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Why Lucas Giolito loves the cooler weather in Arizona — and the backbone of the Cubs’ bullpen – The Mercury News

The long ball took the Cubs’ offense on Wednesday.

Cody Bellinger, Edwin Ríos and Christopher Morel all managed a 4-2 win over the Oakland Athletics. Ríos’ two-run homer and Morel’s solo homer were each their fourth of the spring, leading the Cubs. In a bullpen game, nine pitchers combined to strike out eight A’s and walk three.

Meanwhile, left-hander Drew Smyly pitched a minor league game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Sloan Park. He threw 80 pitches in five scoreless innings, limiting them to two hits with seven strikeouts and three walks.

The Sox went 0-2 as a split team, losing 2-0 to the Texas Rangers in Peoria, Ariz., and 4-3 to the Kansas City Royals at Camelback Ranch.

Mike Clevinger allowed one run on three hits with three strikeouts and one walk in five innings against the Rangers.

“It was nice to finally come out and stretch out a bit and be able to get back to training and be able to work with (receiver) Seby (Zavala) there,” Clevinger said.

Davis Martin allowed four runs on five hits with four strikeouts and a walk in 4⅓ innings against the Royals.

Chicago Tribune Baseball Writers Pope LaMond, Meghan Montemurro And Paul Sullivan will provide updates on the Cubs and White Sox throughout spring training.

Michael Fulmer and Brad Boxberger give Cubs bullpen a solid foundation

As the Cubs whittle down the roster in the coming days, the bullpen setup will be a big part of the front office and coaching staff discussions.

There will be no debates on the first-day status of veteran relievers Michael Fulmer and Brad Boxberger, senior manager David Ross said: “That’s one less name I have to make a decision on.”

Fulmer and Boxberger are expected to serve as the backbone of the bullpen — each pitched a scoreless inning Wednesday against the A’s — allowing Ross to figure out how best to use the other six relievers at his arrangement.

At least once, the Cubs will have understood who they want to break camp with.

“We have a lot of good guns at camp,” Ross said Wednesday. “Guys who throw the ball well, guys who are on 40, guys who are not on 40, and those are really tough decisions. We do not take them lightly. But at the end of the day, some very good pitchers won’t make the team.

Fulmer, entering his third season as a reliever, is still inquiring about the role and figuring out what’s best for him. The reliever mix at camp impressed Fulmer.

“Just versatility, anyone can do any situation,” Fulmer told the Tribune. “Everyone is going to pick themselves up. If a guy doesn’t do the job one day, he’ll be back to do it the next day.

“It’s really important from the relievers I’ve been with so far. The more people who can throw leverage innings, who can close out games, who can be the bridge guy, who can treat like a long sleeved man, it brings everyone together.

Right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. is coming off a three-strout inning on Tuesday as he tries to close the camp strong as an unlisted candidate for the bullpen. Leiter, who struck out seven, walked one and gave up a run in five innings, remains in the game, Ross said.

“He looks exactly like he was throwing at the end of last year, that’s what he did really well for us,” Ross said. “The stuff on the list, unfortunately, you wait until the last day. I would like to give you the answers that everyone wants, but you have to let things happen. The composition of the list is delicate.

Cool conditions help Lucas Giolito’s preparation

It was 63 degrees when the Sox started Tuesday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Starter Lucas Giolito saw an advantage in pitching in cool, wet conditions.

“Usually spring training in Arizona is sunny (and) 80 degrees, but that’s not the case this spring,” Giolito said Tuesday. “So it’s better preparation when we’re back in Chicago and Detroit and all those places in April. So, yeah, I liked that.

The right-hander allowed two runs on a hit with six strikeouts and two walks in 4⅓ innings in the 6-5 win at Phoenix.

“I’m very confident with where I am,” said Giolito. “I like the way the pitches shape. I like the way the pitches work. I like the sequences. Working really well with… (seekers Yasmani Grandal), Seby and (Sebastián) Rivero.

“I liked the way I threw to the three guys. Good contact with everyone. The pitch-clock stuff has been good. I like the rhythm of this. Good body of work so far. One more (early spring) and then the (regular) season.”

In particular, Giolito likes where his off-speed locations are.

“Change, curve, slider,” he said. “I like the swings I get, keeping guys off balance – especially with the slider, using it left-handed and right-handed. It’s been a really good pitch for me, I’m just expanding on that .

“Being able to make adjustments. On each outing I feel like I had to make quick adjustments and I was able to do that, to be able to get out of certain situations and keep going. So it was (a) very productive (spring).

Roenis Elías on the complicated relationship between Team Cuba and Miami-area Cubans

Left-hander Roenis Elías returned to camp for the Cubs on Tuesday, grateful for his World Baseball Classic experience with Team Cuba.

He started Cuba’s semi-final loss to Team USA, which he described as his biggest moment of the tournament. But playing in Miami for that game on Sunday meant division for Cubans in South Florida, a complicated situation for those who escaped oppression in Cuba.

The Cuban roster included a mix of players who defected and are now in the majors and those still living on the island.

The WBC marked the first time major leagues born in Cuba were allowed to participate, coinciding with Elías’ first experience playing for Cuba in an international tournament. Previously, Cuba did not let defecting players be part of their roster.

“There were a lot of Cuban supporters and half of them were cheering us on and the other half were protesting against us,” Elías said Wednesday through an interpreter. “There was some ugliness with some of the fans throwing things at our families in the stands, but we’re here to play baseball. We are not here to politicize anything. So I went to the point of separating politics from baseball here.

Yoán Moncada receives WBC recognition

Sox third baseman Yoán Moncada was named to the WBC All-Tournament Team after leading Team Cuba to the semi-finals.

Moncada cut .435/.519/.739 with four doubles, one homer and five RBIs in six games.

“(He had a) very good tournament,” Sox manager Pedro Grifol said Wednesday. “And he did things that were really good for me to see too. He drew walks, he hit for some power.

“He just played baseball the way baseball should be played. We will continue this.

Moncada is expected to return to Sox camp on Thursday.

“He’s got the talent and he’s been working really hard this year,” Sox center back and Team Cuba teammate Luis Robert Jr. said through an interpreter. “That’s a reason why you see the results he’s had in the tournament and hopefully it carries over into the season.”

What we read this morning


  • White Sox vs. Giants, 3:05 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago+, WMVP-AM 1000
  • Cubs vs. Diamondbacks, 3:05 p.m., marquee


“He came into a really good position, just trying to prove what he was as a baseball player, but asked to do something new and work in the offseason. He moved well. … He’s getting better every day. He looks really good on some inbound balls, some hard balls in his back hand. He watched the game there, very comfortable on a fairly regular basis. –Ross on how Nick Madrigal has looked at third base from early spring until now


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