Cubs drop split-squad pair to Royals, Rockies: Game notes

SHARE Cubs drop split-squad pair to Royals, Rockies: Game notes

Jason Hammel made his 2016 spring debut Monday against the Royals.

MESA, Ariz. — Three combined home runs in two split-squad spring training games were not enough for the Cubs in losses to Kansas City Royals in Mesa, 3-2, and the Colorado Rockies in Scottsdale, 4-2. The Cubs (1-5) combined for just 11 hits in the two games.

Highlights and notes:

Power surge

Jason Heyward and Anthony Rizzo hit their first homers of the spring, in the first and third, respectively, in Scottsdale for an early 2-0 lead. Both homers came against Jon Gray, the right-hander drafted one spot behind Kris Bryant in 2013.

And Addison Russell, looking more like a reliable power threat every day, hit his second of the spring, a two-run shot way out to left in the fifth against Royals lefty David Huff.

“Grip it and rip it,” said Russell, who believes his winter workout program has given him “a little” more power. “I’m seeing the ball well and just reacting to it … trusting my ability.”

Hammer time

Jason Hammel, trying to bounce back from a 5.10 ERA in the second half last year, walked the first batter he faced in his spring debut but faced just six batters the rest of his two-inning start, including a strikeout of Alex Gordon and inning ending double play in the second.

“That was just spring training nerves, honestly,” Hammel said of the leadoff walk. “The first hitter my heart was just beating out of my chest. I don’t know why. I ewas able to calm down from there and work on things I’ve been working on.

“The timing is still somewhat off. For the first one I’ll take it, but I think I can be better.”

La Stella sidelined

Infielder Tommy La Stella, who missed most of last season with an oblique injury, left the game because of right calf soreness after just one inning.

La Stella, considered an important left-handed bat on the Cubs’ bench, was not involved in a play at third base and didn’t bat before leaving the game. His status is considered day-to-day.

Cy Young homestand

The Cubs’ next two games, both at Sloan Park, feature three Cy Young winners among the four starters: Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers on Tuesday and the Indians’ Corey Kluber vs. the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta on Wednesday.

On deck

Dodgers at Cubs (Sloan Park in Mesa), 2:05 p.m., audio, Kershaw vs. Kyle Hendricks.

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