MESA, Ariz. — Jameson Taillon was almost grateful for the outing he had Thursday.
Thankful for a 3-run 1st inning and 4 runs allowed in the first 2 innings of a 3.2-inning outing?
“I think in Spring Training, sometimes days like that can be valuable,” Taillon said.
Thursday was a day where Taillon admitted he didn’t have his best stuff. He never felt totally comfortable and had to battle to muster outs when things weren’t going his way. Outings like that happen in the regular season — it’s impossible for a starter to be and feel at his best throughout the course of a 162-game season.
But Taillon’s on a new team, with fresh catchers and coaches to work with who must learn how he ticks and how he can adapt when things aren’t clicking.
“[Catcher] Yan [Gomes] was asking questions,” Taillon said. “We were talking, [pitching coach] Tommy [Hottovy] and [assistant pitching coach Daniel] Moskos, just all kinda learning about today and about my repertoire and about what I like to do on days like today where I might not have my best stuff. I think there’s a lot of value in it.”
Clearly there was, because Taillon was able to rally and felt good about it, too.
“I feel like, if this were the regular season, I could’ve turned that into like a 6- or 7-inning outing,” Taillon said.
That’s the luxury and importance of Spring Training. Yes, it’s important to work on building up the pitch counts and innings or to work on new pitches and fine-tuning mechanics and no one wants to have bad outings, but learning how one another work and how to deal with adversity is just as cherished.
“Today it was a little more like big picture view,” Taillon said. “Generally, when I don’t have my best stuff, there are ways I can get creative and steal some outs. So that’s kinda what it was like today.”
Roenis Elías made his long-awaited debut with the Cuban national team early Thursday morning — and made the most of it.
The lefty — who’s a non-roster invitee to Cubs camp this spring — pitched 5 shutout innings with 3 strikeouts and allowed just 2 hits in Cuba’s 6-3 loss in extra innings to Italy. One of those hits was a double to fellow Cub Miles Mastrobuoni. Elías kept the Italian hitters at bay, but it wasn’t enough as Cuba fell to 0-2 in pool play and is in danger of being eliminated.
Mastrobuoni, meanwhile, sparked the Italian offense in the 7th inning, hitting an RBI double that gave them a 2-0 lead. Mastrobuoni finished 2-for-4 with 2 doubles. Ben DeLuzio, who is with the Cubs as a non-roster invite, was 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts.
Right-handed pitching prospect Danis Correa, who had originally committed to playing for Colombia, dropped out of the competition and is back in Cubs camp as a non-roster invitee. He had a strikeout and allowed a run in a third of an inning of work against the Reds at Sloan Park.
Nelson Velázquez was 1-for-2 with a solo home run in Puerto Rico’s 9-3 exhibition loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday in Fort Myers, Fla. Velázquez, who also had a walk, homered to left field in the 9th inning. He was 0-for-1 in a pinch-hit appearance on Thursday in their 9-0 loss to Atlanta.
Wednesday afternoon, Javier Assad allowed a pair of runs on 2 hits and a walk in 1.1 innings of work for Team Mexico against Cleveland in an exhibition in Goodyear, Ariz.
Matt Mervis was 0-for-3 with a walk in Israel’s 11-5 loss to the Marlins on Wednesday.
Canario continuing to progress
Cubs prospect Alexander Canario hopes to begin baseball activities soon.
That’s a positive development, given the gruesome injury Canario, 22, suffered last October playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. Canario slipped on first base and went down hard, ultimately requiring surgery on his left ankle and left shoulder.
The power-hitting outfield prospect has begun running in the pool and in anti-gravity machine and has begun lifting weights and doing exercises in the gym.
“Everything is coming out like the team and I want, so thanks to God, I’m recovering well,” Canario said.
But he’s not yet cleared for baseball activities.
“But I hope that’ll be soon; in a week or so,” Canario said.
The injury could have caused a lot of mental frustrations, but for Canario, having undergone surgery for a torn labrum in his left shoulder in late 2020 helped him mentally for the difficulties he went through this winter.
“It was more difficult the first time, but I went through it, I accepted it and focused 100% on the work to be healthy,” Canario said.
The Cubs look to continue their Cactus League winning streak as they host their crosstown rival, the White Sox, at Sloan Park Friday afternoon at 2:05 p.m. on Marquee Sports Network.
Lefty Drew Smyly is scheduled to take the ball for the Cubs who have won 9 games in a row, if you include Wednesday’s exhibition win over Canada.