SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Kyle Hendricks is my favorite current Cub and here’s why:
I mean, look at that location. Awesome, especially the called third strike on Kyle Seager to end the first inning. Hendricks threw 29 strikes in 43 pitches and allowed just one single, a bouncy little hit into left field by Taylor Motter with one out in the second inning.
Obviously it’s still early and starting pitchers need to get stretched out before the regular season starts, but Hendricks looked like he could easily have gone five or six innings in this start. He should get four more starts this spring, so by the time camp is over, he ought to be ready to go seven in his first regular-season start.
Guys who won’t be anywhere near the regular-season roster gave up 11 runs to the Mariners after Hendricks left the game and so the Cubs lost the game 11-10, the winning runs scoring off Maikel Cleto in the ninth. Cleto recorded only one out, on a sacrifice bunt, allowing a double, two singles and a walk for Seattle’s winning rally.
Most of the regulars didn’t play in this game, spared the long bus ride to Peoria. Thus the offense was led by Ian Happ, who had four hits: two singles, a double and a home run with four RBI. Here’s Happ’s homer:
More hitting was provided by Chris Dominguez, who drove in three runs with a homer and a double; and Chesny Young, who homered. Dominguez, who has good power and good hands at first base, can’t keep a big-league job because he strikes out too much (864 times in 3,227 minor-league at-bats, a 26.8 percent K rate). He’ll wind up at Iowa this year, most likely, protecting the Cubs against injury. Nothing personal against him, but I hope we don’t see him at Wrigley Field this year.
Guys like Happ and Young will soon be reassigned to the minor-league camp, I’d guess by about the middle of next week, when minor-league games will begin on a daily basis. If you are in the Phoenix area, taking in a minor-league game at the Sloan Park complex on a day when the Cubs aren’t playing there is an excellent idea. You can sit up close and parking is free.
Things got a bit sloppy in the later innings. Dylan Floro served up a three-run homer in the seventh. Floro, who was claimed on waivers over the winter, was outrighted off the 40-man roster before camp began and is likely going to be in the next round of roster cuts.
Since this game didn’t mean too much to anyone but Hendricks as far as big-leaguers getting ready for the season, I hope you’ll indulge me this odd thing I noticed during the TV broadcast on the Mariners channel, Root Sports Northwest. Take a look at what’s behind Miguel Montero in the stands here:
Yes, that is what it appears to be: a stuffed bear wearing a Cubs shirt. Three innings later — same woman with the floppy hat sitting in the same seat — it’s gone, as Munenori Kawasaki bats:
I wonder if someone on the Mariners broadcast crew saw it and asked for it to be taken down. Or whether the fan just got tired of having it sit there. (If you’re wondering why it says “padres.com” on the dugout rail, it’s because that’s the Padres’ home dugout when they’re the home team at Peoria.
Hey, it’s spring training. Why not have a little fun?
The crowd at Peoria Stadium of 12,201 was the Mariners’ biggest home crowd of the spring season by a significant margin (the next-best, so far: 7,645 when they hosted the Indians on Thursday). When the spring is over I’m going to go through all the teams in the Cactus League and see if that’s the case for everyone.
Saturday, the Cubs return to Sloan Park to take on the Rockies. Jon Lester goes for the Cubs and Tyler Chatwood gets the call for Colorado.