The smell of freshly-cut grass, and temperatures in the 60's with nary a cloud in the sky. A smilin' Lou Piniella strolling from field to field, bantering with the fans and signing autographs. The sound of bat on ball, and pitchers practicing covering first on a ball hit to the first-baseman. Ah, yes. While it might not be absolutely as good as it gets, it's pretty close.
Your pal AZ Phil and about 100 hopeful Cub fans attended the Cubs first Spring Training workout of 2007 this morning at Fitch Park in Mesa. It was a mandatory work-out for the Cubs' 30 pitchers and six catchers, but six position players (infielders and outfielders) who were not required to report showed up anyway.
Broken up into three groups of nine or ten, 29 of the 30 Cubs pitchers (including Carlos Zambrano) participated in fielding drills (the exception being Adam Harben, who is rehabbing from TJ surgery), and most of the pitchers (not including Kerry Wood, who suffered injured ribs in a "hot tub" accident) started their Spring Training throwing regimen in the "pit" under the watchful eye of Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild.
And speaking of Kerry Wood, all that talk about Woody losing weight, well, it was not just talk, folks. KW isn't just thin, he's rail
-thin. He looks like Sean Marshall, or maybe like a 13-year old who had a six-inch growth spurt during Summer Vacation. I don't know if the weight-loss will make him a better pitcher, but I'll bet he feels a lot healthier.
There were six catchers were in camp today catching pitchers throwing in the pit, but no Mike Mahoney. As you know, I thought he might get a late NRI to ST to help catch the pitchers, but apparently the Cubs will make-do with Michael Barrett, Henry Blanco, Geovany Soto, Koyie Hill, Jake Fox, and Casey McGehee.
Kudos to the six infielders or outfielders who showed up for the first day of workouts when they didn't have to be there (infielders and outfielders do not have to report until next week).
Gold stars go to:
Soriano and Pie spent a lot of time talking, probably in large part because they were probably the only two Spanish-Speakers in their group. But you could clearly see that they got along, as they were laughing and having a good time. Hopefully Pie can help Soriano learn the finer points of CF play, and Soriano can help Pie learn the ropes of being a big leaguer. It certainly was a lot of fun watching both of them hustle their asses off chasing down outfield drives into the gaps during BP.
The only other thing of note to report from the first day of workouts is that speedy Chris Walker is learning to switch-hit (he had previously been strictly a right-handed hitter). If he is successful in the endeavor and can actually learn to hit left-handed, it might help him get to the major leagues, maybe not with the Cubs, but with somebody.