March 21, 2015

MESA, Ariz. (AP) Top prospect Kris Bryant continued his torrid spring with two more home runs Saturday, and the Chicago Cubs roughed up Felix Hernandez in a 12-10 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

Bryant hit a towering shot to the left-field berm off Hernandez in the first inning and connected against Kevin Correia in the fourth before 15,323 fans at Sloan Park.

''Those are the type of homers you live for,'' Bryant said of his shot off Hernandez. ''It hit the fat part of my bat and it felt really good coming off. I like the ball down and in and I put a good swing on it. The guy is a Cy Young Award winner and their ace. It definitely gives me a whole lot of confidence heading into the season.

Bryant is hitting .480 this spring with eight home runs and 14 RBIs in 25 at-bats. He has an on-base percentage of .520 and a slugging percentage of 1.520.

No one else in the Cactus League began the day with more than three home runs. The Cubs haven't announced where he will begin the regular season.

''I don't care if it is spring training or October, I go out there and play as hard as I can,'' Bryant said.

Perhaps more importantly, it was the first game at third base for Bryant since he was relegated to designated hitter March 13 because of fatigue in his throwing shoulder.

He started a 5-4-3 double play in the first inning and fielded two balls in the second without any apparent problems. Bryant made crisp, accurate throws and had no issues on any of his five chances.

''I felt really good today,'' he said. ''I got everything hit to me without a problem. (First baseman Anthony Rizzo) said all my throws were right at the chest and there was a little something on it.''

Hernandez lasted 2 2-3 innings in his second spring start, allowing six hits and six earned runs. He struck out two and walked one.

''It's not the result I wanted but I got my work in and threw a lot of pitches,'' the right-hander said. ''That's what I am here for.''

Nelson Cruz homered off Cubs starter Eric Jokisch, who filled in for Jon Lester after the left-hander skipped his turn in the rotation because of a tired arm.

Brad Miller doubled twice for the Mariners.

Welington Castillo and shortstop prospect Addison Russell also homered for the Cubs, who had 16 hits.


Mariners: Hernandez has made three starts overall counting his minor league intrasquad game on March 15.

Cubs: Jokisch went three innings. He allowed three hits and three runs - none earned - with one walk with two strikeouts.


Mariners: 3B Kyle Seager was scratched from the lineup due to tightness in his side and replaced by Carlos Rivero.

Cubs: All-Star SS Starlin Castro was a late scratch from the lineup because of a tight right groin. He was replaced by Russell and is day to day.


Lester said he goes through a ''dead arm'' issue every spring, so he wasn't worried about it. He expects to make his next scheduled start Thursday.

''It's nothing to be alarmed about and we are able to use that time right now,'' Lester said. ''There is no point in trying to grind through it right now. These games don't mean anything. If it was April 15 then it wouldn't be an issue.''


Javier Baez batted leadoff for the Cubs as manager Joe Maddon tries to jump-start the struggling second baseman, who entered the game with 11 strikeouts in a team-high 30 at-bats. Baez singled in the first and stole second. He finished 1 for 4 with three strikeouts.


Mariners: LHP James Paxton pitches Sunday against Texas RHP Yovani Gallardo.

Cubs: RHP Jason Hammel makes his fourth spring start Sunday against San Diego newcomer James Shields.

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