Intrasquad action marks baseball’s return at Wrigley Field
An Independence Day at Wrigley Field that started with classic rock blasting during workouts – including Bruce Springsteen’s patriotic hit “Born in the USA” – ended with the first “game” of the year at the corner of Clark and Addison.
The Cubs took part in an intrasquad scrimmage Saturday evening at Wrigley, dividing up into two teams to play against each other as summer camp kicks into high gear.
The two squads played 2-and-a-half innings, with Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish as the two pitchers. Neither team scored in the scrimmage.
Hendricks started for the home team, wearing the standard white pinstripes, and threw 3 innings and about 45 pitches. Darvish tossed 2 innings (about 40 pitches) for the visiting team, which was donned in the road blue jerseys.
Here were the two lineups:
1. Kris Bryant – 3B
2. Anthony Rizzo – 1B
3. Jason Heyward – RF
4. Víctor Caratini – C
5. Steven Souza Jr. – LF
6. Jason Kipnis – 2B
7. Albert Almora Jr. – CF
8. Daniel Descalso – SS
1. Ian Happ – CF
2. Kyle Schwarber – LF
3. Javy Báez – SS
4. Willson Contreras – C
5. David Bote – 3B
6. Nico Hoerner – 2B
7. Josh Phegley – DH
8. Ian Miller – RF
9. PJ Higgins – 1B
Hendricks started the game off by striking out Bryant on 3 pitches, including an up-and-in fastball to end the at-bat:
As Rizzo came up, Hendricks’ defense shifted behind him with Báez moving over to the right side of the infield. The Cubs shortstop jokingly heckled his teammate, shouting “watch out for the bunt!” and laughing as Rizzo dug into the box. Three pitches later, Rizzo grounded out to Bote, who was shifted over near the typical shortstop position.
Heyward then roped a single right back up the box and Caratini followed suit with another liner up the middle on the first pitch of his at-bat. But Hendricks struck out Souza to end the frame.
“It’s always a little weird facing your own guys,” Hendricks said after the scrimmage. “But it makes it fun – another added level of competition. You know there’s gonna be talking and stuff. It was just fun to be back out there.
“That’s what it really comes back to for me – just a good feeling to be on the field again, even if it is facing our own guys. I think everybody had a lot of fun out there.”
Darvish started out the home half of the 1st inning with a pair of strikeouts before Báez smoked a double into the left-center field gap. Contreras grounded to Descalso to end the inning.
In the top of the 2nd, Hendricks worked himself into a jam. First, he walked Kipnis. Then, after a forceout, he gave up back-to-back singles to Descalso and Bryant.
But with the bases loaded and Rizzo about to step up to the plate, the inning was called, prompting a chorus of boos from the offensive squad. Hendricks was already over 20 pitches for the frame and the Cubs didn’t want to tax him too much in a scrimmage game.
“I put up a zero, so that’s what I’m gonna take from it,” Hendricks said with a laugh.
The bottom of the 2nd featured a Bote lineout to left field, a Hoerner walk and then a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play. But Darvish stayed on the hill to face an extra hitter and struck out Miller looking.
Caratini singled up the middle again in the top of the 3rd, finishing his day 2-for-2 off Hendricks. The scrimmage ended a batter later when Souza went down on strikes.
Hendricks spent the shutdown in Arizona, working out at the team complex when it was open. He stayed in shape throwing bullpens – including some live BPs – and said he feels really good where he’s at schedule-wise with the regular season beginning in less than 3 weeks.
Nobody could have anticipated that the first time Hendricks would take the mound at Wrigley Field this year would be for a scrimmage game on the Fourth of July, but he’s still keeping things in perspective.
“It was just fun to get back out there, to be honest with you,” he said. “Obviously we do it for the fans and that’s such a huge part of the game, having them there – the cheers, the roars, all that. At the end of the day, at least we get to play baseball. We’re out here with all our friends.
“It’s just good to see all the guys, get back a little sense of normalcy with everything going on. We know it’s going to be very different this year, but we’re embracing all the changes, following everything we have to follow and we’re just lucky we can play baseball again.”
The Cubs will have another scrimmage Sunday evening at Wrigley Field.