Rally dooms Cubs
The Giants scored five times in the top of the ninth and beat the Cubs 10-7 at Sloan Park. With a five run lead, Pierce Johnson started the ninth and could only get one out, allowing two walks and four hits, two of which left the yard. Daury Torrez allowed an inherited runner to score as he gave up the Giants third homer of the inning. Jake Arrieta made his final start before the season begins, allowing three runs on five hits over four innings. He fanned seven. Mike Montgomery surrendered two runs in his two innings of work and Brian Duensing looks like he will be the lefty specialist to start the season, working two perfect frames with two punchouts.
The Cubs prospects stole the show at the plate, led by homers from Chesny Young and Yasiel Balaguert. Young hit his third homer of the spring, a two-run shot off Matt Cain in the third, and Balaguert launched a solo homer in the seventh, his second. Ian Happ upped his average to .415 with a pair of doubles in two trips to the plate and knocked in two runs for a team-high 19 this spring. Other prospects playing were Stephen Bruno (0-1), Carlos Penalver (0-1), Gustavo Polanco (0-0, R), Taylor Davis (0-2), and John Andreoli (1-2).
Cubs close out the Cactus League schedule on Wednesday when they host Oakland. John Lackey is expected to make his final spring start. Brett Anderson and Kyle Hendricks are scheduled to start the two games in Houston on Thursday and Friday.
Cubs return Caleb Smith to Yanks
The Cubs have returned left-handed pitcher Caleb Smith to the Yankees. Smith was acquired via trade with the Brewers, who selected the pitcher during the Rule 5 draft in December. To stay with the Cubs, Smith would have needed to be on the 25-man roster for over half the year and there’s just not a roster spot available. In another roster move on Tuesday night, the Cubs assigned infielders Jemile Weeks and Chris Dominguez to minor league camp. Both were signed to minor league deals during the off-season with an invite to spring training.
I’m really not sure how trading Matt Szczur would make the Cubs better. No one is going to give up a good prospect for an outfielder that’s out of options and would be available via the waiver wire if he doesn’t make the 25-man roster. Tommy La Stella still has options and is the likely choice to move to AAA. The infielder balked on an assignment to AAA last year and went home for a few weeks, thought about retiring, and finally reported to Iowa. Manager Joe Maddon said he has talked with La Stella and he has no problem reporting to AAA to start the season. With the recent cuts, the spring roster is at 27 with Carlos Corporan expected to be assigned to minor league camp and start the year in Iowa. The final roster spot will come down between La Stella and Szczur. I’m in favor of keeping them both, no sense in shortening your outfield depth when you don’t have too.