SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — It’s a rainy day here in the Valley of the Sun and the Cubs cancelled outdoor batting practice and workouts (they’re still getting their work in, at the indoor batting cages at the Sloan Park complex).
Here’s the biggest news of the day:
Lester, Arrieta, Hendricks and Lackey won't start 1st week of #Cubs spring games. Part of plan to ease them back— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) February 19, 2017
This makes a great deal of sense. The Cubs had a very short offseason due to winning the World Series — the best possible reason — and the spring season has been extended a week or so this year due to the World Baseball Classic. The Cubs are scheduled for 38 spring games (including five split-squad dates), so there will be plenty of time to get Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, John Lackey and Kyle Hendricks to ease into their usual rotation routine.
Thus if you are going to spring games the first week — and the schedule is home-heavy that week, with games at Sloan Park the first four days of the spring and six of the first eight — you’re going to be seeing a lot of Mike Montgomery, Brett Anderson, Alec Mills, Eddie Butler, Jake Buchanan and Rob Zastrzyny, among others, starting games. Mills, Butler, Buchanan and Zastryzny are likely going to be part of the rotation at Triple-A Iowa. Those are the guys you’d probably see fill in if anyone on the major-league rotation gets hurt.
As is typical for early spring games, starters probably won’t go more than two innings and since there are 40 pitchers in camp (24 on the 40-man roster and 16 non-roster invitees), there will be plenty of work to spread around.
I would imagine the same thing will happen with position players; the regulars are likely going to get maybe two at-bats per game over the first week or so.
Thus you’ll also see a lot of Carlos Corporan, Jemile Weeks, Chris Dominguez and Munenori Kawasaki, as well as kids from the system such as Ian Happ, Eloy Jimenez, Chesny Young, Victor Caratini and Jacob Hannemann.
This is why spring training won-lost records mean nothing. Especially in the first two weeks or so, they’re glorified Double-A games.
But it’s baseball! And it’s back in only six days.