The Good: Jeff Samardzija did more at the plate than on the mound -- though he did strike out seven without walking anyone. He hit his second home run of the spring and added an RBI single and a perfect sacrifice bunt. The Cubs' bullpen pitched a clean final three innings, though there were baserunners on in every one of them. ... Alfonso Soriano homered for the fourth time in Cactus League play and David DeJesus, once again, put together quality at-bats. He had two more hits and lined out his third time at the plate. ... Brad Nelson hit the game winner out of the park in the eighth.
The Bad: Samardzija just didn't have much on his fastball, though his off-speed pitches were working fine. He gave up nine hits in six innings and every hard-hit ball was off a fastball, including a home run to Justin Smoak. ... Luis Valbuena and Nate Schierholtz combined to go 0-for-9, leaving six runners on base.
What We Learned: Samardzija hasn't been lights-out in any recent spring start, but he says he's right on pace for Opening Day. He did get hit but then recovered to throw a couple of easy innings, striking out the side in the fifth, for example. He misplaced his fastball a couple of times but learned to use his off-speed pitches more than he might be used to. The learning experience has to carry over for him to become an ace. Speaking of carrying over, it will be a big disappointment for DeJesus and the Cubs if he doesn't carry over what he has done this spring. His average is up to .361 and he has strung together a month's worth of solid at-bats. He'll be needed to do that in about a week.