We arrived in Arizona Sunday and headed today to Ho Ho Kam for our first Cub spring training game. Today was probably the most unique spring training game we have ever attended. Arrived a couple hours early, went down by the batting cage, not much to report except it looks like Lou may have lost a little weight. Enjoyed watching Sutcliffe throw BP. They throw from 55 feet as they are in front of the mound and he has to look huge to the hitters.
After the Brewers arrived the batting cage got put away and the field was about ready for the game. The sky then got as black as any thunderstorm you will ever see, the winds kicked up and the fans packed under the stands like a Japanese subway car. To say the least it was tight and crowded.
After almost an hour delay the rain stopped, probably the best photos of the day were the tarp and the ground crew unfortunately.
One point those who have gone to spring training might appreciate is they normally announce the game time temperature in the spring training site, then the temperature in the hometown of the team. Well today the temperature in Mesa at game time was 43 degrees, and yep Chicago was 49 degrees. Never have seen that before.
Cubs started their big boys today, likely the opening day lineup with Wells on the mound. Here are some game observations:
1. Wells pitched well and was throwing strikes. Had a called third strike on Weeks the leadoff hitter, Counsell singled and promptly got picked off. Enjoyed the pickoff play as Derrick Lee ran him toward second base holding the ball high enough in the air so Theriot could easily see it and it was a one throw rundown.
2. Suppan was also throwing well and his slow breaking ball had hitters fooled.
3. Bird had a leadoff double in the second, Soriano drove the ball to the right field wall for a double with Bird going to third as it looked like he may have had to tag up. For a husky guy he looks like he runs well.
4. I quickly realized the #7 hitter in the order is going to be critical this year hitting behind Soriano. With Bird on second it would have been very easy for the Brewers to have walked Soriano, or give him nothing decent to hit in a tight game. With Soriano’s tendency to expand the strike zone this could pose problems. Hopefully the #7 hitter will be productive enough that they do not choose to pitch around Soriano very often.
5. In the second inning we scored two runs. Theriot was up with runners on first and third with one out and struck out on a pitch in his eyes. Darn!
6. Lee hit a monster home run the following inning. The thing I like most about it was it was a line shot to right center.
7. Brewers had a runner on second and Fielder was up against Marmol. He hit a line shot up the middle which Bird charged perfectly. I thought he was going to gun the runner down at the plate. Throw was short and a good 20 feet off line. I don’t know much about his throwing arm but made a mental note to continue to pay attention.
8. Marmol struck out the side in the 4th. Looks like he has added some weight around the middle. In between he gave up an infield single to Weeks, runner stole second and third base, with Soto throwing the ball into LF to allow a run to score. It appeared to me that both stolen bases were the result of Marmol not holding runners on.
9. Watched Castro hit in the 7th. He got fooled on a chopper and beat it out, he looks tall, lanky and quick. He then stole second base clean then got tagged out because he over slid the bag.
Zambrano pitches tomorrow against the Giants. Weather forecast looks a bit better. Sun came out today but spoke with several Brewer fans who all agreed we have seen better weather at Bear/Packer games.