SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Maybe, just maybe, the Cubs will get some value out of the three years left on Alfonso Soriano's contract.
Yes, I know. Spring training stats don't mean much of anything. But today, Soriano homered (his fourth of the spring) and singled and drove in a pair of runs. He's now hitting .571/.571/1.500 -- an OPS of 2.071. After Carlos Marmol blew up once again, it took a three-run homer by Joe Mather for the Cubs to come from behind and defeat the Reds 8-6. Blake Lalli also homered and the Cubs have 13 home runs in nine spring games.
Small sample size for Soriano, of course, only 14 at-bats, and he hasn't drawn a walk. But he's also struck out only twice in the 14 trips to the plate. At 36, maybe Soriano has a little bit left in his bat. That'd be nice -- if he keeps hitting like this, maybe he'll be tradeable later in the season. As for Mather, he's an intriguing player who could make the team as a backup, but again, we're talking small sample size.
Todd Frazier hit a home run for the Reds and both of those home runs went off the scoreboard -- had I not been sick today and had to miss the game, I might have had a shot at catching both of those.
Meanwhile, Cubs pitchers were OK, not great, at least until we got to Marmol, who was awful. Paul Maholm threw two innings in his Cubs spring debut, giving up the home run to Frazier. Jeff Samardzija took over and gave up a pair of runs to make it 4-3 Cubs, but then settled down and threw a pair of scoreless innings after that.
Now, let's talk about Carlos Marmol. He gave up a walk, a double, hit a batter and then a two-run single to Donald Lutz.
Maybe Marmol is working on something. Or maybe he's simply continuing his poor performance from last year. In any case, it's pretty worrisome, especially today when Marmol was in the game in the seventh inning and many of the Reds regulars were out of the game. Lutz is a Reds minor leaguer who played last year at Double-A Dayton; if Marmol is going to get back to his 2010 level, he's got to get guys like this out. A sacrifice fly given up by Marmol to Didi Gregorius (seriously? there's a baseball player named "Didi Gregorius"?) made it a three-run inning.
Attendance watch: 9,198 today. I'm not sure if that includes my unused ticket or not. Season total through five dates: 40,368, average 8,074. That's a little above where we were a year ago; other teams appear to be up a bit, too. Searching for a comparison from last year, I found that through 10 dates (obviously, more than the five so far in 2012), the Cubs had averaged 7,772. So they're already up, with some attractive dates against the White Sox, Angels and others still to come.
Tomorrow, the Cubs head to Scottsdale to face the Giants; Chris Volstad will get his second start of the spring, facing San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner. I'm planning on being there.