Cody Bellinger finally hit his first spring home run — at least the first one that counted.
Bellinger’s homer last week against Team Canada is not applied to Cactus League totals because it was an exhibition matchup. His home run Thursday, though, prevented the Cubs from getting shut out in a 3-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Left-hander Drew Smyly went 4⅓ innings, giving up two runs on three hits. He walked one and struck out four batters.
Jameson Taillon threw 72 pitches in a minor-league game against the San Francisco Giants on Thursday after his sim game was rained out Wednesday. He surrendered four runs and seven hits, walked one and struck out seven in five innings.
Sox manager Pedro Grifol saw some positives from the rain that canceled Wednesday’s game against the San Francisco Giants.
“I didn’t plan the weather but when I saw it (in the forecast) a few days ago it was something that we thought would be good for us,” Grifol said Thursday. “Get another day (off), get the guys rested another day before we crank it up because we were looking at 16 games and 15 days, so we needed another blow. So it was a good day.”
Lucas Giolito allowed three hits in four scoreless innings during a B game Thursday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Giolito, who was scheduled to start Wednesday, had six strikeouts and no walks.
Chicago Tribune baseball writers LaMond Pope and Meghan Montemurro will be providing Cubs and White Sox updates throughout spring training.
Seiya Suzuki progressing with oblique strain
The right fielder is taking initial steps in resuming baseball activities.
Suzuki played light catch the last two days and took dry swings in the cage Thursday. Manager David Ross anticipates Suzuki will continue those activities through the week. By the weekend he could attempt a couple of swings off a tee if he continues to feel good.
“Really good spirits,” Ross said of Suzuki. “He’s in there every day working his program. He’s doing a ton, the workouts have been progressing. He’s been able to stay in shape in that way and he’ll start to ramp up, maybe some running, this week as well.”
Suzuki will begin the season on the injured list, but his progression to dry swings is encouraging and could put a return by late April in play.
Sox get a look at Oscar Colás in center field
Colás started in center Thursday for the first time this spring against the Cleveland Guardians in Goodyear, Ariz.
“He played it last year, a ton in the minor leagues,” Grifol said before the game. “And I know we have good people here and good evaluators in this organization. I’ve heard he can do it. And we have to be prepared to, if we make decisions that we based on whether we might need him to play center field on occasion, we all have to be comfortable with it.”
Colás is competing for a roster spot and the right-field job. He played 12 games in right this spring. Last year, Colás played 70 games in center and 34 games in right between three levels in the minors.
“This is all based on let’s see how he does out there and see how he looks,” Grifol said. “And it can help us make tough decisions down the stretch.”
Cubs catchers take a big-picture approach with camp competitions
Tucker Barnhart is still in the process of learning the 33 pitchers who remain in big-league camp, a figure that includes 13 nonroster invitees.
While the camp competition to earn the Cubs’ No. 5 starter job and two to three bullpen spots are up for grabs, Barnhart has to take a big-picture approach as pitchers compete to leave Arizona on their opening-day roster.
“For us as catchers, it’s really to continue to help them get better,” Barnhart told the Tribune. “I realize that’s not the best answer in the world, but it’s the truth. We’re not in a position where we are able to focus on one or two or a couple guys here because there’ll be a point in the year where we’re going to use just about everybody that’s in this room.
“It’s very important for me to make sure I’m learning who they are as pitchers and understanding how they tick versus like really kind of buckling down and helping certain guys maybe more than others.”
Yan Gomes, entering his second season with the Cubs, believes people sometimes get too caught up in spring stats but added: “I mean, they definitely do matter because if there’s something glaring you’ve got to address it.”
When it comes to being the Cubs’ fifth starter, Gomes wants to help put them in the best position to succeed, whether it’s the more experienced Adrian Sampson or either right-hander coming off their debut seasons in Hayden Wesneski and Javier Assad.
“The fifth spot is a tricky place because those guys are innings eaters or guys that are going to get through four or five innings at least and let our bullpen do their job,” Gomes said. “My job is to call the game like I’m supposed to and try things out — there’s no better time to try things than in spring.”
Regardless of a pitcher’s experience or respective situation, Gomes always wants to provide honest feedback.
“If you keep giving the excuse that you’re still working on something, that’s kind of tough because at some point we’re going to have to bear down,” Gomes said. “Being able to have that good communication of what I think is happening, that’s really important.”
Eloy Jiménez returns to the Sox after hot hitting in WBC
Eloy Jiménez’s time at the World Baseball Classic came to an end when Team Dominican Republic lost 5-2 to Puerto Rico on Wednesday in Miami. The Dominican Republic went 2-2 in pool play.
“He’ll be here (Friday), and I’ll probably give him a day or two,” Grifol said. “I’ll talk to him and see how he feels. They played pretty high pressure baseball (at the WBC).
“It was a hell of an environment (Wednesday). So maybe he needs a day or two, maybe he doesn’t. I’m looking forward to having him back in camp.”
Jiménez went 5-for-11 with two RBIs in three WBC games.
What we’re reading this morning
Chicago White Sox starter Dylan Cease ‘checked all the boxes’ in an outing that included a unique strikeout
Projecting the Chicago Cubs opening-day roster: Who will claim the remaining spots?
Cuba — with Yoán Moncada and Luis Robert — advances to 1st World Baseball Classic semifinal since 2006
- Cubs (split-squad) vs. Dodgers, 3:05 p.m., Marquee; Cubs (SS) at White Sox, 3:05 p.m.
- Cubs (SS) at White Sox, 3:05 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago, ESPN1000
News from World Baseball Classic
Cubs right-hander Marcus Stroman is scheduled to start for Puerto Rico in their quarterfinal Friday against Mexico. In Puerto Rico’s pool-play opener, Stroman allowed one run and two hits in 4⅔ innings against Nicaragua.
With Israel’s WBC experience over, first baseman Matt Mervis is expected back at Cubs camp Friday and could be in the lineup.
Team USA advanced to the quarterfinals with a 3-2 victory against Colombia in a Pool C game Wednesday at Phoenix. Sox reliever Kendall Graveman pitched one scoreless inning and was credited with the victory. He allowed one hit and had one strikeout.
Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, playing second base, went 0-for-4. Team USA plays Venezuela in a quarterfinal Saturday in Miami.
Sox pitcher Nicholas Padilla had two hits in a scoreless inning in Puerto Rico’s win against the Dominican Republic.
“He’s a special talent and he’s also a special kid. I’m looking forward to watching him pitch all year long.”
— Grifol on Sox reliever Reynaldo López
Source: Berkshire mont
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