MESA, Ariz. – It wasn’t so much the walks that bothered Tyler Chatwood the day after his worst outing of the spring.
“I made the pitch to get out of the inning, and I messed the play up,” the Cubs right-hander said Wednesday. “Just one of those things. You’re going to have outings like that. You’ve got to grind through it and take advantage of the opportunity, and I didn’t.”
Chatwood, the $38 million free agent who lost his rotation job last year because of a franchise-record 8.2 walks per nine innings, pitched a 1-2-3 first inning against the Reds Tuesday night until the second inning unraveled into a seven-batter flashback to last season that included three walks.
He walked the leadoff man on five pitches – ending a streak of 25 batters without a walk. Then he fell behind the next hitter, who singed. He fell behind 3-0 to the third batter, who swung at the next pitch and flied to center. Then came a four-pitch walk to load the bases and the easy bouncer back to the mound for what should have been a 1-2-3 double play.
Instead, Chatwood lobbed over catcher Victor Caratini for an error. A two-run single and walk later, his night of work was done.
“It was just something that was a little off. Even in the first it wasn’t as sharp as I’ve been,” Chatwood said. “It just felt rushed a little bit, like I was opening up a little bit. So I feel that; I was making the adjustment. You’re going to have those outings, and you’re going to grind, and I had a chance to get out of it … You’ve got to be able to make that play.”
Chatwood this spring not only is pitching for a potential role in the Cubs’ bullpen but also for a possible role in somebody else’s rotation if the Cubs can drum up enough trade interest to offset a chunk of the $25.5 million left on the final two years of his contract.
Either way, Chatwood remains encouraged by his results this spring up until that rough inning Tuesday as well as his strength so far in camp and the quality of his stuff.
“It felt good,” he said. “Obviously, there were walks, but my misses were all close. I still feel really good. My stuff’s there. It’s just a matter of getting a little tweak.”