The Cubs started off this afternoon at Tempe Diablo Stadium well, taking a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
That was largely because of what is probably the worst defensive play [VIDEO] you will ever see Mike Trout make.
Willson Contreras hit that ball a long way after Kris Bryant had reached base on a hit by pitch. And Trout... well, he looked like he was trying out to punt for the Rams. The ball went all the way from center field to right and Willson circled the bases for a 2-0 lead. He was given a double and Trout was charged with a two-base error. Not that errors are any real measure of defensive prowess, but that’s one more error than Trout made in the entire 2018 regular season.
The “Little League home run” headline is because those kinds of plays are viewed as similar to a kids’ game where young fielders might kick a baseball around like that.
That was about the only thing that went right for the Cubs Tuesday afternoon as the Angels teed off in the middle innings off miscellaneous Cubs relievers and crushed the Cubs 9-2.
Kyle Hendricks, who pitched reasonably well in this one, also made an error, on a missed pickoff in the first inning. That didn’t lead to any runs, but Hendricks departed in the third after issuing a walk and allowing a single. I’m pretty sure Joe Maddon would have liked to have him complete the third inning, but he likely reached a pitch count.
Hendricks was replaced by Mario Meza, who was on today’s travel roster from the minor-league camp. Meza is 28 and has pitched six years in the Mexican League. Meza, who bears a passing physical resemblance to Jake Arrieta, didn’t pitch like Jake. His first pitch was launched onto the berm by Trout for a three-run homer. It’s worth watching [VIDEO] just to remind yourself how good Trout is.
Carl Edwards Jr., in his second outing of the spring, threw a scoreless fourth (though allowed two hits), and then the Angels teed off on Rowan Wick in the fifth, putting across five runs (four earned) and the rout was on.
We got to see top Cubs prospect Nico Hoerner in his first big-league spring game. He pinch-ran for Addison Russell and remained in the game at shortstop, and grounded out in his only at-bat. Russell, incidentally, had two hits on the afternoon and is a small-sample-size 5-for-11 so far this spring.
Funny quote from Hendricks:
Kyle Hendricks was asked about Jon Lester being named the Opening Day starter. Quipped Hendricks: "You know me. I went right into Joe's office and started throwing stuff."— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 5, 2019
You can see him saying that completely deadpan, right? Without cracking a smile? I’m looking for Hendricks to have a really big year.
Wednesday, the Cubs return to Sloan Park to face the Royals. Jose Quintana will start for the Cubs and Heath Fillmyer will go for Kansas City. Game time is 2:05 p.m. CT. No TV Wednesday; there will be an audio webcast via cubs.com.