Hamels works on offspeed pitches in sim game

Montgomery faces hitters for first time; Morrow progressing

March 4th, 2019

MESA, Ariz. --  fired a cutter on Monday morning on Field 6 at the Cubs' complex, sending the pitch a little too far inside against Anthony Rizzo. The baseball struck Rizzo's right shoulder, and the big first baseman took a step forward, pretending to charge the mound.

"I'm sure he's going to remind me daily as that bruise gets bigger," Hamels said with a laugh.

It was a light moment within a three-inning simulated game for Hamels, who opted to get his work in at the Cubs' spring headquarters rather than making the trip to Goodyear, Ariz., where Chicago beat the Reds, 9-1. The sim game allowed for a more controlled environment, in which Hamels faced Rizzo, Jason Heyward and Ian Happ and focused on fine-tuning his offspeed pitches.

Hamels' next scheduled start will likely fall on Saturday, when the Cubs have split-squad games against the Angels (home) and Giants (road).

Hamels threw 45 pitches, faced eight batters and generated six swings and misses. The veteran lefty did not allow any runs or hits, recorded a pair of strikeouts and had one walk to go with the errant pitch to Rizzo. On one of the strikeouts, Hamels yelled in disgust at the location of what was a called third strike to Happ. The lefty was trying to harness the command of that pitch throughout the appearance.

"I take it seriously. Even though it's a backfield game, I've got a lot of work that I'm trying to get done," Hamels said. "This was the first time that I've thrown majority offspeed pitches, just trying to really put those in the repertoire, and it's different throwing in a bullpen than when a guy steps in. There's a little bit more intensity."

Worth noting

• Left-hander threw two innings in Monday's simulated game in Mesa. It marked the first time Montgomery (shoulder tightness early in camp) faced hitters in a game environment this spring. The lefty threw 29 pitches and was encouraged by how he felt physically.

"My pitches were kind of doing what they're supposed to," Montgomery said. "I didn't really know what to expect. Mechanics, I didn't really know -- it's been a whole offseason. You don't know what it's going to be like, but it felt pretty smooth and definitely better than I anticipated. It's a good step going forward."

Montgomery might be cleared to throw in a Cactus League game by the end of this week.

• Closer Brandon Morrow, who had a debridement procedure done on his right elbow in November, has built up to 120 feet in his throwing program. The righty said he will be stretched out to 135 and 150 feet in long toss over the next two weeks, with the goal of throwing off a mound around March 25.

• Reliever Brandon Kintzler threw 15 pitches in one simulated inning on Monday at the Cubs' complex. The righty allowed a leadoff single, but then induced a double play lineout and a flyout to end the inning.

• Heyward hit against Hamels, Montgomery and Kintzler after dealing with an illness over the past couple days. The outfielder might return to Cactus League action Tuesday or Wednesday.

Up next

Right-hander Kyle Hendricks is scheduled to start for the Cubs on Tuesday, when the Angels host Chicago in a 2:10 p.m. CT Cactus League clash at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Hendricks worked two scoreless innings against the A's in his spring debut last Thursday. Los Angeles will send lefty Tyler Skaggs to the mound.