SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks pitched another 4 2/3 innings without a walk — running his count for the spring to 13 2/3 innings without one — as the Cubs beat the Rockies 9-6 in a Cactus League game Monday at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale.
“That’s a big focus for me,” said Hendricks (1-0), who has 14 strikeouts and a 2.63 ERA in his four spring start. “That means my fastball command [is there]. My fastball command was much better [than the last start].”
Out of contract options and battling for what might be the final spot on the roster, outfielder Matt Szczur went 3-for-4 with a homer to left in the eighth inning and a long running catch at the wall to end the fourth inning and strand two runners.
He also reached on a bunt single leading off the fourth, turning it into a run when he was able to take second on a throwing error on the play, advance to third in a fly to center and score on another fly to center.
He’s 12-for-31 this spring (.387) with the homer, two triples and a double.
La Stella battling
Infielder Tommy La Stella, Szczur’s competition for the last roster spot if the Cubs keep 13 pitchers, as expected, started at third base. He made a pair of sharp plays – including a diving stop to his left and throw for the out in the fifth – but also an “ole” glove wave at a hot grounder a foot to his left that was ruled a single and drove in a run.
Batting behind Szczur in the lineup, La Stella followed Szczur’s homer with a double off the opposite-gap wall, finishing 1-for-4 (5-for-22 this spring).
Schwarbs in left
Leadoff slugger Kyle Schwarber singled home a run in the third inning. And the work-in-progress left fielder also made a running basket catch of a fly ball to the gap side in the fourth inning.
Off day Tuesday. Wednesday: Cubs at Reds, Goodyear, Ariz., 8:05 p.m. (CT), CSN, 670-AM, Ryan Williams vs. Scott Feldman.