MESA, Arizona — While Tyler Chatwood’s Cubs teammates played two exhibition games against the Red Sox in Fort Myers and then traveled to Miami for an off day before Opening Day against the Marlins, Chatwood stayed behind in Mesa to throw a sim game in front of about 15 curious onlookers at Field 1 at the Sloan Park complex.
This came about due to the off day. The Cubs’ other four starters all had a “tuneup” start in their final spring outing, throwing about three or four innings or 60 pitches, but Chatwood’s turn fell on the off day, so he stayed behind to keep on schedule. He’s slotted in to start the first game of the series in Cincinnati next Monday.
The game was an intrasquad/simulated game, with Cubs minor leaguers making up the “teams” that played. I put “teams” in quotes because this game wasn’t played like a regulation game. First, there were no umpires; a Cubs coach called balls and strikes and kept track of the count. Second, there weren’t really “innings” as we know them. Chatwood threw an inning, what would have been the top of the first. Then he sat for a while while the guys who were in the field behind him batted, or most of them, anyway — more on that later.
So that’s one mostly-regulation inning. But after Chatwood threw another inning, they gathered all the players together and did an infield drill (throwing out baserunners). After what would then have been the “top of the third,” the players did an outfield drill (hitting the cutoff man). After Chatwood threw the “top of the fourth,” the game ended, having gone about 55 minutes.
By my count — and I admit this might be a bit off as I wasn’t keeping score — Chatwood threw 60 pitches in four innings, allowed five hits, two walks and two runs, and struck out five. That number of pitches/innings is just about what all the other starters threw in their final “tuneup” outing. After this, the team had a meeting at which Chatwood appeared to be thanking everyone for being there, after which I presume he was off to the airport to fly to Miami so he can be with his teammates for Opening Day Thursday afternoon.
Here is an incomplete list of the minor leaguers who participated in this game: Sean Barry, Fernando Kelli, Jose Gutierrez, Cam Balego, Gustavo Polanco, Delvin Zinn, Kwang-Min Kwon, Jonathan Sierra, Fidel Mejia, Luis Hidalgo, Luis Vazquez, Jose Gonzalez, Roberto Caro, Luis Ayala and Ramsey Romano. At the end of this session, Romano’s girlfriend came up to the fence and gave him a kiss as he told her, “I don’t know what my schedule is going to be like for the rest of the day.”
All of those players played last season for one of the Cubs’ Dominican Summer League teams, the Arizona Rookie League Cubs, or the Eugene Emeralds, except for Caro, who was at South Bend last year. Almost all of them are 18 or 19 years old and will be moving upward through the system this year.
I mentioned that the hitters against Chatwood were the guys in the field, or “most of them,” and here’s the reason for that statement. There was a player wearing uniform No. 8, who batted lefthanded and threw righthanded (he wasn’t in the field but I saw him throwing on the side), who looked very much like Chris Coghlan. A couple of other people watching this “game” with me concurred, and this man batted against Chatwood in every inning.
Here, see if you agree by looking at this batting stance. (To me, it sure looks like Coghlan.)
I haven’t been able to locate anything about Coghlan signing with the Cubs in any capacity, whether as a player, coach or “special assistant.” He might be a good signing if he’d go to Iowa to stay in playing shape in case of an injury. I’ve reached out to the Cubs for information on this and will update here if I receive any.
Here’s some video I shot of Chatwood, first of him warming up, then facing a couple of players. The third video has the guy I think is Coghlan:
After the game, the team had a meeting (you can see Chatwood at the right of the photo):
And here’s Chatwood talking to the guy who looks remarkably like Chris Coghlan:
Thought you’d all like to see how these kinds of things work. It was interesting to watch and hear a baseball game going on without a large crowd watching, where you can hear the players call each other off popups, or yell out which base to throw to, or a coach remind young players to “hit the cut” (cutoff man).
Opening Day tomorrow!