The Cubs were able to get back in the spring win column over the weekend. The Cubs played five games and posted two wins, two losses and a tie. With so much focus at the end of last week on the Cubs win-loss record, Joe Maddon’s team played some of their best ball, at least to this point, of the practice season.
Jason Hammel was excellent in Saturday’s win over the White Sox. And Kyle Hendricks was almost as good for four innings in Sunday’s tie at HoHoKam Park.
The Cubs offense provided a glimpse of what it could be capable of Friday and Saturday in the wins against the Reds and White Sox.
Kyle Schwarber returned to the lineup after a two-day break and Pedro Strop made his first appearance of the spring.
The team’s defense really stepped up with Dexter Fowler, Jason Heyward, Javier Baez, Willson Contreras, David Ross and Albert Almora Jr. turning in highlight reel caliber plays on the Spring Training fields.
Jeimer Candelario, John Andreoli and Willson Contreras continued to shine in Cactus League play. Baseball Prospectus released its list of the top 10 prospects in the system. And there are arms, plural, on the way to the majors that should arrive around the time the big league pitching staff needs an infusion of young talent.
What a weekend it was … Here are the headlines from the last four days jam-packed with all of the news, notes, game recaps and video highlights you can use.
From the Wire: Cubs Release LHP Rex Brothers
The Cubs long weekend of baseball started with the surprise announcement the team released lefty reliever Rex Brothers.
The Cubs were able to save a lot of money and he has time to catch on with another team this spring.
The Cubs 40-man roster, with the move, officially stands at 39 players.
Lester and Cubs Sloppy Early, Schwarber Injured, Lose Spring Game Late – Mariners 10, Cubs 8
The Cubs had a rough day in Peoria against the Mariners. Jon Lester struggled defensively and created more headlines with his throwing issues.
Kyle Schwarber left the exhibition game in the third inning with a knee injury … that turned out to not be as serious as originally thought.
The Cubs broke out the bats, namely Jorge Soler and Javier, but lost another Spring Training game.
Cubs Spring Training Video: Jorge Soler and Javier Baez Launch Home Runs
Jorge Soler and Javier Baez hit their first longballs of the spring … and the balls were hit a rather long way.
Report includes video of the two blasts.
Baseball Prospectus’ Top 10 Cubs Prospects for 2016
Baseball Prospectus released its list of the top 10 prospects in the Cubs’ system.
And there are a couple of players higher on BP’s ranking than other publications.
The Daily CCO: Joe Maddon Couldn’t Care Less about Cubs Spring Record
While the media and fan base focused a little too much on the Cubs’ Spring Training record, Joe Maddon said he couldn’t care less about wins and losses in the spring.
Those making too much about the Cubs’ record forgot Maddon’s team started 0-6-1 in the Cactus League a year ago.
Jon Lester admitted he’s never liked or felt comfortable throwing to bases. Lester works on the issue daily and said he will get better.
The odds of Manny Parra making the team out of Spring Training increased when Rex Brothers was released.
Injury updates, spring rotation, news, notes, links and This Day in Cubs History are included in the Daily Report.
Cubs Smack Three Homers, Snap Spring Training Skid – Cubs 7, Reds 4
Anthony Rizzo doubled twice, scored two runs. Addison Russell tied the game with a sac fly. Miguel Montero hit the game winner, a two-run shot.
Dan Vogelbach and Tim Federowicz also went deep.
John Lackey made his spring debut with mixed results.
Cubs News from Down on the Farm: Arms on the Way
The Cubs have more pitching in the minors than is recognized by the national media. Duane Underwood Jr., Paul Blackburn, Bryan Hudson, Oscar De La Cruz and Dylan Cease project as starters in the big leagues.
The South Bend Cubs could have a very, very good rotation this season. And Double-A Tennessee’s will not be too shabby.
The Daily CCO: Jason Heyward to See Time in Center Field, Jake Arrieta and Other Cubs News
Jason Heyward went from the Cubs’ starting centerfielder to starting right fielder when Dexter Fowler re-upped for another year. Heyward will still get playing time in center this spring.
Jake Arrieta stayed in the news due to the extension conversations.
Daily report includes updates on Shane Victorino, Neil Ramirez, an Anthony Rizzo video, all of the news, notes and links plus This Day in Cubs History.
Baseball America Ranks Cubs Ian Happ Third Best Second Base Prospect
Baseball America agreed with MLB Pipeline and ranked Ian Happ as the third best second base prospect in the game. Happ is making the full-time conversion to second base. The Cubs like the progress he’s made defensively to this point.
Cubs Drop the Hammel on the White Sox – Cubs 9, White Sox 2
Hammel kept the Sox off the board while the offense showed a glimpse of what it’s capable of. The Cubs made Erik Johnson throw a lot of pitches in a short amount of time. Anthony Rizzo was credited with the game-winner in the first inning when he single to right with the bags loaded and plated Dexter Fowler and Jason Heyward.
Dexter Fowler homered. John Andreoli and Jeimer Candelario had their hands in the Cubs’ spring victory.
Recap includes video.
Willson Contreras Put on a Show in Cubs Spring Loss – Dodgers 6, Cubs 5
The Cubs long day of baseball concluded Saturday night in Glendale with a split squad game against the Dodgers.
Willson Contreras collected three hits and threw out two men on the bases before leaving the game.
The Cubs tied it in the eighth, went ahead in the ninth and lost it in the bottom of the ninth.
Recap includes video.
The Daily CCO: Strong Second Spring Outing for Jason Hammel and Other Cubs News
Jason Hammel talked to the beat writers about the adjustments he made in the off-season translating to his spring outings. Hammel was very, very good Saturday against a White Sox team that treats every game against the Cubs as a big deal.
Updates on Shane Victorino, Matt Murton, Tommy La Stella and Matt Szczur are included in the report along with all of the news, notes, links, rumors and This Day in Cubs History.
Cubs Spring Training Video: Highlights from the Split Squads
If you like video, this report is for you … highlights from both of Saturday’s games.
Includes Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Javier Baez, Jason Hammel, Willson Contreras and Albert Almora Jr.
Schwarber Returns to Cubs Lineup, Rizzo Leading Off, Baez at Second
As expected, Kyle Schwarber returned to the starting lineup after a two-day absence. Schwarber played left field. Anthony Rizzo batted leadoff for Maddon. And Javier Baez started his fourth game of the pre-season at a different position.
Hendricks Sharp, Rondon Gives Up Three in Ninth, Game Ends in a Tie – Cubs 3, Athletics 3
The Cubs let a spring victory slip away Sunday in their return to HoHoKam Park. Kyle Hendricks was at the top of his game. Travis Wood and Manny Parra were pretty good, too. Pedro Strop struck out two of the three batters he faced.
Hector Rondon struggled for the second time in as many outings. Rondon allowed the A’s to tie the game in the ninth.
Jeimer Candelario and John Andreoli homered. Anthony Rizzo doubled and scored on a wild pitch. And Willson Contreras collected two more hits.
In the end, Rondon did not execute in the ninth. Once the A’s tied the game, Joe Maddon and Bob Melvin decided that was enough and called it an afternoon after nine innings.