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A Brief Cactus League Stop – March 3

In a new twist, I am spending four days in Arizona checking out Cactus League action to open spring training. I will still be in Florida soon, but since the minor leaguers have not even reported yet, that trip will be later in the month.

On Thursday, I attended the Cubs at the Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park, which is not the newest facility, but is well-maintained. This offered me an ideal opportunity to check out two National League Central Division rivals at once. Of course, many of the regulars did not appear and the ones who did left in the fifth, as is the custom. (see photo)

I will share a few random thoughts from the day.

Thursday, 3/3: Milwaukee 2, Chicago 1.

In a bit of an oddity, Kyle Schwarber led off for the Cubs, singling and striking out in three at-bats. The starting left fielder for the day made one disappointing, off-line throw toward home from short left field as Milwaukee scored the eventual winning run in the third.

New Brewers shortstop Jonathan Villar opened the home first with a triple to dead center that caused Cubs centerfielder Jorge Soler to spin around several times before the ball dropped in. After former Cardinals minor league infielder Colin Walsh plated Villar with a sac fly, Jonathan Lucroy reached when his liner to left-center bounced off Soler’s glove (E8).

By my estimation, Soler would be about the Cubs’ fourth option in center this season, anyway, but if this use was to showcase him, it was not impressive. It was just a bad day all around at the office for Soler, who fanned in both of his at-bats.

Walsh is in Brewers camp as a Rule 5 selection from the Oakland A’s. The 26-year-old was the Cardinals’ 13th-round selection in the 2010 draft from Stanford. He had been released by St. Louis near the end of 2014 spring training after reaching Double-A Springfield.

Cubs catcher Miguel Montero had two hits, including a hard-hit double to left-center. However, his rust showed as he was caught in a rundown after breaking for third when the next batter hit a ball to the right side of the infield.

My vote for the most impressive hitter of the day was Brewers catcher Jacob Nottingham, serving as the designated hitter. The minor league prospect recently acquired from Oakland laced doubles into the left and right field corners, respectively, in his first two at-bats. These at-bats were against Major League pitchers, mind you. The first was off Kyle Hendricks, with the other coming against Clayton Richard.

In the third, Nottingham scored on Lucroy’s single. That was the play in which Schwarber made the poor throw toward home.

Both of the Cubs’ MLB starters who pitched on the afternoon, Travis Wood and Hendricks, allowed one run over their respective two innings of work. Wood took the loss in Milwaukee’s 2-1 win.

There were a total of 22 strikeouts on the day, 13 by the Cubs. All 11 pitchers collected at least one K.

Despite the fact that 45 players took the field during the nine innings, there were no mid-inning pitching changes. That helped the game to be completed in a snappy 2:28.

The brat won the sausage race.

Later, I will share my notes from the remainder of the weekend.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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4 Responses to “A Brief Cactus League Stop – March 3”

  1. blingboy says:

    Thanks for the report, Brian. I am gratified to see that the Cubs got off on the wrong foot. May you bring them bad luck all year.

    Maybe you could catch up with Schmalbert. He is supposed to be in camp even though not playing yet.

    Fun Fact. The Schmal is selling his house in the LA area. Here is some description:

    • Brian Walton says:

      I think I heard that the Pujols family is just moving up.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        With clarity of hindsight, Alberts move to La was good all around.
        The cards saved money on salary and landed Wacha and Piscotty. We avoided the stress of seeing Alberts numbers inevitably decline owing to chronic foot pain.
        The Angels landed a latin star for marketing and a professional for the clubhouse.
        The players union gained by lifting the salary scale.

        • blingboy says:

          Arte has blown through a ton of that TV money with contracts like Pujols and Hamilton and he has a .500 team with a weak system. Other teams are doing the same. A big gush of money can stir things up momentarily, but it will not change the landscape as to which orgs know how to stay competitive and which don’t. The Cubs’ moves this winter tell me they are in the latter category, which is not surprising since Theo was not able to sustain success in Boston. Eventually, his owner put a stop to Theo’s trying to buy their way into contention year after year. To be fair, though, I don’t think the Cubs ownership hired Theo to build an org capable of sustained success. They hired him to win a WS whatever the cost. They would be content to worry about what happens next once the hangover wore off. The Cubs could be troublesome for a couple years, but on the other hand, it could blow up in their face, which I think it will. I much prefer the Cardinals approach.

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