Hey Smokies fans!
Another great day here in Mesa. I got up early again at 6 a.m. to work on my scorebook and kept checking all the news in Major League Baseball. I arrived at the Cubs complex at 8 a.m. and once again saw a lot of players during the media availability. I caught up with some Smokies favorites John Gaub, Justin Berg, Sam Fuld, and Chris Robinson. All of these guys have had a terrific spring training and are making the front office happy.
Speaking of the front office, I spent some time with Cubs Vice President of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita. “Fleet” always comes on the air with me in Tennessee when he’s making the rounds checking the Cubs minor league system. We had a great time catching up and I can’t wait to see him in Dumplin Valley soon this season. I also saw Cubs GM Jim Hendry again and said hello.
I hit the road and made it to Surprise in plenty of time for the game against the Rangers. I was there early enough to catch Cubs manager Lou Piniella’s pregame press conference in the Cubs dugout. It was great getting to hear Lou give his thoughts on this Cubs team, and he spoke about how impressed he’s been by Tyler Colvin. Colvin’s played for parts of three seasons with Tennessee, and he’s worked hard for a spot on the Cubs opening day roster. Piniella says the decision will come on Friday, yet it looks like Colvin’s jersey will be wearing Cubby blue.
While I was in the dugout I had a chance to meet a writer I’ve read for years and I really respect. I met Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times and he was just as I’d expect after reading him for years. He’s very funny and has an objective view of Cubs baseball. You can read his work on the Sun-Times website here.
Once again the staff at Surprise Stadium made me feel welcome, and I was ready to go for the broadcast. The Cubs routed the Rangers 12-1. Chad Tracy had 5-RBIs in the rout, with a three-run double in the first and a two-run double in the sixth.
Former Smokies Darwin Barney, Robinson Chirinos, Chris Robinson, Tyler Colvin, Jim Adduci, and Sam Fuld all made appearances in the win. Brian Schlitter and Esmailin Caridad both pitched scoreless innings in relief.
Following the game, I had dinner again with former Smokies skipper Buddy Bailey and we were joined by Fresno Grizzlies (Triple-A Giants) broadcaster Doug Greenwald. Doug is the son of former Giants broadcaster Hank Greenwald, and is a good friend of mine.
Tomorrow brings my last day in Arizona with the Cubs before I head home to Alabama. The Cubs will be in Tucson to face the Diamondbacks. Listen online on cubs.com at 4 p.m. ET/3 CT.