Today was the type of game that is easily forgotten by Cubs fans, an uneventful 9 – 3 spring training loss to the San Francisco Giants at Hohokam. However, sometimes things happen that make a day special, as was the case for Cubs prospect Shawon Dunston Jr. and his dad Shawon Sr., the former Cubs Shortstop who is coaching for the Giants. More about that later. We had 13,374 in attendance on a gorgeous spring day in Mesa, this was the third highest single game mark ever at Hohokam Stadium.
As for the action on the diamond, the Cubs couldn’t get much going today offensively and had trouble stopping the Giants. Starting pitcher Travis Wood struggled through 4 innings, giving up 5 runs on 7 hits with 4 walks and 1 K. Non-roster invitee Cory Wade was the other Cubs pitcher who struggled, giving up 4 runs on 4 hits in his 2 innings pitched. Shawn Camp and Hector Rondon closed today’s contest with a shutout inning each, Camp K’d the side. The Cubs defense had a poor outing, of course without Rizzo, Barney, and Castro playing today, this wasn’t your Wrigley Field infield.
At the plate, the only real highlight for the Cubs was a Dioner Navarro 2-run bomb in the sixth that landed in the bullpen. David DeJesus had an RBI double in the 3rd to get them on the board. The Cubs also had a chance to get some runs off Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong in the fourth inning when Alberto Gonzales came to the plate with bases loaded. Gonzales hit a bouncing rocket between third and short, only to have Giants third baseman Nick Noonan make a diving snag and perfect throw to first base, getting the final out of the inning.
I found myself thinking sentimentally on my drive to the park today, realizing these are the final games for the Cubs at Hohokam (at least as the home team). I have a lot of great memories from this place at 1235 N. Center Street, I’ll blog more about that in another post prior to opening day. Today some new memories were created, the kind the box score can only hint at.
Cubs prospect Shawn Dunston Jr. was a minor league call-up for today’s game. Prior to the game and without any foreshadowing Shawon Jr, was asked by Cubs bench coach Jamie Quirk to take the lineup card to the umpires at home plate. Providing the Giants starting line-up to the umpires was Shawon Sr., a nice moment for father and son. Then after replacing David DeJesus in CF, Shawon Jr. faced Giants closer and World Series hero Sergio Romo in the ninth inning. After watching a couple called strikes and fouling off a couple pitches, Jr. connected for his first hit in a big league Cubs spring training game.
It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that I was announcing Shawon Sr. coming to the plate as a player. I also have a vivid memory of a 12 year old Shawon Jr. taking batting practice with his dad pitching at Hohokam.
I had talked to the now 20 year old Shawon Jr. earlier this spring, he was very excited about his opportunity in the Cubs organization. Drafted in the 11th round of the 2011 draft, Jr. has put on about 18 pounds over this past off-season. He also mentioned that it would be very cool if he was able to get into a spring training game this year. However, I doubt he envisioned getting a hit off the guy who only months before had helped the Giants win a World Series by closing three of those wins, while holding the Tigers hitless Add to that, Shawon Jr. grew up as a Giants fan (Cubs too) and it was as he put it, a “surreal” day. After the game father and son shared an emotional embrace on the field with Dunston Sr. wiping back the tears.
These are the kind of memories that I will take from Hohokam, because it’s not the scores of the spring games that matter, to me it’s the people and relationships. Speaking of relationships, my friends from the Central Illinois Cubs Booster Club sang the 7th inning stretch today. After having announced Shawon Sr.’s name over the years at both Hohokam Parks, being able to announce his son’s name in this final Cubs spring at Hohokam made for another special spring moment on Center Street.
Photos by John Antonoff.