Cubs pitchers have 7 batters this spring — and counting
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org March 12, 2012 10:12PM
Updated: April 14, 2012 8:14AM
MESA, Ariz. — Cubs pitchers have hit seven batters this spring.
The two latest pitchers to hand out some chin music were Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Marmol, who plunked Cincinnati hitters on Monday.
And if the hitters from the other dugout feel like it’s just a spring-training thing, well, think again.
“The hitters don’t like it; they’ll try taking it away,’’ Cubs starter Matt Garza said. “If you got to knock a couple of guys down, so be it, but I’m entitled to 17 inches. That’s part of the game. If you can’t pitch inside, then you’re going to give a hitter dead-red, middle away the entire game. It’s kind of an unfair advantage, huh?’’
Pitching coach Chris Bosio isn’t reinventing the wheel with this philosophy, but it’s more about reiterating the importance of being able to pitch inside.
“Hit batters happen,’’ Paul Maholm said. “We’re going to throw inside. I guess I don’t throw hard enough. … They’re able to get out of the way whenever I throw inside. That’s part of it. For me being a sinker-change guy, I need to throw inside and make them know that you aren’t afraid to come in there.’’
A tactic that Samardzija started using in 2011 and will continue using now that he’s a rotation candidate.
“I kind of found that was a good niche for me in the second half last year,’’ Samardzija said. “It just opens up other things on the plate, so absolutely I’m always going to be pitching in there with my sinker. You got to do it as a pitcher, and especially as a starter.’’
Former Cubs reliever Sean Marshall, who was traded to the Reds for Travis Wood this offseason, faced his former team and threw a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.
His stuff on the mound is just one of the things his former teammates will miss.
“Consistency,’’ Samardzija said. “Every day he came in, and I’m not just talking about on the field, but off the field, too. He came in every day and did his work, showed the younger kids how you do it. He meant a lot to us. The best thing is what he did show these other guys on how to do it. We’re going to miss him.’’
Maholm, who’s penciled in as the third starter, made his spring debut, going two innings and allowing a run and two hits.
“Going through the [pitchers’ fielding practices] and throwing bullpens, you really don’t feel a part of it,’’ Maholm said. “Getting out there, it went well. I would have liked to get ahead of a couple more guys, but no walks, and I was aggressive going after guys.’’