MESA, Arizona — One game, especially in Spring Training, doesn’t make a career, or even a season.
But how long have I been saying that I think Nelson Velázquez should be given a chance to play right field while Seiya Suzuki is out?
Velázquez’ three-run walkoff homer certainly didn’t hurt his case any. It gave the Cubs a 5-2 win over the Padres.
Let’s look at the homer and then rewind to the beginning [VIDEO].
Justin Steele had a rough outing Sunday. He walked the first two hitters he faced and issued five free passes in all, yet allowed only one run. That’s useful, to be able to do that even in a spring outing when you don’t have your best stuff. Steele also went back to the bullpen to throw a bit more after his outing wrapped up after the third inning.
The Cubs tied the game in the fourth on this solo homer by Yan Gomes [VIDEO].
In the top of that inning, there was a scary moment when Cubs righthander Michael Fulmer hit Padres catcher Austin Nola in the face [VIDEO].
Nola had to leave on a cart. Hope he’s okay. Here’s what we know:
The ball caught Austin Nola’s nose. Melvin did not have much of an update. They were trying to stop the bleeding.— Jeff Sanders (@sdutSanders) March 19, 2023
Melvin can’t imagine the nose didn’t break but status TBD right now.
Cubs relievers did a good job overall. Fulmer, Keegan Thompson, Nick Burdi, Tyler Duffey, Bailey Horn and Eric Stout combined for six innings, allowing four hits and a run, with two walks and eight strikeouts. The only run scored off Horn, and that wouldn’t have happened if Cody Bellinger had been in center field. After Horn had struck out the first two hitters in the inning, David Dahl blooped a ball into center that Ben DeLuzio couldn’t handle. Bellinger would have — thus the value of his Gold Glove defense.
The Cubs had tied the game 1-1 on an RBI single by Gomes in the sixth [VIDEO].
Gomes is batting .286/.290/.679 this spring (8-for-28) with three home runs. Spring, yes, small sample size, yes, but Gomes does have talent and has hit double-digit home runs seven times in his 11-year MLB career. He wasn’t 100 percent healthy last year — I’d expect a better year out of him.
Regarding Keegan Thompson, since some have been asking:
Thompson's fastball velo sat 90-91 mph today with one hitting 92 in his inning of work, continuing a trend of it being down.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) March 19, 2023
Thompson struck out two looking, walked a batter and allowed a single.
Notably, through 4 spring outings, he has not pitched more than 1 inning.
That is all notable, especially since per this tweet from Meghan Montemurro, Thompson was sitting at 93-94 most of last year. It’s been said that maybe he needs to go back to Triple-A Iowa. With a reduction in velocity I’d have to wonder if there’s some underlying injury issue. Hope not.
In any case, the hero of the game was Velázquez and with some time left in camp, I hope he gets some playing time. I’d rather see him in right field in place of Suzuki than Mike Tauchman.
Attendance watch: 15,720 paid at Sloan Park today. That makes the season total 163,034 for 12 dates, or 13,586 per date.
The Cubs have Monday off, their final off day of the spring season. They’ll resume the spring schedule — weather permitting, and it might not — Tuesday night in Surprise against the Royals. Jameson Taillon will start for the Cubs and Jordan Lyles will go for Kansas City. Game time Tuesday is 8:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.