Zero hour: Cubs pitching showed up, along with a few veteran bats, and the Cubs improved to 3-2 in Cactus League play. They have scored 30 runs in their last three games.
For starters: Former major-league ERA champ Kyle Hendricks opened his spring with two precision, scoreless innings. The only base runner he allowed reached on an infield single off first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s glove leading off the first. He missed getting a double play on the next play by the margin of a low throw to first and finished with two strikeouts. “I felt pretty good overall,” Hendricks said. “Maybe got a little quick on some, especially the last hitter or two in the second inning there.”
Power play: One pitch after a big swing and a miss, shortstop Javy Baez swung big again in drove his first homer of the spring onto the grass beyond the left-field wall. He added a leadoff single in the fifth. He’s 3-for-8.
Second watch: Non-roster Northbrook native Jason Kipnis delivered a run-scoring single to right in the fourth and legged a double in the sixth in a 2-for-3 effort from the DH spot. The favorite to win the second base job struck out with the bases loaded in the first. Rookie Nico Hoerner, another candidate at second, was 0-for-2 with a walk and ranged for a nice play to his right to get the first out of the second inning.
Late retirement: Centerfielder Albert Almora Jr. was retired for the first time in three starts this spring when he struck out in the first inning. He later came back and singled up the middle to drive in a run in the fourth. He’s 5-for-7 with a walk, double, homer and five RBI this spring.
On deck: Cubs at Rangers, Surprise, 2:05 p.m., Thursday, MSN, Colin Rea vs. Tyler Phillips.