Former MLB pitcher Jim Deshaies made his Cubs television debut on Saturday, March 16, joining Len Kasper as WGN kicked off its 66th season of Cubs baseball. Deshaies joins WGN-TV and Comcast after spending the last 16 years in the Houston Astros TV booth. He replaces Bob Brenly, who is now with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
It was first experience hearing Deshaies on air but I enjoyed his commentary as well as his humor. Seems to fit well with Len and I’m looking forward to his insight as a former pitcher.
DeShaies was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 21st round in 1982 and made his MLB debut on Aug. 7, 1984, starting the first game of the doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium. After four scoreless innings, the White Sox got to the lefty for four runs in the fifth, including a homer by Harold Baines, and he took the loss.
He spent most of the 1985 season in the minors and on Sept. 15, was traded along with two other players to the Houston Astros for Joe Niekro. He made two relief appearances for the Astros in 1985, pitching three scoreless innings. In his first full season in Houston, he moved into the starting rotation spending the next six seasons in the Astrodome. He went 15-10 in 1989 with a 2.91 ERA in 225.2 innings, a career high. After becoming a free agent after the 1991 season, DeShaies pitched for San Diego, Minnesota, San Francisco and Philadelphia before ending his career in 1995. He had a 84-95 record with a 4.14 ERA in 257 big league games, 253 as a starter.
Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein visited with Len and Jim in the second inning and the topic quickly tuned to Javier Baez, who had just hit the first of two homers on the day. Epstein explained how every minor leaguer had a “player plan” that outlines their strengths and weaknesses. He added that Baez, as well as Jorge Soler, still had a lot they needed to work on before they reach the major league level. Epstein did say he was pleased with the progress Baez has made this spring. Not missing a beat, Theo did play-by-play during the interview and took the TV audience to commercial break after the third out of the inning.
Speaking of Baez, in case you haven’t noticed, he’s been pretty good the last two days. He hit a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth for a 7-5 Cubs win over Japan in an exhibition game at Hohokam Park on Friday. It was his second of the game and the second straight pitch he deposited over the wall. He made it three pitches in a row when Kansas City’s Bruce Chen tried to get a fastball by him in the first inning of the Cubs 8-3 win on Saturday. He then launched a Chen breaking ball out of the park in the fourth inning, his fourth of the season. Game stats against Japan do not count in the official spring training stats. The 2011 # 1 pick is hitting .324 in 14 games with eight RBI. He is expected to start the season in Class A Daytona.
Its nice to see the Cubs organization getting its minor leaguers a taste of the big leagues as 36 (and counting) have been assigned to the parent club for games this spring .