By Mick Gillispie / Smokies Radio Network
After having the weekend off, it was great to get back to the ballpark for what turned out to be a good 2-0 win for the Cubs over the Padres.
One of my favorite former Smokies and people Casey Coleman pitched two very good innings. I’m hoping he’ll have a chance to make the club, he’s started a lot in the past but this year he is competing for a spot in the bullpen. I don’t think he’s given up a run in his last nine innings on the mound, has been really solid. His sinker is working plus his offspeed pitches have been tough to hit.
Rafael Dolis got the save and really looked solid. He may be the next big-time closer in Major League Baseball. I don’t know why he couldn’t be. I think with all things considered there is a chance he becomes a big star, the kind of closer that can get 40-50 saves a season. A lot of that depends on how he adjusts to the major league lifestyle, but that’s a factor with all young players. Sometimes that adjustment is just as important as the tools you bring on the field. Dolis throws hard, he’s a big guy with excellent build and has the right movement on his pitches. There’s just something special about him right now. I don’t think it was an accident that he got the save yesterday, his second of the spring. I think with the way he is pitching right now he’ll make the team and will be solid coming out of the bullpen.
Yesterday was a lot of fun at the ballpark. I’ve mentioned before that we see Cubs television analyst Bob Brenly all the time in the press box even when he isn’t working so he can watch his son Michael play. Yesterday Bob was in the booth next to us, and it was an odd sight to see him sitting next to Len, his normal partner on television, yet he was in another booth that was separated by glass.
It was good to see Andy Masur, one of the broadcasters for the San Diego Padres yesterday. Andy got his start in the big leagues on WGN Radio working along with Pat Hughes and Ron Santo, with a large part of his job helping Ron on the road. I think Andy’s a really good guy, we didn’t catch up as much as I would’ve liked, but still good to see him.
Long-time Padres voice Jerry Coleman wasn’t here, but he’s someone I love talking to, especially about Hall of Fame broadcasters. Coleman won the Ford Frick Award a few years ago so he’s a Hall of Famer in his own right, but he also has worked with and knew the likes of Vin Scully, Ernie Harwell, Red Barber, Mel Allen among others. He’s been with the best, and when I talk with him I ask about things I’ve only read about in books because he lived it with those guys.
Spring training is known for many things, but one of them is how many autographs get signed during the course of this month. Fans are always coming up to the booth or reach out to Len whenever he’s there to get his autograph. Sometimes it’s funny what people will give to be signed. Yesterday there was a guy who had an old piece of paper, looked maybe like a lineup sheet from a week ago, and he asked Len to sign it. Whenever you get an autograph, you want something that will last the test of time, so I was surprised to see that guy give Len that old sheet of paper.
Most people will ask for baseballs to be signed, and the really smart fans get Len and Bob’s autographs on the same baseball. One guy had a Cubs cookbook that Len was in and had that signed yesterday. Len and Bob both have been very courteous with the fans and take time out of their days to make sure that every fan who wants an autograph will get one. Not everyone in this game is like that, but these guys are great about it. It’s nice to be around people who will take time for the fans.
The Cubs front office is continuing to trim the roster, and it looks like after Wednesday’s game we’ll see another round of cuts. Thursday we should have a good idea of what the ballclub will look like on Opening Day. First they have to decide who will be in the rotation, then go from there. Ryan Dempster will start on Opening Day, followed by Matt Garza. Paul Maholm has locked down the fifth spot in the rotation, while Jeff Samardzija, Randy Wells, and Chris Volstad are all competing for the other two spots. That’s a tough call because all three guys have looked sharp and can be quality big league starters.
From there they will form the bullpen, where you could see Rodrigo Lopez, Casey Coleman, Rafael Dolis, James Russell, and also Blake Parker along with Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol among others. We’ll know something soon about the backup catcher job in the battle we’ve kept an eye on this spring between Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger. Then they will determine one outfield spot, one more infield spot, and it’s time for baseball!
I’ve just arrived at Goodyear Ballpark and Len and I are getting set for today’s game against the Reds. Check out Roger’s post below for all the broadcast information.