A Sneak Peak?

Spring Training Game Twelve – Cubs 6 Brewers 3
WP – Jason Marquis (1-1) LP – Claudio Vargas (0-1) Save – Rocky Cherry (3)

wflag.jpg Michael Barrett threw out a runner and made a great defensive play at the plate to tag out Bill Hall. Jason Marquis, despite giving up a run on 6 hits, kept the ball down and was helped out by fine defensive plays by Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano. The defense turned three double plays on the day. And the offense took advantage of the Brewers defensive miscues and tallied 2 unearned runs against their projected 5th starter Claudio Vargas.

Kerry Wood and Ryan Dempster both had uneventful days at the ballpark, which in spring training is always positive sign. Jake Fox hit a 3-run home run in the 6th, his second big fly in as many days.

The Cubs announced on Sunday that Mark Prior will make his next start in a minor league game on Thursday. The Cubs are looking for their former ace to gain some confidence on the mound after Saturday’s lackluster performance. Larry Rothschild said it is not Prior’s arm that is the problem….it is his mechanics. Lou Piniella stated on Sunday the Cubs would announce who their 5th starter in the rotation will be by March 20th….and the candidates to take the spot in the rotation are Wade Miller, Prior, Angel Guzman, Neal Cotts and Sean Gallagher. Gallagher took a step back on Sunday allowing 2 runs on 3 hits that included a home run, in an inning of work.

Jason Marquis continued keeping the ball down on Sunday and recorded 6 grounds outs to just 2 fly outs, struck out 2 and walked 1. One of the fly ball outs was recorded by Soriano on a fine running play. Marquis was helped by Michael Barrett who threw out Corey Hart trying to steal 2nd and Derrek Lee turned in a fine defensive play of his own. Lee picked up an attempted sacrifice bunt by Claudio Vargas, threw the ball to Ramirez at 3rd who threw across the diamond to Ryan Theriot at 1st to complete the double play. For the Cubs’ pitching staff to be successful this season they will need consistent defense behind them. The infield played exceptionally well on Sunday, Ryan Theriot continued to impress with his glove and Cesar Izturis turned in a solid day as well. Izturis was the cutoff man on the play at the plate that kept Bill Hall from tying the game in the 4th.

Corey Hart doubled down the left field line, Matt Murton threw into Izturis who one hopped Michael Barrett on the 1st base side of home plate. Barrett dove and tagged out Hall who had tried to score from 1st base.

Marquis’ line for the day….1 run on 6 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts in 4 innings of work. Marquis turned the game over to Kerry Wood in the 5th. Wood allowed a hit and a walk in his inning of work. He threw the ball well but his fastball ran high on the afternoon. Ryan Dempster on the other hand had arguable his best outing of the spring. Dempster threw strikes and retired the Brewers in order with both of his strikeouts coming back to back to end his outing. Rocky Cherry had another fine outing and struck out the side and allowed just one walk. Ron Santo thinks Cherry has a chance to make the 25-man roster when the Cubs break camp in 2 1/2 weeks. Cherry has been impressive and has not allowed an earned run in his 5 1/3 innings of work….he has struck out 9 and walked just 2 batters.

After going 0-11 on Saturday with runners in scoring position, the Cubs left 9 runners on base on Sunday. In the bottom of the 5th, Ryan Theriot led off the inning with a single and moved to 3rd on a double by Derrek Lee (Mike Quade held Theriot at 3rd) and both runners were stranded by Ramirez, Barrett and Murton.

Jake Fox continued hitting the cover off of the ball on Sunday and hit a 3-run homer in the 6th. Fox should start the year off at Double-A Tennessee and share time with Chris Robinson. The “knock” on Fox has always been his defense and he has shown in the past couple of days what he is capable of offensively.

Tyler Colvin had a good day at the plate as well. Colvin went 2-4 with 2 runs scored and an RBI. He had a nice at bat in the 2nd and fought off a couple of pitches before hitting a single to score Michael Barrett. Colvin then showed off his speed and stole 2nd and later scored the 2nd run of the day for the Cubs. Colvin has had a good camp but will probably be in the first round of cuts the Cubs are scheduled to announce on Monday….Colvin should be reassigned to minor league camp.

The Cubs and the Brewers should have interesting match ups the entire season and most figure both of them to be in the mix for the Central Division crown this year. Who will come out on top this coming year is anyone’s guess and a lot of both teams success will depend on the health of the pitching staffs….it should be an interesting season between the two rivals.

Former Cub and Brewer, Jeromy Burnitz announced his retirement from baseball on Sunday.

Box Score from MLB.com

The Cubs will travel to Scottsdale on Monday to play Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants. Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to take the hill against Matt Morris….the regular season starts just three weeks from Monday.

Quote of the Day

"There are only two seasons ... winter and baseball." - Bill Veeck

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