The pitchers weren't trying to make any friends on Sunday, the first day of live batting practice. A cold rain made it even worse.
"The rain was coming at me from one direction and [Sean] Marshall's curveball was coming at me from another," infielder Bobby Scales said.
Four of the six pitchers slated for Fields 2 and 3 at Fitch Park got their work in despite the rain. The others finished up in the batting cages.
"I was trying to decide if we were dedicated or nuts, and I settled on the first one," Cubs manager Mike Quade said of the workout in conditions more likely to be seen in April in Chicago, not Arizona. "It's so important for [the pitchers] to see hitters a couple times. I don't think the hitters were too interested in swinging anyways."
The first Cactus League game is Feb. 27, and Quade and pitching coach Mark Riggins were finalizing the spring rotation. Expect an annoucement Monday or Tuesday on who will start against the Athletics in one week.
For John Grabow, Sunday was significant because it was the first time the left-hander faced hitters since June 28. That was his last game of 2010 before being sidelined with a torn MCL in his left knee. He will wear a knee brace for the entire season.
"Now, I'm used to it and I don't even know it's there any more," he said. "Can I pitch without it? I'm not going to take that chance."
The side sessions benefit the pitchers more than the hitters. Sunday was Alfonso Soriano's second day in camp and he had to face Ryan Dempster.
"When you're throwing bullpens, there's no one there and you're just throwing to a spot," Grabow said. "When guys are taking swings off you, you can see what you've been working on is actually working. They can give you a little bit of feedback. You can ask some of the hitters how your breaking ball looks, was there much depth from your fastball to your changeup. You work on that a little bit without trying to hit guys."
How much do hitters look forward to live batting practice? They don't. One muttered, "Please don't get Marmol, please don't get Marmol."
That player didn't. Johnson did.
"It's not a good feeling to be out there with the rain and him and the [batting] cages don't add to your safety," Johnson said. "The first day, it lets you know where you're at."
He's got a bump on his elbow.