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Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Training, Day 5: Cubs 9, Mariners 2

Gaby Hernandez is a month and a half the junior of Felix Hernandez; he "morphed into a home run dispenser" in the words of Baseball Prospectus, up in the thin air of AAA Albuquerque. His comps, Angels fans will be happy to note, include Kent Bottenfield, so some early schadenfreude is possible. A B-team lineup of Cubs got to Hernandez in the third after a pair of fairly efficient frames in the first and second (he only gave up a single baserunner, a two-out single to Reed Johnson). The third decided the game, really, as the Cubs batted around, with Hernandez failing to record an out until the seventh batter he faced.

That was after giving up a pair of back-to-back home runs to Micah Hoffpauir and Chad Fox, though shortstop sub Nate Spears ended the game with as many RBIs (both clocked three). Based on this game, and his prior work in AAA, we can be pretty certain the Angels won't be seeing this Hernandez in the majors any time before July. Similarly, Al Yellon points out that Micah Hoffpaiur is just another way to spell Scott McClain, a quad-A lifer who just last year became the oldest player in MLB history to club his first home run (he was 36) with the Giants.

The Cubs' Aaron Heilman, as late as January a Mariner until another trade shipped him to Chicago, managed a workman-like 3.2 innings, but it's of little matter that he got the attenuated start. According to a report that came out yesterday afternoon in the Chicago Tribune, Heilman has been ticketed for middle relief.

Of the Mariner position players we saw, only Wladimir Balentien and Matt Tuiasopo are liable to have significant roles, though Bryan LaHair might get some playing time in a platoon role; LaHair saw action in 45 games last year, all of them after the team released the ill-starred Richie Sexson.

Finally, I wanted to gripe about the announcer at Peoria: both fast and partially inaudible, he swallowed his consonants so player changes were all but incomprehensible. This is unfortunately not uncommon for spring training games, and I have to give props to the Scottsdale (Giants) park announcer for actually giving batting order updates along with the position substitutions so that those of us keeping score can understand what's going on.

MLB.com recapBox

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