MESA, Ariz. – The Cubs jumped right into live batting practice on Thursday at Sloan Park, with pitchers Justin Steele and Adrian Sampson working off the mound. They also tested out the new pitch clock which will be in effect this season, allowing 15 seconds to throw a pitch when the bases are empty and 20 seconds with runners on. The team also practiced pick-off moves to first base. Another new MLB rule allows for two “disengagements” per plate appearance, which includes a pitcher attempting a pickoff or stepping off the rubber for any reason.
“I’ve been talking to guys who played in the minor leagues and kind of dealt with these rules, and I think during our live BPs we will deal with these situations, throw a pitch clock out there, runner on first and kind of just go through it,” said new Cubs pitcher Jameson Taillon. “I think that’s kind of what’s Spring Training is for to get familiar with these rules and see how it’s going to fit in.”
Among the other new faces in Mesa is Trey Mancini, who signed with the Cubs last month and will get everyday at-bats between DH and first base. After winning a World Series in Houston last season, the 30-year-old found a fit with the Cubs, and the potential to help guide them back to the postseason.
“Absolutely and that’s obviously a huge reason why any of us would want to sign here,” Mancini said. “There’s so much talent in this room and I’m really excited to be a part of it. It’s such a historic franchise, a team from guys I know who have played here just an incredible organization, treats you so well and especially with the group of guys we brought in here I think it’s going to a really fun year fun group.”
Mancini has only played two career games at Wrigley Field but went to Notre Dame and says he knows Chicago very well, with many close friends and his sister still living in the city. He adds much-needed power to the Cubs lineup, hitting at least 18 home runs in each of his five full MLB seasons.