3/17 Cubs 4, Royals 3
A fastball-only side session helped Jason Hammel get back on track as the Cubs pitcher posted his best outing this spring, limiting the Royals to two hits over four innings in the Cubs’ 3-1 victory. Hammel struck out three and did not walk a batter in his third spring start. He credited a bullpen with pitching coach Chris Bosio for getting him back on track. During the workout, he threw 42 pitches, all fastballs, to work on his command.
Hammel also got some help from manager Joe Maddon who employed a couple key defensive shifts.
“Today, I got a little taste of Joe’s shifts because we had Starlin [Castro] up the middle on a hard-hit ball and Javy [Baez] made a great play to knock a ball down,” Hammel said. “That’s what I do is put the ball in play.”
He wasn’t worried about the early struggles.
“I have plenty of confidence in myself to get it done and be ready and today was a step towards that,” he said.
The Cubs loaded the bases with two outs in the third as Dexter Fowler walked, Chris Denorfia singled and Anthony Rizzo was hit by a pitch. Danny Duffy then walked Castro to force in a run. Duffy struck out five over four innings.
Alcides Escobar doubled to open the Royals sixth against Jorge De Leon and scored one out later on Lorenzo Cain’s double. But Miguel Montero led off the Chicago sixth with a double and pinch-runner Billy McKinney then scored on Junior Lake’s single.
* Up next: Jake Arrieta makes his third spring start on Wednesday when the Cubs travel to Glendale to face the Dodgers. So far, Arrieta has given up one earned run over six innings in his two outings, sriking out five. Manager Joe Maddon indicated they will abandon the designated hitter from now on. The game will be broadcast on Cubs.com, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 p.m. CT.
— Carrie Muskat