MESA and GLENDALE, Ariz. — Down to their final out, the Chicago Cubs pulled off a comeback.
Trailing by two entering the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies, Esteban Quiroz, Brennen Davis, Darius Hill and Andy Weber delivered four consecutive two-out singles to put the Cubs ahead 6-5. They held on for the win when minor-league pitcher Didier Vargas struck out the Rockies’ Braxton Fulford looking with runners on the corners to end the game.
Trey Mancini tallied two hits, including a home run, while David Bote doubled and walked to improve to 7-for-12 with four extra-base hits this spring.
“If there’s an MVP so far in camp, it’s got to be (Bote), right?” manager David Ross said Sunday. “Even his batting practice has been very impressive. It’s still early, but the work he put in and the changes he wanted to make in the offseason seem to be paying off really well.”
Lucas Giolito made his first spring start for the White Sox in an 8-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. Giolito allowed two runs on three hits and struck out three in two innings.
”My stuff and everything felt good,” Giolito said.
Mike Clevinger pitched two innings in a B game against the Dodgers Sunday morning, a couple of hours before MLB announced it will not impose discipline on him in connection with allegations of domestic violence and child abuse.
Chicago Tribune baseball writers LaMond Pope, Meghan Montemurro and Paul Sullivan will be providing Cubs and White Sox updates throughout spring training.
Former White Sox radio broadcaster Dave Wills died Sunday at age 58. According to a team statement, Wills worked on the Sox radio network for 11 seasons as a pregame and postgame host.
Wills had served as a Tampa Bay Rays broadcaster since 2005 after his time with the Sox.
“The White Sox organization extends condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of radio broadcaster Dave Wills,” the team said in a statement.
Wills worked for Class A Kane County from 1991-95 and called UIC men’s basketball from 1997-2005.
A native of Oak Lawn and graduate of Elmhurst College, Wills is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and children Alex and Michelle.
The data suggested something was slightly off. Drew Smyly’s cutter wasn’t showing the type of movement he wanted. The pitch looked too similar to his fastball and wasn’t playing well off his curveball.
Smyly spent the last week working with Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy to find a better arm slot and was encouraged by the consistency of his off-speed pitches in his start Sunday against the Rockies. Numbers aside — he allowed three runs, six hits and no walks and struck out two in two-plus innings — Smyly was pleased with his outing.
“Obviously you don’t want to go out and give up (two) home runs, but right now it’s more about getting reps and working on my strengths,” Smyly said. “I know what I need to work on to be ready come April and I thought I’d taken a step forward with that today.”
Smyly’s arm slot adjustment focused on keeping his left arm closer to his body and being in a more compact, stronger position. He felt his fastball featured more carry, contributing to five swings on the pitch. Smyly threw fewer curveballs than usual, preferring to get in work on his fastball and cutter with the arm slot change.
“The cutter was way more consistent and sharp and angled, and that’s where I wanted it,” Smyly said. “Tommy is so good at finding little tiny things like that that can get you right back on track.”
The Sox were on the go Saturday, stealing six bases in seven attempts during a 5-4 victory against the Texas Rangers at Camelback Ranch. They pulled off double steals in the fifth and sixth innings.
The Sox entered Sunday with 13 stolen bases in 16 attempts through their first eight Cactus League games.
“We want to be an opportunistic team, we don’t want to be a reckless team,” manager Pedro Grifol said Sunday morning. “We’ve got to be ready for every opportunity. We can’t afford to miss opportunities to advance 90 feet.
“We’re going to have our lapses, it’s 162 games. But it doesn’t mean we’re not going to be addressing them as they come.”
Cubs catcher Miguel Amaya is almost at full go.
Amaya continues to progress with his running rehab as he returns from a Lisfranc injury in his left foot that prematurely ended his season at Double-A Tennessee in mid-September. The injury prohibited him from playing in the Arizona Fall League. Amaya, 23, also missed the first three months of the 2022 season because of his rehab from Tommy John surgery.
After working back from injuries over the last 1½ years, Amaya is eager to get into a Cactus League game. He played in a simulated game Saturday, catching and hitting. His arm has felt good when making throws behind the plate and he hasn’t experienced any issues with his left foot when hitting.
“I can’t wait for that,” Amaya told the Tribune with a boisterous laugh. “Playing (in the sim game) felt like riding a bicycle. I’m excited to be back on the field, being with the guys and to help the team win.”
Being in camp with two veteran catchers in Yan Gomes and Tucker Barnhart has provided a great example for Amaya. He has watched how early they arrive to the complex each day to get in their work and what goes into their pregame preparation.
“I want to be like them,” Amaya said. “Learning from them, those little details, motivates me to be better every day.”
This is an important season for Amaya, who has played only 64 minor-league games (266 plate appearances) since 2019. He remains an intriguing player, ranked the Cubs’ No. 15 prospect by MLB.com, but needs more game experience.
Amaya doesn’t know which game will be his spring debut but anticipates it will be soon.
“The best thing I’ve learned from this is to set up my mind to get that strength, to get that powerful mindset,” Amaya said of his injuries. “Being here every day rehabbing is not easy. But from my point of view, it means a lot to me because it helped me grow up, to be more of a leader that’s inside of me. If I can be strong, I can help the team win.”
- Cubs at Seattle Mariners, 2:10 p.m. Monday, Marquee
- White Sox are off Monday
“They need to make a pitch. I’m going to be in the box, doing my best. I know they are going to do their best. We are going to compete.” — Eloy Jiménez on the possibility of facing a White Sox teammate during the World Baseball Classic