A quiet day at the park

ON LOCATION LOGO.jpgMESA, AZ—While the inches of snow came down in Chicago, Cubs manager Lou Piniella said today was perhaps the nicest day of camp so far.

He and spring instructor Rick Sutcliffe traded barbs while watching the team stretch out. “Sut” looked thinner than he has in the past, no doubt still recovering from cancer surgeries.

Sutcliffe, bullpen coach Lester Strode and minor-league pitching coach Dennis Llwellyn ran the “PFP” or pitcher’s fielding practice. It’s during this practice that the coaches actually look like they get their workout in. Fielding ground balls, posing as runners on second, the coaches look like they’re having a little fun.

Meanwhile, out in centerfield, outfielders Sam Fuld and Alfonso Soriano take flyballs and get some work on making catches against the wall. Fuld went crashing once into the padding, echoing through out the park, perhaps the loudest noise made all day.

The clack of the spikes on concrete remind me that baseball season is indeed here, despite the snow in Chicago. I’m wondering if my wife has gotten our snowblower to work,..

I got to see Carlos Marmol throw during live BP, and it was HARD right off the bat. A funny moment came when he strolled to the mound. Derrek Lee was in the cage and saw Marmol. His first words: “Aw, hell no.”

Marmol just smiled and laughed. After a couple of warm-ups, however, Lee took his bat and pointed to the leftfield fence. Marmol laughs again, but Lee eventually swatted a solid line drive to left….

Strange to see Paul Bako back in camp. I remember in 2003, that fateful night in Game 7 of the NLCS, it was he who unfortunately had to make the last out and watch the Marlins celebrate on Wrigley Field. But when he was here and did a nice job behind the plate. All the players rave about how he calls games. Yeah, he doesn’t hit much, but as a back up to Geovany Soto, a team could do worse.

General manager Jim Hendry kidded Bako about his seven-RBI game last year, saying “‘Bak’ then only got seven more the entire year. And I remember every one!” Soto and Ryan Theriot just cracked up, leaving Bako just shaking his head, smiling.

A loose camp. That’s good. Because it’s going to be a long one.

Mike Huang

3 Comments

Can’t wait for the first spring training game on Wednesday!!

Hilarious D. Lee story, Mike – I can so see him saying that.
What’s your feeling on Carlos Marmol playing or not playing in the WBC?
I understand it’s just baseball, but to me for some reason if the worst happened and he got an injury, it’s like “part of the game” if he’s in camp, and completely wrong if it happened in the WBC.

Hey Tim, I think most people would not like him to pitch in the WBC for obvious reasons. He’s an integral part of the the team’s plans.

However, the pull to play for your country looms large. Just like in the Caribbean World Series and winter ball leagues, a lot of foreign-born players feel a sense of obligation to go back at play for their home country. There’s an awful lot of pressure.

Luckily, so far only one player–Luis Ayala–has gotten seriously hurt playing in the WBC, so if you are worried about Marmol getting hurt, if he plays, he will be in good hands.

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