There is, as you likely know if you’re in the midsection of America, a monstrous storm traversing its way across the country, bringing heavy snow, possible thunderstorms and tornadoes, and very high winds to a large swath of the USA.
Arizona’s on the tail end of this storm and while it wasn’t stormy in the Valley of the Sun Wednesday, it still was pretty windy, with winds gusting over 30 miles per hour at times.
Thus it’s no wonder that five home runs left the yard at HoHoKam Stadium in the game between the Cubs and Athletics, and several other baseballs flew to the deepest parts of the ballpark. Four of those homers were hit by Cubs: Anthony Rizzo, David Bote, Cristhian Adames and Johnny Field all went deep. Unfortunately, the A’s came back in the ninth and beat the Cubs 12-11.
Here is the two-run shot by Adames in the second inning:
Adames is an intriguing player. He’s having a fantastic spring, hitting .452 (14-for-31) with three homers, 11 RBI and 10 runs scored. Small sample size and a lot of it off minor-league pitching, to be sure, but Adames does have 166 big-league games played, all with the Rockies from 2014-17. He’s only 27 and can play shortstop, and the Cubs could use more guys like that in case of injuries. So, no doubt he will be kept at Iowa this year and could be a useful player.
Field is also an intriguing player. He, too, is crushing the ball this spring, now hitting .297 (11-for-37) with a pair of homers and six RBI. He can play all three outfield positions. His issue is strikeouts: 14 this spring in those 37 at-bats. That’s pretty much what he did in the big leagues in 2018, split between the Twins and Rays: nine home runs in 221 at-bats, but 72 (!) strikeouts and only seven walks. That led to a .254 OBP, but a .403 SLG. If he could cut down on the K’s, he could be a useful fifth outfielder. Like Adames, he’ll probably spend much of his summer in Des Moines and perhaps make some cameo appearances at Wrigley Field.
Here are the home runs by Field and Bote:
Jon Lester, making his fourth spring start, didn’t make it out of the third inning, an inning where the A’s scored six. He allowed seven hits, including two doubles, a triple and a home run. But remember: wind. Several of those baseballs sailed over outfielders when they probably wouldn’t have on a normal day, and also remember that the Cubs didn’t have their better-fielding outfielders, Albert Almora Jr. and Jason Heyward, in the game. So I’d discount this one and see how Jon does in his next start, when weather conditions ought to be better.
The Cubs’ bullpen did a nice job Wednesday, throwing 6⅓ innings and allowing just four hits and three runs (two earned). Steve Cishek, who might have some closing duties, threw a scoreless frame and George Kontos retired four of the five batters he faced. Kontos, too, probably starts the year at Iowa but could be an important part of the shuttle, as he has 350 games’ big-league experience and pitched in the World Series for the Giants in 2012.
Nico Hoerner, who has been very impressive in big-league spring games, hit a pinch-double in the ninth. He’s 6-for-9 with four extra-base hits and no strikeouts this spring.
Mike Zagurski allowed another wind-aided home run to make the score closer in the eighth, and then walked the first two hitters he faced in the ninth, so minor leaguer Brad Markey was summoned. Unfortunately, Markey allowed a game-winning two-run double and the Cubs lost, not that the result meant much.
The weather is finally going to settle down in the Phoenix area beginning Wednesday. with light winds and sunshine for the next several days. Temperatures will be in the mid-60s Thursday, then warm through the 70s and be near 80 by Sunday, much more like “normal” spring training conditions.
Thursday, the Cubs return to Sloan Park to face the Rangers. Yu Darvish will throw against his former team, and Adrian Sampson will go for Texas. Game time is 3:05 p.m. CT. No TV again, but there will be the usual audio webcast on cubs.com.