SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Ryan Court isn’t going to make the Cubs’ 25-man roster. In fact, he’s 29 years old and has played just 124 games above Double-A.
But Court is making a case for him to become the Cubs’ emergency injury backup infielder at Triple-A Iowa. His ninth-inning homer broke a tie and gave the Cubs a 5-4 win over the Rockies at Talking Stick in front of a much smaller crowd than Sunday’s at the same ballpark (9,294 on a gorgeous Monday with temperatures in the 70s).
Court, who has played everywhere in the infield this spring as Joe Maddon and the coaches get a look at him, is hitting .462/.563/1.077 (1.639 OPS). He’s 6-for-13 with two doubles, two home runs, two walks and a stolen base.
Yes, I am well aware those numbers don’t mean much. And yes, I am also well aware that Court is doing all this mashing against mostly minor-league pitching.
But at 29, maybe he’s the guy who can come to the big-league Cubs for a week or two if needed if anyone’s injured. Court is a Chicago-area native (Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville) and he played college ball at Illinois State. He was a 23rd-round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2011 and spent some time in the Red Sox organization (after Theo left). It would be a nice story if he could get a big-league cuppa coffee.
The rest of the Cubs did well today, too. Ian Happ continued his hot hitting, going 3-for-4 with a single, double and his fourth home run of the spring. Happ is hitting .471/.500/1.294 (1.794 OPS) — 8-for-17 with the four homers, seven RBI and two doubles. As ever, take these numbers with the appropriate amount of caution. Happ’s home run went a long, long way:
Ian Happ is mashing today...— Daren Willman (@darenw) March 5, 2018
109.5 MPH Double
108.9 MPH HR, 432ft HR pic.twitter.com/ptm56ojEGL
Kyle Hendricks threw three innings which I thought were pretty good overall. He did serve up a two-run homer to Charlie Blackmon in the first, but overall wound up with four strikeouts, three called, which means his changeup is probably working fairly close to where he wants it to be for the beginning of the season. He should get at least four more spring starts before his first outing against the Marlins in regular season game 2.
The other Cubs homer Monday was hit by Anthony Rizzo, his second of the spring, and it didn’t have great distance, but look at the height of the arc:
Kyle Schwarber had his first extra-base hit of the spring, an opposite-field double which was nice to see.
Cubs relievers did a pretty good job all day, save for Eddie Butler, who was touched up for two runs in his inning of work. Brian Duensing, the only reliever Monday who will be on the 25-man roster, allowed a double to Trevor Story in an otherwise scoreless frame.
Justin Hancock, who the Cubs picked up from the Padres for Matt Szczur last spring, made his Cubs spring debut by posting a scoreless inning. He allowed a leadoff single, but non-roster catcher Ali Solis caught the runner trying to steal. Solis, who played 58 games at Iowa last year, will likely be Victor Caratini’s backup there again in 2018. He’s pretty good defensively and Joe Maddon knows him from the 2014 season, which he spent in the Rays organization. He also has the best beard in camp:
Tuesday is the long-awaited Cubs debut of Yu Darvish, who will be facing his former Dodger teammates at Sloan Park. Wilmer Font will go for the Dodgers. Game time is 2:05 p.m. CT, and the game is audio-only, via cubs.com.