Home Sports Soccer Nico Hoerner the front-runner to hit leadoff — and Lance Lynn reaches his target pitch count – Chicago Tribune

Nico Hoerner the front-runner to hit leadoff — and Lance Lynn reaches his target pitch count – Chicago Tribune

MESA and GLENDALE, Ariz. — The top of the Chicago Cubs lineup Thursday provided a glimpse of how the offense could function when things click.

Nico Hoerner, Ian Happ and Cody Bellinger each got on base in their 6-1 Cactus League win versus the Oakland Athletics at Sloan Park. Nick Madrigal hit a two-run double and Mike Tauchman, vying for an roster spot with Seiya Suzuki sidelined, drove in a run.

Leury García hit a two-run homer for the Sox in a 6-4 victory against the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

The homer came during a three-run second inning. Third baseman Hanser Alberto, competing for a roster spot, had three hits and scored twice. He tripled in the second, singled in the fourth and doubled in the sixth.

Chicago Tribune baseball writers LaMond Pope, Meghan Montemurro and Paul Sullivan will be providing Cubs and White Sox updates throughout spring training.

Nico Hoerner prepares to take batting practice at Sloan Park on Feb. 23 in Mesa, Ariz,

For the last seven years, the Cubs tried to establish a leadoff hitter, something they haven’t reliably had since Dexter Fowler in 2016.

Fowler led off 118 times during the 2016 regular season. Since then, a different player led the Cubs in games in the leadoff spot each year — until 2021-22 when Rafael Ortega logged the most time atop the batting order. The Cubs used 10 leadoff hitters last season. Behind Ortega (51 games), three others were used to lead off at least 24 times (Zach McKinstry, Nick Madrigal and Christopher Morel).

The Cubs hope to find more consistency in the leadoff spot. Hoerner is the front-runner to take on that role.

“When I look at Nico and our team, I don’t think anybody that has his resume has been a true leadoff hitter,” manager David Ross said Thursday. “When I look at Nico, it’s about setting a tone for our group to start a game He’s as ready to go as anybody I’ve ever been around. There’s something about the way he plays sets a great tone for our team so I like him to start things off.”

Hoerner views batting leadoff as an “exciting opportunity,” something he hasn’t done too often during career beyond some chances in college.

“I know the Cubs haven’t really had a stable spot in that lineup in a while and the message has been not to change much,” the second baseman said. “If that’s a part of the lineup they don’t have to think about matchups or anything and just plugged in there and ready to go, I think that helps our team out a lot. I’m all for it.”

White Sox starting pitcher Lance Lynn delivers to the Royals in the first inning of a game on Aug. 31, 2022, at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Lynn reached his main target for his second start this spring.

“Got my pitch count in,” Lynn said Thursday.

Lynn allowed four runs on six hits with three strikeouts and a walk in three innings for the Sox against the Rockies. He threw 51 pitches. All four runs and all but one of the hits came in the third inning.

“To be honest with you, the up-downs is all it is,” Lynn said of the what he looks for from Start 1 to 2 in the spring. “You get your pitch count and up-downs.

“That’s where you get your soreness. That’s where you get your getting back up, getting going again. Spring training is about the up-downs and the pitch count. Make sure you throw all right.”

Lynn said he has one more start before joining Team USA for the World Baseball Classic.

“Right now you are just making sure that when I go to the WBC, I’ll be ready to throw 60 pitches if need be,” Lynn said. “I was at 51 (Thursday), so I’ll be at 60 next outing and be ready to go. We are in a good spot to do whatever I need to do there and be up to speed.”

Marcus Stroman delivers in the first inning of the Cubs’ 10-8 victory over the Giants on Saturday at Sloan Field in Mesa, Ariz.

The next time Stroman is around his Cubs teammates could come less than a week before he potentially starts the season opener at Wrigley Field.

Stroman pitched into the third inning Thursday against the Athletics in preparation for the looming World Baseball Classic. In his final outing before leaving camp, Stroman didn’t allow a run in 2⅓ innings. He walked one batter, struck out four and allowed two hits in the win.

“I’m not worried because I’ve done this before,” said Stroman, who won tournament MVP with Team USA when it won the WBC in 2017. “I’m someone who comes in the season very, very prepared. So I don’t get worried by the intensity or worry about the amount of time that I’m going to be away from the team. I know that I’m going to be OK with my work over there. I know that’s probably going to put me in a better position honestly, just because of the intensity of games. It’s almost like that’s playoff-level baseball.”

Stroman departs Cubs camp Friday to join his Team Puerto Rico teammates in Fort Myers, Fla., where they will train before heading to Miami for their March 11 opener. Four players left Thursday for the WBC: Roenis Elías (Team Cuba) and Ben DeLuzio, Miles Mastrobuoni and Vinny Nittoli (Team Italy).

Ten players in Cubs camp are participating in the tournament. Despite that group representing seven WBC teams, there hasn’t been much trash talk in the clubhouse.

“I feel like there was a lot more when I was (on the Blue Jays) with (José) Bautista because I played against Bautista and the Dominican, so there was a lot of trash talk going on in 2017,” Stroman said. “But nah, everyone here’s cool.”

Zavala could be working with 13 pitchers on a roster at any given time during the regular season.

The number is much larger in spring training, in which the Sox began with 33 pitchers in camp. Zavala enjoys the process of progressing with the pitchers.

“Fortunately for me, most of these guys I’ve come up with and even the guys I didn’t come up with I’ve been with for the last couple of years so I know them, I know how they think,” he told the Tribune on Thursday.

“Every day is still a learning process, even with pitchers I’ve had in the past. We’re still learning. They’ve got new things, they’ve worked on things in the offseason. It’s always a work in progress. You never want to get comfortable. It’s good, it’s fun learning new pitchers. It’s fun figuring out new ways to get hitters out.”

Manager Pedro Grifol said Zavala is “really good game planning.”

“He handles pitchers well, communicates well,” Grifol said Wednesday. “It doesn’t get fast for him back there. I really admire that. That’s a position that can get pretty quick for a lot of guys and he’s one of those guys that just slows it down really well.”

  • Cubs vs. Padres, 7:40 p.m.
  • White Sox vs. Reds, 2:05 p.m.

March 3, 1953

Vendors sing that familiar baseball chorus before mingling with hungry (they hope) Cub fans on opening day at Wrigley Field in 1953.

Cubs personnel director Wid Matthews complained to White Sox general manager Frank Lane about the Sox sending a “rinky-dink” group of second-string players to Mesa, Ariz. for the spring training opener between the crosstown teams.

The Sox, who trained in El Centro, Calif., kept stars Minnie Miñoso, Nellie Fox, Ferris Fain and others at home, along with manger Paul Richards.

“As one baseball hand to another, I pointed out to Lane the obvious unfairness of withholding all stars at an exhibition opener for which tickets have been priced at $2 and $1.50,” Matthews told the Tribune’s Cubs beat writer Edward Burns.

The teams had no use for one another, as Burns wrote: “The Sox, having announced they are going to win the American League pennant this year, are suspected of trying to high hat the Cubs, who have made no such lofty claims.”

March 3, 1981

White Sox announcer Harry Caray with manager Chuck Tanner.

White Sox announcer Harry Caray signed a new deal with new co-owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn, who continued to pursue free agent Carlton Fisk.

“We budgeted to lose a lot of money this year,” Reinsdorf told the Tribune at the news conference announcing Caray’s return. “Sure, we added lots of overhead in the front office. To get a top organization you must spend top money.”

Asked what he and Einhorn thought of their “new toy,” Reinsdorf replied: “Look, we long ago concluded that if we regarded the White Sox as a toy, we’d be defeating ourselves.”

The Sox wound up signing Fisk. Caray bolted for the WGN-TV booth to become the Cubs announcer in 1982.

“I’m not going to dye my hair. I know a lot of those guys are probably going to be upset, but it’s not even that. I recently started regrowing my dreads out, and it’s very spiritual to me. I actually cut them off about a year-and-a-half, two years ago because I dyed them and because it was ruining my hair. I started growing them out fresh and want to keep them natural. … This is very home to me, my hair, and it’s not something I can mess with at this point.” — Stroman on whether he planned to dye his hair bleach blond for the World Baseball Classic like some of his Team Puerto teammates have done, including fellow Cub Nelson Velásquez

Source link