MESA, Arizona — Just two days remain until the Cubs will take the field for their first spring training game, Friday afternoon against the Brewers at Maryvale.
Practices ramped up Wednesday morning, with fielding drills and batting practice in full swing. BP was both live against pitchers, and hitting off coaches’ BP tosses (you’ll see the difference in the videos below; the live BP got few swings, the coaches’ BP throws were hit hard). Most of the regulars were hitting in this session; unlike Tuesday, when Yu Darvish threw, the pitchers included guys who will likely be at Iowa this year, including Alec Mills, Duane Underwood Jr., Cory Mazzoni and Luke Farrell.
The double-play drill that you see in one of the videos below isn’t one that I’ve seen in the past. Perhaps the new coaching staff is focusing on these sorts of things. You can see that they even practiced hitting into the shift and how to defend it.
Batting practice was... basically, batting practice. It’s just as you see it during the regular season, although as you know Joe Maddon has mostly eliminated BP for many games during the season, not wanting his players to wear down. I agree with that notion and note that the Cubs are 118-57 (.674) after August 1 combined for the last three years, while they have gone 174-136 (.561) up to August 1 from 2015-17 combined. I’d think the rest Joe gets his players, both in games and through rationing of BP, helps a lot.
The Cubs have instituted a magnetometer/security check at the entrance to fields 3-6 on the west end of the complex. Security there was friendly and efficient; I did see this in place Monday, though Monday I didn’t watch any of the practices on those fields so didn’t go through it until today.
Lastly, do not let the sunshine you see in these videos fool you into thinking it was a nice warm day. Temperatures were in the mid-50s, very cool for the Valley of the Sun this time of year. Some fans wearing T-shirts and shorts looked like they wished they’d made a different clothing decision. Weather is supposed to start slowly warming up over the weekend, just in time for baseball games to start.
Almost here! In the meantime enjoy these 11 short videos of Wednesday’s practice.