Before today, had you ever heard of Grayson Byrd? I hadn’t. An infielder, Byrd was the Cubs’ 24th-round draft pick out of Clemson in 2019. He’s the son of former MLB pitcher Paul Byrd, and last year, his first in pro ball (after he and other minor leaguers missed the entire 2020 season), he hit .221/.300/.309 with two home runs in 249 at-bats split between Myrtle Beach, South Bend and Tennessee.
Now he’s got a home run to remember, even if it was “only” in a Spring Training game. Byrd hit a three-run walkoff dinger and the Cubs defeated the Angels 5-4 at Sloan Park. Here it is, preserved forever on video:
Good for Byrd. Perhaps he can make himself into a major leaguer someday.
Now, on to the other notable things from this win.
Seiya Suzuki has two hits this spring in 14 at-bats. He’s walked twice and struck out six times. That’s not so great and has led to a weird slash line of .143/.250/.571 (.821 OPS), with both of the hits being home runs. That last part is good!
A bit more on Suzuki’s homer:
Cubs third-base coach Willie Harris has a few home run celebrations. With Contreras, it's arms wide. With Wisdom, the leaping high-five.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 2, 2022
Today, Suzuki paused around third and he and Harris bowed to each other, before the trot was completed.
I like that. Hopefully we see a lot of that this year.
The Angels scored single runs in the first and second, both on Cubs errors. This isn’t good, as one of the things that will lead to any success this Cubs team does have will be solid defense. On the other hand, this is just a Spring Training game, so I wouldn’t be overly concerned, especially since Nico Hoerner flashed some glove at short [VIDEO].
A few notes on this game, and other Cubs things:
- Mychal Givens finally made his Cubs debut, and looked good. He issued one walk, but struck out the side in the fourth.
- Scott Effross struggled a bit with control and command, issuing a pair of walks and throwing 28 pitches in the fifth. But he struck out a pair, both of them on nicely moving breaking balls. I like Effross a lot and I think he will be a key contributor to the bullpen in 2022.
- Michael Rucker, who’s looked pretty good this spring, struck out all three Angels hitters he faced in the sixth. Then in the seventh, he recorded three ground ball outs. Rucker wasn’t good for the Cubs last year and since he has options remaining, he’s likely headed to Iowa. If he shows well there, he could spend some time in the Cubs MLB bullpen this year.
- To the surprise of no one, Kyle Hendricks was named the Opening Day starter:
- Cayne Ueckert (pronounced ECK-ert) took a ball off his leg in the eighth. He stayed in the game for a bit, then departed, probably a good precaution. Ueckert is a guy to watch — he’ll likely be closing at Iowa (or sharing it with Ben Leeper). A two-run single off Ben Holmes after the two hits off Ueckert gave the Angels the 4-2 lead they maintained through game’s end.
- Eric Yardley, like Effross a guy who throws sidearm/almost underhand, threw a scoreless ninth.
Attendance watch: 12,839 attended this game at Sloan Park (not me, as I am on the road back to Chicago). That’s the largest home crowd for the Cubs this spring. That makes the total for nine dates 90,477, an average of 10,053 per date. There’s one more home game this spring, Tuesday against the White Sox.
The Cubs play their final night game of the spring Sunday evening against the Cleveland Guardians at Goodyear. Justin Steele will get the call for the Cubs. As of posting time for this game recap, Cleveland did not have a starter listed. Game time Sunday is 8:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network. There will also be a radio broadcast on 670 The Score.