Greetings from Arizona.
With one week of games in the books, starters are going longer into games and the battles for roster spots are heating up.
Chicago Tribune baseball writers LaMond Pope, Meghan Montemurro and Paul Sullivan will be providing updates from the Cactus League on Monday through Friday throughout spring training.
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Texas Rangers at Cubs, 2:05 p.m. at Sloan Park: Kohei Arihara vs. Zach Davies.","type":"text
Forecast: Sunny with a high of 84.
Forecast: Sunny with a high of 84.
From Winning Ugly to Ugly Power
White Sox teammates gave new closer Liam Hendriks grief for photo day pictures of him with a bat, helmet and batting gloves. The official Sox Twitter account tweeted the photos.
“Bruh,” Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito tweeted.
Hendriks is 0-for-2 with a walk in three career plate appearances, but he said he will lobby manager Tony La Russa for a chance to bat if the right opportunity pops up.
“All I want is one, just want one hit,” Hendriks said. “I want the ball. I want to put it on my wall, and that’s it.”
Hendriks, who struck out out two in a scoreless inning in a “B” game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch, said he almost signed as an outfielder and had a nickname before he became a pitcher.
“My swing name was ‘Ugly Power’ because, apparently, I didn’t use my hips,” Hendriks joked. “But I could hit a little bit.”
La Russa was manager of the 1983 “Winning Ugly” Sox, who won the American League West.
With COVID-19 protocols in place, Cubs manager David Ross said it’s a “challenge” to keep morning workouts entertaining, as former strength coach Tim Buss was famous for during the Joe Maddon era.
Ross knows it can be “boring in the morning, listening to me talk. They probably get tired of that.” One thing the Cubs have done is practice their golf swings.
“We can’t bring in speakers,” Ross said. “We had two speakers that came in last year. We’re doing a little golfing in the morning, which has been pretty fun. Shocking to see some of the guys have got a really good swing, and shocking to see some guys that are terrible.
“Bussy was a big part of that in the morning. It’s hard to replicate that. I don’t have that in my bag. I don’t think many guys do.”
What we’re reading this morning
“I drink coffee to go to sleep”: White Sox closer Liam Hendriks says there’s a practical reason behind his “cussing and yelling” on the mound.","type":"text
Cubs reliever Pedro Strop is sent away from camp after violating COVID-19 protocols.","type":"text
Cubs roster projection 2.0: Which 26 players will break camp for the 2021 season opener?","type":"text
1 hit and 1 shattered bat: Garrett Crochet has a productive first Cactus League outing for the White Sox.","type":"text
Kris Bryant is finally at ease for the Cubs after enduring trade rumors, injuries and the worst season of his career.","type":"text
The White Sox are looking for a catcher to back up Yasmani Grandal. Here’s how the 4-man field stacks up.","type":"text
Joc Pederson expects more freedom in left field in 2021 — and to earn his keep within the Cubs’ Gold Glove defense.","type":"text
Moving on up
Moving on up
Longtime Chicago sports reporter Jesse Rogers was noticeably absent from Cubs camp before returning Sunday. But that’s good news for Rogers, a familiar voice on WMVP-AM 1000 and writer for ESPN.com, who has morphed into his new role as a national baseball correspondent for ESPN.
Rogers spent the early part of spring training covering teams in Florida and was featured remotely during last week’s Cubs-Mariners broadcast on ESPN.
“It’s a national role for Bristol (Conn.),” he said, referring to ESPN headquarters. “And it’s a local role for ESPN 1000. Kind of a hybrid, but my main job is for Bristol.”
Rogers will appear on WMVP three or so times per week, mostly talking Cubs and White Sox, while filing national reports on all teams for ESPN’s website and network. He joined ESPNChicago.com in 2009, covering the Chicago Blackhawks, and moved to the Cubs beat in 2014.
Rogers began his career as Mike North’s producer on WSCR-AM 670, and he co-authored a biography of former Cubs manager Joe Maddon called “Try Not to Suck: The Exceptional, Extraordinary Baseball Life of Joe Maddon.”
Different strokes, different folks
Sox ace Lucas Giolito said he thoroughly enjoys hearing closer Liam Hendriks’ swearing on the mound after he doesn’t execute a pitch.
“It cracks me up,” Giolito said. “I love it when Liam is throwing and you hear a bunch of expletives super loud. … I feel like if I were to ride that roller coaster of emotions, it wouldn’t work out very well for me. Maybe my version of doing that is stepping off the mound, taking a deep breath and hitting the reset button. That’s just the way I operate.
“Liam knows himself — get it all out, express frustration and OK, now on to the next one. This is going to be a good one. Everyone is different. We welcome that. Definitely entertaining.”
Giolito took another step in the right direction in his second spring start Sunday, pitching three hitless innings against the Colorado Rockies. He worked on his slider and other off-speed stuff.
“Staying on track,” he said. “A good day for sure.”
In five innings this spring, Giolito has allowed one run on one hit with six strikeouts. Relievers Evan Marshall and Jimmy Cordero also registered hitless innings Sunday.
During the first inning Saturday against the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer threw most of his pitches with his right eye closed. He pointed to the eye after the scoreless inning.
“I figure if they can’t score off me with one eye open, it’s going to be difficult to score off me with two eyes open,” he said. “Just having a little bit of fun.”
Bauer said he likes “making myself uncomfortable” in an effort to improve his pitching. Michael Jordan still has Bauer beat. When he was starring for the Chicago Bulls, Jordan once shot free throws with both eyes closed.
Around the Cactus League
Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams is throwing bullpen sessions only and isn’t scheduled to pitch in a Cactus League game until after St. Patrick’s Day. Williams posted an 0.33 ERA last year with 53 strikeouts in 27 innings, earning National League Reliever of the Year honors. But he strained his right rotator cuff before the playoffs and has been rehabbing his shoulder all winter. “Everything’s been going according to plan,” Williams said. “I just need a little more time to recover.” ... With Nolan Arenado gone, Charlie Blackmon has been forced into an unfamiliar role as leader in the Colorado Rockies clubhouse. Manager Bud Black said Blackmon has “taken it to heart” and is ready to lead. “We have spoken about that, with me encouraging him to take on a role that he hasn’t had to — on a grander scale,” Black said. “I think he has embraced it.” ... Former Cubs reliever Fernando Rodney reportedly is attempting a comeback in Mexico with the Toros de Tijuana. Rodney, who turns 44 on March 18, has pitched for 11 major-league teams and has 327 career saves in 17 seasons. He posted an 0.75 ERA in 14 appearances with the 2015 Cubs.
“None of us are going to be mad at Pedro. It’s just a little slip-up. It’s a moment for us to realize that we need to take the protocols seriously and keep everybody as safe as possible so we can play all 162 games.” — Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta on teammate Pedro Strop being isolated from camp for violating COVID-19 protocols
This day in Cubs/White Sox history
March 8, 1997: Cubs manager Jim Riggleman has a talk with pitcher Turk Wendell about ditching his eccentricities, including chewing licorice and brushing his teeth in the dugout and squatting whenever the catcher is standing.
“It really was a 30-second conversation,” Riggleman said. “I just didn’t want him brushing his teeth in the dugout and a couple of other things. I thought it was unprofessional. I’m not averse to having fun. But I wanted him to be recognized for the pitcher he is, not for the other stuff.”
Vying for a starting job, Wendell reluctantly agrees.
“All the shenanigans were fine and dandy,” first baseman Mark Grace said. “But he wasn’t getting anybody out. A few veterans resented the fact he was doing all his antics while he was getting hit hard. If you’re doing well and you do all the stuff, that’s fine. ... I’m not a big believer in theatrics. I think honestly the best thing that ever happened was Riggs telling him to tone it down. That way he could concentrate on getting hitters out instead of, ‘Oh, man, I’m supposed to wave at the center fielder,’ or, ‘Oh, man, I have to squat when the catcher is standing and stand when the catcher is squatting,’ and all the other bull.”
Riggleman allows Wendell to continue hopping over the foul line.
The Cubs got off to an 0-14 start in ‘97, setting a National League record for consecutive losses to start a season.
March, 8, 1985: The White Sox overcome two errors by rookie shortstop Ozzie Guillen in a 4-2 win over the Kansas City Royals in Grapefruit League action. The first error came in the second inning on a routine grounder to his right, while the second was a throwing error in the seventh on a routine play. Guillen came to the Sox in an offseason deal for starting pitcher LaMarr Hoyt and was a highly rated prospect because of his glove. Sox manager Tony La Russa said he didn’t mind Guillen’s first error.
“The error on the throw bothered me because Ozzie had time to make it and didn’t need to be rushing it,” La Russa said. “I have already made it clear to him that he must make the routine play to play in the big leagues.”
Guillen committed only 12 errors in 614 chances in 1985 en route to winning the American League Rookie of the Year award.
San Diego Padres at White Sox, 2:05 p.m. at Camelback Ranch.","type":"text