MESA, Ariz. -- The Chicago Cubs are finishing up their busiest stretch of spring training, in which they play 10 games in six days.
On Tuesday, half their squad stayed in Mesa to play the Rangers and half went to Phoenix to meet the A’s, their fourth split squad game in less than two weeks.
Wednesday is a welcome off day, after which there will most likely be cuts.
The team in Mesa got to play behind Ryan Dempster, who well could be the opening-day starter. He came into the game with a 4.15 ERA. Manager Dale Sveum is delaying a decision on whether Dempster or Matt Garza will pitch April 5, almost to the point of having it be a daily joke with the media.
Dempster became the first Cubs pitcher to go five full innings and ended his day with six innings and two runs, leaving in a tie with the Rangers. He allowed four hits and struk out three. The Cubs eventually lost 6-2.
Rodrigo Lopez was not far behind Dempster, going five innings in the game against the A's. He allowed only one run in a game that ended in a 5-5 tie after 10 innings.
Tuesday also marked the return of third baseman Ian Stewart, who has been sidelined with a strained right quad muscle. Stewart, who was affected by wrist pain most of last season, says it bothers him at times but not necessarily when he bats.
“You don’t notice because every batting practice he takes he swings 100 percent,” Svuem said. “He says, more than anything, it might flare up a little bit doing off-field stuff, not even baseball stuff. It’s something you monitor but it hasn’t affected him at all this spring training.”