At one point early in the Angels’ TV broadcast of the Cubs’ 5-4 loss to their team Thursday afternoon, one of their broadcasters said that Justin Steele had walked six batters so far this spring.
That didn’t jibe with my recollection, so I looked it up. While Steele did walk a pair in this game, he didn’t give up any hits and has three walks in four innings this spring, not six. Here, he strikes out Anthony Rendon in the first inning [VIDEO].
Anyway, I thought Steele threw pretty well Thursday and perhaps made a good case for holding down the fifth spot in the Cubs’ rotation, as I suggested this morning. I’d think, for now at least, that Steele will continue every fifth day this spring, so he should throw again Tuesday at Sloan Park against the Diamondbacks. Here are a few postgame comments from Steele [VIDEO].
The Cubs took an early lead in this one. Andrelton Simmons, in his first spring appearance, singled with one out in the first. One out later, he scored on a Yan Gomes double [VIDEO].
The Cubs scored again in the third on a walk, error and fielder’s choice and then Patrick Wisdom drove in another with his first hit of the spring [VIDEO].
Chris Martin made his Cubs debut in the third and retired the side 1-2-3, all on ground balls, which is his game. Sorry, no Coldplay joke here.
The Cubs held this 3-0 lead into the fourth, when Adrian Sampson allowed a pair of runs, thanks in part to a couple of errors. The Angels scored two more off Sampson in the fifth to take a 4-3 lead. Sampson, who threw pretty well in 10 games (five starts) for the Cubs last year, likely won’t get that sort of opportunity in 2022. That’s good! It means the Cubs starting rotation is better than it was after the 2021 selloff.
I also wanted to make a note of the opposite-field double Alfonso Rivas hit in the sixth. Many of you have said you like Rivas, and unfortunately he likely doesn’t have a place on this roster, at least not right away. He’s got line-drive power and sprays the ball around well to all fields, but essentially he’s a first baseman. Yes, he played some outfield last year but... largely because the Cubs were running out of outfielders. That’s not the case now. Rivas likely starts the year at Triple-A Iowa.
After that the Cubs cleared the bench to complete the game with minor leaguers. One of them, last year’s No. 2 draft pick James Triantos, singled in a run in the seventh to tie the game at 4.
The Angels took the lead to stay on a home run by Taylor Ward off Jonathan Holder in the seventh. After that, Manuel Rodriguez made his spring debut and threw a 1-2-3 eighth. I still suspect Man-Rod will start the year at Iowa.
I gotta say ... listening to the Angels TV crew made me really appreciate Boog and JD. Their analyst, former major leaguer Denny Hocking, sounded like he still wanted to be “one of the guys” rather than do any analysis. He wasted quite a bit of time talking about a 20-plus year old video clip of Pedro Martinez hitting Matt Lawton and saying “players used to police themselves” when Lawton then took out Boston’s second baseman on a slide far out of the basepath. Seriously, do we need this kind of thinking on televised baseball in the year 2022?
This is the clip in question, in case you missed this broadcast:
Friday, the Cubs continue their alternate home-road schedule this spring with a return to Sloan Park to face the Rockies. Alec Mills will start for the Cubs and German Márquez will go for Colorado. Game time is 3:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.