Notes: Marisnick aces test; Alzolay; Kimbrel

March 14th, 2021

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs added to the fold for this season with a specific role in mind. The fleet-footed outfielder can provide plus defense, speed on the bases and a part-time option for opportunistic starts.

Cubs manager David Ross knows Marisnick believes he has even more to offer.

"He's a guy that still has not reached his full potential in his eyes," Ross said on Saturday morning. "And I think he's continued to work towards that. He's a guy that knows his role, can bring elite defense."

After being slowed by a right calf issue early in camp, Marisnick made his game debut on Saturday in a "B" game against the D-backs at Sloan Park. Marisnick served as a designated hitter to ease back into things, but he churned out three hits in five at-bats as a leadoff man in the first five innings.

Marisnick also had a few chances to test his legs. The center fielder legged out a double in the fifth inning, moved to third on a wild pitch and had to hustle home on a groundout. He noted that he also had to break back to first base on a lineout in the second.

"Calf feels good. It feels good," Marisnick said at the Cubs' spring complex on Saturday. "It was just a precaution, make sure everything was 100 percent before I get out there. The work to get back has been good. I felt good when I was running the bases today."

The Cubs were conservative with Marisnick in part because he is coming off a 2020 season with the Mets that also included setbacks with both hamstrings. Marisnick still hit .333 with a .959 OPS in 16 games, but he spent the bulk of last year sidelined.

Chicago has its starting outfield set with Joc Pederson, Ian Happ and Jason Heyward, but the club will be looking for a righty complement to help against lefty pitching. Marisnick believes there is enough time for him to be back at full strength by Opening Day, though the Cubs also have veteran Cameron Maybin (non-roster) in the fold as an alternative.

"It's a close group," Marisnick said. "You bring Joc in and myself, just interacting, it's an easy group to kind of interact with and have fun. It looks like a group that enjoys playing the game. That's kind of the vibe I've gotten early. I'm really happy to be here right now, to be honest with you."

Alzolay focused on Opening Day

The Cubs are still awaiting word on whether righty Adbert Alzolay will have a fourth Minor League option for the upcoming season. If he does, it could help the club better manage the pitcher's innings by optioning him to the alternate training site to start the year.

Alzolay is doing his best to push that scenario out of mind.

"I don't think about those things," Alzolay said via Zoom. "If I put that pressure on my mind, 'Oh my gosh, I'm going to get sent down,' or this and that, that is going to distract me from my main focus, which is just making the team and being in the big leagues."

In his start against the Royals on Saturday in Surprise, Ariz., Alzolay was charged with three runs (two earned) on three hits in 1 2/3 innings in the Cubs' 10-2 loss. The righty -- in the mix as a starter or multi-inning reliever -- struck out two, walked one and exited once he reached his pitch limit.

Worth noting

• After allowing four runs in two-thirds of an inning during a Friday outing against the Brewers, Ross said closer Craig Kimbrel spent time going over video on Saturday morning. The manager said Kimbrel is currently sorting through some of the delivery issues that crept up early last season.

"We need to get him in the lab," Ross said on Saturday. "The ball just wasn't coming out like it normally could yesterday. It didn't look like it had much behind it in general. Even though the radar gun said 94-95 [mph], it wasn't as explosive as it normally is.

"So, I'll touch base with him, see how he's feeling this morning, and we'll try to tackle that and make sure he feels good, or gets back to finding those keys and the mechanics that we've identified."

• Cubs righty Zach Davies made his latest start in Saturday's "B" game against the D-backs. Davies logged 61 pitches (38 strikes) and faced 16 batters. He struck out three, walked none and allowed four hits, including a home run to Arizona's Wyatt Mathisen.

• Cubs infielder Sergio Alcántara (non-roster invitee) has not been in camp this spring due to visa issues.


"Everybody comes out here wanting to be an All-Star or superstar. You don't play baseball to come out here and not make a big impact in the game. So, that's kind of what I've been working at. I want to come out and make an impact, make a big impact and have some fun doing it." -- Marisnick

Up next

Right-hander Trevor Williams is scheduled to start for the Cubs on Sunday, when the North Siders host the Angels at 3:05 p.m. CT at Sloan Park. The game will be televised on Marquee Sports Network and MLB.TV, and will be aired on 670 AM The Score.