SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — There is no doubt: it is always fun to watch a Schwarbomb. So let’s do it right now!
Schwarber drove in another run with a single and made a nice running catch in right field, again showing no restriction on running after recovering from last year’s knee injury. Here’s why Schwarbs was in right field Friday:
#Cubs Schwarber playing RF today to give Heyward a chance to play CF. Also, Schwarb could play RF in some parks (ex, PNC)— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 17, 2017
Sure, why not? From time to time everyone will be swapping around positions; only Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell probably will not play anything but their “usual” position. In a situation where Schwarber plays right and Heyward center, you could see (as in this one) Jon Jay in left. Or Ben Zobrist or Albert Almora Jr. could play left in Joe Maddon’s Mad Scientist planning.
Kris Bryant plated two other Cubs runs with a single off Holland, and the Cubs completed their scoring in the eighth on a passed ball. Ryan Williams allowed a solo homer to Sox minor leaguer Nicky Delmonico in the eighth, and another run in the ninth.
Meanwhile, the Cubs kind of reversed the usual pitching scheme by having starter Duane Underwood Jr. go only one inning. That allowed Koji Uehara to throw the second inning, against the middle of the White Sox lineup. That one didn’t work out so well, as Tyler Saladino tripled off Uehara and our old friend Geovany Soto singled him in for the only White Sox run of the day.
After that, Rob Zastryzny threw three shutout innings, allowing just three hits, a much better outing than he had last Sunday against the A’s. So that’s a good sign. Carl Edwards Jr. threw a scoreless inning, issuing just one walk.
One thing I was thinking regarding Holland, watching him throw, is that this is exactly the kind of guy the Cubs could target, if he’s healthy, for a trade or for signing after the season. Holland has had knee and shoulder issues, but won’t turn 31 until the end of the season and he had several effective years for the Rangers while they were appearing in World Series. He wouldn’t be expensive to acquire either for prospects or cash. Again, all this is predicated on him being 1) healthy and 2) effective.
I didn’t go to this game so wound up watching the Sox TV broadcast with Hawk Harrelson. It was nearly unwatchable — not because Hawk used his usual set of Hawkisms, but because he and Steve Stone pretty much did not call the game. I get that, up to a point — this was the Sox’ first TV game of the spring on CSN and I know they wanted to use it to promote and market the team, ticket sales, etc. as they had Sox marketing chief Brooks Boyer as a guest for a couple of innings. But they barely even called the action.
The crowd at Camelback Ranch sounded, as many of the road-game crowds have, like it was mainly Cubs fans, especially after Schwarber’s homer. It was listed as a sellout of 12,972, but there seemed to be a lot of empty seats.
Here’s what Jake Arrieta did Friday afternoon back at the Cubs complex:
#Cubs Arrieta's outing vs Angels Triple-A team: 5 IP 1 H 3 BB 7 Ks— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 17, 2017
Arrieta: "I didn’t have my 'A' stuff half the year last year. And it doesn’t matter. There are still plenty of ways to get guys out."— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) March 17, 2017
Saturday, the Cubs will split their squad. Half the team will head to Maryvale to face the Brewers (Jake Buchanan vs. Junior Guerra) and the other half will face Team Japan at Sloan Park before the Japanese club goes on to the World Baseball Classic semifinals. John Lackey will start for the Cubs against Japan.