The Cubs lost their fourth straight spring game Tuesday, 6-3 to the Brewers at American Family Fields of Phoenix.
Of course, wins and losses in Spring Training games are irrelevant and so, more importantly, let’s look at some of the things that could be meaningful to the Chicago Cubs during the 2023 season.
With the Cubs trailing 3-0 in the top of the seventh, Matt Mervis doubled. After Christopher Morel was called out on strikes, Nelson Velázquez smashed this opposite-field homer [VIDEO].
With Seiya Suzuki out for potentially a significant amount of time with an oblique injury, I’d think this gives Velázquez a real chance to impress the brass and perhaps even be the Opening Day right fielder for the Cubs.
Velázquez had his ups and downs, mostly downs, in 77 games for the Cubs last year. He hit just .205/.286/.373 (38-for-185) with seven doubles, three triples and six home runs. The power numbers were decent, but the BA wasn’t and he struck out too much, 65 times.
Remember, though, that Velázquez, who was the Cubs’ fifth-round pick in 2017, has hit at every level of the system and was the Arizona Fall League MVP in 2021, when he hit .385/.480/.712 (40-for-104) with nine home runs in 26 games. He’s 24 and has talent and I hope they give him every chance to fill in while Suzuki is out.
Otherwise, not too much of interest happened in this game, which was attended by just 4,008. Drew Smyly made his first spring start and got touched up by a home run by Brian Anderson in the first inning. I’d kind of hoped that the Cubs might have taken a flier on Anderson, who can play third base and outfield, after the Marlins let him go.
Another Brewers homer, by Rowdy Tellez, came off Ben Brown in the third. Brown, as you know, came over from the Phillies in the David Robertson deal last year and should be ticketed for the Triple-A Iowa rotation.
Mark Leiter Jr. looked good in his inning of work, showing off a nasty slider and retiring all three batters he faced. He’s got a chance to go north with the team but is most likely stashed at Iowa as possible relief help if needed. Ben Leeper, who was really good in the system in 2021 but not so much at Iowa last year, also threw a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.
A three-run homer by Abraham Toro off Danis Correa in the eighth inning completed the Milwaukee scoring. Toro came over to Milwaukee along with Jesse Winker from Seattle in the Kolten Wong deal.
Brennen Davis hit an RBI double in the ninth inning for the final Cubs run.
Gotta say this: The Brewers TV team of Jeff Levering and Vinny Rottino was a breath of fresh air. They stuck to calling the game and also giving information about players on both teams. It’s always nice to hear another team’s broadcasters give perspectives on Cubs players, but I also liked their focus on the action on the field. Hint, hint, Marquee.
The Cubs and Brewers completed their work Tuesday afternoon in 2:11. Thank you, pitch timer.
The Cubs return to Sloan Park Wednesday afternoon, weather permitting (and it might not) to face the Mariners. Hayden Wesneski will make his first spring start and Robbie Ray will start for Seattle. Game time is 2:05 p.m. and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.