Cactus League: Cubs at Diamondbacks 3/11/13


On Sunday the Cubs snapped their Cactus League losing streak and on Monday, they proceeded to put together a winning streak. The Diamondbacks played host and allowed the Cubs to get on the board first before answering right back with three runs. Those runs came off projected Opening Day starter Jeff Samardzija. The Shark did not have a pretty day in the box score, but he did grind it out through 4 2/3 innings. His two home runs allowed and two walks issued aren’t quite ace material, but despite his off speed stuff not coming along, Samardzija still critiqued his outing as a positive one.

He may still have been high from what he did at the plate, where he socked a home run himself to help his own cause. Additional notes in the pro column were that the Cubs offense picked up their ace by scoring runs in bunches in the middle frames. Those highlights include a clutch, game tying two run homer with two outs by starting catcher Welington Castillo. The young back stop projects to at least be as productive with the bat as Geo Soto was, while having an edge defensively behind the plate, highlighted by the rocket arm he possesses. Castillo just needs to work on his game calling, which can come with more experience.

Darwin Barney provided a go ahead two run double to break the tie in the seventh, and it should be noted that lead off man David DeJesus went 2 for 2 with a run. After a slow start to Spring, DeJesus has hit safely in the last five games as he becomes comfortable at the plate and eases his way towards Opening Day. The Cubs outfielder figures to be the lead off man come April. The preference would be to not see him do so against left handed starters, but it remains to be seen what right handed stick could possibly platoon with DeJesus in the top spot.

Steve Clevenger went 3 for 4 with a run while standing in for Anthony Rizzo at first. Clevenger certainly is worth keeping around as a third string catcher in the system, so Cubs fans should not be quick to give him the Koyie Hill treatment. Dioner Navarro will not be around to back up Castillo forever and Clevenger would provide an excellent future option with a lefty stick to compliment Castillo’s right handed power.

Feb 23, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs catcher Welington Castillo (53) hits an RBI single during the third inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

On the mound the Cubs pen only allowed one run after Samardzija, with notable efforts from Casey Coleman and Rafael Dolis. Hector Rondon continues to dazzle in Spring for the Cubs, continuing his scoreless string with 2/3 innings worked and collecting the win. Rondon is looking more and more like the steal of the Rule 5 draft, and he will not just be a mere hidden stash in the bullpen to comply with the Rule 5 draft regulations as the regular season goes along.

The modest two game win streak puts the Cubs at 7-10 in Cactus League play.