The Cubs Spring Training Report – A Wind Blown Lead

Game Twenty-Nine: Cubs 4 Angels 8

Michael Restovich was assigned to the Minor League camp and Rich Hill was optioned to Iowa on Wednesday, the Cubs roster now stands at 28.

Updated – 10:10pm C.S.T., Plus Tidbits from Mesa

On the day with the wind blowing out, the Cubs offense got off to a great start against Angels pitcher and 2005 Cy Young Award Winner, Bartolo Colon. Juan Pierre led the game with a single, Jerry Hairston bunted for a single, Aramis Ramirez drove in a run with a single and Jacque Jones did the same. Before the fans were settled in their seats….it was 3-0 Cubs.

Carlos Zambrano gave up a lead off walk and struck out two in the first inning….Matt Murton made a great play and the Cubs were off and running…. Zambrano had a good game. He went 5 strong innings and only allowed 2 runs on 4 hits, struck out 6 and walked 2. Zambrano was ahead in the count and was throwing with the command that the Cubs Faithful has become accustomed to; he even had back-to-back strikeouts in the 5th. The Cubs were ahead 3-2 when Zambrano left the game….and the bullpen blew it, with a little help from the wind. Regardless of the field conditions, when Zambrano leaves the game during the regular season the bullpen must be able to hold the lead and give the team a chance to win….they cannot repeat the start they had in 2005.

Non-roster invitee, Mark Watson (32-year old lefty, was with the Angels AAA team in 2005) came into the ballgame in the 6th inning and gave up 4 runs on 4 hits including an in the park 2-run home run by Brandon Wood. What Juan Pierre thought was a routine fly ball to center turned out to be a 2-run homer. The wind was blowing out to center on Wednesday and it grabbed the ball and pushed it over Pierre’s head….he got a glove on it, but was unable to catch it, the ball bounced away and Wood came all the way around for the infamous in the parker. John Koronka, who has a shot at the big league roster, did not help his case on Wednesday. Koronka gave up 2 runs on 2 hits in 1 2/3 innings and struck out two, but it was the 2-run home run by Napoli that put the game out of reach for the Cubs. David Aardsma struck out the only batter he faced on Wednesday.

The Cubs offense pounded out 11 hits against Angels pitching….including 8 off of Colon. Juan Pierre went 2 for 5 with a run scored and an RBI, Jerry Hairston went 2 for 5 with a run scored and Aramis Ramirez had another great spring game and added 2 more hits on Wednesday. And who needs a DH with Zambrano on the mound? The Cubs ace went 2 for 2, including a bunt single (the Cubs second of the day). Angel Pagan reached on an error in the top of the 7th and ended up on second base….this guy hustles. Pagan took 3rd on a wild pitch and scored on a single to center by Juan Pierre. Pierre was then thrown out at 3rd while attempting to go from 1st to 3rd on a single by Jerry Hairston. The Cubs offense performed a lot better than they have on Wednesday.

Here is the box score from Cubs.com

Thursday – The Arizona Diamondbacks at HoHoKam, 1:05pm C.S.T.

Jerome Williams vs. Orlando Hernandez

The Cubs last game of the spring in Arizona. After tomorrow’s game the Cubs head for Las Vegas for the last two games of Spring Training. Jerome Williams is pitching for a job on Thursday….

Tidbits from Mesa

- The Cubs announced on Wednesday that Sean Marshall will take the mound on Friday against the Padres and Greg Maddux will go for the Cubs on Saturday.

- Dusty will announce the Opening Day starter at second base over the weekend.

- Jim Hendry said on Wednesday he does not see the Cubs making any trades before Opening Day.

- Jim Hendry was on XM Radio and said, “Injuries cannot be used as an excuse for this club not winning anymore.”

Well that’s the news….and I’m sticking to it!!