Big bats, Javy Baez’s glove power Cubs to 6-1 spring win over Rangers
MESA, Ariz. — Back-to-back homers in the fourth and a pair of unearned runs in the sixth paced the Cubs to a 6-1 victory over the Texas Rangers in their spring home opener Saturday at Sloan Park.
The teams wore Stoneman Douglas High School caps to honor the victims of the Parkland, Florida, shooting at Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s alma mater. Rizzo received a loud ovation from fans when he stepped in for his first at-bat before lining out to center. In the fourth inning, he hit a two-run homer to left for the Cubs’ first runs. Willson Contreras followed with another homer near the same spot.
Second baseman Javy Baez got a jump start on that Gold Glove he said he wants to win with a highlight-reel play on his second fielding chance of the spring. On a high hopper hit near the line, Baez made a sliding snare and threw from his back to get Nomar Mazara by a fraction of a step for the final out of the first inning. He added a gem in the third on Jurickson Profar’s shot back to the mound that pitcher Cory Mazzoni deflected. As the ball slowed on the grass near the back of the mound, Baez charged 40 feet to pick it up and throw out Profar.
Baez also tripled with two outs in the fourth, driving a ball through the right-field gap in his second of two at-bats. Kris Bryant singled and walked in his two trips to the plate.
Ian Happ led off in the Cubs’ spring opener, and Albert Almora Jr. got the assignment Saturday — part of a four-man rotation of “auditions” manager Joe Maddon plans. Almora went 0-for-2 against Rangers right-handers Clayton Blackburn and Jose Leclerc.
Cubs at Giants, Scottsdale, Jen-Ho Tseng vs. Madison Bumgarner, 2:05 p.m. Sunday, cubs.com audio.