of a fly ball. Fortunately, Berg got the next hitter on an easy ground ball. To be fair, it looked extraordinaily windy in Vegas -- you could see jerseys flapping around in the breeze -- and that made the fly ball to Camp definitely not routine, especially because he was looking into the late afternoon sun.
Jeff Baker, who hasn't hit much this spring, had two RBI, and Micah Hoffpauir (.133 so far) doubled and scored.
It's starting to get to time, even with three weeks to go, that some more playing time is going to be given to those who are going to come north; the first roster cuts are expected on Tuesday. Randy Wells will go tomorrow, his third outing, which means he should go four innings, the first starter to do so.