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Sunday, March 17, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Athletics 12, Cubs 6

By Jesse Rogers

PHOENIX -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 12-6 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.

The good: Dave Sappelt had one of his better days at the plate this spring with a home run and two-run single while Javier Baez added two more hits including an opposite field double. Brent Lillibridge went deep and didn’t have a bad at-bat on the day. Casey Coleman was the lone pitcher to impress.

The bad: In his spring debut Scott Baker couldn’t get out of the first inning. Baker, who was only supposed to throw two innings, struggled with his command and then left a pitch up to Chris Young, who homered with two men on. The Cubs pitching got knocked around some more after Baker left the game and Rafael Dolis departed with a blister. Overall, not a good day on the mound. Baez struck out on four pitches with a man on third and less than two outs in a tie game in the seventh.

What we learned: It's way too early to assess Baker, except to say he has a long way to go. Afterwards he claimed he’s still on pace for a mid-April return but will need to build his pitch counts -- and get people out -- before knowing for sure when he’s ready. Baez could have shown a little maturity by shortening his swing on his chance to drive in a run with a pulled-in infield and man on third, but he swung for the fences on his first cut and struck out quickly after that.