PEORIA, Arizona — The Cubs don’t have a place for Ian Happ on their 25-man roster at this time, so he’ll spend the summer of 2017 in Des Moines, Iowa.
If he keeps hitting like he’s been hitting this spring, though, they will have to find somewhere for him to play. Happ homered again Monday, his third of the spring (and in his last four games) and added a pair of singles to help lead the Cubs to a 3-1 win over the Padres.
Here’s just how hot Happ has been:
#Cubs Happ singles to CF in 4th. Now 8-for-10 since Friday with 3 HRs. He said he had family in town. Maybe they should stick around— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 13, 2017
Happ had another single after that, so make him 9-for-11 since Friday with the three home runs. He’s been playing mostly second base this spring, and competently so (he reminds me a bit of Ben Zobrist playing 2B), but I know the Cubs are going to have him play some outfield at Iowa. In many ways, he resembles Zobrist, both physically and in his style of play. And Zobs will be reaching the end of his career just about the time Happ could be ready to play. Convenient, I’d say. Here’s Happ’s homer:
Wake up.— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 13, 2017
Go to sleep.
John Lackey threw three competent innings and might have gotten out of his outing without allowing a run, except for a throwing error by Willson Contreras on an attempted steal of third by Cory Spangenberg, who had doubled with two out. The bad throw let Spangenberg score, the only San Diego run of the afternoon.
Cubs relievers threw six innings and allowed six hits and a walk with six strikeouts, good performances by Jake Buchanan, David Rollins, Aaron Brooks and Jhondaniel Medina. Medina and Brooks were sent down earlier in the day, no surprise to anyone. But on Monday, Cubs relievers allowed just one baserunner after the fifth inning. Unfortunately, Buchanan had to leave the game after being hit on his right shoulder by a line drive hit by Hunter Renfroe. Fortunately, Buchanan appears to be OK:
#Cubs Buchanan has upper arm contusion on right arm. He's day to day— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 13, 2017
The Cubs might have had another run in the fifth after Contreras had doubled in Albert Almora Jr. Jon Jay, who was also on base, tried to score on the double, which had been lost in the sun by Padres center fielder Travis Jankowski. But right fielder Rafael Ortega made a nice throw that was relayed in by second baseman Carlos Asuaje to throw out Jay at the plate.
Speaking of Almora, I am more and more impressed with him every time I see him. I decided to pay closer attention to him in this game, every time a ball was hit his way (he made six putouts). You can see he has a tremendous sense of exactly where he is on the field and exactly what he has to do to make each play. You’ve no doubt been excited about the highlight-reel catches he makes, and those are certainly worthy, but the routine plays are just as notable — if for nothing more than you know he’s going to make every single one of them. Almora might be the best defensive center fielder in baseball right now, and that’s saying something with guys like Kevin Kiermaier and Kevin Pillar his contemporaries. I’ve often been skeptical of Almora because I didn’t think he’d hit much. If he can even hit as well as the two Kevins he’s a very good major-league player, and he might even do a bit better.
11,194 attended the game, about 80 percent Cubs fans, as the faithful of our favorite North Side team are taking over pretty much every Cactus League park.
This recap is delayed because there was a special viewing of the World Series trophy at Sloan Park for spring season-ticket holders. I went there after the game in Peoria, and the event was quite pleasant, no lines, and the trophy silhouetted against Sloan Park in the background:
Looks pretty good there, doesn’t it.
Cubs baseball returns to Sloan Park Tuesday afternoon. Brett Anderson starts for the Cubs and Zach Davies for the Brewers.