Almora impresses with slick running grab

Cubs outfield prospect robs Reds' Winker in left-center gap

Almora impresses with slick running grab

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs prospect Albert Almora says he was just in the right place at the right time, but he had done his homework, which helped him make a nice running catch in Saturday's game, a 4-2 Reds victory.

Almora started in center field, and in the Reds sixth, top prospect Jesse Winker launched a ball toward the gap in left-center off Ryan Williams, the Cubs' Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season. Almora appeared to get a head start on the ball, and snared it on the run.

"I don't think anybody else would get to that ball, to be honest," Chicago's Miguel Montero said.

"I know the pitcher pretty well and I know the hitter," Almora said, downplaying his efforts. "I was in the right place at the right time. I knew the hitter a little bit, I knew where I should play him."

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Almora, 21, the sixth player taken overall in the 2012 Draft and the Cubs' No. 5 prospect, prides himself on his glove work.

"I know it's hard offensively at times, but defensively, I feel I should be perfect," he said. "I'm not happy if I don't have a perfect season. I know it's a crazy thing to say, but that's the way I am. It was a challenge last year. They moved me around and brand-new positions and the reads were different. I'm having a lot of fun out there, and I want to make pitchers happy."

Montero saw Almora last year during the catcher's rehab stint at Double-A Tennessee.

"He's a pretty good athlete," Montero said. "He's got so much talent. This spring so far, he's come with a real good presence. He's playing hard -- he's a good kid. He's got a lot of talent."

Extra bases

Trevor Cahill turned down a chance to be a full-time starter for the Pirates to return to the Cubs, with whom he'll most likely wind up in the bullpen.

"It's just a fun atmosphere and I think everybody wants to be a part of something special," Cahill said of returning to the Cubs this offseason. "It's fun coming to the ballpark. You'd rather come with a little less money and enjoy what you're doing. I'm not saying other teams are boring, but I think guys played here and had a good time."

He'll be stretched out this spring but is expected to join Travis Wood, Clayton Richard and Adam Warren as relievers once the regular season begins. They all want to start.

"I think that's the hope for all of us down there," he said. "We've got five quality arms [in the rotation]. We're ready for anything. They say it's an easier transition to go from starting to relieving, so I think we're all going to try to have the mindset that they might need us to start during the year. We'll try to pitch the best we can. That's all you can do."

• Montero went 3-for-3 on Saturday, hitting a solo home run. He's now 5-for-5 this spring.

"Cactus League doesn't mean anything," Montero said.

He hit a single, double and home run Saturday. If he had a chance for a triple, would he go for it?

"If there's a chance to get a triple, I'd probably stay on second," he said.

• Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Troy Percival taught him to listen to relievers about prepping for the season.

"By the time it gets to the end of this month, just to see them walk out there and the delivery is good, and they know where the ball is going, and they get done and you say, 'How are you feeling?' and they say, 'Great,' I'll be happy with that," Maddon said.

Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm will likely get seven or eight innings each in games this spring.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.