Cubs Spring Training Notebook: Poised prospects and Stroman searching for feel
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Marcus Stroman finished his outing Monday night with a 5-pitch 3rd inning and a 6-pitch 4th inning.
Normally, that would be a good sign for a pitcher, but Stroman was actually hoping for longer innings.
That’s because he is still searching for his “feel” on the mound and wanted more of an opportunity to work on his mechanics.
So he went to the Cubs bullpen and threw another 15-20 pitches after coming out of the game.
“Still searching for it mechanically,” Stroman said. “Body actually feels really good — arm, body, all that feels amazing. Just a little out of sync mechanically with my hands, with my motion.
“I just need more reps. Clicked it sometimes but the times I didn’t click it, I felt off. It’s a quick build-up. I think I’ll be there in the next week, week-and-a-half.”
Stroman said he is going home every night and working on his mechanics in the mirror, practicing to try to get it all right.
He admitted he is being extra critical right now because he wants to be perfect going into the regular season and with the shortened Spring Training, it has been a bit of a challenge.
“I’m a thinker, man,” Stroman said. “It’s a certain height on my hand pump, it’s a certain rhythm, it’s a certain torque or tuck. I’m trying to feel and get to the same point each and every time. Right now, I don’t think I’m being consistent.”
Stroman will have 1 more Spring Training outing, where he will build up to a 70-75 pitch workload.
The Cubs have a plethora of exciting, young players in the farm system and a lot of those top prospects have seen some valuable time in big-league games this spring.
And when those prospects have been given the opportunity, they’ve made the most of it.
On Monday, it was Alexander Canario as the designated hitter, driving in the Cubs’ 1st run of the game with a single through the left side against Reds top-of-the-rotation starter Tyler Mahle.
Oh yeah, and some guy named Brennen Davis hit a go-ahead 2-run shot to center field in the 8th inning.
It was the 2nd homer of the spring for the Cubs’ top prospect, who also sent an opposite field blast to the lawn seats at Sloan Park during the first weekend of Cactus League play.
Pete Crow-Armstrong made a stellar sliding catch in Sunday’s game at Sloan Park. The 20-year-old outfielder has been heralded as a skilled defender in the early part of his career.
“He made that look easy,” David Ross said. “He came in and everybody was high-fiving him and pretty pumped up and the look on his face was — that’s normal for me. There wasn’t any shock to him; it was a shock to all of us.
“I think my favorite thing he did was that first to third running the bases when we’re down 1, getting to third really fast. This kid — it stands out when he steps on the baseball field, his skillset.”
Ed Howard also collected 2 hits in Sunday’s game and drove in 2 runs.
Last Thursday against the Angels, Reginald Preciado had a couple of nice plate appearances and James Triantos went 2-for-2. Preciado also singled Monday night against the Reds.
Plus, Chase Strumpf has played some great defense at third base, Owen Caissie is 3-for-7 with 2 doubles and Andy Weber has a pair of stolen bases.
“There’s a real poise about the guys that are coming over, the names you’ve heard about,” Ross said. “I thought a couple guys have had really good at-bats. Preciado the other day in Anaheim, taking that walk. Ed Howard [Sunday] with 2 knocks to help us win the ballgame. The list goes on and on. Owen Caissie. All these guys that have come over have really been impressive.
“It’s an exciting time. It’s nice to get them over and you see the joy on their faces when they get big league hits in big league Spring Training games and that makes us all happy and it makes us engage in the game even more because it’s exciting players out there that love the game of baseball and you can tell they’re taking advantage of a cool opportunity.”
It’s looking more and more likely that Andrelton Simmons won’t be ready for Opening Day. The veteran shortstop has been dealing with some shoulder soreness and has not yet been able to play the field in a spring game.
He appeared in last Thursday’s contest as the DH and has not seen action since.
Simmons’ most valuable asset is his elite defense at shortstop, so the Cubs certainly want him to be healthy enough to play the field. And if that doesn’t happen by Opening Day, the team is going to prioritize the big picture rather than push him for the start of the season.
“If he’s ready, we’ll go,” Ross said. “He’ll tell us where he’s at. In theory, we want to think our body’s gonna take this amount of time or that amount of time but we just really don’t know.
“He’s a veteran, he knows himself, he’s been doing this a long time. We’ll communicate but he knows that I want to err on the side of caution with how this spring has ramped up for everybody.”
—All signs were positive for veterans Wade Miley and Mychal Givens the day after throwing their first live bullpens of camp.
“Talking to Mychal on the bench yesterday, he felt really good,” Ross said. “Stuff was coming out well. Feels like his timing’s just not quite there yet, which is to be expected. As long as the arm’s healthy, the ball is coming out the right way. Especially with his arm slot — get that timing down.”
Miley threw 17 pitches and will have another live BP before making a Cactus League outing.
“Wade was extremely pleased with the way he felt,” Ross said. “He felt a little ahead of schedule than he thought he would be. All good today. No setbacks from the trainer, so good news.”
—David Robertson was back with the Cubs Monday after attending the birth of his son. He will throw a live BP against Cubs hitters Tuesday.
“I talked to him at length the other day just about feeling like if he’d be ready,” Ross said. “He’s got a real positive outlook on that, so we’ll get our eyes on him, continue to see how he feels, get him some real competition as soon as we can and then go from there.”