Today marks almost 1 week of full squad workouts for the Cubs, even on Sunday, all 4 fields at Fitch Park are hopping. I overheard a girl say while watching practice that she noticed more facial hair on the players than in past years. D-Lee, very noticeable with the extra face fur, although he trimmed up the neck-beard.
D-Lee’s trimmed beard
Beards aside, here are some observations from today. Pitching coach, Larry Rothschild hit grounders to the Pitchers, and after a few rotations, he said “Okay, we’re gonna throw in the sausage balls”. These “Incrediballs” are squishy, faster versions of regular baseballs, and it was fun to watch the Pitchers try to field them. These balls were flying everywhere, zipping past the outstretched gloves, as well as through the 5-hole. Ted Lilly stood behind the mound, trying to make a 2nd effort on the missed plays. Rich Hill, Carlos Zambrano, and Ted Lilly all made some great snags with these crazy baseballs. I noticed while watching this drill, John Leiber, who came in a bit heavier than in the past, his previous limited mobility seems to have gone from lumbering to more currently resembling a pylon.
Pitchers fielding incrediballs
Again, Angel Guzman did not participate in throwing warm ups, but watched from the sides. One of the right-handers competing for a spot in the bullpen is Jose Ceda. Like one of the contests at a county fair, I have an uncanny (and useless) ability to guess people’s weight usually within 5 lbs and the Cubs roster lists Ceda as 6’4 205 pounds – which he may have been, at 12 years old. They must have left off a 5, because he’s at least 255 if he’s a pound. Whatever his weight, Ceda has been impressive this spring, and has a fastball that has been clocked at 99 mph. Last year, at class A Peoria, he had 23 1/3 innings in a row of no hit baseball. Left hand hitters combined for .065 average against Ceda in 07.
The crowd watching gasped as non-roster invitee catcher Josh Donaldson made an incredible leaping bare-handed catch on an overthrow from a pitcher on one of the drills, his facemask flying off mid-jump. The fans and crowd of Japanese media made their usual movement following the diamond rotation where Fukudome, D Lee, and Murton were taking BP. DLee and Murton both had their usual batting stroke, hitting many over the fence and on to Center Street. Dome looks very efficient and precise with his high batting stance, ripping line drive after line drive, he’s going to be a double hitting machine at Wrigley.
Dome on the bases