SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Needing some time to catch up on non-baseball things, I decided to skip the trip to Surprise and the West Valley to see the Cubs play the Royals Wednesday afternoon.
The 7,593 (largest crowd of the spring at Surprise Stadium) who did go, mostly Cubs fans by the sound of the crowd on the MLB Audio broadcast with Len and Mick, saw the sub Cubs play a solid game in defeating the Royals 7-3.
None of the pitchers who went for the Cubs in this one is expected to be anywhere near the big-league roster early in the season, but all pitched well. A few thoughts about each:
- Eddie Butler. Acquired from the Rockies earlier this month for minor-league James Farris, Butler allowed a home run to Alcides Escobar on the second pitch of the game. This is not easy to do, as Escobar has 31 career homers in over 4,200 big-league at-bats. But Butler settled down and retired six of the next seven hitters he faced. The only other exception: he hit Jorge Soler with two out in the second.
- Ryan Williams. Williams opened eyes in 2015 and spring 2016, but spent much of last season injured (making only nine starts). Williams threw two innings and allowed one hit, but got out of that inning with a double play.
- Jonathan Martinez. Martinez was acquired by the Cubs from the Dodgers in the Darwin Barney deal in 2014, and spent last year at Myrtle Beach as a starter. He’s just 22 and might have a better future as a reliever. He walked three and had to be relieved mid-inning in the sixth by...
- Mario Meza. The Cubs signed him last winter out of the Mexican League. He had a very good year in Mexico in 2016 (1.59 ERA, 51 strikeouts in 51 innings, only one HR allowed). Meza is 25; I’d guess he might wind up in Double-A this year.
- Tommy Nance. Nance was signed out of indy ball (Windy City Thunderbolts) before the 2016 season. He threw a 1-2-3 seventh, striking out Soler. He threw at three levels last year, peaking at Myrtle Beach, and could also go to Double-A in 2017.
- Daury Torrez. Torrez spent his second straight year at Myrtle Beach in 2016 and wasn’t all that good. He got himself in trouble with a couple of hits in the eighth.
- Juan Paniagua. This was his second appearance of the spring in a big-league game. He was once highly regarded, but has not pitched well and spent last year at Double-A, where he posted a 4.04 ERA and 1.361 WHIP in 64⅔ innings. He will turn 26 in early April and probably now is just another organizational guy. He certainly didn’t help himself with the three walks he issued in the ninth inning, though he got out of the inning with only one run allowed after inducing a couple of ground balls.
The offense was provided in part by Kansas City errors, which allowed a pair of unearned runs to score in the third after a pair of singles by Victor Caratini and Javier Baez. Caratini had three hits on the afternoon (as the DH) and has looked good in several appearances already this spring. He’ll be at Triple-A Iowa this year, probably as the starting catcher, and could be ready to take over as Willson Contreras’ backup in 2018 after Miguel Montero’s contract expires.
Most of the Cubs’ offense was off Royals minor leaguers, though they did score a run off Brandon League in part because of three walks issued in League’s inning. League, a former Mariners closer, hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2014 and missed all of last year with shoulder injuries. The Cubs also plated three runs in the ninths off former Mets reliever Bobby Parnell. The first scored on a triple by John Andreoli (who will soon depart camp to play for Italy in the World Baseball Classic) and a double by Jacob Hannemann, who has also been an impressive hitter in camp. Hannemann then scored on a single by Chesny Young.
Eloy Jimenez drew a bases-loaded walk to drive in a run, and he also smacked a double in the ninth, moving Young to third where he scored on a sacrifice fly.
The @CubsUmp Twitter account is back for the first time this spring, too. Here’s the most egregiously bad of the four missed calls (three of which were favorable to the Cubs) from this game, which I place here mainly to break up this big wall of text:
Call hurts #Cubs— Cubs Strike Zone (@CubsUmp) March 1, 2017
Strike 1 should be ball 1
Top 2 Karns vs Candelario
8% call same
3.6in from edge pic.twitter.com/mbiPs5rLXB
There’s not a whole lot more to tell about today’s contest. It wasn’t televised anywhere; we’ve had video from the non-televised home games at Sloan Park because they run a single video camera feed on all games. This game didn’t have that.
Thursday, the Cubs will play two, a day game vs. the Reds at Goodyear (I won’t be going to that one either) and a night game vs. the Diamondbacks at Talking Stick (I’ll be at that one, and I believe it’s already sold out).
At Goodyear, Rob Zastryzny will go for the Cubs and at Talking Stick, it’ll be Jake Buchanan.