Monday, March 19, 2007

Cubs score 27 runs in one day; 25-man roster becomes clearer

Just a day after the Chicago Cubs had been held to two hits against John Lackey and the rest of the Angels bullpen, the Cubs made up for their lack of offense by scoring 27 times and pounding 38 hits against the Mariners and Brewers, en route to two wins.

Against Seattle, Soriano led the game off with a homerun, but the offense kept pouring it on. Theriot and Lee each collected four hits in the game, while Ramirez, Barrett, Floyd, Rojas, and McGehee all joined Soriano for a two-hit day.

Barrett homered twice in the game, while Ramirez's homerun capped a five-run first.

Wade Miller, the likely fifth starter, started today's game going 3 1/3 innings while allowing six hits and three earned runs, a three-run blast to Beltre. Howry and Cotts each added more than one inning of scoreless relief, and most encouraging of all was the fact that the entire staff did not allow a walk. I guess it's easier to pitch with a double-digit lead, which the Cubs had had since the fourth inning.

Meanwhile in Phoenix, the other half of the Cubs also scored five times in the first, thanks in large part to a three-run homerun by center fielder Jacque Jones. Felix Pie, Ronny Cedeno, and Daryle Ward each had multi-hit days along with Jones, while Ward drove in four.

Sean Gallagher started for the Cubs and allowed three runs over three innings. Sean Marshall, Roberto Novoa, and Rocky Cherry all tossed scoreless innings in relief, which is encouraging news.

Before the games, however, manager Lou Piniella announced that he does not intend on rushing Prior or Wood into the regular season, meaning that the two pitchers will likely stay in Arizona for atleast the beginning of April. Michael Wuertz and Roberto Novoa returned to action three days ago, each tossing a scoreless inning, meaning they could take up spots in the bullpen, but because of their uncertainity to be able to work on back-to-back days, Piniella may look elsewhere for the beginning of the season.

With Guzman announced to be the team's long reliever, six spots remain in the bullpen, five of which will go to Howry, Eyre, Ohman, Cotts, and closer Ryan Dempster. The last two weeks of camp will show whether it's Wuertz, Novoa, or Cherry that gets that spot. The five starters will be Zambrano, Lilly, Marquis, Hill, and Miller, leaving room for only five backup players on the roster.

After counting catcher Henry Blanco, infielders Ryan Theriot and Daryle Ward, and outfielder Cliff Floyd (or Murton, whichever way you see it), one spot remains, with three contenders: Cedeno, Pagan, and Coats.

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