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Friday, March 21, 2014
Cubs win in one of better spring games

By Jesse Rogers

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Chicago Cubs shut out the White Sox, 7-0, in the first of two Cactus League games between the teams. The rematch and spring finale for both will take place next Thursday in Mesa.

The good: Luis Valbuena smacked two home runs and Mike Olt added two more hits as the Cubs offense showed some signs of life after several quiet days. Even a struggling Junior Lake got into the action with two hits and a ninth-inning RBI. Chris Rusin pitched five shutout innings, and Alberto Cabrera and Wesley Wright did their jobs out of the bullpen for an inning each. The Cubs also flashed some leather as Javier Baez and Valbuena made diving stops leading to outs. Overall, it was one of the better games for the Cubs this spring.

What it means: It could mean a lot for guys like Rusin and Valbuena, who are in a fight for playing time once the regular season begins. Olt has come on strong, so if he plays third base, Valbuena might see some time at second. He has the advantage of being the only lefty among Olt, Donnie Murphy and Darwin Barney. Rusin is vying for the fifth starter’s job.

Baez leaves: Baez left the game after stepping awkwardly onto the first base bag after beating out an infield hit in the sixth inning. The Cubs are calling it a right heel contusion and say it's not a serious injury.

Arrieta throws: Pitcher Jake Arrieta threw his second live batting practice session as he recovers from shoulder stiffness. Arrieta threw 30-35 pitches as he continues to work on a five-day schedule. He could be available for a Cactus League game before spring training ends but will start the season on the disabled list.

Wood tuneup: Travis Wood threw in his last intense start of the spring, going six innings in a minor league contest. He gave up seven hits and three runs while striking out nine. He threw 102 pitches. Starters will back off on their pitch counts for their final spring starts over the next week.