Indians beat Cubs
Catcher Willson Contreras hit a pair of homers but it wasn’t enough as the Indians beat the Cubs 4-3 at Goodyear Ballpark. Both homers came off Danny Salazar and were solo shots. 2B Ian Happ (.392) went 0-for-3 with a walk and CF Albert Almora had two hits and scored a run. Other prospects playing were John Andreoli (0-1), Yasiel Balaguert (0-0), David Bote (0-0), Jeimer Candelario (0-1), Chesny Young (0-3, BB).
Jon Lesterr fanned five over six innings in his last spring training start before opening day. The left-hander allowed four runs on five hits, one a solo homer. He also delivered a RBI single in the sixth. Hector Rondon retired both hitters he faced in the seventh and Wade Davis came in and got the final batter of the frame. Pedro Strop fanned one in a scoreless eighth as the Cubs top relievers were all on display.
The Cubs close out the Cactus League scheduled with home games against the Giants on Tuesday and the A’s on Wednesday. They will play two games in Houston on Thursday and Friday and then head to St. Louis for the season opener on Sunday night, April 2.
Cubs make cuts
The Cubs optioned RHP Eddie Butler and LHP Rob Zastryzny to Iowa and also assigned 2B Ian Happ, OF John Andreoli and C Taylor Davis to minor league camp. Butler and Zastryzny should be part of Iowa’s rotation. The Cubs announced Happ, who led the Chicago with five homers and 17 RBI this spring, will start the season at Iowa. Both Andreoli and Davis are likely headed to Iowa. Andreoli was impressive for Team Italy in the WBC, batting .316 with three homers and seven RBI (6th best in WBC) in four games. Davis will be a backup catcher and play first at Iowa.
The Cubs have released infielder Munenori Kawasaki in a move that allows the Japanese native an opportunity to catch on with another team before opening day. Signed as a free agent before the start of the 2016 season and added to the 40-man roster, Kawasaki spent most of the year in Iowa (102 G, .255/.352/.312, 20 SB) and was promoted to Chicago in September, appearing in 14 games and hitting .333 (7-21). After declaring for free agency, he resigned in January with an invite to spring training. If Kawasaki can’t land a job with another team, the Cubs would be willing to bring him back as extra infield depth at Iowa. With the release of Kawasaki, the Cubs spring roster now stands at 30.