Trevor Cahill pitched two scoreless innings in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Reds. Miguel Montero stayed hot at the plate and collected three more hits that included a double and a home run. But the Cubs managed only two other hits, one an Albert Almora Jr. double, in the second defeat of the spring.
Trevor Cahill re-signed with the Cubs this past off-season after turning down more money on a multi-year contract to start for the Pirates. Cahill said Saturday that he wasn’t aware of a two-year offer from the Pirates. He wanted to return to the Cubs for several reasons.
According to the Sun-Times, Cahill found a “comfort zone” with the Cubs last season and “wants to be part of that first team” to win it all. Plus, he wanted to have Spring Training near his home in the Phoenix area to help his pregnant wife, who gave birth last month.
The Pirates did make Cahill an offer, but according to the Sun-Times, it was a one-year contract for similar money as he received from the Cubs but with “the added assurance he would be part of their starting rotation.”
Cahill sees himself as a full-time starting pitcher but he is “ready to spot start or pitch anywhere else the Cubs need.” Cahill admitted he felt returning to the Cubs would give him “the best chance to succeed.”
Addison Russell has impressed his skipper with the way he’s hitting the ball so far in Spring Training. Joe Maddon told Tony Andracki he was not surprised by Russell’s homer in Friday’s game. Maddon said Russell is “locked in a little bit right now.”
The Cubs and Maddon are “anticipating a huge year from Addison Russell, both offensively and defensively” according to Comcast SportsNet.
Addison Russell is making a lot of noise with his bat this spring. Maddon is hitting him fourth in Sunday’s lineup against the Diamondbacks.
Albert Almora Jr.
Albert Almora Jr. started Saturday’s game in center field. Almora Jr. went 1-for-2 at the plate with a double hitting eighth in the lineup. Almora Jr. robbed Reds’ prospect Jesse Winker of an extra basehit in the sixth inning with a sensational diving catch.
Miguel Montero called the catch “amazing” and told the beat writers after the game he did not think anyone else would have gotten to the ball.
Defensively, Almora Jr. is ready for The Show right now. He takes a lot of pride in his defense and admitted Saturday that he expects perfection out of himself in the field.
The Cubs are holding back Justin Grimm from early work in the Spring Training schedule, the same as they’ve done with Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop.
Before the games started, Tony Andracki asked Joe Maddon what he envisioned Grimm’s role would be with the Cubs this season. Maddon sees Grimm filling a similar role to last year, the “mid-innings closer.” Maddon acknowledged he has the “stuff that finishes games.” Maddon thinks as he gets older he will be able to handle the mental side of pitching late in games.
Grimm told Comcast SportsNet that he “wants the ball in the late innings in high-pressure situations.” Grimm has talked to Maddon about his role. And like every player in camp, Grimm wants to do what is best for his team.
As Tony Andracki pointed out, Grimm has changed the way he views himself. Up until last season, Grimm still wanted to be a starting pitcher.
Last year, Grimm appeared in 62 games, finished 11 and recorded three saves. Grimm was 3-5 with a 1.99 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 3.11 FIP. Grimm gave up 18 runs, 11 earned, on 31 hits with 26 walks and 67 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings. Grimm inherited 42 runners, 11 scored (26%).
Grimm ranked ninth in Major League Baseball in strikeouts per nine innings (12.1) according to the report among pitchers that completed at least 40 innings.
The Cubs figure to lean heavily on Justin Grimm again this season.
Joe Maddon held his second annual Respect Bald event on Saturday at the Cubs facility in Mesa. Maddon, Dave Martinez, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Kyle Schwarber, Edgar Olmos and Matt Szczur were among the players that had their heads shaved during the event that raises money for pediatric cancer research.
News and Notes
• Anthony Rizzo has been taking piano lessons this spring according to a report from Carrie Muskat.
• RHP Stephen Fife went from the Majors to bartending to pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League to a non-roster invite with the Cubs.
• According to Gordon Wittenmyer, the Cubs sent two instructors to Florida prior to Spring Training to work with Ian Happ on his defense as he transitions to a full-time second baseman.
• The Sun-Times posted Cubs truths … fact, fiction or a combination?
• According to Jesse Rogers, the batting champ in the Cactus League receives a new iPad.
• According to Cliff Corcoran, the Cubs signed two free agents this off-season for less than they are worth … Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist.
• Jonah Keri thinks the Cubs have two of the six most valuable players in baseball on its roster.
• Ben Zobrist purchased a home a mile and a half west of Wrigley Field for $1.84 million according to Danny Ecker.
• Hardball Talk posted a report about what it is like to recover from Tommy John surgery.
• Former Cubs’ farmhand LHP Andrew McKirahan has a torn UCL and will be sidelined for the season. McKirahan is expected to undergo his second Tommy John Surgery.
• The Cubs’ catching corps went to dinner on Saturday night … click here for the photo from Willson Contreras.
And last, but not least, Kyle Schwarber turned 23 on Saturday. His teammates sung ‘Happy Birthday’ to the slugger during warmups. Bob Nightengale called Cubs’ camp the most entertaining in Major League Baseball.
This Day in Cubstory
1986 – Jake Arrieta, born
1973 – Terry Adams, born
1933 – Ted Abernathy, born
1886 – Bill Sweeney, born
1869 – Hal Mauck, born