Javier Baez Tries 3rd base at HoHoKam Park
The Mesa Solar Sox played their AFL home opener this afternoon at HoHoKam Park, but the Salt River Rafters drubbed the home team 11-3 thanks in no small part to four home runs.
Four Cubs saw action for the Solar Sox in today’s game:
NICK STRUCK: Relieved starter Mike Wright to begin the 2nd inning after Wright allowed four first-inning runs (three earned). Struck worked (labored through) 1.1 innings (39 pitches - only 20 strikes), allowing no runs and no hits, while walking three. He also struck out one batter. Struck struggled with his control in both of the innings he worked. Looked rusty.
MATT SZCZUR: Was the DH and once again hit lead-off (as he did last night). Went 1-4 with a lead-off ground single through the 5.5 hole in the bottom of the 1st, and reached base on a HBP (a glancing blow) in his final AB in the 9th. In between he struck out (swinging) in the 3rd, popped out to the second-baseman in the 5th, and flied out to deep left in the 7th (outstanding catch by Rafters LF up against the fence on what was a near-HR)
RUBI SILVA: Played LF and hit #2 in the order behind Szczur. Silva struck out, flied out, and lined out in his first three ABs, before showing off his speed by beating the pitcher to 1st base for an infield single on a soft roller to the first-baseman (then taking 2nd on an E-1). Silva has the athleticism and versatility to play multiple positions (2B-LF-CF-RF), but despite above-average speed he has yet to learn the art of stealing bases (he looks confused on the bases), and he is a bit of "hacker" at the plate, too.
JAVIER BAEZ: Played 3B for the first time in his pro career, and he looked terrible. Without even discussing the body language (sullen and disengaged), there were three balls hit to him in the game, and he misplayed all three to one extent or another. The first was a ground ball that went through his legs for an error, the second was a bouncer where he ranged a couple of steps to his left and let the ball bound off his glove for another error (he should of let the shortstop make the play), and the third was a hard hit grounder to his right where he made a nice backhanded stop, before throwing a lame one-hopper to 2nd base for a FC on what should have been an inning-ending 5-4-3 DP (2B Jiovanni Mier saved Baez a third error by making a nice saving catch on the one-hop throw). Throughout the game Baez kept looking at Solar Sox SS Jonathan Schoop (who made a costly error himself in the top of the 1st inning), as if to say “How about we change places?” I don't think Baez wants any part of 3rd base. Offensively, Baez went 0-5 with three strikeouts in his final three AB (first two swinging on pitches up in the strike zone, and then looking on a 3-2 pitch right down Broadway in his final PA). The first two times up he grounded out sharply to short and lined out (an absolute rocket) to LF.
Meanwhile, the Cubs AZ Instructional League team played a five-inning intrasquad game this morning at Fitch Park Field #3. The game was played like a normal baseball game, with no pre-arranged "situational hitting" scenarios that were a big part of the controlled "sim" games that the Cubs have played over the past couple of weeks.
David Bote tripled, singled, and walked, and score twice, Yasiel Balaguert drove-in three runs with an RBI double, an RBI GO, and an RBI FC, and Stephen Bruno and Ben Carhart ripped RBI triples, to provide most of the game's offense.
RHP Ben Wells had a poor outing, allowing three runs (all earned) on three hits (a double and two triples) and two walks in one inning of work.
Here is the box score from the Instructs intra-squad game:
SQUAD “A” LINEUP:
1. Gioskar Amaya, 2B: 1-3 (6-3, 6-3, 2B, RBI)
2. Albert Almora, CF: 0-3 (L-5, K, F-8)
3. Jorge Soler, RF: 0-2 (6-3, K)
4. Dan Vogelbach, 1B: 1-2 (K, 1B)
5. Jeimer Candelario, 3B: 1-2 (6-3, 1B)
6. Marco Hernandez, SS: 0-2 (4-3, F-7)
7. Rafael Lopez, C: 0-1 (BB, K, R)
8. Trevor Gretzky, LF: 1-2 (1B, F-7)
9. Wilson Contreras, DH: 0-2 (6-4 FC, 6-3)
SQUAD “B” LINEUP:
1. David Bote, SS: 2-2 (3B, 1B, BB, 2 R)
2. Stephen Bruno, 2B: 1-2 (K, 1-4 SH, 3B, R, RBI)
3. Yasiel Balaguert, RF: 1-3 (2B, 6-3, FC, 3 RBI)
4. Jacob Rogers, 1B: 0-2 (F-7, F-7)
5. Chadd Krist C: 1-2 (4-3, 2B, R)
6a. SLOT WAS SKIPPED FIRST TIME THRU ORDER
6b. Lance Rymel, DH #1: 0-1 (5-3)
7. Bijan Rademacher, LF: 0-2 (K, 4-3)
8. Ben Carhart, 3B-DH: 1-2 (1-U, 3B, RBI)
9. Shawon Dunston Jr, CF: 0-1 (F-8, BB)
10. Jesse Hodges, DH-3B: 0-1 (BB, F-8, R)
SQUAD “A” PITCHERS:
1. Starling Peralta: 3.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 45 pitches (28 strikes), 4/3 GO/FO
2. Ben Wells: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 0 K, 38 pitches (22 strikes), 1/2 GO/FO
SQUAD "B" PITCHERS:
1. Duane Underwood: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 46 pitches (26 strikes), 6/1 GO/FO
2. Paul Blackburn: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 38 pitches (22 strikes), 1/3 GO/FO
SQUAD “A” ERRORS: NONE
SQUAD “B” ERRORS: NONE
Everytime I recall Szcur's bone marrow donation to a stranger, it makes me smile:
If Matt is out will Kawasaki get the call-up? Or "Shane"?
"Matt Szczur will undergo an MRI on his right hamstring on Tuesday."
One of the reasons I think Maddon is a great manager -- he has changed the conversation on Baez from HR & strikeouts to great defense, versatility and an all-around good ballplayer. He rarely talks about his offense, which is the only thing anybody used to talk about with Javy. He took a lot of pressure off the kid, and he seems to have responded.
Good pitching and some nifty D tonight -- nice win.
In case you didn't see it -- it was the Little League play where the guy on first gets caught in a rundown on purpose and the guy on third tries to score. It worked.
Gotta love the Pirates pitcher intentionally hitting Zobrist, then allowing Zobrist to score on a 2-out wild pitch.
Also, glad to see Zobrist coming around with RISP after my remarks last week. Heh!
ESPN reporting heyward day-to-day with an injured wrist
ESPN game tonight, btw.
Cardinal way #48
"negligent transmission of STDs"
Heyward getting the night off.
Grand Slammin' Sczcur in RF - La Stella batting 2nd
Twitterverse reporting that Heyward is dealing with a sore right wrist
Cardinal way #47
See ya on parrot chat
In what was probably the last start for RHSP Jeremy Null at EXST...
Intrasquad game this morning on Field #5 at Riverview Baseball Complex:
4.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 2 WP, 1 GIDP, 5/4 GO/AO, 75 pitches (50 strikes)
Next stop is likely either South Bend or Myrtle Beach (TBD)
There does seem to be something funky about closers pitching in non-save situations -- they never seem to be as effective. But, to your point, there could not have been a save situation in that game, so why not use your best reliever?
Your thought: don't pitch Rondon at all, since a save can't happen in extra innings at home.
Maddon's thought: might as well pitch him now, because there's no later.