As many know, Spring Training wins and losses are meaningless and the same can be said about individual stats. Players often work on things they would like to improve on, especially pitchers. Take for example Craig Counsell of the Brewers who has changed his exaggerated batting stance and dropped his hands making him unrecognizable in the cage by his former manager. Counsell is hitting the cover off the ball in Arizona this spring (.600/.647/.733 in 7 games, 15 at bats).
Lou Piniella has been vocal in recent days about his players becoming a little more focused on preparing for the season. Regardless of the length of the exhibition season he has become concerned about certain players bat speed and is planning on getting more at bats and playing time for the players figured to be on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster.
“Look, spring training wins and losses don’t mean anything, but you don’t want to get in the habit of getting your butts kicked every day either. That I can tell you, and that’s exactly what’s happening here.”
Here is a look at the stats after the first 13 games of the players that should be introduced in Houston on April 6 and ones that could be there as well…. Spring Training stats have always been, and always will be, very deceiving. Some veterans will go at their own pace just tying to get in their work while others take the exhibition season a little more serious. For example, no one will soon forget the spring Nomar Garciaparra put together before the 2005 season. Nomar hit the cover off the ball but once the games started he struggled mightily before spending a majority of the year on the DL.
Then there are the young players that light it up and as soon as a third deck is added to the stadium they are playing in, they forget how to hit the ball.
But one thing is for certain, it is good sign as the spring wears on to see the veterans driving the ball offensively and showing better command with all of their pitches off the mound.
Kosuke Fukudome (as of Sunday night) is 1-for-4 in the first two games of the WBC with two runs scored, four walks and two strikeouts (.250/.625/.250/.875)
Geovany Soto was 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and a RBI in Team Puerto Rico’s first game. (.500/.600/.750/1.350)
- Koyie Hill is slowly becoming the front-runner for the back-up catcher’s job. The pitchers like throwing to Hill and if he keeps hitting, the return of Paul Bako will be cut short.
- Mike Fontenot is hitting the cover off the ball while Aaron Miles is, well…struggling at best.
- While early reports from Mesa suggested Luis Rivas might make the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, the very versatile Bobby Scales is performing better than Rivas. Piniella needs to give Scales more at bats against Major League pitching and see what he is made of.
- Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano need to start hitting. No more excuses and it does not matter it is “only March 9.“
The Pitching Staff
Carlos Marmol struck out three in his one inning of work in Team Dominican Republic’s loss on Saturday. For more on Marmol’s outing, check out this post on the CCO Community Blog from Dorasaga.
Ted Lilly is slated to start game three for Team USA.
- The battle for the last spot in the rotation should be down to Sean Marshall and Aaron Heilman. Jeff Samardzija hits a wall after 35 pitches and Chad Gaudin should be the Cubs’ long man out of the pen.
- Kevin Hart likely pitched his way to Iowa on Sunday and early returns on Jeff Stevens point toward Triple-A as well.
- Most have ruled out David Patton and Jason Waddell, but they have pitched extremely well. Piniella should run them out against Major League hitters and see if they can have the same success.
- Randy Wells has been perfect in very limited work, time for him to see more time on a mound.
The first 13 games are just that the first 13 games, but certain players need to start stepping it up soon.