After Ronny Cedeno poked the first Dan Haren pitch he saw over the left field fence for a home run, no Cub could seem to keep the bat on his shoulder perhaps Cedeno's homer was the reason. But with two innings in the books, the Cubs had seen a total of eight pitches, and Michael Barrett was the first Cub to see more than two when he walked on four pitches in the fourth inning. Barrett recorded another first when he hit an inside-the-park homer in the sixth (if only I'd been there to see it ).
But most disconcerting about today's game was not the blown lead, but the ubiquitous Hack-At-Everything mentality that has plagued so many a Cub team in the past. I'd hoped a new manager and coaching staff would at least partially rid the club of the desire to swing at the first pitch of every at-bat. By my count, the Cubs saw only 69 total pitches. In ten innings.
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Starter Wade Miller threw two innings, allowing one run and striking out two. Gameday says he threw only 12 pitches, none of which were called for a ball. His command was excellent, but still I wonder what his velocity was like, given this report from last week.
Jeff Samardzija made his spring debut in the sixth, using only three pitches to retire Eric Chavez, Mark Ellis and Travis Buck in order. Both Chavez and Ellis are established major leaguers; Buck is one of Oakland's top prospects. As Michael Barrett suggested in this article, Samardzija's stay in the minors looks to be very short:
"As far as mentality and as far as stuff, he's way ahead of the game," Barrett said. "He has a very good idea. I haven't been around a whole lot of guys who play football but he's the first real high-profile football player to play baseball and I'm impressed with his mentality.
"After catching, it's easy to see why he was so highly touted. I'm excited. I'm excited for him. He could easily be someone who spends a short amount of time in the minor leagues. He's on the right path. He's right there."
If Samardzija is really as good as Barrett says, I wouldn't rule out a Matt Garza-like scenario, shooting through the system in a year. I think he's still too raw to make the majors this season, but ending it at Triple-A is very possible.
Felix Pie showed off his speed with two stolen bases, though I wouldn't give them too much thought, since Barrett, Jacque Jones and Angel Pagan also stole a base each. And Barrett has a grand total of nine stolen bases in his career, the last of which came in 2004.
But it's still just a spring training game in early March, one that looked like a sure Cub victory until Carlos Marmol reminded us why his ERA was 6.08 last year.