Walking in the Sand

Spring Training Game Seven – Cubs 4 Diamondbacks 5
WP – Brooks Brown (1-0) LP – Tim Lahey (0-1, BS 1) Save – Bill Murphy (1)

Carlos Zambrano pitched for the second time this spring with a better result than his previous start last Friday. Not only did Zambrano throw 3 innings of shutout ball but he added his first home run of the spring, on a 0-2 pitch from Max Scherzer. Zambrano gave up a hit, a walk and struck out 3. Rich Hill also pitched in his second Cactus League game and while he did not give up a hit he issued his first walk in a Spring Training game since 2006. Hill walked 3 consecutive batters in the 4th inning that eventually led to a run. Michael Wuertz made his first appearance of the year and stuck out two in a shutout inning in relief of Rich Hill. Zambrano, Hill and Wuertz allowed only 1 run on 1 hit in 5 innings with 6 strikeouts and 4 walks but the bullpen was another story.

Ed Campusano was credited with 3 runs, 2 earned, in 1/3 of an inning. Tim Lahey allowed 2 inherited runners to score and gave up the go ahead run on a RBI single by Alex Romero. The D’Backs scored 4 runs on 3 hits with 2 walks and an error by Casey McGehee in the 9th.

The pitching staff’s propensity to give up free pass after free pass is becoming a little alarming….Spring Training or not. Entering Wednesday’s game the Cubs had issued 22 walks in 54 innings, add in the latest 6 walk performance and the Cubs have now walked 28 in 63 innings while striking out only 38. A majority of the walks have come from the bullpen, 23, but a good way to judge a pitcher’s performance in Spring Training is his strike to ball ratio….and walks, even in an exhibition game, is never what a manger, especially Lou Piniella, wants to see from his staff.

And Piniella was not happy after the game….scroll down for a few quotes.

On the offensive side, the Cubs out hit the Diamondbacks in the loss, 8-4, including 3 home runs….one each from Zambrano, Micah Hoffpauir and Luis Figueroa. Hoffpauir and Mike Fontenot are the only two Cubs to play in each of the first 7 games and Fontenot added a single (1-for-2) in the 4th. Piniella’s starting nine on Wednesday featured only 2 players that figure to be regulars once the season starts….Zambrano and Felix Pie.

Box Score from Wednesday’s Game

Jason Marquis is scheduled to make his second start of the spring on Thursday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium against the former Southsider, Gio Gonzalez and the Oakland A’s.

Other News from Arizona

To say Lou Piniella is not thrilled with his team’s 2-5 start to the Cactus League schedule would be an understatement. Here are a couple quotes from a report on Cubs.com:

“I’m getting tired of losing ballgames, even in Spring Training.”

“I don’t like the idea of our pitching staff getting hit around, whether it’s Spring Training or playing tiddly winks. I guess I’m naive in a way. I’ve been doing this for a long, long time, but I see these guys throw on the side, and you say, ‘My gosh, what a nice collection of arms,’ and the games start and they start stepping on their toes. You’d like to see them do better.”

The Cubs pitching staff has allowed 48 runs, 46 earned, on 67 hits in 63 innings.

Lou Piniella and Jim Hendry will meet in the next few days and discuss the first round of cuts.

Aramis Ramirez was expected back in the lineup on Thursday, but his return has been pushed back. According to a report in the Sun-Times, Ramirez will be in the lineup on Thursday and Friday…which makes sense. The Cubs have a home game on Friday against the Mariners and a split squad game on Saturday, with the D’Backs traveling to HoHoKam.

Mark DeRosa is not expected back in the lineup until mid next week.

According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, Lou Piniella said after Wednesday’s game that he would “take over some of Larry Rothschild’s decision making on when to use the pitchers.” Piniella wants to win and to Sweet Lou it is not just Spring Training.

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax