MESA, Arizona -- Here's how well Welington Castillo ("Beef", as he's been affectionately termed here) has hit this spring. He went 1-for-2 and drove in the winning run in the Cubs' 3-2, 10 inning win over the Giants, and his average went down by 27 points.
From .733 to .706.
I'll talk more about Castillo -- and Max Ramirez, too -- in a bit. But first, let me say how outstanding Randy Wells was today. Emmanuel Burriss, the game's leadoff hitter, singled and stole second. The next hitter, our old buddy Mike Fontenot, singled up the middle. Marlon Byrd overthrew the cutoff man and the run scored and Fontenot went to second (though, to be fair to Byrd, even if he holds the runner at third, the next hitter, Pablo Sandoval, hit a fly ball that would have scored the run anyway).
And then -- nothing. Wells retired all 18 hitters he faced after that, including seven strikeouts. He's got a 1.35 ERA this spring and has been the team's most consistent starter. Wells had said he was going to bear down and improve on last year's performance -- so far, so good. Let's hope he can carry this through to the regular season.
John Grabow threw a decent inning, giving up a single and getting a couple of ground ball outs, but Sean Marshall -- who has not had a good spring, with a 6.75 ERA -- blew the lead and the game went into extra innings after Carlos Marmol had a 1-2-3 ninth and Jae-Hoon Ha, pinch-running with two out in the bottom of that inning, got picked off.
Marcos Mateo -- who, I believe, still is not a major league pitcher -- pitched himself into a jam with a walk after Starlin Castro booted a ground ball, but got out of it when Castillo made a nice play on an attempted sac and turned it into a force at third, then struck out two Giants minor leaguers wearing numbers in the 80s and 90s.
Which set up the heroics in the bottom of the 10th from Max Ramirez, who worked a walk after a single and a fly out, and Beef's RBI game-winner.
Koyie Hill, meanwhile, went 0-for-3, lowering his spring average to .037, and failed to throw out two runners attempting to steal.
How hard is this decision, really? It should be getting close to time for more roster cuts; the last round was last Tuesday, and there appears to be a pretty good chance that tomorrow's game at Tempe against the Angels will be rained out (80% chance of rain). So the brass may have an unexpected day off to make some roster decisions. Please make the right one -- thank Koyie for his service, offer him a coaching job, and put Beef or Max-Ram on the roster. Incidentally, Max-Ram played 1B today -- maybe a nod to try to get him to be more versatile.
Meanwhile, no one else did much offensively today, except Byrd, who went 2-for-2 with a walk and is now hitting .488 for the spring.
Today's crowd of 13,465 set a HoHoKam Park attendance record (by three people) -- although, there appeared to be some empty seats and the berm, though fairly crowded, didn't seem overwhelmingly so as opposed to other large crowds. Among those on the berm today was Tom Ricketts, who stopped by to say hello and, like last year, got mobbed for autographs and photos, which he gave in good spirits. (No, it wasn't the time for a Q&A session. I hope to talk to him when I get back to Chicago.)
That brings the spring season attendance to 104,370, an average of 8,698 per date. There are five dates remaining in the spring season; not all of them will sell out, but the Cubs could draw 150,000 for the 17 dates. That would be about the same as last year's total (152,493), but in three more dates. The Giants drew another sellout in Scottsdale today, 11,616, and the Rockies drew 12,209 at Talking Stick.
It remains to be seen whether all of Cactus League attendance will be what it was a year ago. It's clear that the new complex is going to set all kinds of records, and the Giants are doing well. Other teams are flat or down.
Tomorrow, weather permitting, Andrew Cashner will start against the Angels in Tempe. Jered Weaver will go for the Angels; other Angels scheduled to pitch tomorrow are Kevin Jepsen, (the other) Francisco Rodriguez and Jason Bulger. The game will be televised on MLB Network.