In theory, per the MLB commissioner’s office, teams are supposed to take four “major league players” to away spring training games. This is for competitive reasons, as well as to give fans actual, you know, major-league players to watch.
This was not really the case in the Cubs’ 8-3 loss to the Indians Friday night, a game I had long before decided not to attend.
Just two of the Cubs in this game are going to be on the Opening Day roster: Ian Happ and Victor Caratini. Addison Russell, who will be under suspension Opening Day, also appeared, and if you squint real hard you can see a fourth “big league” player in Cristhian Adames, who has 166 games’ worth of major league experience, though he spent all of 2018 in the minors.
There were exactly two Cubs highlights worth looking at from this game, so here they are.
I suppose Field, after a fashion, is a big-league player too. He hit nine home runs in 221 at-bats for the Twins and Rays in 2018, but also struck out 72 times, and he’s been much the same player this spring. Home runs! Fun! Four of them in 52 spring at-bats. But, 22 strikeouts. He’ll likely be at Iowa this year, possibly called up if there’s an injury. Field’s four homers are tied with Mark Zagunis (who also played in this game) for the club lead this spring. Only three other Cactus League players have more: Yonder Alonso (White Sox), Phillip Ervin (Reds) and our old buddy Jorge Soler (Royals).
Most of the damage done by Cleveland hitters off Cubs pitchers was off starter Duane Underwood Jr., who was charged with four runs in a bit more than an inning’s worth of work, and off Rowan Wick, who served up a pair of solo home runs.
That’s about it for anything meaningful from this game. The folks at Goodyear Ballpark sold it out, too.
Saturday night, I’m reasonably certain you will see more Cubs regulars in their game against the Rockies at Salt River Fields. Game time is 8:40 p.m. CT. Jon Lester will start for the Cubs in his final outing before Opening Day. Kyle Freeland will go for the Rockies. There will be TV coverage via the Rockies channel AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, and that broadcast will be carried nationally on MLB Network, including the Chicago market. There will also be the usual audio webcast on cubs.com.