It’s been a few days since my last Cubs Corner, but to be honest, there hasn’t really been a ton to talk about. Now, however, the MLB Spring Training games are in full swing, as the teams begin to take shape for the 2021 MLB regular season.
Cubs Corner: Spring Training Matters
I know, I know, “But Ken, Spring Training games don’t matter one bit,” you say. Well, yes, that is true in terms of who plays baseball in October, but make no mistake, Spring Training and the preseason games matter immensely, especially if you are one of a half-dozen guys trying to make the big league roster. Likewise, tell a veteran pitcher who struggled immensely in 2020 that a good start to spring can’t make or break his psyche, as he looks to bounce back. You don’t think Kris Bryant would be discouraged to have a lousy spring after batting .206 last year? It matters.
By the same token, you can’t possibly tell me that if the Cubs failed to score a run all spring while giving up 140 of them, that you wouldn’t be a little concerned. I know I would be, but fortunately, that hasn’t been the case.
Cubs Corner: Revised Spring Training Rules
Growing up, my dad used to tell me, “If it don’t stink, don’t stir it,” but MLB can’t seem to leave well enough alone. Not that we’d expect anything less, but there are some new rules for this year’s Spring Training games.
Through March 13th:
1) Games can be shortened to five or seven innings.
2) Managers can end a half-inning prior to three outs if a pitcher has thrown 20+ pitches.
3) Once removed, a pitcher may re-enter the game. (OK, that’s just weird.)
After March 13th:
1) Games can only be shortened to seven innings (pending both manager’s approval).
2) Three-batter minimum will start being enforced.
Cubs Corner: Spring Training Game-1 Recap
On Monday, the 2021 Cubs set sail with their first preseason game. Fly the W, sing the song, as Chicago downed San Diego by a final of 1-0 in a seven-inning matchup, played at Peoria Stadium.
The Cubs got the W on just a pair of hits (Javier Baez and 2B Ildemaro Vargas), with catcher PJ Higgins getting the RBI on an infield groundout. No Cub received more than two at-bats, and Bryant didn’t play.
The Cubs’ pitching hit a few bumps, but hey, they’re just now knocking the rust off. Kyle Hendricks got the start, going two innings while giving up one hit, one walk, and fanning two. Other pitchers to appear included RHP Shelby Miller (1.0 IP, 2-H, 1-K), LHP Rex Brothers – who got the win (1.0 IP, 1-H), RHP Joe Biagini (1.0 IP, 1-K), RHP Tyson Miller (1.0 IP, 2-H, 1-K), and righty Trevor Megill who earned the save while walking one and striking out two.
Oh, what the hell… let’s practice.
Cubs Corner: Spring Training Game-2 Recap
On Tuesday, the Cubs returned home to Sloan Park for their home-opener, hosting the KC Royals. KC (2-0 entering the game) hopes to bounce back from 2020 after making some adjustments to the roster over the offseason. This was the first taste of televised Cubs’ baseball without Len Kasper, so it was sort of bittersweet, especially if you’re not a big fan of the Cubs’ new play-by-play announcer, Boog Sciambi (Ken raises his hand).
This one started and ended a little weird, as Royals manager, Mike Matheny, wanted a nine-inning game, while Cubs’ skipper, David Ross, wanted a five-inning game. The two sides agreed on seven innings, yet although the Cubs led after the Royals batted in the top of the seventh, KC still took the field for the bottom of the seventh.
The Cubs ended up collecting their second W of the spring, edging out the Royals by a final of 3-2. Had it not been for a bad seventh inning by RHP Jake Jewell, the Cubs had a shot at a combined no-hitter.
Chicago’s offfense looked good for the most part, tallying all three of their runs on a bases-loaded triple by newcomer, Rafael Ortega in the fourth. Other notable plate appearances included Nico Hoerner, who went 2 for 3 on the day (single, double) and Jason Heyward who went 1 for 2. Ian Happ was 0 for 2 but did draw a walk, and Ildemaro Vargas earned himself another knock. Most of the regulars were rested yesterday, although Kris Byant appeared, going 0 for 1 with a walk and a strikeout.
Adbert Alzolay got the start for Chicago, going just 1.0 innings. The only trouble Alzolay had, was issuing a leadoff walk to Whit Merrifield. Other pitchers included: RHP Dan Winkler (1.0 IP, 1-BB, 1-K), RHP Jonathan Holder (1.0 IP 0-H, 0-BB, 0-K), RHP Dillon Maples– who Received the W – (1.0 IP, 2-K), RHP Gary Fenter (1.0 IP, 1-BB), LHP Brendon Little (1.0 IP, 1-k, 2-BB), and righty Jake Jewell who didn’t have the best day, allowing two earned runs on a pair of hits (single, homer) while fanning one.
The Cubs are back in action this afternoon.
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