The Cubs beat the Cubs on Thursday afternoon at HoHoKam Park in the first of two five-inning intrasquad matchups. The White Team, full of mostly veteran players, beat the Blue Team, that consisted of mostly minor leaguers, 7-3 in five innings.
Jorge Soler stole the show on Thursday at HoHoKam Park. Soler hit a mammoth home run in his first at bat, walked and made a diving catch in left field. Starlin Castro was 3-for-3 with a double and three runs scored for the winning team and Nate Schierholtz drove in two with a home run and a sacrifice fly. Anthony Rizzo was 1-for-1 with two walks.
Both Ian Stewart and Josh Vitters are day-to-day with mild quad strains. Dale Sveum described Stewart’s strain as a “mild, slight, very little” and Vitters could end up being scratched from Friday’s practice game due to the injury.
The White Team beat the Blue Team in Thursday’s intrasquad game. Chris Rusin made the start for the Blue Team while Nick Struck took the hill for the White Team … and was victimized by Jorge Soler.
Dioner Navarro recorded a two-run single while Ian Stewart doubled in a run. Nate Schierholtz hit his “first” homer in Cubs’ uniform and drove in another run with a sacrifice fly. Brian Bogusevic also hit a home run and Junior Lake tripled off the centerfield wall in his first at bat. Welington Castillo caught for the Blue Team and was 1-for-2 with a double and a run scored. And Javier Baez had a rough day … Dale Sveum described Baez’s play as “a little shaky”
While Starlin Castro (3-for-3 with a double and three runs scored) had a very good day at HoHoKam at the plate and in the field, Jorge Soler stole the show.
Jorge Soler hit a bomb off Nick Struck (3-1 count) in his first at bat. Soler walked in his second at bat after working a full count then fouling off two pitches. Soler also made a diving catch in left field … but it was the monster shot in his first at bat that was the highlight of the afternoon.
Video of Soler’s home run from Boys of Spring
Dale Sveum was happy with what he saw from Jorge Soler on Thursday. Sveum liked the bat speed and pointed out he was very poised and doesn’t seem like a panic type guy. Nate Schierholtz was very impressed by Soler and said that you would never guess he is 20 years old (Soler turns 21 on February 25) with the way he carries himself and how strong he is.
Through a translator, Jorge Soler said he was happy about his home run in his first at bat and added, “I want to do everything on the field to help the Chicago Cubs.”
The Blue Team and White Team will square off again for five innings on Friday afternoon at HoHoKam Park. First pitch is slated for around 1:00pm MST (2:00pm CST). Brooks Raley, Drew Carpenter, Hector Rondon, Dayan Diaz, Alberto Cabrera, Michael Bowden, Blake Parker and Jensen Lewis are expected to pitch … and will face the following lineups:
The Blue Team
- Brett Jackson – CF
- Darnell McDonald – LF
- Rafael Lopez – C
- Junior Lake – DH
- Brian Bogusevic – RF
- Christian Villanueva – 3B
- Alberto Gonzalez – 2B
- Brad Nelson – 1B
- Javier Baez – SS
The White Team
- Logan Watkins – 2B
- Matt Szczur – CF
- Steve Clevenger – C
- Johermyn Chavez – RF
- Josh Vitters – 3B
- Edwin Maysonet – SS
- Brent Lillibridge – 1B
- Jorge Soler – LF
- Ian Stewart – DH
Both Stewart and Vitters could end up being scratched due to their quad injuries.
Matt Garza met briefly with the media on Thursday and said he is feeling better after an MRI on Monday revealed a mild strain in his left lat near the oblique. Garza has not resumed throwing but does not anticipate missing longer than a week of Spring Training. Garza added that it doesn’t hurt when he raises his left arm. He pointed out that he was ahead of schedule before straining his lat and if he stays patient and allows it to heal then he will be ready for the season.
Garza indicated he is focused on getting back on a mound and preparing for the first week of the regular season. Garza remains in the mix with Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson for the Opening Day nod.
Matt Garza told the Sun-Times that he expects to avoid the DL.
Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Junior Lake
Meghan Montemurro of the Northwest Herald caught up with Jason McLeod following Thursday’s game. McLeod said the plan right now is to start Jorge Soler and Javier Baez at High-A Daytona and Junior Lake at Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs have an idea of where each player in the system will begin the year and they never try to let a player’s performance in Spring Training dictate too much. McLeod reiterated where the three will start the season is still to be determined. Each player has a development plan they want to stick to
Spring Training News Bites
Jensen Lewis discussed his unique delivery with Carrie Muskat.
The Cubs hitters apparently took low, borderline pitches in Thursday’s game and Dale Sveum was asked about it afterwards. According to a report from ESPN Chicago, Sveum wants his hitters to take borderline low pitches and was pleased that many of the players followed through with the game plan. According to the report, Sveum, James Rowson and Rob Deer are putting in a plan to exaggerate setting their sights high in the strike zone.
James Russell is ready for anything in the Cubs bullpen.
The Cubs are challenging Welington Castillo to raise his game … and be like Yadier Molina.
And last, but not least … the Cubs will face A.J. Burnett on Opening Day. Clint Hurdle announced on Thursday that Burnett gets the ball on April 1 at PNC Park. Hurdle also said that Wandy Rodriguez will follow Burnett in the Bucs’ rotation.