Because of the abridged spring training, pitchers are being held back and seeing their workloads limited.
But what about the hitters?
“For our group, I thought we got off to a great start,” Cubs manager Ross said. “Usually, the pitchers are ahead, I think you would say most spring trainings and then you get to the back end of spring training, the hitters start to catch up. I thought we started off, offensively, great.”
Indeed, the Cubs offense did get off to a hot start, scoring 19 runs in the first three games of the year. Yet over their four-game losing streak entering Saturday, the Cubs scored just 12 times, including five over the first two matchups of this series with Pittsburgh.
Cubs hitters had also struggled during the homestand. Catcher Willson Contreras was at 1 for 13, second baseman Nick Madrigal was hitting .188, first baseman Frank Schwindel checked in at .167, and right fielder Seiya Suzuki averaged .214.
Reliever Keegan Thompson’s four scoreless innings Friday marked his fourth straight outing to start the year without allowing a run to score. Per Cubs historian Ed Hartig, Thompson is the fifth Cubs pitcher with four scoreless relief appearances of at least eight outs in a month since 1893, with the most recent being Mike Proly in August 1982.
“Keegan’s been extremely valuable,” Ross said. “Can’t overstate how well he’s pitched and how good he’s looked and how valuable that arm has been for us.”
Speed it up?
According to an ESPN report, minor-league games using a pitch clock are 20 minutes shorter. Those games utilize a 14-second clock with the bases empty, and 18 seconds with runners on.
Ross didn’t want to give an opinion on those clocks because he hasn’t experienced them personally, but wouldn’t be surprised if they come to the majors sooner or later.
“Guys will adjust,” Ross said. “We don’t like change a lot, as players, but then they’ll adjust to whatever is put in front of them.”
Outfielder Clint Frazier had his appendectomy, and Ross said Frazier texted him to say he was “ready to rake already.” Ross continued that Frazier seems to be doing well and that the Cubs hoped to have an update on his recovery in the next few days.
Pitcher Wade Miley (left elbow inflammation) had been scheduled to throw a bullpen Friday, but that was punted to Saturday because of the wonky weather situation that forced the Cubs’ 4-2 loss to be pushed back to a 7:05 p.m. first pitch.
New Bears coach Matt Eberflus threw out a ceremonial first pitch before the game. Per the Bears, Eberflus was prepared for his appearance by former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood.
Last Saturday, Eberflus’ boss Ryan Poles did the honor at a White Sox game.