The Sights, The Sounds, The Smells

Spring Training Game One – Cubs 12 Giants 6
WP – Ryan Dempster (1-0) LP – Noah Lowry (0-1)

wflag.jpg Lou Piniella’s crew started the 2008 Cactus League schedule with an impressive effort against the Giants. While a win is a win, exhibition game or not, the performances on the field outweighed the final score. Thursday afternoon in Scottsdale featured the debut of Kosuke Fukudome and the deceiving debut of Jose Ceda in a Cubs’ uniform. Fukudome reached base in each of his three trips to the plate and recorded an RBI single in the 3rd inning.

Mike Fontenot supplied the big blast, a 3-run home run pinch-hitting for Ryan Dempster in the 3rd. Felix Pie had a very impressive day at the plate, 2-for-2 with 3 runs scored, a walk, a double and a solo home run in the 4th. Ryan Theriot added a 3-for-3 day of his own with 3 runs scored and the Cubs scored 10 of their 12 runs in the first 4 innings.

This Cub team looked a little different, however, and many in attendance noticed the change. They took pitches, worked the count and hit to the opposite field. There was a double steal with Ryan Theriot and Ronny Cedeno and everyone appeared to be a little more aggressive on the bases. While one Spring Training game does not mean anything, the old saying goes, “You practice like you play.

On a quick side note, both Ivan DeJesus and Mike Quade were wearing the new coaches helmets on Thursday. It was a very different but great sight to see. Now to the game….

The Offense

scottsdale-pub.jpgRyan Theriot led off with an infield single off of Noah Lowry’s leg. Ronny Cedeno struck out and Kosuke Fukudome was hit on the arm by the first pitch from Lowry. Derrek Lee worked a walk to load the bases and Theriot scored on a wild pitch by Lowry with Matt Murton at the plate.

Noah Lowry did not have a good start and was throwing the ball all over the place. Murton worked a walk to reload the bases. Geovany Soto followed with an infield pop out to 1st base on a 2-0 count. Alex Cintron grounded out to 3rd to end the inning.

Felix Pie walked to start the 2nd inning….he flipped the order, remember how Lou Piniella described the role of the 8th place hitter? Ryan Dempster laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance Pie to 2nd. Theriot followed with a single to right, Pie advanced to 3rd and scored on an error by Scott McClain (the chopper by Cedenowas over McClain’s head, he got a glove on it and it was originally ruled a single). Fukudome stepped in and quickly fell behind in the count 1-2. On a 2-2 pitch, Theriot and Cedeno executed the double steal. Fukudome took another very close pitch (his second of the at bat) and walked to load the bases. Derrek Lee followed with a sac fly to right center, Theriot scored and Murton grounded out to 2nd to end the inning.

fontenotblast-pub.jpg Geovany Soto had an impressive at bat to start the 3rd inning. On a 3-2 pitch he singled to left. Cintron grounded into a force out but beat the return throw to 1st. Pie followed with a double off the wall in right field. Mike Fontenot (2-for-4 with 2 runs scored, a triple and 3 RBI’s) pinch hit for Ryan Dempster and clubbed a 3-run homer to right (Fontenot’s home run was a shot). Theriot followed with a single to center and reached 3rd on another error by a Giants’ 3rd baseman.

With Theriot on 3rd and Cedeno on 2nd, Fukudome hit a perfectly placed ball down the 3rd base line to drive in Theriot. Fukudome was lifted for Josh Kroeger. Derrek Lee followed with a single to right (1-for-1 with a walk, a sac fly and 2 RBI’s). Micah Hoffpauir pinch ran for Lee. Murton followed with a single to right to load the bases but Soto popped out on the 1st pitch of the at bat and Cintron grounded out to 2nd.

Piniella started empting his bench to start the bottom of the 3rd inning.

  • Micah Hoffpauir – 1B
  • Mike Fontenot – 2B
  • Josh Kroeger – RF
  • Andres Blanco – SS
  • Sean Gallagher – P

The Cubs added 2 more runs in the 4th, highlighted by a lead off home run by Felix Pie and a RBI single by Hoffpauir.

Koyie Hill added a 2-out double that scored Andres Torres after he walked with 2 outs in the 7th. Fontenot tripled to right center in the 8th and scored on a sacrifice fly by Andres Blanco.

Eric Patterson, Josh Donaldson, Casey McGehee, Bobby Scales and Sam Fuld also saw action on Thursday.

The Pitching

2008Dempster-pub.jpgA much leaner Ryan Dempster had a rough 1st inning after a solid start. He made a good play to start the game to take away an infield hit from Dave Roberts and retired Kevin Frandsen on a grounder to 2nd but he fell behind Randy Winn, 2-0. Dempster threw a strike on his next pitch but Winn recovered and hit his next offering over the right field wall.Aaron Rowand followed with a single to left but Alfonso flied out to center to end the inning.

Dempster threw 17 pitches in the 1st inning, 12 for strikes.

In the 2nd inning, Dempster looked like a different pitcher. He retired all 3 batters he faced on 7 pitches with 2 strikeouts. His slider looked very good.

Sean Gallagher took the mound in the 3rd inning and did not look very comfortable. While his line was good (1 run on 2 hits in 2 innings with a walk and 2 strikeouts), it just appeared like he could not find a rhythm and when he missed, it was not close. Gallagher threw 15 pitches in the 3rd inning, 7 for strikes.

Neal Cotts pitched the 5th inning and a nice defensive play from Andres Blanco up the middle kept the Giants off the board. Cotts walked a batter and gave up an infield hit (Cotts actually fielded the ball on the 1st base side of the mound but could not make the play). Cotts retired two batters on pop outs to Koyie Hill in foul ground.

Jose Ceda made his debut in the 6th and while his line does not look good (2/3 of an inning, 2 runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, 2 hits, a wild pitch and a hit batsman), he was very impressive on Thursday. First he throws incredibly hard and when he missed it was very, very close. Ceda appeared to get frustrated as the inning wore on. He threw 27 pitches, 14 for strikes and appeared to be working on locating his breaking ball and changeup. When he needed a strike, he got one with his fastball and he threw one slider that elicited a collective “WOW” in the crowd. Ceda has a very bright future, just ask all of the scouts in attendance.

Carmen Pignatiello retired the only batter he faced in the 6th to end the inning.

2008ascanio-pub.jpg Jose Ascanio started the 7th and retired all 3 batters he faced. He looked good and quietly went about his business, but isn’t that what all good relievers are supposed to do?

Esmailin Caridad pitched the 8th and the Giants hit him very hard, even the two outs he made. Kevin Hart relieved Caridad in the 8th, recorded the final out of the inning and sat the Giants down in order in the 9th to end the game. The only thing “weird” with Hart was the number on his back.

Thursday was a great day to be back in a ballpark….it has been way too long!

Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to face a Giants split squad on Friday at HoHoKam at 2:05 C.T. Alfonso Soriano is expected to be in the lineup.

Scroll down for photos, video and a photo gallery from the first game of the spring…..

“No! I said only 3 players for Roberts, not 4….
quit trying to change the deal!”

Fukudome-pub.jpg Fukudome1-pub.jpg Fukudome2-pub.jpg

Felix Pie

Jose Ceda

Micah Hoffpauir

Esmailin Caridad

Here is video shot by the CCO and uploaded to You Tube:

First Pitch of Spring Training 2008 – Cubs vs. Giants – 02/28/08

Kosuke Fukudome’s First At Bat as a Chicago Cub

Cubs vs. Giants – 02/28/08

Click Here for a Photo Gallery from the First Spring Training Game of 2008Over 250 Photos

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney