Shortly before I announced the opening lineups today, Cubs Assistant Director of Media Relations Jason Carr stopped by my booth and informed me of a late lineup change. The change was that Andres Blanco who was listed as the starting shortstop was being scratched with Mike Fontenot taking his place in the lineup. I asked Jason what happened, if Blanco had a minor injury or something, he kind of hesitated and said, “Yeah, something like that”. We know now the “something like that” was Blanco had either been traded or was about to be traded to the Texas Rangers.
As for the game, the Cubs and Padres went 10 innings only to settle on a 2-2 tie before the largest single game crowd in Hohokam history at 13,462, it’s the second largest Cactus League single game mark. The Mesa Fire Marshall must have stopped by the Dos Gringo’s stand for a couple margarita’s and let a few extra folks slip in.
The Blanco move meant that Mike Fontenot is the primary backup at shortstop which apparently the Cubs are comfortable with, perhaps less so after the 1st inning in which Fontenot had an error booting a grounder on the 2nd Padres hitter of the game. Today’s game was very well pitched on both sides, Cubs Carlos Silva started and tossed 5.1 solid innings giving up 2 runs off 7 hits with 3 K’s and no BB’s. Silva was helped out in the 2nd and 4th inning when he had two outs and two runners on only to have Padres pitcher Clayton Richard come to the plate, each time making the 3rd out.
The rest of the Cubs pitchers Caridad, Schlitter, Marmol, and Stevens allowed the Padres only 2 hits holding them scoreless the final 4.2 innings. Lou must have wanted Carlos Marmol to get right back on the horse sending him into today’s game in the exact same situation as yesterday’s game (a 2-2 tie beginning the 9th inning), this time with much better results. Marmol did walk the first batter but then retired the next three, the last two on strikeouts.
As for the Cubs at the plate, Tyler Colvin started in RF at the leadoff spot and was 4-for-5 today including a solo HR, both Cubs RBI’s, and brought his Cactus League batting average up to .475. If one of his two singles been a double he would have hit for the cycle. He was thrown out trying to steal 2nd in the 1st inning. In my opinion Colvin’s been the position player standout of Cubs spring training. Mike Fontenot was the only other Cub player with more than 1 hit going 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Today we had a host of VIP types at the game, including Commissioner Bud Selig, several of the Ricketts family, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. I had the opportunity to talk with Tom and Laura Ricketts before the game, both seemed genuinely nice.
Kevin Millar must have been very excited about getting the start in left field today because he was even crazier than normal before the game, making several faux diving catches during BP and then throwing down his glove in the outfield and doing a complete air band rendition of Guns N’ Roses Sweet Child O’ Mine while it was playing over the Hohokam PA system. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone in the stadium who seems to be having more fun than Millar.
Bob Vorwald, Executive Producer of WGN sports came by my booth where he autographed his new book “What It Means To Be A Cub”. It details the thoughts and feelings of a wide range of Cubs players, coaches, broadcasters and their experiences with the storied ballclub. Bob used a portion of my Vince Lloyd “Voice of Summer” interview in the book.
Interesting sightings today – A dust devil whipped through the field and the stands right before the game, if you’re not from AZ it’s a small swirling tornado like wind effect picking up dirt, debris, and paper. We had two ceremonial pitches one of them went quite a bit astray 15 to 20 feet wide of homeplate and nearly took out Iowa Cubs photographer Larry Woolis.