A's Rally Hangs Loss on Cubs at Riverview Park

Gabriel Sanchez belted a bases-clearing three-run double to cap a four-run 7th inning, and Justin Higley singled twice, stole two bases, scored two runs, and drove-in another, as the Athletics rallied to defeat the Cubs 5-2 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.

Jeffrey Baez had three hits and Varonex Cuevas smacked a triple and an RBI single for the Cubs in a losing cause.

Jorge Soler (hamstring rehab) is still at Extended Spring Training, and (just like yesterday) he played RF for all nine innings in today's game. He had four Plate Appearances in the game, hitting a check-swing dribbler back to the pitcher on a 3-0 pitch in his first AB in the bottom of the 1st inning, walked on four pitches in the 4th, grounded out 5-3 in the 7th, and (representing the tying run) lined-out to right with runners on 1st & 2nd and out out in the 9th.  

Veteran MLB OF Casper Wells (AAA Iowa 7-day DL) returned to game action today after missing about six weeks with knee and back issues. He batted five times in the game--once in each of the first five innings, going 1-4 with two infield pop outs, two fly outs (one of which was a run-producing sacrifice fly), and a line-drive single. For a player who has missed as much time as he has, he showed plus bat-speed and really nailed the ball with authority in three of his five AB, and showed good speed on the bases, too.

Wells was an NRI outfielder at Cubs MLB Spring Training, and probably would have been the Opening Day RF at Iowa if he hadn't started the season on the DL. He also probably would have been the logical candidate to replace Justin Ruggiano when Ruggiano went on the DL with his hamstring injury last month, because Ruggiano and Wells are very similar-type players. 

RHRP Kyuji Fujikawa (2013 TJS rehab) and RHP Jesus Castillo (one of two pitchers acquired from Arizona in the Tony Campana deal) were scheduled to throw "live" BP on Field #5 prior to the game on Field #6. Both pitchers warmed up in the Field #5 bullpen, and while Castillo did throw his two "innings" (40 pitches total - 20 pitches in each inning), Fujikawa returned to the clubhouse after completing his warm-ups and did not throw BP.   

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):  

CUBS LINEUP:
X. Casper Wells, DH #1: 1-4 (P-6, F-8, P-4, F-7 SF, 1B, RBI)
NOTE: Wells batted third in the bottom of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings
1. Jeffrey Baez, CF: 3-4 (1B, 1B, L-8, 1B, PO)
2. Varonex Cuevas, 2B: 2-4 (3B, 1B, K, E-5, RBI) 
3. Jorge Soler, RF: 0-3 (1-3, BB, 5-3, L-9)
4. Shamil Ubiera, LF: 0-4 (5-3, 6-4-3 DP, 4-3, 5-3)
5. Roney Alcala, DH #2: 0-3 (3-U, K, 6-3)
6. Elliot Soto, SS: 1-3 (P-2, F-9, 1B)
7. Adonis Paula, 3B: 0-3 (1-3, 5-4 FC, F-8)
8a. Eufran Vargas, C: 0-0 (BB, R)
8b. Erick Castillo, C: 0-2 (3-U, F-7)
9. Mark Malave, 1B: 1-3 (1B, 4-3, F-8, R)

CUBS PITCHERS:
1. Jose Paulino: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 1 K, 1 GIDP, 4/4 GO/FO, 50 pitches (28 strikes)
2. Carlos Llano: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 GIDP, 2/1 GO/FO, 15 pitches (7 strikes)
3. Yomar Morel: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 7 pitches (6 strikes)
4. Greyfer Eregua: 1.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R (4 ER), 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP, 0/1 GO/FO, 43 pitches (27 strikes)
NOTE: Eregua's second inning was stopped with one out and runner at 2nd base
5. Francisco Carrillo: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 2/0 GO/FO, 28 pitches (19 strikes)

CUBS ERRORS: NONE

CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
1. Eufran Vargas: 0-1 CS
2. Erick Castillo: 0-1 CS

ATTENDANCE: 6

WEATHER: Partly cloudy & breezy with temperatures in the 80's 

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Comments

Before things go all to hell during tonight's game, I thought I'd start off tonight's comments with a positive note.

That Ramirez fella looks filthy.

if he can throw a curve like he did last night...along with his FB + slider i dunno why they're not still trying to make him a starter unless stamina/wear issues are on the table as a concern.

O & B look what you did to poor Ramirez!!!!

I steadfastly refuse to take any responsibility whatsoever for any Cubbery at any time, in the past, in the present, and in the future. This is a legally binding document, and your reply and/or lack of reply signifies your agreement to these terms.

clark "im not a mascot, im there for the kids" the bear is wearing a "save 2nd base" breast cancer awareness shirt.

that's gonna be an interesting conversation with the kids.

Does anyone know how common Tommy John surgery is for Japanese pitchers playing in Japan?

Just curious if their way of handling pitchers makes a difference in injury frequency.

up until 2010 it wasn't that common.

since then it's been a bit over 1/2 of all their TJ guys...at least according to reported players having TJ.

shohei tateyama has had it 3 times.

I think Mr. Happy is my least favorite Cubs' manager ever. #kindergarten #babysteps #overmanaging #condescending

If I play the guy less he'll get better:

http://mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20140506&conte...

It would be a completely justifiable approach if the Cubs had a regular third baseman. Or, even if Olt wasn't a particularly good fielder. But despite the error the other night (another reason to simply give him more reps), fielding is definitely not a handicap for him. His being in a slump is more of a reason to keep him in there, not less. See if he works through it. Maybe the slump is permanent and he is just not gonna be any good. Fine, find out. What is a team 10 games under 500 in early May waiting for?

Good point, yes and exactly. I've never heard of easing a guy into a new level by not playing him. I mean how do you adjust to the speed, quickness and quality of pitching. I am not comparing Olt to Sandberg, but Sandberg came up as a 3rd basemen in 1982 and notoriously started 1 for his first 32. If Ricky was his manager ... well, who knows.

As a future hall-of-famer, Sandberg might not be the best argument for the sink-or-swim approach. The question is whether a lesser player might need more babying. How long do you let a prospect keep digging a hole that at some point he will have to climb out of? Maybe you bench him, maybe you send him down.

Tyler Colvin was demoted to Iowa in 2011 and wasn't doing much there when Jim Hendry summoned him back to the majors, saying "we need to find out whether he's an everyday guy or not by the end of this year." In other words, he's not doing well, so let's test him, and also tell him that it's make-or-break. (Sandberg and Mays fought their way out of a funk, so why can't you?)

Then there was Brett Jackson, who was taking aim at the PCL strikeout record when Sveum prevailed upon Theo to call him up, on the principle that he couldn't coach him long-distance. So Jackson was expected to learn how to make contact in the majors.

“Our manager was the one that wanted [Jackson] up here to work with him on his swing because we weren’t getting it done at Triple-A,” Epstein explained. “So we sort of prioritized that swing adjustment over the rest of his development. In hindsight that was a mistake.”

Those examples are different, in that the choice was whether to play those guys everyday at AAA or everyday at MLB level.

Riding the bench and/or getting consistent playing time is helping no one develop.

Brett Jackson

Ata boy Dale

Well regardless of Sandberg's eventual success I bet he sure as hell is happy his manager let him play through the slump. Olt was confident and tuned in coming out of spring training where he was batting every day against live pitching. He was immediately thrown into a situation where he sits more days than he plays. There are very few jobs much less people who excel when they are not getting to do their jobs daily. Especially when you move to a new level of excellence in the competition. And today he's a DH you know because Valbuena is the consummate defensive third baseman and we certainly don't need Olt working up a sweat - best to sit and think some more especially if you had a year like last year when everything fell apart physically and psychologically. But it's totally worth it because Valbuena might just be our third baseman for the next decade.

Btw I agree with Old & Blue - I'm not saying Olt is good or he is gonna succeed. I am saying we know exactly what Valbuena is, we've seen him consistently (I like him) but I'd like to see if Olt can play and I think it's in the best interest of the Cubs to know. The concept that the manager picks and chooses his rare appearances so he has a better chance to succeed is borderline delusional.

For what it's worth, I saw an Olt quote saying he wasn't worried about this slump, and that he's been through worse. I for one don't see the problem with him digging a hole. He's already done some good digging, might as well finish the project. Give him that playing time. If he keeps under .200 for the rest of the season, we know he's a non-prospect. He really looks like he could be a very good fielder, so if he can hit, that's sweet. Time to find out if he's Scott Rolen or Ian Stewart.

By the way, I agree that Olt is the guy and in a perfect world he should be playing every day.

But the Cubs live in a business world where it pays to maximize your assets. They're not maximizing Olt at the moment but that doesn't matter, since they're going to keep him rather than trade him.

They have to play the guys they're trying to trade, like Valbuena and Barney; otherwise they lose their value. Barney's numbers will never attract suitors but he does sparkle in the field.

Make sense? It does to me. At least I know why I'm watching these BS lineups. Do you think the Cubs haven't figured out that Olt is their 3B?

Barney and Valvuena are knowns in the league.

Not going to improve trade status

Barney was "known in the league" year before last as a gold glover, someone who hit just well enough to qualify. Barney's stock is much lower today. Cubs would like to recover some of that lost value. There are a lot of competing interests on the team--Barney versus Valbuena and Bonifacio, Valbuena versus Olt--but none of these guys can just be relegated to the bench.

Valbuena's OBP is fifty points higher than his career number. On this blog, people have been noticing him lately and saying, Hey, he's not so bad! Play and trade, versus bench and release. It worked for Soriano (and it only took thirty years!).

Eh. I tend to agree with others: even a sustained and unprecedented offensive outburst on the part of either Valbuena or Barney is only going to increase their trade value marginally. Front offices these days seem to have some grasp on the concept of the small sample. Olt should play everyday and Valbuena and Barney can split time at 2B while Bonifacio plays everyday in CF at least until Sweeney and Ruggiano return from their injuries.

Sandberg 20th round pick
Olt first round pick

“I’ve been a friend of that guy’s for 30 years,” he said. “It doesn’t surprise me that he said those things. And he shouldn’t have said it. He just hurt himself by talking too much and doing things he shouldn’t be doing.”

Lasorda also shared an unsolicited opinion on Sterling’s silly rabbit, V. Stiviano.

“And I don’t wish that girl any bad luck but I hope she gets hit with a car,” he said,

that's the rarest kind of lasorda quote...one that hasn't been used over and over for 30+ years applying to different people every time.

Except for the "“I’ve been a friend of that guy’s for 30 years,” part!

So the problem is not that he hates black people, it is that he vocalized his feelings?

Dear Lasorda:
Incorrect.

The guy is scum and I'm glad he's banned from the NBA. We could ban him from the country for all I care. And I don't think much of the girlfriend, either, for reasons that have nothing to do with audio recordings.

vitters with a 2HR night...2/4

baez with a 2K night...0/4

Not a good sign when none of your starting OF's bat higher than 6th in the order...

Seems like you might be on to a trivia question here!

worst OF in the game...without boni in the mix it's probably the worst OF in the history of the game (yes, way too early for that kind of statement).

the starting RF'r with 108 (and counting) PA has a sub-.450 OPS.

strop, groin injury, MRI tomorrow...fun times.

Good to see that tweet about Bryant having just a stomach virus last night - I downloaded the MILB app last night and while checking it out saw that Bryant only had one AB last night, which immediately fired off all my Cubbery alarms.

not sure this is 3/44 but Arodys Vizcaino has been promoted to AA/Tenn.

but Hoyer said Vizcaino would remain on a deliberate schedule after missing the last two seasons because of arm surgeries.

"We have the ability to do some teaching at the lower levels and mid-levels without that third deck and radar guns up there," Hoyer said of Vizcaino, who allowed one run in nine appearances at Daytona. "We'll still have some caution. It's definitely a step in the right direction for him, and he has earned it."

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs...

For those who have had a chance to watch him play, is Baez chasing bad pitches, missing breaking balls, or all of the above?

Considering that the Cubs have had nice starting pitching this year, that the defense is vastly improved, and that the bullpen issues are (sort of) worked out- where would the Cubs be if they had added a nice big bat in the lineup?

I think they'd be in a lot better shape, and I stand by what I said several weeks ago when I said it is criminal that the Chicago Cubs, of all teams, have such a low payroll. This is not Kansas City- Put a big league team on the field and give them a big league payroll.

Free agency we would have had to give a big contract to a player past their prime and lose a draft pick. And most of them have been disasters from Fielder to Pujols to Hamilton to Cano. Trade wise who did we have to deal? In theory yes it would be great, in practice it'd be hard to come up with concrete examples of who they should have signed/traded for ... especially without thinning out the system again. All that said I'm starting to wonder if they should just give Shark his $$ and go for it ... he's kind of proving his worth.

He is proving his worth April-May. His problems anually as a starter have been consistency from one start to the next. He for sure has been doing it this year though.

Actually, in looking at several of the short-term FA's who signed late, a couple are doing well: Nelson Cruz, and Ian Kinsler are two.

The Cubs can sign guys like that. They just won't or Theo does not have the allowances to do so.

The A's have been good at supporting their home-growns with guys like that. Seems to be working for them. Of course, during the Hendry years, Billy Beane saw something in Josh Donaldson that has paid off for them big-time.

Kinsler was traded for Fielder, not a FA signing.

It's a major free agent contract signed by the Tigers (where he clearly underperformed) and yes taken on by the Rangers this year via trade. He still qualifies as a dude riding some free agent bonanza dollars!

ill go for that, dont need to see deputy fife anymore

Gordon? Is that you? :-)

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/27259590-573/jose-a...

He fails to mention that Rizzo has a better weighted OPS then Abreu, 2 years younger and half the price.

Also Sox farm system one of worst in baseball, so yeah you have to go get some guys.

Otherwise he has a point.

Rusin completes the no-no, a 3-0 win over New Orleans: http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&...

Clearly, he's the Cubs' new ace and a replacement for Samardzija.

Very cool for Rusin. I wish he could learn not to soil himself at the Big League level, however.

Jeff Hoffman to get TJ surgery, if Rodon, Aiken and Kolek go top 3 leaves Cubs most likely looking at c/of Alex Jackson.

No more HS Ace prospects getting mentioned?

Grant Holmes is a HS kid from South Carolina seen as a top arm.

Some believe Holmes is the best right-hander in the country as he already has three above-average/plus offerings and can touch 98 mph with his fastball. At 6′-2” and 200 pounds, he doesn’t have the size as Kolek, but he might have better overall stuff and he has great command of his pitches. Aside from the fastball, he adds plus curveball that sits 79-81 with late bite and great depth. His change-up already is an above-average offering, sitting 84-86 mph. He has a thick frame, is strong as an ox and just keeps getting better.
Read more at http://throughthefencebaseball.com/2014-mlb-mock-d...

Wow. Thanks QM. Sounds very impressive. It will be interesting to see if TheoJed would gamble on a HS kid should the college arms be gone.

Bill James has consistently maintained that college draftees have been more successful than the high schoolers by a "laughable margin."

Strop to DL. Groin strain, expected to miss 3-4 Weeks. Rosscup back up.

So, does anyone know why Olt is DHing and Valbuena is playing 3B? Is it to protect Olt's shoulder, or does Renteria think that Valbuena's D is better?

dont want to rush the kid
should be ready for everyday play in 2020

Yeah I'd gladly eat crow about all my bitching if Olt is nursing an injury? But I don't think that's it at this point. I think Jed/Theo might have to trade Valbuena. Which I don't think they want to do ... but Renteria just freaking adores him apparently.

I want Olt to play every day, too. With this team being so lousy, there's no downside. But it's pretty obvious why Valbuena gets time. He's lefty, he gets on base and seems to play pretty good D.

I like Valbuena. Put him at 2b ... We're not winning any games so don't really need his talents at 3B. I'd rather have Olt & Valbuena in the lineup.

Olt homers, leads NL rookies in RBIs, cant wait to see him play again on Sunday

Yeah god forbid he get in a rhythm or feel any security. Plus it's gotta be so cool to read in the papers that the manager is, y'know, really going outta his way to get you some easy matchups. Because baseball isn't hard enough without a little fuckery going on in your head.

this ump is terrible tonite

Rizzo's eye was dead on and the ump called them both against him. Of course in the previous inning Wood was not getting those calls. So I guess the batters are in for some weird shit.

...not t.wood's night...

...and renteria gets himself tossed...about 1/2 inning too late considering he was probably pissed about rizzo's ABs.

I had to turn it off for a bit after the Rizzo at bat. When did Ricky get tossed? Comments to the ump on his way to give Wood the hook?

he started full on ranting at the ump after relieving wood...straight to the ump bitching til he got tossed.

renteria has 3 ejections...his team has 11 wins.

Bryant must be feeling better -- hit #7 and #8 tonight, plus a double. Vizcaino with a 2K clean inning as well.

I'm sure I'm late to the party, but ... Stephen Bruno? No power or speed, but great BA/OBP numbers.

In reading PHIL's bits on him over the years, the kid can really hit. But an average fielder. And - as you say: zero speed ( not when compared to Vogelbomb, of course).

Bruno is interesting (and not just because he went to UVA). Played at Boise after the 2012 draft and then went straight to Daytona (skipping KC) last year, where his season was abbreviated after 19 games by TJ surgery. After 19 games in A ball he starts this season at Tennessee, where his OPS is .881.

Last year I think they announced that Bruno had agreed to convert to catcher, but then he had the arm surgery and now he's back at second base.

He does have doubles power--cranks out doubles everywhere he goes. 13 of his 29 hits this year are for extra bases.

Yup -- early days, but he leads the league in doubles.

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