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Spring Training In September? Makeshift Cubs Lineup Beats Pirates

Sun and clouds battled to a draw at Wrigley Field as September dawned, but the play on the field resembled nothing more than a split-squad spring training game Wednesday afternoon.

Of the Cubs' starting eight, only two -- Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano -- were in the team's Opening Day lineup this year. Back on that day in April, three others (Starlin Castro was at Tennessee and Darwin Barney and Micah Hoffpauir) were playing at Iowa (and congrats to Barney for making the All-PCL team); two were on the Cubs' bench (Koyie Hill and Tyler Colvin) and one (Blake DeWitt) was the starting second baseman for the Dodgers.

The result was ultimately meaningless, except that it won a series for the first time this year over the Pirates and gave the Cubs a 6-3 record under Mike Quade; still, today's 5-3 win over the Pirates provided a starring role for at least one Cub, Fukudome, whose future with the team has been in question.

Fukudome was 3-for-3 with a walk, RBI and two runs scored; since August 1, in 79 plate appearances, he is hitting .394/.494/.727 with eight doubles, four HR and 13 RBI. For the season his triple-slash line reads .281/.409/.465 -- clearly his best season to date, with an OPS now at .874.

The caveat, of course, is that he has 299 AB and 358 PA -- the classic platoon player. Can the Cubs afford to keep him next year as a platoon player at $14 million? The answer may be "yes", because moving him is likely going to make you eat some of that salary. If the right platoon partner can be found... the answer is "maybe", instead of the "no" it would have been a month ago. Tom Gorzelanny was sailing along when he got hit in his pitching hand by a comebacker, which caromed right to DeWitt, who retired Jose Tabata. Here is the latest update on Gorz's X-rays via tweet from Carrie:
X-rays of #Cubs Tom Gorzelanny's left hand show no displaced fracture but he will have CT scan Thur on left little finger

It may be wise, given that Carlos Silva is throwing tonight for Peoria at Kane County and that he could step in to Gorz's rotation spot on Monday after being activated, that Gorz be shut down for a while, if not for the rest of the year.

Thomas Diamond came in and promptly coughed up the 1-0 lead by giving up a home run to Neil Walker. That made him the pitcher of record when the Cubs took the lead on a Castro single and a pair of doubles. So, Diamond pitched the worst of any of the Cubs relievers -- and gets a "win" for that. So much for individual pitcher "wins" meaning much of anything. Heck of a way to get your first major league win.

The game slogged on, through eight walks issued by Cubs pitchers, until the Cubs added a pair of runs in the seventh, gave one back due to a Castro error (and he'll make that play almost every time once he gets more experience), and Carlos Marmol wrapped it up for his 25th save -- but not before issuing three walks, which is why I was wondering why he was in last night's blowout.

Onward; beating the Mets is always enjoyable, so let's get 'em over the weekend.