Creeping Inexorably Toward A Worthwhile Sub-Heading.
Thursday, March 04, 2004
I've only seen the first two innings of the game, but since I'm unlikely to see more until I watch my recording of it tonight, and there won't be many regulars playing the rest of the way, now's a good a time to post some quick thoughts.
Despite giving up three runs, Matt Clement looked good. It was a tough lineup for him, with only two hitters facing him from the right side, but he had decent control of his stuff and managed to induce a lot of ground balls. It was nice to see him use his slider on the inner half against a couple of the lefties, especially Bonds, who he got to hit a chopper in front of the plate. Out of the eleven men he faced, only one ball could really be described as "hard hit," and that was a lineout to right. I would have liked to see a strikeout or two, but for a first spring outing, it's all I could have asked for.
One good spring at bat does not a season make, but Corey Patterson had an excellent first trip to the plate. He got well ahead in the count at 3-0 against Kirk Rueter, the type of junk tossing lefty who usually ties him in knots, and roped the 3-2 pitch over the fence. He never looked fooled, and didn't swing at anything stupid. It was exactly what I would have asked to see out of Corey, and while I know I shouldn't get too excited, I firmly believe he will be the key to this offense, so every positive I see in the early going will likely be magnified in my mind.
Todd Walker is going to give me a heart attack. He started the game at second, giving me the chance to see first hand how he earned his lead glove reputation, and he didn't disappoint on that score. His range was poor, his arm was weak, and he totally misplayed an infield pop-up; first breaking back, then stopping completely, then finally managing to lumber in the direction of the play, only to miss the ball as he slid feet first. Total bush league stuff, and it gives me pause about letting him play the field at all this year. I know, just like Corey's good at bat, this is one spring game, but believe me, if you had seen him out there, you'd be traumatized too.
I don't know how many of you saw this, but the chopper that got Bonds out in the first also featured one of my pet peeves from last year: the lollipop pitcher's throw to first. There was an epidemic of this on the team in 2003, and while it's infuriating enough to see it in season, it's especially disconcerting to see it in a spring training game. What else are these contests for, if not to practice things you're not comfortable with? Here's to hoping someone works the entire pitching staff on this and gets the problem fixed for April.
Nothing else of note went on in the first two frames, but it sure was nice to see some Cubs baseball again. I just noticed that Zambrano went in after I left, but I don't know what the details are like on the outing. If I see something to talk about later, you bet it'll be here.