MESA, Arizona — At last, real Cubs baseball players on a real field.
It wasn’t a game that counted, nor even a practice game, but it was good to hear the sound of ball smacking into glove as Cubs pitchers did some warming up and fielding drills on the back fields at the Sloan Park complex.
Half of the 40 pitchers in camp participated in the drills Wednesday morning; the other half were doing throwing inside. They’ll switch off Thursday, or, they will if it doesn’t rain, which, unfortunately, is in the forecast. It wasn’t all that nice in Mesa Wednesday morning, either, mostly overcast and around 60 degrees. That probably sounds pretty nice to those of you in the Chicago area, but it’s about 10 degrees below the seasonal average in the Phoenix area this time of year.
Pitchers participating today included Cole Hamels, Jose Quintana, Steve Cishek, Pedro Strop, Brandon Kintzler, Brian Duensing and Randy Rosario among pitchers who were on the team last year and who are expected to be on the 25-man roster this season. Other pitchers I saw were Rob Scahill, Justin Steele, Duane Underwood Jr., Christian Bergman, Kyle Ryan, Ian Clarkin, Alberto Baldonado and Craig Brooks.
The drills you see in the videos below are pretty dull to watch; they went on for a good 30 minutes, with the pitchers rotating in between the three fields in use. The drills were: fielding a comebacker, covering first base, and fielding a comebacker, faking a throw to second and throwing to first. The point of these is to induce muscle memory for the pitchers, so that during the season when these situations come up, they don’t have to think about them, they can just complete the play.
Here are a few short videos I shot of these three drills, plus the pitchers warming up before they began. In one of the videos you can hear a bit of the selection of 1970s music that was playing while the drills were going on.
Like I said... not baseball games... but Cubs players on a baseball field, probably the best thing we’ve seen all winter.