MESA, Arizona — One of the things we’ve all said here often is that the best result of a spring training game is when all of your players come out of it healthy.
That’s why there was a bit of a scare in the second inning of the Cubs’ 10-4 win over the Padres Thursday afternoon. The Cubs were beating up on Padres starter Jordan Lyles. Three straight singles had scored one run, and up came Javier Baez:
Javy’s double made it 3-0, and you can’t see him coming out of the batter’s box in the video, but this happened:
#Cubs Baez felt a tug in his left hamstring three steps out of batter's box. Still being evaluated— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 8, 2018
I confess I didn’t see it either, as I was watching the flight of the ball. The ball went far enough that I thought Baez might wind up on third, but when he jogged into second and immediately signaled for the dugout, it was clear something was wrong. It didn’t appear too serious — not like the Willson Contreras hamstring injury last August in San Francisco, when Willson needed to be helped off the field. Baez walked off under his own power, and fortunately, everything appears to be fine:
Take a deep breath, #Cubs fans. Javy is OK. Baez: "I'm completely fine, 100 percent. I got some treatment. The trainers were all over it and everything is fine"— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 8, 2018
With the alternate-day schedule for most of the Cubs regulars, Baez wasn’t scheduled to play Friday anyway, and he expects to be back in the lineup Saturday. Many thanks and a H/T to Jon Ferlise of Cubs Insider for the video above.
After Baez left the game for pinch-runner Chesny Young, Victor Caratini and David Bote both doubled and it was 5-0 Cubs.
Tyler Chatwood threw three innings. He allowed a single in the second, but was helped out of that inning by a couple of nice plays by Addison Russell, and he gave up a run in the third when he got a bit wild and issued a couple of walks. All told, though, it looked like a pretty good outing for Chatwood.
Justin Wilson, who’s looked pretty good this spring, threw a scoreless inning with one single allowed. Wilson has not shown the wildness we saw from him last August and September, and that’s a really good sign. If he can get back to where he was with the Tigers before last summer’s trade, that’s a huge boost for the bullpen.
Justin Grimm, though? Ugh. Eight of the first nine pitches he threw missed the strike zone, and he wound up allowing a run in his inning of work on a pair of singles after the two walks. This has been Grimm’s problem most of his career: great stuff, no control.
Mike Montgomery threw two innings, and allowed one run, a solo homer by Freddy Galvis. Most of the day, there wasn’t much wind, but for a short time in the middle innings the wind picked up and Galvis’ homer was definitely wind-aided. Other than that Montgomery threw well, striking out four with no walks against mostly Padres major leaguers.
The last San Diego run was an inside-the-park home run by Travis Jankowski, no speed merchant. The ball hit high off the wall as Jacob Hannemann tried to make a leaping grab, and then bounced away from Mark Zagunis. Jankowski scored without a throw. You can go a year without seeing an IP HR; we’ve had two this week at Sloan Park.
The Cubs’ five-run second was boosted by a four-run fourth, which included an RBI single by Anthony Rizzo and a bases-loaded walk from Jason Heyward, who had singled in the second. The Padres defense was overshifting against Heyward, which led me to believe he might try bunting his way on. If defenses are going to shift that much against Heyward, it might be something to try, at least occasionally.
I saw Chatwood and Lyles walk in together and have a fairly long conversation before both went to warm up. Those two were teammates with the Rockies for 3½ years, from 2014 through the middle of last year, when Lyles was traded to the Padres. I see this quite often at spring games; there are so many baseball connections through schools, minor leagues, home countries, etc. that these players likely enjoy the opportunity to briefly say hello to old friends.
An old friend who appeared in this game was Matt Szczur, who took over in center field for the Padres in the fifth inning. He got a nice ovation when he came up to bat, and then Montgomery struck him out. Szczur is in competition to be a backup outfielder for the Padres again this year; his roster spot isn’t guaranteed. He’s a good guy and I wish him well.
Attendance watch: On a gorgeous day with a few high clouds and temps near 80, 12,569 paid to see this game. For eight home dates that makes the total attendance at Sloan Park 96,655, or 12,082 per date.
Friday, the Cubs host the Angels. Jon Lester goes for the Cubs and Matt Shoemaker will start for the Angels. Shohei Ohtani won’t appear in Friday’s Cubs/Angels game as he’ll be starting a “B” game at Angels camp. Game time at Sloan Park is 2:05 p.m. CT. Audio coverage is on cubs.com. There will be TV coverage via the Angels network Fox Sports West.