Wednesday, March 31, 2010

One More at Hoho

One of the Cubs few bright spots today, Soto to Lee picks Evans off first
BOS Photo by John Antonoff

The Cubs lost a pair of games today, with the Jr. Varsity losing to the Brewers in Maryvale and the A squad unable to do anything against Jered Weaver and the Angels at Hohokam losing 11-0. I said Jr. Varsity because only one Cubs projected opening day starter played against the Brewers (Fukudome) while the rest of the opening day lineup started in Mesa.

Jered Weaver was on his game and only allowed an Xavier Nady single while striking out 9 Cubs over 5 innings. Four other Angels pitchers tossed an inning each, allowing only 1 hit.

Carlos Zambrano started and Lou was only looking for Z to go three or four innings today. He pitched 4 innings allowing 4 runs. Angels catcher Mike Napoli crushed a 2 run shot in the first that nearly left the the stadium into the North side parking lot. Sean Marshall followed Z with a perfect inning and then Jeff Samardzija gave up a couple runs in the 6th on a Peter Bourjos 2 run HR. James Russell who had not given up a run this spring finally surrendered one in the 7th. Justin Berg and Esmailin Caridad each allowed 2 runs in an inning apiece but Caridad's were unearned courtesy of a Darwin Barney error.

So what do today's two Cubs split-squad games tell us about the upcoming season? Not much really but I do know that each time a young Cubs reliever (Berg, Caridad, Samardzija, or Russell) enters a game early this season it will be a big question mark as to how they perform. Between the 4 relievers they have a total of 76 MLB innings pitched, 30 of those from Samardzija.

Derrek Lee was having some fun today tuning up his infield skills taking grounders at shortstop during bp. The Cubs attendance at Hohokam today was the second lowest home game of the entire spring at 7,707. However that was still better than 7 of the 8 Grapefruit League games today, beaten by the Yankee's/Twins.

The Cubs will play the final home game of the 2010 Cactus League season at Hohokam tomorrow against the Colorado Rockies, weather permitting...60 percent chance of rain with temps expected in the high 50's. A stark contrast from today's breezy and warm 82 degrees.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cubs Pound Reds

Today was the kind of game that Lou Piniella and Cubs fans love to see in the last week of spring training. A solid all around performance with the Cubs beating divisional foe Cincinnati 8-1.

10,318 fans watched Randy Wells start and pitch 5.2 solid innings giving up only 1 run on 7 hits, with 5 K's and 1 BB. Wells wasn't the only Cubs pitcher throwing well as Sean Marshall pitched 2 outstanding innings allowing 1 hit, 1 BB, while striking out 4. Marshall's curve ball was in fine form and made several Reds hitters look bad. James Russell who's made the squad pitched a 1 hit scoreless inning and still has not given up an earned run this spring. They say the Cactus League is very hitter friendly but the 3 Cubs relievers today Berg, Marshall, and Russell currently sport ERA's of 1.13, 1.38, and 0.00.

As far as hitting goes, the Cubs brought some power with HR's from Marlon Byrd, Mike Fontenot, and Jeff Baker. Tyler Colvin who now knows he's made the club had a 2-run double to the gap in the 1st. Ryan Theriot has had a somewhat quiet but outstanding spring went 3-for-4 today raising his spring BA to .412. Jeff Baker was 2-for-2 after replacing Chad Tracy at third base.

There was a "Keep The Cubs In Mesa" rally before the game today at Hohokam with many of the local politicians in attendance including Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (wearing a Cubs jersey). Cubs owner and chairman Tom Ricketts also spoke at the rally. Governor Brewer tossed one of 5, yes 5, ceremonial pitches.

I've said before with the intimacy of these small spring training ballparks you never know who you might run into. That proved true today as I was walking and noticed a recognizable face - Brian Doyle-Murray who many people remember as Lou Loomis the caddy master in the comedy classic Caddyshack. He also was a featured player and later writer for SNL. I wasn't 100% sure it was him at first so I went up and asked him if he was Brian Doyle-Murray as soon as I heard him start to talk, I knew for sure from his voice.

He wasn't the only celebrity type at today's game, I also spotted Pulitzer Prize winning writer George Will as well as The Smashing Pumpkins lead man Billy Corgan, both huge Cubs fans. From my press box perch I saw Tom Ricketts stop by and chat with Billy during the game. Something you won't see during the regular season, Cubs players, in this case Ryan Dempster walking through the concourse during the 5th inning. A couple kids were asking if that was Dempster, he was in street clothes so sometimes that throws people off.

It was great to see Aaron a Reds uniform that is!

Something happened to me during the game that is extremely rare, and could have been disastrous. My microphone was unknowingly left on. I found out when Ryan Theriot nearly took a pitch to the head in the 7th inning when I gasped "Whoa!" only to hear it come out over the entire stadium. This was to my embarrassment but seemingly alot of people's amusement. One of the press box interns said he'd never seen Fukudome, who was on deck, with a bigger smile than when he heard that. Apparently I voiced the reaction alot of people were thinking.

The Cubs are in Scottsdale tomorrow playing the SF Gaints.

Enjoy these BOS exclusive photos from today, taken by ace photog John Antonoff.

Colvin's 2 run double in first inning

Randy Wells trying to do it at the plate as well as the mound

Cubs first round draft picks Brett Jackson (2009) and Colvin (2006)

Fontonot -broken bat on impact

We'll Get That Record Yet

This spring new Cactus League single game attendance records are being broken so often it's hard to keep up. An article on local AZ radio station KTAR's website about these record breaking games and how "things started smelling fishy" written on March 22 is already completely out of date with the current numbers.

On Sunday while the Grapefruit League had 3 of 8 games rained-out, another Cactus League single game attendance record was being broken by the Cubs and Mariners in Peoria at 13,629. Yesterday's marquee Grapefruit League match-ups that were not rained out (MN/BOS and STL/NYM) had 7,994 and 6,731 respectively, the two Florida games combined attendance was only 1096 more than the one Cubs - Mariners game in Peoria. Yesterday's weather may have had something to do with those low Grapefruit numbers but overall the attendance tide has turned West.

Last year in spring of 2009 it was the first time ever that the Cactus League pulled in more total fans than the Grapefruit League - 1.57 Million to 1.56 Million and that was with the Grapefruit having 16 teams to the Cactus League's 14, with each league having 15 teams apiece this spring expect the Cactus League to win the 2010 overall attendance battle again and keep the title as long as the leagues are split in the current configuration.

Back to the recent single game record situation here in AZ, this past weekend 3 of the top 4 single game marks were set. Which including yesterdays Cubs-Mariners All-Time Cactus Single game mark of 13,629 and the second most ever 13,583 between the Dodgers -Mariners at Camelback Ranch Saturday as well as the 4th All-Time single game figure and new Hohokam Stadium record set Saturday at 13,462 with the Cubs-Padres contest. During the Saturday game at Hohokam the Cubs Media department announced the 13,462 as the Cactus League single game record, it was actually the second highest current mark (although being simultaneously broken in Glendale) but it was a Hohokam record.

Hard to keep track of it all the numbers but one thing is clear, it means a lot to these entities (Teams, Cities, Stadiums, Civic Groups) to own the attendance record, even for a day. What amazes me is that somehow these stadiums keep getting more people inside than they claim to actually hold. It appears to be a game of accounting one-upmanship for "securing sponsorships for the numerous Cactus League ballparks" as the KTAR article alludes to. By my calculations the Cubs have been involved in 7 of the top 10 All-Time single game Cactus League marks.

Who knows they may sell tickets to sit in the press box today so we can break a new record at Hohokam. Hey, why not make the Budweiser Party tent a two story or put a bleacher up on top of the center field concession building...sure it would be obstructed view (green batters eye wall) but it would like the Wrigley rooftops only inside Hohokam...just spitballing ways to get that record back this week.

No doubt in my mind that if the Cubs had a 15,000 seat stadium here in AZ they would fill it regularly and easily outdraw the competition. Such a stadium could be built and still keep the ambiance and intimacy of a small spring training park, build a couple rows higher with larger berm areas and you have the extra 1500 seats. The Ricketts say they would like a new spring ballpark that keeps the intimacy and fans close to the field and players.

Whenever a new stadium is built I sure hope it is done with these considerations in mind and it would be great to take ALL the attendance records back to the best draw in the Cactus League - Your Chicago Cubs.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

13,462 VIP's Set Hohokam Record

Shortly before I announced the opening lineups today, Cubs Assistant Director of Media Relations Jason Carr stopped by my booth and informed me of a late lineup change. The change was that Andres Blanco who was listed as the starting shortstop was being scratched with Mike Fontenot taking his place in the lineup. I asked Jason what happened, if Blanco had a minor injury or something, he kind of hesitated and said, "Yeah, something like that". We know now the "something like that" was Blanco had either been traded or was about to be traded to the Texas Rangers.

As for the game, the Cubs and Padres went 10 innings only to settle on a 2-2 tie before the largest single game crowd in Hohokam history at 13,462, it's the second largest Cactus League single game mark. The Mesa Fire Marshall must have stopped by the Dos Gringo's stand for a couple margarita's and let a few extra folks slip in.

The Blanco move meant that Mike Fontenot is the primary backup at shortstop which apparently the Cubs are comfortable with, perhaps less so after the 1st inning in which Fontenot had an error booting a grounder on the 2nd Padres hitter of the game. Today's game was very well pitched on both sides, Cubs Carlos Silva started and tossed 5.1 solid innings giving up 2 runs off 7 hits with 3 K's and no BB's. Silva was helped out in the 2nd and 4th inning when he had two outs and two runners on only to have Padres pitcher Clayton Richard come to the plate, each time making the 3rd out.

The rest of the Cubs pitchers Caridad, Schlitter, Marmol, and Stevens allowed the Padres only 2 hits holding them scoreless the final 4.2 innings. Lou must have wanted Carlos Marmol to get right back on the horse sending him into today's game in the exact same situation as yesterday's game (a 2-2 tie beginning the 9th inning), this time with much better results. Marmol did walk the first batter but then retired the next three, the last two on strikeouts.

As for the Cubs at the plate, Tyler Colvin started in RF at the leadoff spot and was 4-for-5 today including a solo HR, both Cubs RBI's, and brought his Cactus League batting average up to .475. If one of his two singles been a double he would have hit for the cycle. He was thrown out trying to steal 2nd in the 1st inning. In my opinion Colvin's been the position player standout of Cubs spring training. Mike Fontenot was the only other Cub player with more than 1 hit going 2-for-4 with a run scored.

Today we had a host of VIP types at the game, including Commissioner Bud Selig, several of the Ricketts family, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. I had the opportunity to talk with Tom and Laura Ricketts before the game, both seemed genuinely nice.

Kevin Millar must have been very excited about getting the start in left field today because he was even crazier than normal before the game, making several faux diving catches during BP and then throwing down his glove in the outfield and doing a complete air band rendition of Guns N' Roses Sweet Child O' Mine while it was playing over the Hohokam PA system. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone in the stadium who seems to be having more fun than Millar.

Bob Vorwald, Executive Producer of WGN sports came by my booth where he autographed his new book "What It Means To Be A Cub". It details the thoughts and feelings of a wide range of Cubs players, coaches, broadcasters and their experiences with the storied ballclub. Bob used a portion of my Vince Lloyd "Voice of Summer" interview in the book.

Interesting sightings today - A dust devil whipped through the field and the stands right before the game, if you're not from AZ it's a small swirling tornado like wind effect picking up dirt, debris, and paper. We had two ceremonial pitches one of them went quite a bit astray 15 to 20 feet wide of homeplate and nearly took out Iowa Cubs photographer Larry Woolis.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cubs Lose to A's

The Cubs made some roster moves today (Gray, Mateo, Gaub, and Adduci to AAA - Barney, Scales, and Chirinos to minor league camp) and Lou Piniella has made some decisions regarding the pitching staff (Gorzelanny and Silva starters, Samardzija and Marshall to the pen). I'm not going to go over these moves now but will devote an upcoming blog about how the roster and pitching staff is shaping up as we get ready for the last week of spring training.

The Cubs lost to the Oakland Athletics at Hohokam today 5-2 in front of 12,211 fans. One of the story lines of the game was Cubs closer Carlos Marmol's being roughed up for 3 runs in the 9th inning. Marmol entered the game with the score tied 2-2 at the start of the 9th and was promptly greeted with a Travis Buck HR, then hit A's Michael Taylor with a pitch before allowing singles to two of the next three batters before being replaced by Justin Berg. I caution you to read too much into this performance by Marmol, it's still spring training and these types of innings happen. If he's doing this at Wrigley next month, then we have issues.

On the flip side Big Z started and looked good in 6 plus innings allowing 2 runs on 3 hits while whiffing 6 A's. Z was taken out after hitting 7th inning leadoff batter Michael Taylor with a pitch. James Russell and Jeff Samardzija each pitched an effective inning.

Marlon Byrd hit a solo HR in the 2nd inning followed by back-to-back doubles by Alfonso Soriano and Jeff Baker accounting for the Cubs 2 runs today. Aramis Ramirez was 2 for 3 and shows no ill effects of the time off with the triceps injury. Xavier Nady may get a start in the outfield tomorrow when the Cubs host the San Diego Padres.

Funny moment today, I was over in the WGN radio booth before the game talking with Pat Hughes and Ron Santo when one of the A's people came in to prep them about Oakland. The conversation came around to a couple former Cubs Eric Patterson and Jake Fox, when Ron and Pat both told him, "Jake can hit". The A's guy replied Fox is 2 for 32 hitting this spring, to which Pat joked "like I told you, Jake can't hit". Both Ron and Pat then said "Fox will hit, just wait" Fox had a 3 run HR in the A's split-squad game in Phoenix.

Cubs vs A's, video fix

We had a technical issue yesterday with the new video up in our Multimedia page, that has been fixed. The video takes about 5 seconds to buffer then plays, it's a tribute to the old school Cactus League with a short Cubs spring opening day video and then an interview with Cubs play-by-play man Len Kasper, be sure to check it out.

The Cubs take on the Oakland Athletics at Hohokam today, I'll be back after the game with a report. T

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kasper, Colvin, and Caple

We have a new video up in our Multimedia page, it's a tribute to the old school Cactus League with a short Cubs spring opening day video and then an interview with Cubs play-by-play man Len Kasper, be sure to check it out.

Tyler Colvin on the Cubs 25 man Roster to start the season? That's a big, MAYBE...However, according to Lou,"Colvin has had an outstanding spring",and "played well enough to make this team". The Cubs want Tyler to get regular at-bats and those may not be available unless Lou sits one of the three starting outfielders on a regular rotating basis. Xavier Nady is also in the mix and he actually played in the outfield for the first time as a Cub yesterday in a minor league game at Fitch Park.

The early word was that Nady wouldn't be outfield ready until June but if he's already getting his feet wet in the field now, an earlier go timetable seems attainable. If Nady starts the season on the DL would the Cubs select Colvin over Sam Fuld for the roster spot? Fuld has had a crappy spring with the bat but he has speed, more experience than Colvin and is very good defensively in any outfield spot. My guess is Tyler starts in Iowa so he can play everyday, but that could also leave the Cubs only a Soriano leg tweak away from Colvin potentially starting at Wrigley this season.

On March 11, 2010 Boys of Spring had the first Cubs spring photos on the net (Colvin tossing football among them) and told you of Tyler's added muscle and weight before the Chicago media ever reached AZ .

I found out today some of my photo collection was used by Senior Writer Jim Caple for an article about Tucson's Hi Corbett Field. That's great, I like seeing my name as part of an ESPN article...that is...until I read further and saw him trashing the Cubs in the same article. I'm sure he probably got my photos from "Play Ball, The Cactus League Experience" exhibit and doesn't know of my Cubs relationship.

Here's a Caple statement from the article: "There are 14 other teams in Arizona -- including a Chicago team that has won the World Series in the past five years, let alone the past century -- and fans will be only too happy to go see them instead if the Cubs move. I say let the Cubs leave." Caple goes on to call the Cubs "pigheaded and greedy". Hey, I don't mind if someone wants to use my photos for an article but at least you could ask first if you're going to talk crap about the Cubs.

Someone brought to my attention another Cubs blog website having a "sponsored post", paid for by an advertiser to promote the advertisers product. This is a new way to generate revenue for a website and brings to attention the Cubs touchy issues with new advertising at Wrigley Field. In spite of financial offers I've been very deliberate not to bring in advertising and pop-up ads to the Boys of Spring website, I like our simple and uncluttered design look. I'm going to make a promise right now that you will "never see these type of obtrusive ads on BOS" as long as I own and run this website. Yes, we have a StoreFront page and that is where we will show and sell any products that we offer in the future. Outside advertisers cluttering up BOS with ads is not going to happen.

The last of the Cubs trips to play a spring game in Tucson happens today as the Cubs make the trek to take on the AZ Diamondbacks. It's the end of an era after 64 consecutive years of at least one team training in Tucson. Check out my March 15th post about Hi Corbett Field with some photos I took in 1991 (example at left) before they renovated. Hard to believe we will have 15 Cactus League teams all training in the Phoenix metro area come next spring. Besides Tucson, Cactus League teams have trained over the years in places like Yuma, Palm Springs, Apache Junction and Casa Grande.

Expect the Cubs to make some roster moves on Friday.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mid-Week Multi-Media Madness

Wednesday blog ramblings along with some video and radio stuff.

I didn't go to Surprise to see the Cubs play yesterday as I had some work to do and the game was broadcast on MLB network, so I DVR'd the game and watched at my convenience. Surprise Stadium is anything but convenient for me as I'm located at the KCUBS broadcasting tower east of Hohokam, over 65 miles one way from here to Surprise.

It's always interesting if not frustrating listening to the other team's announcers like yesterday's Royals crew. Hey at least these guys are better than the White Sox announcers, who shall remain nameless here.

The Royals announcers started to talk about pronunciations of names beginning with Cubs Jim Adduci, which is pronounced Ah-due-see. Then they talked about Royals first baseman Kila Ka'aihue and how they had said it wrong for a while. Ka'aihue didn't play against the Cubs when they were at Hohokam so I didn't have to attempt it. However, after doing PA last spring when the Cubs played the Japan National team in the WBC a few tough names here and there are no big deal. Not that I say them all perfectly but I do find out the proper pronunciation before hand, like Monday with the Indian's Chris Gimenez. One would think the Spanish G sounds like an H (as in Gila) and the second syllable being (en) but in his case the name is pronounced just never know until you find out.

Yesterday another Cubs game finished in a tie score, (5-5 vs the KC Royals) the second tie game in the last three days for the Cubs. 13 of 15 Cactus League teams have a tie on their record this spring with the White Sox leading the league with 4. Why all the ties? Part of this has to do with teams limiting the extra innings they will play, usually only one extra frame. Teams get the work in and don't want to tax a pitching staff more than needed as they build up arm strength during spring. I remember a spring game years ago back at old Hohokam Park that went 11 or 12 innings...teams just don't do that anymore.

Last week was spring break for most schools and the Cubs for whatever reason really got hosed by the Cactus League schedule makers. We had only ONE game at Hohokam between the 13th and 20th - a sold out Tuesday game against the Rangers on the 16th. It's been mentioned to me up in the booth (not by the Cubs) during spring break games that I should make a public service announcement "Ladies, flashing or dropping of bikini tops in the outfield berm area is expressly prohibited"...No doubt an attempted experiment in the use of reverse psychology.

I ran across this interesting article on former Cub Hee-Soep Choi over at FANGRAPHS.

Last Friday afternoon I was on WGN radio's Garry Meier show talking Cubs spring training, you can listen to it by scrolling down to "Latest Uncut Podcasts" where it has my name. Garry also had an opportunity to talk with some of the players at Cubs Convention, some of you may have seen this video but if not it's interesting...Garry kind of catches the guys off guard with his first question asking them, "How many of you guys are on steroids right now?". About 5:46 seconds into the video Ryan Dempster does his Harry Caray impersonation, and later we find out the Micah Hoffpauir's favorite movie is The Notebook, he was kidding...I think.

Monday morning on WGEM radio out of Quincy, IL the "SportsCenter" guys Josh Houchins and Matt Schuckman and I talked Cubs baseball. You can listen to that on SportsCenter OnDemand by clicking Tim Sheridan Cubs Spring Training.

The Cubs are out in Surprise again today this time playing the Texas Rangers, I'll be manning the KCUBS broadcast tower offices here in Mesa.

Monday, March 22, 2010

W and L's don't matter, it's spring

Not a very exciting game today from the Cubs standpoint as the Cleveland Indians shutdown the North Siders 9-2 in front of 12,327 fans at Hohokam.

The 2 Cubs runs came in the final inning courtesy of a Cleveland error and a Micah Hoffpauir 2 run single. The Cubs bats were silent most of the game except for a single and double by Alfonso Soriano - The only 2 hits for the Cubs in the first 7 innings. Fausto Carmona pitched 6 outstanding innings for Cleveland to start the game, leaving the game with his team up 5-0.

The Cubs play in the field was also less than scintillating with Derrek Lee trying to throw out Austin Kearns at third base instead of taking an easy out at first and Bobby Scales with an errant throw on what could have been a double play ball. Jeff Baker had an error on a hard but fairly routine grounder in the 5th that ended up helping the Indians score 2 runs. Baker did make a nice leaping snatch on a hard Mark Grudzielanek liner in the 3d inning.

Jeff Samardzija had a chance to show what he could do as today's Cubs starter and had mixed results in his 4 innings. Samardzija allowed 2 runs on 4 hits with 2 BB's and 4 K's, not a bad outing but probably not enough get him out of the pen or Iowa at this point. John Grabow would have pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 5th if not for a Cubs error and gave up 2 unearned runs allowing 3 hits in 2/3 of an inning. Mike Parisi probably did enough to conclude his time with the Cubs as he failed to retire an Indian batter in the 8th inning and was on the hook for 4 runs while walking 2 and hitting another. Justin Berg came in and cleaned up what he could of Parisi's mess and Jake Muyco pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning against Indians minor leaguers.

All in all not an inspired performance by the Cubs but it's spring so we shouldn't read to much into this game. It was warm and sunny here in Mesa today and I got to watch baseball in March...From my standpoint that's a great day, no matter the score.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Kansas out...ouch

In case you have Kansas or Villanova in your final 4 brackets, I'll try to lighten things up for you with an old favorite that some of you may not have seen. Ryan Dempster doing his Harry Caray impersonation during spring training.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Shutout at Hoho

The Cubs showed their drawing power as nearly 20,000 fans attended a Cubs spring training game in the Valley of the Sun today. Sure, that was split between two stadiums but a game time temperature of around 70 degrees and plenty of sun as opposed to a 22 degree wind chill and snow in Chicago is an AZ winter visitors dream.

The Cubs split the two contests losing in Phoenix to the Athletics 7-4 and shutting out the KC Royals in Mesa 4-0. I'll focus on the game I announced and witnessed at Hohokam.

The Cubs put all 4 runs on the board in the 2nd inning against Royals starter Edgar Osuna. Led by Geovany Soto's RBI single and Ryan Theriot's 3 run double. Marlon Byrd led off the the second with a double and was 2-for-3.

That was really all the offense needed as Cubs pitchers hurled a rare Cactus League shutout. Led by starter Carlos Zambrano in his longest outing of the spring going 5 innings, allowing 3 hits, 2 BB's, with 4 K's. Casey Coleman followed Z with a couple scoreless innings with Esmailin Caridad and Carlos Marmol finishing up with an inning each. Caridad looked confident today as he has all spring and has yet to allow a Cactus Legaue run. Marmol struck out the side in the 9th but made it more interesting than needed, hitting Cody Clark with a pitch and allowing a Brian Anderson double. Cubs pitchers worked out of jams in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings allowing 7 base runners over the final 3 frames.

Carlos Zambrano looked cat quick in jumping off the mound in the 2nd inning barehanding a Mitch Maier bunt then tossing him out. Zambrano's conditioning and weight loss appear to be helping all aspects of his game. Alfonso Soriano took a hard foul of his leg or foot and was in noticeable pain for a brief period before resuming his at bat in the 6th inning.

Several Cubs minor leaguers got into the game due to the split-squad including DJ LeMahieu the talented Cubs 2009 2nd round draft pick out of LSU, who made an outstanding defensive play at 2nd base diving to his left snaring a hard liner. Also getting into the game as a pinch hitter was Mike Brenly, son of Cubs TV color analyst Bob Brenly...he hit a deep fly out in the 8th.

Bob Brenly and his family must have gotten word ahead of time that their son might play because they had a booth reserved in the press box and it was full of family and friends.

Former long-time Hohokam stadium manager and big Cubs fan Dave Dunne along with Mark Gallo, Frankie Gonzales, Loras McClimon, and Hohokam ticket manager Nancy Hunter sang a rousing version of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the 7th inning stretch.

Jody Davis was the Cubs 1st Base coach during the game and also threw BP prior. Aramis Ramirez took morning bp and looks like he may be back soon.

Here are some photos I took from today's bp

Z going to get his at-bats, no DH today

A-Ram triceps getting better

Big Byrd

Jody Davis bp pitcher and 1st base coach today

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Couple Days at the Ranch

The Cubs will play for a second straight day at Camelback Ranch in Glendale; today facing the White Sox, yesterday they lost 7-3 to the Dodgers in front of a record Cactus League single game crowd of 13,391. That record attendance could be short lived as today's crowd may be even larger with the cross-town rivals facing off.

It's no surprise that the Cubs have been involved in nine of the top 10 crowds in Cactus League history. The Ricketts family knows that if a Wrigleyville West complex is built here in Mesa that crowds of 15,000 can be attained with a larger stadium. The Cubs home of Hohokam Park is losing some of the single game attendance marks due to new facilities on the west side of the valley and that doesn't sit well when your top dog (fan wise).

Tomorrow the Cubs have a split squad playing in Phoenix against the Oakland Athletics and taking on the Kansas City Royals for the first time this spring at Hohokam. Talk with you after tomorrows contest in Mesa.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Livin' the Dream

It was a St. Patrick's night of baseball as Hohokam Park hosted it's only night game this spring. The third annual Fergie & Friends celebrity baseball game for charity was played last night on a gorgeous AZ evening. Who won or lost doesn't really matter because the real winners were the charities who benefited from this event.

I should note, this was a "baseball" game played with real baseball's and wood bats...not slo-pitch softball.

For the record Fergie and his talented Friends won the game easily, the final was 14-5 or 14-4 in the midst of post game high 5-ing I forgot to look at the scoreboard. Fergie's team also ended a couple innings after scoring 3 runs even though they had less than three outs, otherwise the score would have been even more lopsided. With Fergie's MLB stars and Hall of Famers vs us average Joe's and local TV & Radio types, the game was never really going to be competitive.

For me playing in the Fergie game for the second year in a row was unreal, especially sharing a dugout with all these former MLB greats and Hall of Famers. In the locker room before the game that I learned our AZ team better come up to the plate swinging against the Fergie team as umpire Major Allgood said his strike zone for us would be "nose to toes", and "dugout to dugout"...Not a confidence booster when you are looking out at Big Lee Smith or JR Richard on the mound.

Jogging in the outfield before the game I came across an area in center field littered with sun flower seed shells, obviously spit out by our 2010 Chicago Cubs. At that moment it hit me that I was going to be playing on the same lush outfield as Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano, and Kosuke Fukudome had been stationed only a day before...Talk about a dream come true.

This game was all for fun and a good cause but part of my problem is that I have a bit of the Walter Mitty in me and I'm just dumb enough to think I can still play baseball at a decent level. That competitiveness would come into play early in the game.

Before the game started 91 years young Hall of Famer Bob Feller threw out the ceremonial pitch. I won't go into the whole game and what happened but will give you a bit of my perspective and observations. Current Cubs first base coach Ivan De Jesus was our AZ team Manager for the evening, I ended up starting in LF and batting 7th.

Last year I was also in LF and in two innings didn't get any fly balls hit my way so I was hoping for a little more action...and I got it right away. In the first inning a hard liner was hit towards me, the Mitty and adrenaline kicked in and I went for it on a full sprint. The ball was about to hit the ground as I reached it, I went low in a type of awkward sliding motion the ball hit in my glove but my knee also hit my glove causing the ball to come loose. They got a single out of it and I got a large knot on my hindsight I should have just played it as a clean single on the bounce. I did catch a decently hit fly ball to end the inning though.

In my first at-bat I came up against Fergie himself, I watched the first pitch go about 4 inches inside of the plate but umpire Major Osgood called it strike one. Seeing that, I knew if the next pitch was close I would be swinging. I hit a grounder past Fergie and up the middle between the ss and 2nd baseman for a single. Our offensive inning finished with Hohokam organist Geroge Kiefer hitting a hard liner, unfortunately right at the 3rd baseman leaving me stranded at first.

After two innings I came out of the game as we had several people who hadn't played yet. I got back in the game (rules are relaxed) at third base for the final inning but didn't get any defensive action. We started a little rally in the final inning and had scored 2 runs when I came to the plate against Lee Smith with runners on second and third. I took the first pitch low for a ball and then saw a pretty big gap between the first and second basemen. I closed my stance a bit and planned on going opposite field but Lee threw the ball inside so I pulled it between the 3d baseman and shortstop for an RBI single. Once more I was left stranded at first as a pop-out ended the game.

Playing in the game was sure fun and part of that was being in the dugout hearing the guys swap stories. Bobby Dernier telling of a time when Big Dave Kingman hit a ball so hard that he was almost afraid to try and catch it. Lee Smith saying that Fergie needs to get a little "soul food" for the pregame meal. Pete LaCock and Jay Johnstone each giving me grief while I was at first base. One of them telling me I "better watch out or I'll get picked off by a snap throw" from catcher Ozzie Virgil Jr., then saying "oh I think he recently had shoulder surgery, never mind".

I also had the chance to talk with long time Wrigley Field PA Announcer Wayne Messmer and his lovely wife Kathleen before the game. The duo sang a rousing version God Bless America.

Physically I feel pretty good today other than the bruised knee, of course that wouldn't keep me off the field if I had to play again tonight.

The whole Fergie & Friends evening was blast, it was a St. Patrick's Day I'll never forget.

Photos by John Antonoff

Hall of Famer Bob Feller before the game

Fergie still imposing

My hit off Lee Smith, don't let Rudy J see this swing

Howler helping the fleet-footed Jon Warden reach first

Bill Buckner at meet and greet

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

A very happy St. Patty's Day to you all!

The Cubs are off today but that doesn't mean you can't see some Cubs play baseball. Head over to Hohokam Park this evening for the 3rd Annual Fergie & Friends celebrity baseball game for charity.

You'll rub shoulders with Hall of Famers - Ferguson Jenkins, Billy Williams, Harmon Killebrew, Rollie Fingers, Gaylord Perry, Meadowlark Lemon and Bobby Bell plus other former Cubs stars like Ron Santo, Keith Moreland, Dave Kingman, Randy Hundley, Lee Smith, Jody Davis, Bob Dernier, and Glenn Beckert.

$10 general admission or $25 VIP tickets that include an on field meet and greet from 5 to 5:45 pm. Gates open at 4:00 pm. Autograph session with Hall of Famers in the concourse prior to the game (I think they charge for these, it is for charity). The game begins at 7 pm.

The weather is going to be near perfect this evening and the event will raise money for worthy causes. Many local celebrity types like CBS-5's sports guys Chris Coraggio and Eric Sperling, KTAR's Doug Franz, KOY's Danny Davis, KEZ's Marty Manning will form a team to play against Fergie & Friends. Yes, it has a similar feel to the Harlem Globetrotters vs the Washington Generals but last years game was actually competitive.

This PA Announcer and Hohokam organist George Kiefer are also on the"All-Stars" going against Fergie's team. Sure the Hall of Famers don't throw like they used too but some of these guys like Dave Stewart and Lee Smith can still bring it. Big Lee Arthur was still playing in the Majors as recently as 1997.

See you at Hohokam, Slainte!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cubs Win, And Get A Day Off

On a sunny and warm day (75 degrees at first pitch) in Mesa the fourth largest crowd ever (13,157) at Hohokam witnessed a quick moving (2:08), 4-1 Cubs win over the Texas Rangers.

Carlos Silva who had a rough first outing earlier this spring is pitching much better of late; today Silva pitched 4 quality shutout innings allowing 2 hits with 3 K's. Esmailin Caridad tossed a couple no-hit innings to follow Silva. The only real blemish on the Cubs pitchers this afternoon was a Justin Smoak solo HR off Marcos Mateo. Cubs pitchers had the Rangers number, besides holding them to 3 hits and one run they K'd Texas hitters 12 times. The Cubs hitters also took part in the strikeout binge fanning 11 times against 3 Ranger pitchers.

At the plate Xavier Nady DH'ing hit a 2 run double in the third off Rangers starter Neftali Feliz. Marlon Byrd followed Nady with an RBI single in the 3 run Cubs third. Nady was 2-for-4 with two doubles. Jeff Baker came into the game replacing Chad Tracy at thirdbase and hit a solo shot in the 7th. Ryan Theriot was 2-for-3 with a run scored although one of those hits could have been scored an error. Tyler Colvin continued his torrid spring with a hit in his only AB. Kosuke Fukudome had a double and run scored.

Mike Fontenot made a nice diving grab going to his left on a Elvis Andrus hard liner in the first, the ball did a bit of a snow cone but stayed in Font's glove. Fontenot also got a chance to play some ss taking over for Ryan Theriot later in the game. Former Cub Keith Moreland was on the field with the team during bp, Moreland will be playing in the Fergie & Friends game tomorrow night.

Many of the Chicago Cubs boosters of Central Illinois sang the 7th inning stretch today and did a great job. Tim Cowlishaw who writes for the Dallas Morning News and is a frequent guest on the ESPN show "Around The Horn" was at today's game.

Weird sight of the day - Ronnie Woo Woo and his Cubs jersey...Not just any jersey (photo below). Weird site of the day #2 - Starting lineups of both the Rangers and Cubs including Chad Tracy. Sure enough the Rangers have a non-roster invitee by the name of Chad Tracy. However the Rangers Chad Tracy was scratched just prior the start of the game.

The Cubs have the day off tomorrow but I'll be playing in the Fergie & Friends game at Hohokam tomorrow night...Come out, watch some baseball and drink green beer, it's all to raise money for charity.

Make up your own comment on this one

Monday, March 15, 2010

Goodbye, Hi

The Cubs are in Tucson today to play the Rockies and it will be the last time they ever play in the oldest Cactus League ballpark - Hi Corbett Field (The Rockies are moving spring training operations to the valley next year). Originally called Randolph Municipal Baseball Park when it was constructed in 1937, the Tucson landmark was originally used for the Class "D" Tucson Lizards...Love those minor league mascot names.

The ballpark was renamed in honor of Hiram Stevens Corbett, a former Arizona state senator instrumental in bringing spring training to Tucson, by convincing Bill Veeck to bring the Cleveland Indians to Tucson in 1947. They filmed some of the scenes in the movie Major League at Hi Corbett using University of Arizona baseball players as extras. Hi Corbett has been renovated many times but still maintains it's charm, if not modern amenities.

Unfortunately I'm not able to make the trip down to Tucson today to see the Cubs final game at this unique and quaint Cactus League Park. In 1991 I drove down to see to Cubs play at Hi Corbett against the Cleveland Indians. Back then I was a fledgling amateur photographer using an old Pentax K1000, below are a few of the shots I took that day (scans from small prints). I'm glad I went that spring because Hi Corbett was renovated in 1992, so my spring of 91 visit allowed me to see the old school "Hi". The Indians left Tucson to train in Florida after the spring of 1992, the Rockies started training there the following season.

An article about the Cactus League in the New York Times yesterday said, Arizona "is easily the best place to be for spring training". It also mentioned that Florida born and raised Lou Piniella had never seen snow or eaten a taco until he came to AZ for spring training.

Sure it's only March but one trend us Cubs fans would love to see continue in the regular season is winning the close games, the Cubs are 5-0 in one-run games this spring. During the regular season last year they were 16-22 in one-run decisions.

The rainout out game we experienced this spring will certainly hurt the overall season attendance for the Cubs but the previously unseasonably cool and wet AZ weather hasn't hurt attendance at Hohokam as much as you might think. So far the Cubs have drawn 61,664 to six home games in Mesa, an average of 10,277...That is up from the first six games of spring 2009 which was an average of 9,445 at Hohokam.

Front of Hi Corbett in 1991 before facelifts

Two icons, Bob Feller and the Marlboro Man

Gary Scott at the plate, yes Gary Scott...Hawk on second

Classic billboard fence

Rightfield grandstands, talk about a tight fit

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fergie and Friends

Woops, wrong Fergie & Friends...but now that I have your attention

If you're going to be in AZ this week, come down to Hohokam Stadium on St. Patrick's day this Wednesday March 17th for the 3rd Annual Fergie & Friends celebrity baseball game for charity.

You'll rub shoulders with Hall of Famers - Ferguson Jenkins, Billy Williams, Harmon Killebrew, Rollie Fingers, Gaylord Perry, Meadowlark Lemon and Bobby Bell plus other former Cubs stars like Ron Santo, Keith Moreland, Dave Kingman, Randy Hundley, Lee Smith, Jody Davis, Bob Dernier, Rich Nye and Glenn Beckert.

$10 general admission or $25 VIP tickets that include an on field meet and greet from 5 to 5:45 pm. Gates open at 4:00 pm. Autograph session with Hall of Famers in the concourse prior to the game (I think they charge for these, it is for charity). Game begins at 7 pm.

Some local celebrities along with our Hohokam organist George Kiefer and yours truly will be on the team going up against Fergie and his friends...George and I will basically just try to not embarrass ourselves.

Here's an article in East Valley Tribune about the game.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Double the Fun

The Cubs hit the daily double winning twice today, 8-7 over the White Sox in Las Vegas and 11-4 over the Reds at Hohokam. What a beautiful day it was in Mesa with a high of about 75 degrees along with abundant sunshine, our 10 day forecast also looks fantastic. 11,825 fans made it out to see the Cubs host the Reds in the first ever Cactus League contest between the two teams.

Of the Cubs projected opening day lineup only Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano started in Mesa. Soriano needed the work, coming into today's game with a .077 BA, he upped that today going 2-for-3 with a double. Soriano's knee looks to be nearly 100%, he was running hard and fast from 1st base on a hit and run in the 4th inning. Cubs minor leaguer Darwin Barney has had a good camp and played both 2nd and 3rd base today. Barney was 2-for-4 and drew a 2 out walk in the pivotal 5th inning.

The 5th inning was a big one for the Cubs who were down 4-1 but that changed as Brian LaHair's 3 run blast tied it up. The Cubs continued the scoring onslaught in the 6th and the 7th scoring 3 and 4 runs respectively. Jim Adduci starting in RF was 3-for-4 with a double. Tyler Colvin continued his hot spring going 3-for-5 and is now batting .565. (Remember like all spring stats, take it with a grain of salt). Colvin was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double on a bang bang play, I like his hustle though. He's making a real case to make the roster out of AZ. Another one of the Cubs touted minor league infielders Hak-Ju Lee came in for Starlin Castro at SS and drilled a 2 run double. Like Castro, Lee has some wheelage.

The big leftie Sean Marshall got the start and looked good in his 3 innings, allowing 1 run on a Juan Francisco HR. Casey Coleman didn't fare as well giving up 3 runs in 2 innings including 2 HR's. Mike Parisi got the "W" tossing 2 scoreless innings. Jeff Stevens and Esmailin Caridad finished the game, each throwing a quality inning.

Ryne Sandberg was the 3rd base coach for the Cubs today and was involved in an interesting play as he first sent Chad Tracy home then abruptly stopped him, Tracy was too far past third and subsequently picked off. Darwin Barney made a nice diving stop then throw on a hard grounder by Yonder Alonso. Starlin Castro starting at SS didn't get a hit but it was good to see him hitting to the right side moving a runner from 2nd to 3rd. Sometimes those things are missed in the box score. Brian LaHair made a fantastic diving catch over the tarp roll into the stands in the 8th inning.

Some of the Cubs players took a little extra BP after the game, sorry kids you'll have to run the bases another day. After all, we are trying to put together a Pennant winning baseball team here.

One of our favorite 7th inning stretch renditions is Mark The Beer Guy and he didn't let us down today along with Bill Mauer leading an enthusiastic crowd. After the game I talked with local Arizona Cubs bloggers Ginger Russ and Lazy Steve from CIO, known for their irreverent site College of Idiots.

Here's a link to Nathan Reuck's flickr page with some Cubs spring photos...Thanks Nathan!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Four in Two

The Cubs are playing four games in two days, with split-squad games today and tomorrow. They lost the first of those games this afternoon to the Brewers 12-3 in Phoenix, Jeff Samardzija started and was hit pretty hard. In his quest for one of the starting spots Samardzija allowed 4 runs on 5 hits in 2 innings, two of those hits allowed were Milwaukee HR's. Tom Gorzelanny, Samardzija's chief competitor for the open starting pitching slot toes the hill tonight in Vegas.

I would have loved to do the Vegas getaway and see the Cubs in Sin City but since we have a game at Hohokam tomorrow that was logistically impossible. As it stands, tomorrows game at Hohokam has a bit of historical significance...The first ever Cactus League meeting between the Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds. The Cactus League isn't alone with rain issues, 10 games in the Grapefruit League have been canceled the past two days.

Derrek Lee was scratched from the line-up today because of a bruised foot after fouling one off his foot against SF on Wednesday.

Some of you have written and asked a few questions about the Cubs, I will answer those now.

1) Is Castro the real deal, and could he make the team?

After seeing him in action now for roughly three weeks and in the Fall League I can tell you, he's the "real deal". What I mean by that is, he's not awed playing with proven MLB stars like D-Lee and A-Ram. The 19 year old acts like he belongs but isn't cocky, more business like in his training and willing to work. Much different than say Bobby Hill, a highly drafted and regarded prospect for the Cubs a few years back out of the University of Miami. Hill's attitude in his first spring camps in Mesa was as if he were already a MLB star, a certain smugness that he was the next big thing.

In the Majors you have to earn it on the field and Hill had not...Perhaps that's why Bobby Hill has been playing for Newark, an independent minor league team the past two years when he should be at the height of his MLB career. Of course Hill was the "player to be named later" in one of Jim Hendry's best deals sending a used up Jose Hernandez, minor league Matt Bruback, and Hill (the star that never was) to Pittsburgh for Kenny Lofton, Aramis Ramirez and cash. Sorry for the digression but Castro is the anti Bobby Hill.

Aside from Castro's work ethic he has very good speed, great range at shortstop and a cannon arm. He's still going to make mistakes like the throwing error in today's game but D-Lee covers a lot of those up with his vacuum glove. Castro can hit and was outstanding in the AZ Fall League batting .376 but he hasn't played above AA yet and the Cubs of late have been very cognizant of bringing players up to soon.

Could he make the roster out of AZ camp, the feeling I get right now is, no. The brass wants to give him everyday playing opportunities and if Ryan Theriot is the ss, that won't happen. I also get the feeling that Lou is going to give Castro a very long look this spring, just in case the kid is one of those rare players who rises to the highest level and never looks back. I've heard many a fan express how they would like to see Castro at short and Theriot at 2nd base. Probably not going to happen this season but it'll be fun watching kid Castro here in AZ.

2) Is Angel Guzman's injury career ending?

First off, I'm no doctor but at 28 years old it's not age that would keep Guzman from coming back after surgery if he elects to have it...It would be the condition of the shoulder and the damage that has occured. Guzman is one of those unlucky players who just can't stay healthy for any length of time, so that looms over his comeback chances. The other issue right now is his mind set. This injury is a big blow to his baseball career but after his brother was killed during the off season in Venezuela it's hard to tell what kind of passion he has towards baseball and a potential long rehab. Last year the Cubs were finally starting to see the realization of Guzman's potential with a career season high of innings pitched and a 2.95 ERA. I hope he's able to come back from this injury and continue his career, if he does though I'm not sure if it will be with the Cubs.

3) What about Samardzija, Gorzelanny, Marshall and the 4th and 5th starting spots in the rotation?

Well, Samardzija didn't help his cause today and Gorzy goes tonight so we'll see what that brings. Its really to early to get any real gauge on the pitchers and how they will fair in the regular season at this stage of spring camp. Marshall has been, well Marshall and looked good in his limited innings. The Cubs know what they have in him and he's a versatile pitcher, out of the pen or spot starter he's been consistent.

Gorzelanny had a very productive year in 2007 winning 14 games with the Pirates but since then his ERA has been hovering between 5.19 and 6.66. If he can get back to his 07 form he could be a real addition to the Cubs staff as a starter or out of the pen. We know how bad Samardzija wants to start and it's about time he shows the Cubs why they signed him to a $10 million contract out of Notre Dame. Piniella has said don't forget about Carlos Silva being in the mix as well. Silva hasn't been a decent pitcher since he left the Twins, and that was three years ago. We'll see if he can put himself in position to compete for a starting spot as spring games progress.

Right now it's wait and see with all these pitchers as they build up their arms past more than a couple innings a game. It'll be interesting to revisit this question in 2 to 3 weeks.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tough Third for Z

A cool but sunny AZ day brought 9,381 out to Hohokam to witness the San Francisco Giants beat the Cubs 5 - 1. The Cubs outhit the Giants 9 to 7 but couldn't put more than the 1 run on the board which came courtesy of a Derrek Lee walk followed by an Aramis Ramirez double in the 4th inning.

Ryan Theriot was 3 for 3 but was picked off first base in the 1st inning, he did come back with a stolen base in the 3rd. The shortstop position continued to hit when Starlin Castro came into the game replacing Theriot and singled in both his at bats. A-Ram went 2 for 3 and Xavier Nady seeing his first game action as a Chicago Cub was DH today and singled in his first at bat.

Carlos Zambrano got the start and looked good in the first two innings but had some issues in the 3rd, giving up 5 runs on 6 hits including a no doubt grand salami by his hometown buddy Pablo Sandoval. Zambrano was followed by a succession of Cubs pitchers: Grabow, Parisi, Cashner, Diamond, Gaub, and Berg who each tossed a scoreless inning, allowing the Giants only 1 single over the course of the final 6 innings.

Derrek Lee left the game after fouling a pitch off his leg or foot, I couldn't see which. Hopefully it's nothing serious. Aramis Ramirez had a throwing error today but also made a great pick up and throw on a Juan Uribe hot smash with a runner on 3rd. The Cubs who had their normal batting practice pre-game also took BP after today's game probably making up for lost time due to weather. Or perhaps it's just that Lou doesn't like the Cubs only scoring 1 run in a game.

Cubs President Crane Kenney was hanging on the back of the batting cage chatting with Lou Piniella during morning BP. I found out from Gene a Chicago friend of mine that Kenney had flown into AZ on the same plane with him - in coach no less.

Cubs are headed to Peoria AZ tomorrow to take on the San Diego Padres and then will have split squad games the following two days including Friday and Saturday contests against the White Sox in Las Vegas. Rumor has it that while in Vegas on top of his managerial duties Ozzie Guillen will be starring in his new Cirque Du Soleil show "Viva Ozzie", Sox fans will eagerly await his Tweets from backstage.

Xavier Nady on deck today, courtesy of photographer John Antonoff

Nady gets his first Cubs hit- Photo by John Antonoff

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

More rain but we played the game

Unsung stars of today's game - The grounds crew

The unusual Arizona weather continued today with a serious downpour causing the start of today's game to be delayed 48 minutes. Not only that, the temperature at game time was 43 degrees, and according to the Cubs media department it was 49 degrees in Chicago. In all the years I've been doing this I don't recall us being colder than the Windy City for a spring game. Throw in some gusty winds and we once again had a nice simulation for Wrigley in April.

The Brewers scored 2 runs in the 9th to break a 3-3 deadlock and earn a 5-3 win. Of the 8,475 in attendance at Hohokam I give a lot of credit to those 2000 or so fans who stuck around to the end on this blustery day.

Randy Wells got the start and continued to pitch well, tossing a seemingly effortless 3 innings facing the minimum 9 batters with 2 K's. Carlos Marmol came in for the 4th and allowed 2 runs only 1 earned. Cubs 2009 minor league pitcher of the year Casey Coleman did okay, surrendering 1 run in 2.1 innings but had two walks and hit a batter. Cubs Non-Roster Invitee James Russell struck out the side in the 8th and with the score 3 - 3, Blake Parker came in and surrendered 2 runs to the Brewers in the 9th.

Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano hit back to back doubles, both scored, one on an RBI base hit by Mike Fontenot. Derrek Lee belted a HR in the 3rd inning to account for the final Cubs offense. Ryan Theriot went 2-for-3 and had a stolen base. Starlin Castro showed his speed and inexperience, after a base hit he had second base stolen cleanly only to slide past the bag and get tagged out.

Before batting practice Cubs third base coach Mike Quade did some base running coaching...Castro may need to go over it again.

Adding to the strange day our scoreboard was not working most of the game. I would have done a little play by play to keep the fans more informed however P.A. audio interference during play is not allowed.

I've received more Cubs questions which I'll answer tomorrow since today's game ran late.

A big thank you to Super Cubs fan Nathan Reuck for these sweet photos from today.

Randy Wells

Yes, it's a bit cold

Marlon Byrd hits a double

If you're cold try dancing close


Is it really 6:55?

D-Lee HR trot

Some people don't feel the cold

Castro an easy steal

Oops, a bit too far