SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — The Cubs poured on the offense, plating 10 runs on 12 hits in a 10-2 rout of the Diamondbacks on a sun-splashed Friday afternoon at Salt River Fields.
But the most important things that happened were on the mound. Jose Quintana made his spring debut and was stellar, allowing just an infield single and getting five of his six outs on ground balls. The other out was a strikeout, and the likely reason? A changeup:
Jose Quintana said he wants to focus on his changeup this spring. Threw seven today vs. D-backs in two innings, generating one swing and miss, one called strike, one foul and zero balls in play. pic.twitter.com/oiTbigYBne— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 1, 2019
The changeup was one of Quintana’s best pitches when he was having successful years with the White Sox, and so this is great to see, an excellent first outing. Here is one of Q’s K’s [VIDEO].
Almost better than that was the continuation of the Tyler Chatwood Redemption Tour. Chatwood followed Quintana and threw three scoreless innings. He did allow three singles, but also struck out three, allowed no runs and best of all: no walks. He ran a three-ball count just once. This is very, very encouraging, especially on a warm day that was good for hitters, and against most of the D-backs regular lineup. He’s definitely changed his motion from last year, he’s no longer flying wide open to the third-base side, and his velocity was very good. If Chatwood continues this progress, he might get interest from other teams, or perhaps the Cubs can find a way to fit him in the bullpen. This was excellent to see.
Meanwhile, the Cubs were pounding Robbie Ray and a bunch of miscellaneous Arizona relievers. First up, Kyle Schwarber, singling in a run in the first [VIDEO].
Next in the hit parade was Mark Zagunis, who smashed this three-run homer [VIDEO] in the fourth.
I’m not sure what the Cubs can do with Zagunis. He’s not good enough to make this 25-man roster; he’s an okay outfielder but nothing special, he has power but not great power, he doesn’t hit for average. He does have good strike-zone judgment. He could be a bench player for a lot of teams. Perhaps someone will trade for him before spring training is over.
Carl Edwards Jr. made his first appearance of the spring and it was also a successful one, a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout, and he was consistently hitting 93 on the ballpark pitch speed meter. CJ can throw faster than that, but no need to air it out in the first spring outing.
After that it was all minor leaguers, and Jared Young, the Cubs’ 15th-round pick in 2017 out of Old Dominion, hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning to finish off the Cubs’ scoring. Young, a first base/outfield type, hit .300/.357/.485 with 16 home runs in 447 at-bats last year split between South Bend and Myrtle Beach. This will be his age-23 season, and perhaps he can make Double-A by mid-year. He strikes me as a possible Justin Bour type.
The game attracted a sellout of 12,597, which was probably two-thirds Cubs fans. And all those Cubs fans should have departed happy, not for the win, but for excellent performances from guys who really needed to show that. It was a fine day all around in the Valley.
Saturday, the Cubs return to Sloan Park to face the Brewers. It’s at 2:05 p.m. CT and this will be the first TV game with the Cubs’ TV team, on WGN-TV. It’s also on Chicago radio on 670 The Score. Jon Lester will make his second spring start, and it’ll be a rare spring rematch, as Lester faced the Brewers Monday, and Chase Anderson, who faced the Cubs in that game, will go for Milwaukee.