Thursday, March 28, 2013 7:25 pm
Cubs play final game at HoHoKam Stadium
The Associated Press
Thursday's game marked the end of a 17-year stay by the Chicago Cubs at HoHoKam as their spring training home. The club moves into a new facility about four miles away next year.
"It'll be interesting to see how the new one compares to some of the other nice parks in Arizona," said 74-year-old Wes Odean, an Elmhurst, Ill., resident down for spring training. "This place has been good, but now we will have something that should be really special."
The fans turned out to say goodbye, 11,635 were in attendance as the Cubs lost 6-4 to the Seattle Mariners.
The Cubs had a 132-119-13 all-time record at HoHoKam, which become the home of the Oakland Athletics starting in 2015. The overall attendance at HoHoKam since 1997 was 2,610,736.
Cubs No. 5 starter Carlos Villanueva went five innings in his final spring training start and allowed four hits, three runs - one earned - and two walks with three strikeouts.
"It's been good the last two times out," he said. "I have been able to treat it like real game speed and I have been very pleased with the results. I'm getting a lot more groundballs so today was good.
"I'm happy and healthy and that's all that really matters," he said.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum feels the clubs is better prepared personnel-wise heading into his second year as manager.
"We filled a lot of holes that we had last year," he said. "Our bullpen should throw a lot more strikes, our defense will be better and our offense will have more left-handed hitters."
Mariners No. 2 starter Hisashi Iwakuma was scheduled to throw 80 pitches but came out after four innings because a dry skin on his fingertips. He said through an interpreter that it happens every spring and it was nothing to be worried about.
Iwakuma had a solid outing other than a ball he left up to Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano, who connected for a two-run shot in the third inning. In his four innings, the right-hander allowed five hits, three earned with no walks and four strikeouts.
"I felt good, generally, but I threw a couple of pitches too high," he said through an interpreter. "I am ready for the season to start."
Seattle's Michael Morse set the Mariners' record for spring training home runs with his ninth, coming off Villanueva to lead off the second inning.
"He's a big strong guy, but he is more than that," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He works at this craft."
The previous record was eight by Mike Wilson in 2009.
The Mariner's Kelly Shoppach had a two-out, two-run double off Hisanori Takahashi in the eighth inning to break open a 4-all game.
NOTES: Wedge said the team won't make its final roster decision between outfielders Jason Bay and Casper Wells until Sunday. .. Villanueva has worn No. 57 all spring but will switch to No. 33 in regular season. . The Cubs will play games Friday and Saturday in Houston before opening the season in Pittsburgh on Monday, while the Mariners play Colorado once in Salt Lake City on Saturday before heading to Oakland for the opening day.