MESA, Ariz. — Eight cubs pitchers, most of whom are expected to start in the minors combined to throw a six-hit shutout. That includedwinning pitcher Neil Ramirez, who recorded a 1-2-3 fourth inning the hard way (leadoff single and inning-ending double play from catcher David Ross).
Ramirez, who had a 1.44 ERA as a rookie in 2014 before an injury-hampered season last year, is trying to earn a spot in a tightly packed pen.
Three days after manager Joe Maddon talked about how impressed he was by Addison Russell’s power, the Cubs shortstop drove a 1-2 pitch from left-hander Jose Alvarez well past the left-field bullpen and to the top of the grass berm, for a two-run shot.
One day earlier Russell described his more comfortable approach to hitting this spring as “grippin’ and rippin’.”
The “old” guys in the lineup for the Cubs showed the most youthful moves in the field.
New second baseman Ben Zobrist, 34, ranged to his left to rob Yunel Escobar leading off the third, gloving the ball, spinning, and bouncing an off-balance throw to Javy Baez at first to get Escobar by a half-step.
Then with one out and one on in the fourth, Cliff Pennington hit a low popup foul, and catcher David Ross, 38, sprinted and dove for the catch, then leaped to his feet and threw out C.J. Cron trying to advance to second for the inning-ender.
Outfield prospect John Andreoli, 25, added a leaping catch at the wall in right in the ninth.
Friday’s crowd of 15,446 set a spring training attendance record for third-year Sloane Park (old record: 15,342 last March 27 vs. White Sox).
Reds at Cubs, 2:05 p.m., AM-670, Brandon Finnegan vs. Trevor Cahill. Former Cubs manager Lou Piniella, a senior advisor for the Reds, is scheduled to make trip.