Better Call Solarte: Padres third baseman Yangervis Solarte put on a clinic -- and was tested in many ways defensively -- in the second inning. First, he ran in to field a slow roller off the bat of Anthony Rizzo, with his throw just beating Rizzo for the first out. Then, he fought the sun in foul territory to grab Miguel Montero's ball for the second out. Finally, he handled Hammel's screamer, a ball that he snagged while falling down, for the third out of the inning.
No easy out: Shields warned everyone who would listen during his introductory newser in February that he could hit. Apparently, he wasn't kidding. Shields came up with his second hit of the spring Sunday, a line drive to center field off Hammel in the third inning. This should come as no surprise, as Shields is a career .213 hitter in the big leagues in 47 career at-bats, all while pitching in the American League. He was later robbed of an RBI single by second baseman Alcantara in the fifth inning.
Hammel time: Hammel's season high in strikeouts last season was nine, which he did on June 16 against the Marlins. On Sunday, the right-hander matched that with nine K's over five scoreless innings. He gave up three hits in his fourth spring start.
"It's Spring Training," Hammel said of all the strikeouts. "Don't start calling me a punchout guy yet. I still want to use the sinker."
Right place, right time: Alcantara snared Yonder Alonso's line drive with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth for the second out and led off the bottom half with his second spring homer. Cubs manager Joe Maddon likes Alcantara's versatility, which will help the team as it makes final roster decisions. For a small infielder, Alcantara has got some pop.
"I like defense, I like the ball being caught. You're not going to hit every night. This is like Colorado south [in Arizona]. It's very similar to playing in Colorado. I've forgotten about that. I know we have power, but a lot of the home runs -- and I'm not trying to denigrate anybody -- but a lot of the power will be mitigated by playing at sea level or Lake Michigan level." -- Maddon, whose Cubs have hit 29 homers this spring, including four on Saturday.
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Maddon experimented with the lineup and inserted Hammel into the No. 8 spot rather than ninth. The last Cubs pitcher to bat eighth in the regular season was Jeff Samardzija, who did so on Sept. 8, 2012, under manager Dale Sveum. Maddon took it one step further and had pitcher Travis Wood pinch-hit for Hammel in the fifth.
The Cubs have an off-day Monday, then get back to work Tuesday. Edwin Jackson, in the mix for the fifth spot in the rotation, will start against the A's at 1:05 p.m. CT in the Cubs' first trip back to remodeled Hohokam Stadium in Mesa. In three starts so far, Jackson has given up one earned run on nine hits over nine innings, while striking out six. The game will be broadcast on Cubs.com. Kyle Hendricks is scheduled to start a "B" game against the D-backs earlier in the day.
Tyson Ross gets the start on Monday as the Padres return to Peoria to face the White Sox for the first time this spring in a game that begins at 1:05 p.m. PT at the Peoria Sports Complex (watch the game on MLB.TV). This will be Ross' fourth start, and he will likely throw 75 or so pitches. He will continue to mix in his changeup, a pitch he wants to use more to complement his fastball and slider, his best pitch.