Cubs 9, A’s 5: Matt Szczur a triple short of cycle

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Cubs outfielder Matt Szczur made the 25-man roster. (AP)

MESA, Ariz. — Matt Szczur celebrated making the 25-man roster by falling a triple short of the cycle Tuesday in a 9-5 win against the A’s at Sloan Park. The outfielder bunted for a base hit, stole a base, doubled and, in the sixth inning, hit a two-run homer. Szczur gained experience riding the Iowa-to-Wrigley shuttle last year, starting in Class AAA and coming off the bench in the big leagues. “I had to learn to kinda do both, but, for me, it made me a better player because now I’m versatile,” he said.

Leadoff man

At 6-feet, 235 pounds, Kyle Schwarber isn’t your prototypical leadoff man. But he hit there for the second time this spring, with Dexter Fowler still out with a sore left side. Of course, he hit a lead-off homer. Schwarber hit leadoff twice last season, going 3-for-8 and stealing a base. “He can do it,” third baseman Kris Bryant said. “Schwarber, he gets on base. He’s fun to watch.”

Kawasaki a star?

Munenori Kawasaki led the Cubs with 15 hits before being released and signed to a minor-league deal Tuesday, but manager Joe Maddon sees him at Wrigley Field eventually. “He’s going to be a big part of our success this year,” he said of the eccentric infielder, “and he’s gonna be one of the most popular athletes to ever play in Chicago when he finally arrives.”

Neil up

Maddon praised reliever Neil Ramirez — who made the team Tuesday — for not getting “caught in the speed gun trap” after his velocity went down last year. Ironically, Ramirez said earlier this week, his zip increased when he stopped worrying about it. “I’m not pitching to numbers any more; I’m pitching to get guys out,” he said. “As you do that, it’s amazing how that stuff comes back without having to think about it.”

On deck

Rockies at Cubs, 3:05 p.m., Cubs.com, David Hale vs. Jon Lester

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

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