Spring Training Notebooks

Cubs Spring Training Notebook: Justin Steele’s struggles, Seiya Suzuki’s status and some birthday fun

1 year agoAndy Martinez

MESA, Ariz. — The radar gun and lack of command raised concerns.

Justin Steele tried easing those.

“I just kinda felt like I was moving under water for most of the day,” Steele said after his outing on Sunday afternoon. “I was fighting myself. Having to constantly make adjustments to the pitch I just threw before. I was just having to battle out there.”

Steele struggled with his control, issuing 5 walks, and his velocity down a tick, sitting roughly 90-91 mph on his fastball, topping off at 92. All that, though, was to how he felt throughout the day, not just on the mound.

“I’m sure anybody — if you run on the treadmill one day and you run on it the next day, you’re probably not gonna feel the exact same as you did,” Steele said. “It was one of them things, kinda felt lethargic just like my body was moving under water and stuff. It was an adjustment trying to get my body going and stuff. Moving forward, it’s something I’ll adjust to.”

The lefty lasted just 3 innings and threw “around 70” pitches in the outing. He went back to the Cubs bullpen after the outing to get a few more pitches in to try and get to his desired goal of 80-85 pitches on the day.

“Moving forward, I wanna be around 90-100 pitches by the time season gets here, so I still gotta focus on building up and stuff,” Steele said.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that Steele is a touch behind the other Cubs’ starters. Steele skipped his first start of the spring with general arm fatigue. Steele likely will make at least one more start before the regular season starts.

“Just cause you have one day where you’re not feeling the best, there’s no reason to change what I’ve been doing for so long, my routine and whatnot,” Steele said. “I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing and just stick to the routine and just be better the next time.”

Suzuki Update

Seiya Suzuki continues to progress towards a return to the field.

The Japanese outfielder began hitting front flips in the batting cage on Sunday. The last two days, Suzuki was throwing medicine balls against the ground, playing catch at about 90 feet and doing some light running.

“I think the athletes in general, he is one of them, but all these guys wanna be back as soon as possible,” manager David Ross said. “He’s trusting the trainers and staying on path and they communicate every single day. They stay within the boundaries but try to push those if he’s feeling better.”

Happy Birthday, Rossy

Ross celebrated his 46th birthday Sunday and had some fun with it.

Earlier this month, Yankees manager Aaron Boone hit some home runs during batting practice to celebrate his 50th birthday.

Would Ross do that?

“I was talking about that last week and Nico [Hoerner] said — instead of trying to go deep — I needed to do a sub-2 pop time or something,” Ross said with a smile. “I said my arm would fall off, no doubt about that. We’ll give that to Booney. He did that at 50, right? 46 isn’t 50, so I’ll wait on that.”

Walk-Off Blast

Nelson Velázquez celebrated his return to the Cubs in a grand way. 

The outfielder hit a walk-off, 3-run home run as the Cubs beat the Padres 5-2 at Sloan Park on Sunday afternoon. Velázquez returned to Arizona on Saturday, a day after he and team Puerto Rico were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the World Baseball Classic against Mexico.

Next Up

The Cubs are off on Monday but return to Cactus League action on Tuesday. They’ll travel to Surprise, Ariz. to take on the Royals with Jameson Taillon on the bump at 8:05 p.m.

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