A.J. Pierzynski hits a 2-run single to left field against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.
Micah Hoffpauir hopes to find a spot on the Cubs' roster this spring and made sure he was noticed Wednesday, hitting a grand slam to power a 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the exhibition opener in Mesa, Ariz.
"For me to make this team, like I said from the get-go, I have to produce," said Hoffpauir, who batted .342 in 33 games with the Cubs last season. "And the last thing in that sense is to worry about it. All I can is get myself prepared. ... So far this spring, I've had a good time and been relaxed."
The game on a brilliant 80-degree day at HoHoKam Park drew 7,916 fans for two of the marquee teams in the NL. The last time the Dodgers faced the Cubs, in Game 3 of the NLDS on Oct. 4, Los Angeles' 3-1 victory at Dodger Stadium completed a three-game sweep.
A handful of regulars on both sides played Wednesday, but most noticeably absent was Manny Ramirez, who is still unsigned.
Hoffpauir, hoping to earn a backup role at first and in the outfield, hit his grand slam in the fifth off Ramon Troncoso (0-1) - right after a Dodgers' error - to give the Cubs a 5-3 lead. Hoffpauir was serving as the DH after both NL teams agreed to use it to get players more at-bats.
Tony Abreu hit a 2-run, bases-loaded single off Jeff Samardzija in the bottom of the second to put the Dodgers up 2-1. The Cubs loaded the bases with no outs in the first off Claudio Vargas, but managed just 1 run on Hoffpauir's double-play grounder.
Samardzija gave up 3 hits and 2 runs in his 2 innings as a starter.
"I just want to come out and put myself in a great situation to help this team, whether it's out of the pen or starting or whatever it might be," he said. "I'll leave that decision up to them. ... Obviously I want to be helping this team win games from Day One."
No change of heart: Even though his name was on the final roster released Tuesday, Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano reiterated Wednesday he won't pitch for Venezuela in the WBC.
"No, I'm staying here," Zambrano said.
Plenty to spend: Cubs GM Jim Hendry said the Cubs' payroll could be close to $140 million by Opening Day. Last year it was $130.5 million, fifth-highest in the major leagues. The Cubs are in the process of being sold from Tribune Co. to Tom Ricketts and his family.
"I've always been given a fair (budget) and as fans or the players would expect, I try to spend all of it," Hendry said. "That's what GMs, I think, are supposed to do. I try to put the best product out there with the dollars we have been given. ...
"This club has been for sale for two years and we've been allowed to have a lot of leeway and do a lot of things. It helped turn into a couple of division championships. Unfortunately we haven't done better after that."
Angels 12, White Sox 3
A.J. Pierzynski drove in 2 runs with a single off starter Matt Palmer in the second inning, but the White Sox lost by 9 runs in their exhibition opener.
Sox left-hander Clayton Richard worked 2 hitless innings with 1 walk in his spring debut as a starter. He was 2-5 with a 6.04 ERA in 13 appearances last season, including 8 starts.
Richard is competing with Bartolo Colon, Lance Broadway, Jeff Marquez and Jose Contreras for what could be two open spots in the rotation behind Mark Buehrle, John Danks and Gavin Floyd.
"I know what Richard can bring to the table," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I don't know about Marquez. I'll have to watch him. If Colon and Contreras are with the White Sox on Opening Day, I'll take my chances."