Chicago Cubs: Addison Russell homers in 5-2 loss to Samardzija, Giants
Former Chicago Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija squared off against veteran hurler John Lackey this afternoon. Samardzija was rumored to be returning to Chicago this past off-season but ended up signing a deal with the San Francisco Giants.
As usual, it was a beautiful day in Mesa, Arizona. With Opening Night just around the corner, the Cubs are entering their final stretch of Cactus League play.
Their No. 3 starter, Lackey, was charged with all five runs in the 5-2 loss to the Giants. Props to this bullpen for giving up only two hits since his exit after the fifth inning as Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Manny Parra worked three scoreless and hitless innings.
While it was great to see this bullpen buckle down during the late half of the game, the bats were a bit of a disappointment. The Cubs strung together nine hits only to score two runs.
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Infielder Addison Russell, 22, recorded his third home run of the spring during the bottom half of the sixth inning, making it a three-run ballgame.
Russell was plugged in behind leadoff man Dexter Fowler who finished 0-for-3 before Matt Szczur was brought in to take over in center field.
Szczur is another young player who is looking to make the big league 25-man roster after making a handful of trips between Chicago and the Triple-A Iowa Cubs last season. He is currently out of options so making the cut is an absolute must for this reliable outfielder.
The other man responsible for one of Chicago’s two runs was first baseman, Jesus Guzman. A former Houston Astro who also played in Japan, drove in the first Cubs run on an RBI double, scoring Munenori Kawasaki.
Kawasaki has emerged as a potential Opening Night bench candidate by slashing .395/.489/.553 with five RBI in 38 at-bats. There’s not much power there but he is a solid fielder and would provide Joe Maddon with depth at either shortstop or second base throughout the regular season.
With about two spots left to be filled and only so many games left before the team travels out to Los Angeles to start the year, Kawasaki and Szczur are players you need to keep an eye on.
Today’s loss dropped Lackey to 0-2 in the spring while Samardzija was finally able to pick up his first win after dropping three. The former Notre Dame wide receiver held the Cubs to five hits, two earned runs while striking out four in six innings of work.
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Afterwards, there was a comment that was posted via ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Roger’s twitter account regarding Chicago’s star first baseman where he said, “The last thing you want to do is waste any days in December talking to Rizzo”.
Which later turned out to be a joke. Thankfully. That would have made things a little awkward for both sides considering how loved he was during his time on the North Side with the Cubs.