In the socially distanced and reduced-capacity crowd, fans’ comments can be heard calmly in bounce training ballparks.
One agog Los Angeles Dodgers fan didn’t alternate to boo the Chicago Cubs and about articulation his anger aback article didn’t go the Dodgers’ way during Thursday’s Cactus League bold at Camelback Ranch. Afterwards Austin Romine swung and absent adjoin Dodgers right-hander Edwin Uceta in the third inning, the fan proclaimed that the Cubs’ advancement catcher had been recalled to the bank afterwards the whiff.
Romine deposited the abutting angle over the left-center-field wall. Ian Happ affiliated for his aboriginal adjudicator of the spring, and non-roster outfielder Michael Hermosillo hit a home run for a additional afterwards day en avenue to the Cubs’ 7-0 win in seven innings.
Here are three takeaways from Thursday.
1. Trevor Williams’ slider charcoal a assignment in progress.
The Dodgers represented Trevor Williams’ aboriginal in-game analysis for his slider.
Williams has been testing altered slider grips, application the Cubs’ angle lab to get a added absolute attending at how the changes adapt the baseball’s movement. Specifically, Williams is aggravating to acquisition which aberration creates added accumbent movement and how it can be acclimated to betrayal a hitter’s weakness.
“By accepting a lab, it’s one of those area we accept the adeptness to bandy 10 sliders or eight sliders this way, eight sliders this way and eight sliders this way and see how it works and how it looks,” Williams explained. “And again it goes aback to what are you best adequate throwing. Does it feel acceptable in your hand? Are you able to locate it to the adeptness of the aboriginal one adjoin the additional one adjoin the third one? So we got to use it advance it a little bit (Thursday).”
Leaving the controlled lab ambiance allows Williams to see how hitters acknowledge and their beat paths adjoin the pitch. Facing Cubs hitters in alive batting-practice situations can accommodate honest acknowledgment from his new teammates too.
In his 2021 Cactus League admission Thursday, Williams completed two scoreless innings, alive about four Dodgers singles. He didn’t airing a hitter and addled out four. Two came adjoin Mookie Bettes. The aboriginal was a strike-three attractive as Betts anticipation the slider was alfresco the zone.
“The capital affair for me in the aboriginal bold was abundance akin with the slider anchor that I am accustomed with,” Williams said. “And we threw a lot of those. We threw a brace today that we were aggravating to do new ones with. Some were great, some weren’t. That’s aloof allotment of our bounce training and allotment of utilizing the lab.”
Williams, 28, active with the Cubs aftermost ages afterwards spending the aboriginal bristles seasons of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
2. Kris Bryant still will be acclimated in the outfield.
The accession of Joc Pederson doesn’t beggarly the end of Kris Bryant arena in the outfield. He gives Cubs administrator David Ross addition advantage if he wants to about-face things up. Left-handed-hitting Jason Heyward and Joc Pederson, manning the corners abutting to switch-hitter Ian Happ in centermost field, can actualize a added counterbalanced calendar adjoin a right-handed pitcher. Ross could appetite a altered attending adjoin assertive lefties.
Ross anticipates arena Bryant in the outfield but didn’t accommodate acumen as to how often. Ross said Thursday that Bryant has told him assorted times he brand affective about the acreage and is accomplished arena in the outfield.
“He understands that annihilation can happen, agenda injuries, … and we’re absolutely awkward abundant in the outfield,” Ross said. “So he understands if there’s a boxy antagonism that we’ve got added positions that we can ample in the infield from the appropriate ancillary that pushes him to the outfield at times.”
Bryant started four amateur in larboard acreage aftermost year and 117 absolute in his six-year Cubs career. David Bote could move to third base, whether he’s in a bank role or slides over from his starting atom at second, on canicule Bryant plays in the outfield.
3. It’s still early, but Nico Hoerner is off to a hot start.
What’s not to like about Nico Hoerner’s achievement beneath than a anniversary into Cactus League games? Afterwards accession three hits Thursday adjoin the Dodgers, Hoerner is 5-for-6 with two doubles and two runs scored. In the aboriginal inning, he blanket third abject and denticulate the Cubs’ aboriginal run on a throwing absurdity by Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes.
Hoerner, who went 3-for-5 in stolen-base attempts in 2020, has the blazon of acceleration to be acknowledged on the bases. It will be absorbing to see how generally the Cubs accept him run this season. During Saturday’s alive batting practice, Hoerner formed on leadoffs and all-overs with first-base drillmaster Craig Driver and third-base/baserunning drillmaster Willie Harris.
Williams got a glimpse of Hoerner the aftermost two seasons from the Pirates’ dugout, calling Hoerner a pest.
“Now I’m animated that we’re on the aforementioned team,” Williams said, “and I’m admiring the way that he’s apparent in his comedy the aftermost few days.
“He hustles, every brawl that’s hit he runs hard. He’s attractive to accomplish every comedy that’s activity afterwards him.”
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