MESA, Arizona -- After my second trip to Cubs Park to watch spring-training workouts, my feelings haven't changed much since the first time. Watching workouts is pretty dull. Players simply repeat over and over and over the things they are working on, whether it's shagging fly balls, throwing live batting practice or trying to hit live batting practice.
The photos you see above were taken on the team's main practice field, immediately across "Clark Street" (as they have dubbed the entrance road) from the main stadium. This is where they're going to take BP before games, and you can watch from the first-base side -- but the third-base side is closed off to Cubs personnel only. That also meant that another practice field, where outfield drills were going on, was unavailable for fans to watch, and there wasn't much going on on fields 4 through 7, where I was the first time I watched workouts, and where you can get much closer to the players.
This is something the Cubs should consider, especially in the two weeks before actual games begin -- to let fans get up a bit closer to the action. You can see a lot -- but not everything.
Most impressive among the pitchers I saw throw today was Arodys Vizcaino; here's what Carrie Muskat wrote at cubs.com:
"I would've never known [he was hurt] just from the way he looked today," said catcher Eli Whiteside, who caught Vizcaino. "He looked really good."It's too early to say who will be the surprise of Spring Training, but Vizcaino may be the leader so far."He looked very, very good," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said of Vizcaino, who is projected to pitch out of the bullpen. "We're very pleased with his session. Very sharp, live fastball, breaking ball, he was burying his pitches when he needed to. He's progressing well. We're happy to say there are no setbacks and we hope it continues that way."
I'd agree with that analysis, from what I saw; perhaps the Cubs will, at last, get a solid major-league pitcher from the deal that sent Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to the Braves more than a year and a half ago. Here are some videos I shot at the workout today. First, you'll see Marcus Hatley (73), a lefthander I didn't recognize (they really should wear their jerseys for these workouts!) and James McDonald (55) practice pickoffs. You'll hear some yelling, "I got it, I got it, I got it!" in the background; off to the right of where this work was going on, in the outfield, there were fielders practicing calling off their teammates as balls were flung into the air by a machine.
Neil Ramirez warming up:
Arodys Vizcaino warming up:
Armando Rivero warming up:
A few words about the Javier Báez home run that broke a windshield (or maybe it was two windshields?) during Friday's workouts. Here's a tweet from Cubs minor leaguer Dustin Geiger:
Here's the remnants of the window @javy23baez shattered in batting practice today pic.twitter.com/rOgLLOwzpl— Dustin Geiger (@D_Geiger) February 21, 2014
But there was also a tweet from a Cubs fan, clearly parked at the complex, showing a different broken window:
@CarrieMuskat @javy23baez @cubs My car was one that got hit. Didn't even get the ball either :( pic.twitter.com/1ghuiaVoso— grant smith (@gbsmith84) February 22, 2014
So we might never know. I'm not exactly sure which field that Báez shot was hit on -- but there are 40-foot screens above left and right field, and if he hit baseballs that cleared those screens... wow.
Here was Baez's response via Twitter:
Sorry about the window, i will pay it if i have to. But just dont park there again. Lol— Javier Báez (@javy23baez) February 22, 2014
Javier Báez is just a 21-year-old kid who has tremendous talent, and who I think is the one prospect who has "superstar" written all over him. But... I don't know if I'd have tweeted "LOL" at someone who was probably pretty unhappy about parking in what had to be a legitimate parking space at Cubs Park, only to come out and find his car window broken. I'm sure the Cubs will take care of this, and I hope Baez hits many more long home runs.
I'm just going to make sure I'm not parked behind the outfield wall where his home runs are heading!
Finally, I decided to head over to HoHoKam Park just to see what was going on there, if anything. The place looks kind of sad, abandoned while it's being re-done for the Athletics to move in next year. There were a couple of construction dumpsters in the parking lot, but nothing else seemed to have changed, not yet, anyway -- except what you see in the photo in the gallery above. Guess they had to make sure people knew it wasn't the winter home of the Cubs any more.
I'll be heading to Mesa again for the intrasquad game Wednesday. As soon as I find out game time information, I'll pass it along, and definitely will open a game thread.