The Rundown: Hoerner’s Hot Start, Solid Debut by Williams, Stadiums Across Baseball Continue to Open for Fans
I love seeing Nico Hoerner prove me wrong and Michael Hermosillo prove me right. Hoerner had a big game in the Cubs’ 7-0 win over the Dodgers last night, as did Hermosillo, who launched his second homer of the spring in the 3rd inning.
Five-run 3rd inning for the #Cubs! pic.twitter.com/XIR8jr0vp8
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 5, 2021
Most of you know I have been Hoerner’s harshest critic, and though some think the young second baseman just needs a little more seasoning at Iowa, I’m on record as stating he will never even be a league-average hitter. Of course, it’s way too early for me to about-face, but he looks more confident and balanced at the plate and his bat seems a little quicker. I’d love nothing more than to see Hoerner become the Cubs version of Whit Merrifield and if he can provide anything close to that level of offense I’ll be his biggest supporter.
Hoerner’s more open stance seems to be working, but let’s see how he does once he starts facing some tougher, game-ready pitchers. Even if we all know spring results are no guarantee of future performance, things are trending in a positive direction for the second-sacker.
As far as Hermosillo, I was on his bandwagon right around the time he was drafted in the 28th round by the Angels back in 2013. The non-rostered outfielder has a little pop, will steal some bases, and was a local star at Ottawa Township High School. He might have been better served to go to college, but he signed with the Angels for a mere $100,000 immediately after being selected. He’s 26 now and probably doesn’t have many more chances, but he’s improved at every level, has gap-to-gap power, will take a walk, and can steal a base.
Also of note in last night’s game was the performance of starter Trevor Williams. He pitched two scoreless innings, working around four Los Angeles singles in his Cubs debut. He didn’t walk anybody and struck out four, including Mookie Betts twice. The first was on a nice slider that dipped down and away, catching the star outfielder looking. Williams has been working on the offering with Tommy Hottovy in the team’s pitch lab.
“It was a good slider,” Williams said after his outing. “It was where we wanted it to go, and [the umpire] called it a strike. That’s a win.”
Cubs News & Notes
- In two spring games, Hoerner is 5-for-6 at the plate with two doubles.
- Williams hopes that his slider will become a weapon this year. The 28-year-old starter is working on several different grips with an eye on getting more horizontal movement.
- The addition of Joc Pederson doesn’t mean the end of Kris Bryant playing in the outfield. Bryant gives Cubs manager David Ross another option if he wants to switch things up.
- Pedro Strop is doing his part to make the team by changing his routine to become more flexible. The 35-year-old reported to the Cubs 100% healthy, he’s in a great place mentally, and believes he can help the Cubs this year.
- Closer Craig Kimbrel is expected to make his Cactus League debut today.
- Reliever Rowan Wick has started a throwing program, though no timetable has been set for his return.
- Jesse Rogers reported on the ESPN 1000 show “Waddle & Silvy” that the Cubs and White Sox recently put together a joint presentation for the state of Illinois and city of Chicago, where each club proposed hosting fans at 30-percent capacity starting April 1. That’s in the neighborhood of 12,00 fans for each.
Odds & Sods
Shawon Dunston and Manny Trillo flashing all-star smiles. Dunston had a cannon for an arm, but Trillo was silky smooth at the keystone.
1987 Chicago Cubs spring training – Shawon Dunston and Manny Trillo pic.twitter.com/UjzPIR3hUK
— CirclinTheBases (@CirclinTheBases) March 5, 2021
Spring Training News & Notes
The Brewers announced the signing of Jackie Bradley Jr. yesterday. According to multiple outlets, Milwaukee gave Bradley a two-year, $24 million contract. That second year is a player option that would pay the outfielder $13 million if he chooses to stay with the Brewers.
White Sox starter Lance Lynn is vehemently opposed to being pulled from games, including exhibition tilts, apparently.
Starter Chris Archer is enjoying his return to the Rays so far. The right-hander loves his role as staff mentor, but admitted that most of Tampa Bay’s pitchers are already better than he is.
Francisco Lindor has an affinity for New York pizza. Teams will need to remember that in their recruiting pitch if the shortstop hits free agency after this season.
A study showed five out of 789 professional athletes (0.6%) diagnosed with COVID-19 also experienced inflammatory heart disease, . Eduardo Rodríguez of the Red Sox has been dealing with myocarditis since being diagnosed with the respiratory infection.
Gosh darn you if the game of baseball doesn’t give you the chills every now and then.
When The Sandlot literally came to life in Lansing. https://t.co/RCiK1hZ5N6 pic.twitter.com/llv0kPbAk5
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) February 4, 2021
Sliding Into Home
It’s not often I get to report good news in this section, but I’m chock full of it this morning. Bloodwork and test results from Wednesday came back yesterday and my liver enzymes are way down. In fact, they’ve fallen to near normal levels and my doctor almost canceled next week’s biopsy. Obviously, a commitment to due diligence won over, so I’ll still have the procedure one week from today.
If anything, I may have bought myself another year, as my current prognosis is now a little better than last March. There’s still a lot of damage to the organ, but the worst thing I have going on right now is fever and fatigue from my second shingles vaccination. Getting old will kick your ass.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
- The city of St. Louis has approved a request to let the Cardinals host fans at Busch Stadium starting April 1 at up to 32% of capacity at each home game. The stadium has 46,000 seats, which means up to 14,720 tickets could be sold per game.
- Governor Gavin Newsom of California is in “advanced talks with MLB” about letting fans attend home games for the Dodgers, Angels, Giants, Padres, and A’s.
- The Brewers announced that American Life Stadium will be allowed to host fans at 25% capacity starting with the team’s home opener. The city has not approved tailgating at this time, always a staple in Milwaukee.
- Here’s the current list of all MLB stadiums and whether their host cities will allow fans into those ballparks or not, and at what capacities.
- White Sox fans have been named the booziest in baseball. I’ve been to a number of Brewers games and the 3.5 beers-per-Brewers-fan is about 3-4 lagers light.
Apropos of Nothing
One of the great things about living in Milwaukee is I get to watch major league baseball at slightly more than minor league prices, including when the Cubs come to town. In fact, I’ve bought gameday tickets from the hacks outside the stadium for as little as $8. Additionally, the bike path near my house is just a 2.5 mile trek to the stadium, perfect for any day baseball games. Milwaukee gets a bad rap, but it’s a great sports town.
Lou Gehrig Day makes me happy. A great gesture by MLB.
thanks to @castrovince https://t.co/O4A396Ak2N
— Jon Sciambi (@BoogSciambi) March 4, 2021
They Said It
- “The main thing for me in the first game was comfort level with the slider grip that I am familiar with. And we threw a lot of those. We threw a couple today that we were trying to do new ones with. Some were great, some weren’t. That’s just part of our spring training and part of utilizing the lab.” – Trevor Williams
- “That’s how [Nico Hoerner] is going about his business. I’ve seen nothing but this kid coming in here trying to try to win a job, as he should.” – David Ross
- “I mean, [Strop] is like a ray of sunshine in camp. You know, the guy’s never had a bad day and lifts everyone else up. It’s fun to have him around.” – Jed Hoyer
Friday Walk Up Song
Ain’t No Stranger by Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires – I’m guessing none of our readers know much about this band but they’re worth a listen. I think they made a mistake in leading with this single, as the song “Everything You Took” is much stronger, but alas, I did not manage them. It’s amazing how one decision can make or break a young band. This is a decent, southern rock song, but the latter single is infinitely better. I know a lot more about music than baseball, and Hoerner may end up being proof of that.