Petrick Rehab Progressing Onward at Fitch

Luke Sommer slammed an RBI triple to left-center to drive in the first run in the 4th, Josh Vitters lined a game-tying RBI single to right in the 6th and Nelson Perez hammered a game-winning bases-loaded triple down the right-field line in the 8th, as the EXST Cubs defeated the EXST Angels 5-2 at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning.

Billy Petrick got the start for the EXST Cubs, throwing a shutout/hitless inning in what could be one of his final rehab outings before he is ready to join the AAA Iowa Cubs.

Although he struggled a bit with his command (16 pitches, only eight strikes), Petrick seemed to throw the ball with better velocity than he did his last time out on Thursday. 

The four pitchers who followed Petrick to the mound all had good outings, too, especially RHP Todd Blackford (Daytona rotation starter in 2007), who is in the final stages of rehab after undergoing "Tommy John" elbow ligament transplant surgery last May.

Blackford worked an easy 1-2-3 9th with two strikeouts, and it's probably just a matter of the weather improving back East before he gets assigned to a full-season club.

In addition to the key RBI hits by Sommer, Vitters, and N. Perez, Leon Johnson had a very good day at the plate, reaching base all four times on three hits and a walk, while scoring twice.

Johnson, the younger brother TB 3B Elliott Johnson, is at EXST rehabbing from a finger injury suffered near the end of Minor League Camp last month. He looks about ready to get moved out of Fitch, probably to Peoria.  

While the Cubs were playing the Angels on Field #3, LHP Arik Hempy (2007 17th round pick out of the U. of South Carolina) was throwing a two-inning (30 pitch) "simulated game" on Field #2.

Facing EXST Cubs who were not in the regular game's starting lineup, Hempy looked very sharp, especially when throwing his breaking ball.

Hempy is at EXST trying to improve his arm strength (he had TJ surgery in 2006) so that he can join a full-season club (he was assigned to the Daytona group for most of Minor League Camp).

And RHP Rafael Cova finally got his "visa problem" ironed out in Venezuela, and has reported to EXST. In his first "live" BP session, he threw 25-pitches on Field #2 to the same hitters Hempy faced, and appeared to have plus-velocity.

Some of you may remember Cova as a hard-throwing relief prospect with the Mets a couple of years ago, good enough that he received an NRI to ST with the big club in 2006. But then he got suspended after he refused to report to a minor league club, leading to his release. 

The 26-year old Cova pitched in the Mexican League in 2007, before signing with the Cubs as a FA last July. He then spent September-October with the Cubs AZ Instructional League club at Fitch Park, and threw the ball very well.

I know the Cubs were looking forward to seeing Cova in Minor League Camp in March, and he was even a candidate to get an NRI to '07 ST with the Cubs, but at least he has (finally!) arrived. He will probably get assigned to AA Tennessee once he's ready.

Here is today's EXST Cubs abridged box score (Cubs players only):


1. Leon Johnson, CF: 3-3 (BB, 1B, 1B + R, 1B + R)
2. Starlin Castro, SS: 0-2 (L-9, 5-3, 1-4 SH, BB + R)
3. Josh Vitters, 3B: 1-3 (5-3, P-4, 1B-RBI, BB + R)
4. Nelson Perez, RF: 1-4 (4-3, 3-U, 5-3, 3B-3 RBI)  
5a. Carlos Perez , C: 2-3 (1B, 1B + R, F-7)
5b. Jose Guevara, C: 0-0
5c. Jose Made, PH-2B: 0-1 (1-3)
6a. Luke Sommer, 1B: 2-3 (1B, 3B-RBI, 4-3)
6b. Bryan Jost, PH-1B: 0-1 (K-c)
7a. Gian Guzman, 2B 0-2 (L-8, 5-3, BB)
7b. Luis Bautista, PH-C: 1-1 (1B)
8. Elvis Lara, LF: 0-2 (6-4-3 GIDP, BB, 4-3)
9a. Junior Lake, DH-1: 0-2 (K-c, 6-4-3 GIDP)
9b. Dwayne Kemp, PH: 0-1 (F-9)
10a. Kevin Soto, DH-2: 0-2 (5-3, F-7)
10b. Alvaro Sosa, PH: 0-1 (K-s)

1. Billy Petrick - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K (2/0 GB/FB)
2. Marcus Hatley - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3  K (3/2 GB/FB)
3. Ryan Searle - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 2 GIDP (4/1 GB/FB)
4. Yohan Gonzalez - 2.0 IP, 1 H,  0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (2/3 GB/FB)
5. Todd Blackford - 1.0 IP, 0 H. 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K

Vitters (throw)

C. Perez: 1-2 CS

WEATHER: Sunny in the 70's, VERY breezy



And contrary to what you might read elsewhere on the web, here is the REAL Cubs Extended Spring Training roster:

* bats or throws left
# bats both

Francisco Acosta
* Jeffry Antigua
Todd Blackford (ACTIVE REHAB)
Rogelino Carmona
Rafael Cova
Rafael Dolis (ACTIVE REHAB)
Eduardo Figueroa
Yohan Gonzalez
Marcus Hatley
* Arik Hempy (ACTIVE REHAB)

Robert Hernandez (RESTRICTED LIST - 50-game prohibited substance suspension)
Chris Huseby
Kevin Kreier
Billy Muldowney (ACTIVE REHAB)
John Muller
Dionis Nunez
Julio Pena
Billy Petrick 
Cedric Redmond
Carlos E. Rojas 
Ryan Searle
Jose Severino
Miguel Sierra
Scott Taylor (RESTRICTED LIST - 50-game prohibited substance suspension)
Harol Tolentino

Jose Guevara
Carlos Perez
Tony Richie (ACTIVE REHAB)
Roberto Sabates  
# Alvaro Sosa

Luis Bautista (1B-C)
Starlin Castro (SS-2B)
John Contreras (3B)
Gian Guzman (SS-2B-3B)
Dwayne Kemp (2B-OF)
* Bryan Jost (1B)
Junior Lake (SS)
Elvis Lara (2B-OF) 
Jose Made (2B-OF)
* Jeffrey Rea (2B-OF – ACTIVE REHAB - DH ONLY)
Josh Vitters (3B)

Brandon Guyer (ACTIVE REHAB - DH ONLY)
* Leon Johnson (ACTIVE REHAB)
# Andres Quezada
* Nelson Perez
Kevin Soto 
* Luke Sommer


Phil: how has Vitters looked defensively at third? Do you think he's a future 1B or corner OF?

Great post, Phil! I love hearing what's happening in Arizona.

Is Hatley targeted for a starting spot? Vitters sounds like he is positively struggling (throwing error today). Is it that he's simply too young?

Glad to hear that Cova is back. Any word on other MIA's (Albuquerque, Bailey, Culpepper, Hardman or Sawyer)?

Submitted by Timmer on Sat, 04/12/2008 - 2:54pm.

Phil: how has Vitters looked defensively at third?

Do you think he's a future 1B or corner OF?


TIMMER: Hard to say. He does appear to have all the right "actions" of a third-baseman, and his older brother plays 3B, so I can see him remaining there.

BTW, the error he made today was on a one-hop bouncer where he had all the time in the world and then he threw the ball away.

Submitted by Alex Dimm on Sat, 04/12/2008 - 2:58pm.

Great post, Phil!

I love hearing what's happening in Arizona.

Is Hatley targeted for a starting spot?

Vitters sounds like he is positively struggling (throwing error today). Is it that he's simply too young?

Glad to hear that Cova is back. Any word on other MIA's (Albuquerque, Bailey, Culpepper, Hardman or Sawyer)?


ALEX: Vitters has good ABs and bad ABs. Likewise with his defense. He APPEARS to have the potential to be a good middle-of-the-order hitter (he seems to bear down with men on base) and a decent-enough defensive third-baseman (he has a tendency to make bad throws rather than fielding errors, but his arm strength is good).

Hatley is a big dude and he has the arm to start or relieve. Depends on where he's needed.

Alburquerque is hurt (but I don't know what's wrong), Bailey got released, I haven't seen Culpepper since Minor League Camp (when all he was able to do was take BP), I don't know what happened to Hardman, and Sawyer just never reported (either he's still in school at Yale or he retired)

Thank you for the update!

PHIL: Since the HS players have been signed missed playing college ball, how does their development experience that they get in rookie league, or EXST, compare with that of someone coming in who has played in several years of Div. I NCAA baseball?

Also, are the Cubs counting long term of hoping Vitters is ready when A-Ram's contract is up? If not, which player that you've seen would have a chance as the next starting 3B?

derosa RF, cedeno 2nd, johnson CF, theriot SS


From previous thread:

9th inning, two out, runner in scoring position, SF trailing StL by a run and PUJOLS lets a ball roll right through his legs.

Tie game.

Very un-Pujolsian even though the scorer has it down as a hit.

We'll have an extra inning ball game today in SF.

Well, how many times has Pujols beaten D Lee for golden glove? Meh. I know things happen to everyone from time to time, but Lee is a far superior defender.

Oh, there's a game going on. *doh*

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