Rehabbin' Petrick Gets Some Game Action

Like the MLB regular season, there is a rhythm to Extended Spring Training.

Players get Sundays off, play games versus the EXST squads from other organizations on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and Thursday is "Camp Day." 

Camp Day is the day when the entire EXST squad comes together for a work-out and an intrasquad game, and the Camp Day intrasquad game is where pitchers and position players who are rehabbing from injuries are most-likely to see game action, because the conditions are more controlled. 

An inning can be terminated early ("roll it!") when a pitcher reaches his maximum pitch count for that inning before there are three outs, or an inning can be extended if the pitcher gets three outs before reaching his minimum number of pitches for that inning.

And such was the case today...

RHP Billy Petrick is on the Cubs 40-man roster and was at big league camp during the early days of Spring Training '08. However, he pitched in only one Cactus League game, and then was optioned to AAA Iowa on March 7th because of "shoulder weakness" that extends back to last August when he was up in the big leagues with the Cubs, And then he was left behind at Fitch Park (EXST) to try and build-up shoulder strength when the Iowa Cubs left Mesa at the end of March.

So it's news that Petrick threw in today's EXST intrasquad affair, going 1.1 IP, allowing one hit, while getting three ground outs and an infield pop up. He didn't appear to be throwing particularly hard, but If he can get the strength back in his shoulder and reach and maintain adequate velocity, he should be able to leave Fitch Park pretty soon and (probably) get some rehab action at warm-weather Daytona before rejoining the Iowa Cubs.

RHP Rafael Dolis is "Jose Ceda Lite." He's about the same size as Ceda (slightly taller and not quite as heavy) but doesn't throw quite as hard. Dolis had TJ surgery last year, and is presently rehabbing at Fitch Park. Today he got his first game action in almost a year, throwing two innings (both terminated early due to high pitch counts), officially going 1.0 IP, allowing a hit and a walk, while striking out one. His fastball did touch 95 on the gun, although he had a lot of trouble commanding his breaking ball.

RHP Billy Muldowney had TJ surgery last July. Prior to that, he was one of the Cubs top pitching prospects. Today, Muldowney went two innings, allowing a hit while walking two and striking out one. Like Dolis, Muldowney struggled with command and you could see he was frustrated with his performance. 

And although it wasn't a rehab outing, 18-year old 6'4 Australian LHP (and ex-cricket player) Cody Hams got his first U. S. game action this morning, going two innings. I expected him to struggle with his control, but while he did hit Leon Johnson with an 0-2 pitch (and then promptly picked Johnson off 1st base with a real nice pick-off move), he mostly stayed ahead of the hitters and didn't walk anybody. His delivery is similar to Rich Hill's.

Among the rehabbing position players, Leon Johnson (finger), Tony Richie (rib cage), Brandon Guyer (shoulder surgery), and Jeffrey Rea (unknown-type injury) all got ABs, with Richie, Guyer, and Rea serving as DHs, while Johnson played CF.

3B John Contreras (who hit a 420-foot home run yesterday) just missed hitting another one, blasting a triple off the top of the CF fence in the 5th.

17-year old Dominican LHP Jeffry Antigua continues to be the most-impressive of the young Latin pitchers who are making their U. S. debut this year. He threw three shutout innings today, and got a ton of ground balls along the way.

And catcher Alvaro Sosa is now switch-hitting. (He used to be a left-handed hitter only). Like Carlos Perez, Sosa is a very good defensive catcher with a strong arm.

Here is the abridged box score for today's EXST Cubs intrasquad game

LINEUPS:

SQUAD "A"
1. Leon Johnson, CF: 0-1 (K-s, BB + R, HBP + PO)
2. Elvis Lara, LF: 2-3 (1B + SB, 1B, F-8)
3. Brandon Guyer, DH #1: 0-3 (1-3, P-5, 5-3)
4. John Contreras, 3B: 1-1 (BB, F-8 SF-RBI, 3B + R)
5. Tony Richie, DH #2: 1-2 (F-7, 2B + R)
6. Bryan Jost, 1B: 0-2 (6-3, F-7, F-9 SF-RBI)
7. Kevin Soto, RF: 1-3 (4-3, P-6, 1B + SB)
8. Dwayne Kemp, 2B: 2-3 (1B, 1B-RBI, 3-U)
9. Junior Lake, SS: 0-1 (P-6, BB)
10. Jose Guevara, C: 0-2 (5-3, 6-3)

SQUAD "B"
1. Starlin Castro, 2B: 0-3 (1-3, 5-6 BUNT FC + SB, 5-3) 
2. Gian Guzman, SS: 1-3 (1B, 6-3, P-6)
3. Josh Vitters, 3B: 0-2 (6-3, F-8)
4. Nelson Perez, RF: 0-2 (F-8, L-4)
5. Luis Bautista, 1B: 1-2 (6-3, 2B)
6. Andres Quezada, CF: 0-2 (1-3, K-s)     
7. Luke Sommer, LF: 0-1 (P-4, BB)
8. Roberto Sabates, DH #1: 1-2 (1B, K-c) 
8. Alvaro Sosa, C: 0-2 (4-6-3 GIDP, F-7)
9. Jose Made, DH #2: 0-2 (K-c, 1-U)
10. Jeffrey Rea, DH #3: 1-1 (BB, 1B)    
11. Carlos Perez, DH #4: 0-1 (F-8)
 
PITCHERS:

SQUAD "A"
1. Jeffry Antigua - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 1 GIDP (6/2 GB/FB)
2. Billy Muldowney - 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 WP (2/2 GB/FB)
3. Dionis Nunez - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (2/3 GB/FB)

SQUAD "B"
1. Rafael Dolis - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 BALK
2. Billy Petrick - 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (3/1 GB/FB)
3. Rogelio Carmona - 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 0 K
4. Cody Hams - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HBP, 1 PO (3/2 GB/FB)
 
DEFENSE: No errors!

CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Guevara - 0-1 CS
Sosa - 0-2 CS

WEATHER: Cool and VERY breezy
ATTENDANCE: 3

Return to Homepage

Comments

Phil-

Always a pleasure...

With that attendance, I hope the concession lines weren't too bad.

Any early views on Vitters?

Submitted by billybucks on Thu, 04/10/2008 - 3:53pm.

Phil- Always a pleasure...

With that attendance, I hope the concession lines weren't too bad.

Any early views on Vitters?

==============================

BILLY B: Josh Vitters is clearly pressing.

Vitters had pneumonia last Spring and was out of shape when the Cubs signed him last August, but because of the change in MLB Rule 5 where the clock starts ticking when a player signs instead of when he makes his debut on the field, the Cubs went ahead and assigned Vitters to the AZL Cubs (where he struggled) and then promoted him to Boise the last week of the season.

Vitters looked a bit more comfortable in the AZ Instructional League last September-October, but he was unable to beat-out Jovan Rosa and Marquez Smith for the third-base job at Peoria last month at Minor League Camp and was left behind at Extended Spring Training. And now another third-baseman (John Contreras) is out-performing him on the field.

Vitters was by all accounts one of the top two HS position player prospects going into the 2007 June Draft, but he hasn't shown much on the field (so far). Of course he's only 18 and he got about $3M to sign, so it's not like the Cubs are going to release him anytime soon. You can be sure they will be VERY patient with him.

After the Corey experience, that's good to hear.

Good to see the rehabbers on the mound. How long do you think Dolis and Muldowney will be in Fitch?

Sounds like Antigua has had a couple of good outings now. Yohan Gonzalez had a rough one last time out but I remember you saying he had a good one the time before. Are these two the clear leaders of the remaining pitchers at Fitch who aren't just rehabbing or suspended? Who else has impressed amongst the non-rehab pitchers?

Thanks as always for your fantastic updates.

AZ Phil,

Thanks as always for your 411s. I see that Dae-Eun Rhee had another good outing at Peoria yesterday. I know you saw him in spring training; what do you think his chances are of making an impact on the big-league squad at some point?

Submitted by SheffieldCornelia on Thu, 04/10/2008 - 5:00pm.

Z Phil, Thanks as always for your 411s.

I see that Dae-Eun Rhee had another good outing at Peoria yesterday. I know you saw him in spring training; what do you think his chances are of making an impact on the big-league squad at some point?

=============================

SHEFF: If he can stay healthy, Dae-Eun Rhee has an excellent chance to be a major league pitcher.

He's only 18 and the Cubs probably won't want to rush him too fast, but he went from throwing in two AZ Instructional League games last October to the Peoria starting rotation without missing a step, so he could move rapidly through the pipeline. 

Submitted by Raisin101 on Thu, 04/10/2008 - 4:54pm.

Good to see the rehabbers on the mound. How long do you think Dolis and Muldowney will be in Fitch?

Sounds like Antigua has had a couple of good outings now. Yohan Gonzalez had a rough one last time out but I remember you saying he had a good one the time before. Are these two the clear leaders of the remaining pitchers at Fitch who aren't just rehabbing or suspended?

Who else has impressed amongst the non-rehab pitchers? Thanks as always for your fantastic updates.

===============================

RAISIN: It's hard to predicr how long Dolis and Muldowney will remain at Fitch Park. If all goes well, I would expect them to depart maybe sometime in May. Of course some rehabs go better than others. Sometimes there are unexpected setbacks.

The main problem I've noticed with TJ surgery rehab is the tendency for pitchers--especially power pichers--to struggle with command, as was the case with Muldowney and Dolis today. The most extremre example was probably Luke Hagerty, who couldn't hit the broad-side of a barn even two or three years after his surgery.

Now, last Saturday I saw Todd Blackford (another TJ surgery survivor) make a rehab start in an intrasquad game at Fitch Park, and he had no problems with his command and threw strikes fairly consistently. But then he's a pitch-to-contact sinkerballer type guy, not a power pitcher. So I would expect Blackford to be ready before Dolis or Muldowney, partly because he's the type of pitcher he is, and partly because he is two months further along into his rehab.

Generally speaking, the young Latin pitchers who are making their U. S. debut at Fitch Park this year can't compare to the group from last year. Jeffry Antigua is a fairly polished pitcher for a 17-year old, but there is no Robert Hernandez, Alberto Cabrera, or Audy Santana in this year's group. I would rate Antigua the clear #1 this year, with Yohan Gonzalez #2. But the two Australian pitchers (Searle and Hams) are probably more promising than any of the Latin guys except Antigua.  

As for the others, Chris Huseby's mechanics are so fouled-up he isn't even pitching in games, Arik Hempy is still working on arm strength, and of course Mark Pawelek is injured again (ankle) 

So Alberto Alburquerque, Harol Tolentino, John Muller and Marcus Hatley will probably get the first call if there are any additional openings at Peoria or Daytona. Muller has only been pitching a year (he was a shortstop in college), but he has the best slider at EXST. He's strictly a reliever, though.

Thanks, AZ Phil.

Do you think Searle would be advanced enough to head to Boise in the middle of the summer?

Also I saw that you said Oswaldo Martinez and Larry Suarez work getting some work in on Wednesday as they attempted to come back from injury. Do you know how severe their injuries were? Since they're in the bullpen still, they must be behind Dolis and Muldowney in the rehab process, correct?

By the way, I'm really jealous you get to see these young kids so often.

Great work, AZ Phil.

Can you remind us how John Contreras came to us? What's his story?

AP-

You mentioned that the EXST games are a more "controlled" situation and that often rehabbing P's get in a few batters. Then, you noticed that some P's have control issues. Is the HBP ratio much higher in intrasquad "Club" games than in other EXST games you've seen? Can that lead to injuries for some position players you are trying to move up?

Thanks for the many thorough updates.

Bryan

Jeff Samardjia pitched 7 shutout innings for AA Tenn Smokies and beat Dodger top pitching prospect Clayton Kershaw last night.

Az Phil, what's your assessment of Shark's spring as well as expectations for his development if things go well for him this year.

Submitted by Raisin101 on Thu, 04/10/2008 - 9:54pm.

Thanks, AZ Phil.

Do you think Searle would be advanced enough to head to Boise in the middle of the summer?

Also I saw that you said Oswaldo Martinez and Larry Suarez work getting some work in on Wednesday as they attempted to come back from injury. Do you know how severe their injuries were? Since they're in the bullpen still, they must be behind Dolis and Muldowney in the rehab process, correct?

=======================================

RAISIN: Ryan Searle threw three innings (only 38 pitches) in his last outing, so he is further along than a lot of the other young pitchers at Cubs EXST.

Normally I would say since Searle is only 18 and is spending his first full-year in the U. S. (he had a three-month visa last year where he had to return to Australia at the end of EXST) that he would stay at Fitch and pitch for the AZL Cubs this year, but with Dae-Eun Rhee and Ryan Acosta already at Peoria, I see no reason why Searle can't go to Boise this season.

While Suarez and Martinez are behind Dolis, Muldowney, and Blackford (Suarez and Martinez had their first bullpen sessions this week), I don't believe they are rehabbing from surgery. As far as I know, they were shut-down at the beginning of Minor League Camp for about six weeks as a precaution and are just now being allowed to throw again. Hopefully there will be no further problems for either of them, but you never know.

Submitted by Cubster on Fri, 04/11/2008 - 6:01am.

Jeff Samardjia pitched 7 shutout innings for AA Tenn Smokies and beat Dodger top pitching prospect Clayton Kershaw last night.

Az Phil, what's your assessment of Shark's spring as well as expectations for his development if things go well for him this year.

=========================

CUBSTER: Jeff Samardzija is atypical in that while he is a "pitch-to-contact" sinkerball pitcher, his sinker (two-seamer) is a very "heavy" pitch (tops out at 94 MPH) that breaks bats and gets a lot of ground balls and (when thrown up in the zone) weak infield pop-ups, because hitters (especially minor leaguers) aren't used to hitting against that kind of stuff.

So while he doesn't get a whole lot of strikeouts and while he might give up more hits than some other pitchers, the opposing hitters just don't hit the ball very hard against him too often, and so he can get through innings with a minimum number of pitches, allowing him to go deeper into games than a lot of high-strikeout power pitchers can.

That said, he still needs to develop and perfect a passable slider and a decent change, to keep the opposing hitters from adjusting to his sinker the second and third time through the order. If he can't develop adequate secondary stuff, he could still be an OK MLB middle-reliever, but I doubt that's what the Cubs envisioned when they signed him.

Submitted by Bryan on Thu, 04/10/2008 - 11:12pm.

AP- You mentioned that the EXST games are a more "controlled" situation and that often rehabbing P's get in a few batters. Then, you noticed that some P's have control issues. Is the HBP ratio much higher in intrasquad "Club" games than in other EXST games you've seen? Can that lead to injuries for some position players you are trying to move up? Thanks for the many thorough updates. Bryan

================================

BRYAN: Yes, HBP is a danger when batters are hitting against a guy like Dolis who's throwing 95 MPH gas all over the place. But there is really no other way for a rehabbing pitcher to progress to the next step.

The first step in the rehab process is usually throwing from level ground, then throwing from the mound, then increased pitch counts and throwing more often, then "live" BP (progressing from 15 to 25 to 35 pitches with each new outing), and then (finally) game action, and then increased game pitch counts and more regular work in games. At any point in the process there can be a set-back.

For instance, when Luke Hagerty returned from TJ surgery a couple of years ago, he looked great in bullpen sessions, but when pitching to a batter in "live" BP he'd throw the ball behind the hitter or halfway up the screen. So he never got to the point where he was allowed to throw in a game, and finally the Cubs lost patience with him and gave him his release. If Rafael Dolis was so wild as to be dangeous he wouldn't have gotten past "live" BP.

(BTW, the White Sox signed Hagerty to a minor league contract this past off-season, but he got released out of Sox Minor League Camp when he continued to have MAJOR control problems).

Thanks AZ Phil.

Just as a side note, Samardzija has more flyouts than groundouts so far this season but he has a really large amount of popups that constitute a bulk of the flyouts. That's good to hear that these popouts might not be an anamoly and that he can keep getting these "easier" outs with his sinker.

Submitted by Romero on Thu, 04/10/2008 - 11:10pm.

Great work, AZ Phil.

Can you remind us how John Contreras came to us? What's his story?

===============================

ROMERO: John Contreras is 21 (he'll be 22 next week). He was born in New Jersey but moved to the Dominican Republic as a youngster. The Cubs signed him as a NDFA after the 2006 season (where he was before that, I have no idea), and he made his pro debut in the DSL last year, where he was the DSL Cubs MVP. He was third in the league in HR and 5th in RBI.

Because of his age and physical maturity, he will be expected to move along through the pipeline faster than most of the other Latin players at Fitch Park, but because there are so many third-base prospects in the Cubs system right now, Contreras is going to have to outplay the competition at every level.

John Contreras and Junior Lake (shortstop) are the two best prospects among the Cubs Latin position-players making their U. S. debut in 2008 (Gian Guzman and Nelson Perez were the top two last year), but Lake is only 18, so he won't be under pressure to progress through the system as fast as Contreras will be. Contreras really should be at Peoria right now, but with fellow third-basemen Jovan Rosa and Marquez Smith there already, there just isn't room for him.  

BTW, Junior Lake is a very impressive young player. He's kind of cocky (like yesterday he appeared to hold the ball intentionally to make the play closer at 1st base so he could show off his arm), but he is a VERY patient hitter with some power, He's a lot taller than most shortstops and has a long stride, but with the dearth of shortstop prospects in the Cubs organization, Lake could get moved up through the pipeline fairly quickly. That's also why the Cubs have left Gian Guzman at shortstop, when 3B is his "natural" position.  

 

Phil, what's your take on Marwin Gonzalez playing exclusively at shortstop in Peoria?

How has Gian Guzman done so far in Fitch?

Submitted by Raisin101 on Fri, 04/11/2008 - 3:26pm.

Phil, what's your take on Marwin Gonzalez playing exclusively at shortstop in Peoria? How has Gian Guzman done so far in Fitch?

================================

RAISIN: Marwin Gonzalez is a versatile and athletic player who can play all four infield positions and probably all three OF positions, too. As he moves up the ladder to Hi-A, AA, and AAA, he should morph into a switch-hitting IF-OF "super-sub" with a plus bat and occasional HR power. But SS is his worst position. Obviously he can't play 3B if he stays with the Cubs, but I would think 2B would be a better choice than SS right now. He got promoted to Peoria because of his bat.

As for Gian Guzman, he is a solid player who does everything well. He is a decent-enough SS, although (like Gonzalez) he should be playing 3B or 2B. Gonzalez is a more advanced hitter and has more HR power, but Guzman is an OK hitter, too, capable of lots of doubles and triples. He doesn't have the greatest range at SS but he has a very strong arm.

If I had to choose between Gonzalez and Guzman to play SS, I'd pick Guzman, no question. But shortstop is the Cubs weakest position in the minors right now.

Phil, about how long do you see Petrick staying back in Arizona until he is assigned to a team, and do you have any idea for how long Pawelek is expected to be out with his latest injury?

Submitted by brett on Fri, 04/11/2008 - 9:16pm.

Phil, about how long do you see Petrick staying back in Arizona until he is assigned to a team, and do you have any idea for how long Pawelek is expected to be out with his latest injury?

===============================

BRETT: With Billy Petrick, it's all about whether he still has weakness in his shoulder and whether he can get his velocity up to where it was last year before he got shut-down. When that will be is still TBD. Could be sooner, could be later.

As for Mark Pawelek, I don't know how long he will remain sidelined, but even after he is given the OK to resume baseball activities, it will probably be a while before he is ready to pitch in a game. He's going to have to throw bullpen sessions and then probably some "live" BP before he gets into game action.

I know Hams very well. I actually saw him playing cricket and suggested he try baseball around 15 months ago. He has displayed an amazing work ethic and obvious ability. His progress has been amazing over such a short period and I can tell all cubbies he is a great prospect.

X
  • Sign in with Twitter