Stroman 'still searching' for rhythm; Ross on meeting Coach K

March 29th, 2022

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- logged four innings against the Reds on Monday night at Goodyear Ballpark. When those frames were in the books, the Cubs starter headed out to the bullpen and threw another inning's worth of pitches.

Even after that, Stroman still didn't feel like his night was over.

"I'm going to go in my mirror a million times tonight," Stroman said, "to just get my mechanics right."

In the Cubs' 4-2 Cactus League win over the Reds, Stroman said he was "still searching" for a rhythm with his mechanics. The good news for the North Siders was that the veteran righty still turned in a respectable performance that got better as the night wore on.

After throwing 38 pitches in the first two innings -- in which Stroman yielded a pair of runs and issued three walks -- the starter needed only 11 pitches combined for the third and fourth. He generated seven outs via grounders and picked up one strikeout.

"No matter how I feel," Stroman said, "I feel like I'm always going to be able to go out there and get outs. That's why it's almost frustrating today, because I think I had a five- or six-pitch inning, and I actually wish I would've stayed out there longer."

Between the start (49 pitches) and bullpen work, Stroman built up to around 65-70 pitches on Monday. He now has one scheduled start left on the spring schedule. Even though he felt off against the Reds, Stroman feels he has enough time to get his delivery in sync before Opening Day.

"I'm just being very, very critical," Stroman said. "I want to feel perfect going into the season, so I have a little bit of work to do. ... Once it clicks, I'll kind of run with it. It's just not there yet."

Simmons update
Cubs manager David Ross is quick to remind reporters that Opening Day is an "artificial deadline" for the roster. And given the abbreviated schedule this spring, Chicago's decision-makers will be keeping that reality in mind.

"We have six months of baseball to play," Ross said.

The Cubs are keeping that in mind with veteran shortstop , who has missed four games due to a sore right shoulder. Simmons is scheduled to resume throwing on Tuesday, but the Cubs are keeping the big picture in mind.

Given the importance of Simmons' defense, a stint on the injured list is not being ruled out to start the season.

"If he's ready, we'll go, you know? He'll tell us where he's at," Ross said. "He knows himself. He's been doing this a long time. We'll communicate. But definitely, he knows that I want to err on the side of caution with how this spring has ramped up for everybody."

Worth noting
• The plan going in for the versatile is to get most of his playing time at third base (shared with Patrick Wisdom), but the Cubs can also use him at second base, at shortstop in a pinch or as one of the DH options.

"I'll be ready for everything," Villar said. "Because I'm here to help the team and I'll take any opportunities to play."

• Right-hander was back with the Cubs on Monday after stepping away for the birth of his son. The veteran reliever is slated to throw to hitters in live BP on Tuesday morning.

"I talked to him at length the other day, just about feeling like he'd be ready," Ross said. "He's got a very positive outlook on that. So, we'll get our eyes on him, continue to see how he feels, get him in some real competition as soon as we can."

"Anytime I get to hang around somebody like that, pick their brain about what their messaging is, how they go about teaching, what their communication style is with the players, all that stuff, I try to take from every aspect and see if I can't pick up a nugget or two that would help me in my career." -- Ross, on getting to meet legendary Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski in January.