MESA, Arizona — It was near the end of Wednesday’s Cubs workout. Javier Baez was taking his turn in the cage, facing Cubs prospect Oscar De La Cruz. In these BP sessions, players face about five pitches. It ends either on the fifth pitch, or when they make solid contact in fair territory. This simulates an actual at-bat.
For Javy, though, this at-bat ended a little early when De La Cruz threw a pitch (accidentally, we presume!) high and tight, sending Javy running out of the box and, loudly so that all the assembled, players, coaches and fans could hear: “I’m out!”
Beyond that, it looks like a beautiful, sunny, warm baseball day in Mesa, doesn’t it? Only two of those adjectives are correct. Beautiful? Playing or watching baseball is always beautiful. Sunny? Yep. Warm? Not in Mesa. It was 48 degrees when the workout began. Now, sunny and 48 would be fine for Opening Day at Wrigley, but for spring training in Mesa... a bit warmer would be nice. In fact, this is probably the last outdoor workout the team will have before the first game Saturday, because it’s supposed to be rainy and awful Thursday and Friday. The Cubs were supposed to have a team golf outing after Thursday’s workout, but I learned today that’s already been cancelled due to the weather.
Joe Maddon was supposed to get “more into coaching” this spring and that was evident in this workout. Instead of just standing behind the cages watching his hitters hit, I saw Joe much more engaged with everyone on the field, coaches and players. After the fielding practice he convened this meeting:
Earlier today I found this tweet:
At the risk of throwing stones from inside a glass house, it appears that the Skinny Schwarber experiment has ended. pic.twitter.com/Ngw8GlLKEp— Ryan (@RyanQDavis) February 19, 2019
I’m not sure who Ryan Q. Davis is (though he’s got the Twitter blue check mark), but that photo doesn’t reflect the Kyle Schwarber I saw on the back fields today:
It’s possible in the photo in the tweet that Schwarber was wearing an extra sweatshirt or something under his outer sweatshirt that made him look bigger — I didn’t see that at all. To me he looks as much in good, svelte shape as he did last year.
About 200 fans watched this practice session, and they even opened a concession stand, which had coffee and a small selection of candy bars. The large-ish crowd also prompted the Cubs to set up a magnetometer on the entrance path to the back fields.
For today’s batting practice sessions, the pitchers I saw throwing were Alec Mills (video below), Mike Zagurski (a lefty who was facing Schwarber), non-roster guys Matt Carasiti and Carlos Ramirez, and De La Cruz.
Here are some photos from this morning:
- Practice schedule Al Yellon
- Players arrive at the back fields Al Yellon
- A clock was set up, and music played Al Yellon
- Anthony Rizzo at 1B (background) ready for a fielding drill Al Yellon
- Rizzo doing a fielding drill Al Yellon
- Joe Maddon (center, with hood on) conducts a meeting Al Yellon
- Wide shot of fielding drill Al Yellon
- Kris Bryant, an unidentified coach, and Joe Maddon Al Yellon
- Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell Al Yellon
- Schwarber at bat Al Yellon
- KB wearing the C-flap helmet Al Yellon
- Part of the large crowd assembled for Wednesday’s practice Al Yellon
And here are several videos from fielding practice and BP from this morning’s session in Mesa.