How does a front-office executive watch a spring training game as compared to the average fan? How is it different than watching a regular-season contest or even a postseason one? On Thursday, Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer gave us an inside look, allowing access to the executive suite for several innings as his team hosted the San Francisco Giants at Sloan Park.
“In season, I’m looking at how well we’re pitching to the scouting report and the rest of our advance preparation and how much we play towards that,” Hoyer says as righty Kyle Hendricks takes the mound in the first inning. “But in spring training, for example, Hendricks’ performance today, I’ll forget by the time I get home.”
From his suite on the third-base side of the field, Hoyer is close enough that he can spot every pitch Hendricks is throwing without the assistance of replay. Some pitches, of course, can look alike.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale
“One of the best things I did, in my first job, was breaking down tons of film,” Hoyer says. “If you got one wrong, you would hear about it from the major league staff. So, yeah, I can tell every pitch from here. If I was really glued in on Hendricks today, I’d be behind the plate.”
Every day in the spring can bring a different focus. Hoyer might key in on a hitter making an adjustment at the plate or a pitcher working on a mechanical change. With Hendricks, there’s isn’t much for Hoyer to assess. He has developed into a mainstay in the Cubs’ rotation and has a chance to lead the team in innings pitched in 2019.
“If I started listing off his strengths, his ability to repeat his mechanics is exceptional,” Hoyer says, just as Hendricks does exactly that against Giants leadoff hitter Steven Duggar. “It’s like the best golfer being able to do it swing after swing. He has so few misfires. I always joke, he’s the last guy in the world to play darts against.”
Duggar eventually singles, then Brandon Belt homers two batters later. Though the result is meaningless to Hoyer, he is quick to note the way the ball flies in Arizona. He’s not incorrect; it sounded as though Belt might have cracked his bat on the home run. Again, that’s nothing for an established player.
Hoyer’s attention this game isn’t focused on the mound, though, but on who’s behind it.
“Today, it’s interesting in terms of watching guys not necessarily at their natural positions,” Hoyer says. “That will be my focus.”cheap nfl nike jerseys china
The Cubs start David Bote at shortstop, Ian Happ at second base and Kris Bryant in left field against the Giants. It’s not where they’ll normally play during the regular season. The biggest spotlight is on Bote, as he’ll be the backup shortstop while Addison Russell serves his 28-game suspension to start the season. The general manager wants to see how Bote handles himself after playing second base much of the spring. If Hoyer does pick up anything on Bote’s defense, he’ll relay it to infield coach Brian Butterfield. Same goes for Happ, who has mostly played the outfield during his major league career.