The good: Joe Mather's spot on the roster seems secure, and that status was probably assured even before he had another impressive day Sunday. Not only did Mather track down a fly ball in deep center field and make a fantastic catch while reaching behind his head, he also delivered at the plate. He contributed two more doubles and raised his Cactus League batting average to .432.
The bad: Starlin Castro isn’t the ideal option at the No. 3 spot but he might be the best the Cubs have once Opening Day rolls around. Avoiding days like Sunday will go a long way toward having success in the role. Castro was not only 0-for-3 as the No. 3 hitter, he left seven runners on base. To be fair, he did manage to bring home a run on a third-inning ground out.
Beyond the box score: It’s going to be hard to replace what Sean Marshall did for the Cubs bullpen, but left-hander James Russell looks to be up for the challenge. The only lefty that’s a sure thing for the Cubs’ Opening Day bullpen, Russell pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just a hit. He now has 5 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings over his last three outings.
Up next: At Mesa, Cubs left-hander Paul Maholm (0-1, 1.80) will take on Padres right-hander Tim Stauffer (1-1, 6.30). At Scottsdale, Cubs right-hander Jay Jackson (1-0, 1.00) will square off against Diamondbacks right-hander Ian Kennedy (1-2, 5.40). Both games Monday are scheduled for a 3:05 p.m. CST start.