Ball Four….Ball Eight….Ball Twelve

Spring Training Game Twenty-Three – Cubs 8 Rockies 6
WP – Neal Cotts (1-2) LP – Manny Corpas (0-1) Save – Michael Wuertz (1)

wflag.jpgThe Cubs offense picked the right day to break out of their rut and score their third highest run total of the spring. Somehow, someway, Lou Piniella’s crew managed to win a ballgame in which the pitching staff walked a total of 12 batters on the afternoon. Rich Hill had a horrible outing. He walked the bases loaded twice in the 1st inning and of the 22 pitches he threw, 2 were for strikes. Hill walked 5 in the opening inning and added another before departing with one out in the 2nd inning.

Kerry Wood returned to action a day after being scratched with back spasms. Wood did not add to the walk total but gave up a run on 2 hits with 2 strikeouts in his inning of work. Michael Wuertz continued his scoreless spring with another shutout performance. Wuertz struck out 2 and did not allow a hit to earn the save.

Kosuke Fukudome made his first appearance in centerfield. He finished the day at the plate 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts. Henry Blanco added his second home run of the spring and Matt Murton hit a pair of doubles and scored twice.

The Cubs made another round of cuts on Thursday. Sean Gallagher and Jose Ascanio were optioned to Iowa and Josh Kroeger was sent to minor league camp.

While the argument can be made it is only Spring Training, the amount of walks the Cubs pitching staff continues to issue on a daily basis is more than concerning. If they are all working a new pitch, that is one thing, but to walk 12 in a single game after walking 9 in the day game on Wednesday has to be driving Lou Piniella up the proverbial wall. Rich Hill faced a total of 11 batters and walked 6 on 49 pitches. Matt Avery made his spring debut and gave up a hit and a walk in 2/3 of an inning.

After Rich Hill left the game, the Cubs offense came to life. They scored all 3 runs with 2 outs in the 2nd inning to tie the game. Matt Murton and Mark DeRosa hit back-to-back doubles and Henry Blanco followed with a 2-run homer to left.

Ryan Theriot manufactured a run in the 3rd with the Cubs down 5-3. Theriot walked to lead off the inning, advanced to 2nd on a throwing error by Franklin Morales and stole 3rd with Derrek Lee at the plate. Lee walked and Theriot scored on ball four….a wild pitch.

Geovany Soto led off the 5th with a single to left. Alfonso Soriano doubled to left with 1-out. Derrek Lee hit a sacrifice fly to right, Soto scored from 3rd. Aramis Ramirez followed with a single to left that plated Soriano….a good sign to see the Big Three make contributions in the same inning.

Matt Murton led off the 6th with his second double of the day. Mark DeRosa sacrificed him to 3rd. Daryle Ward pinch hit for Neal Cotts and singled to center to score Murton with the go ahead run. Mike Fontenot pinch ran for Ward and scored the second run of the inning after singles by Casey McGehee and Ryan Theriot.

The positive on Thursday was the offense woke up and performed near expectations, but the pitching staff….well, two words describes their day…. Twelve Walks.

The Cubs improved to 10-13 on the spring with the win…only 9 left in the exhibition season.

Box Score from Thursday’s Game

The Cubs travel to Tucson to face the Rockies on their last Friday in the desert. The game will be televised on ESPN2. Sean Marshall, not Sean Gallagher, will take Carlos Zambrano’s spot in the rotation and face fellow lefty Jeff Francis.

News from Arizona

With the latest cuts from the spring roster on Thursday, the Cubs currently have 38 in camp.

Kerry Wood could throw in a minor league game on Friday against the Oakland A’s Triple-A squad according to a report on If Wood does not pitch on Friday, he could throw for the first time in back-to-back days on Saturday at HoHoKam against the White Sox and then in Peoria against the Padres on Sunday.

Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to throw 85-90 pitches in a minor league start against the A’s farm team on Friday.

Scott Eyre could be the only southpaw in Lou Piniella’s bullpen to start the season according to a report on Carmen Pignatiello has earned a spot, but it looks like he could be optioned to Iowa in a numbers game.

Kosuke Fukudome will not be in the lineup on Friday against the Rockies.

Lou’s new catch phrase for the year….”Cubby Occurrence

Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver