Eyre Follows Fox Out of Town

Veteran LHP Scott Eyre (on the 15-day DL with a sore elbow since 3/23) completed the Extended Spring Training (EXST) portion of his rehab this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa, throwing one inning (18 pitches - 14 strikes) in the EXST Cubs 7-3 loss to the EXST A's.

Although Eyre did allow a run (a one-out broken bat single to center followed by an RBI double crushed off the centerfield "Green Monster"), he also struck out the side. His fast ball topped out at 91, and his slider was VERY sharp.

While Eyre was pitching, all of the young Cubs pitchers not scheduled to pitch today (who would normally sit in the grandstand and watch the game from there) crowded into the enclosed "bird cage" behind home plate to get a better look at a major league pitcher in action. They were pretty excited, especially since Eyre actually talked to them (unlike a certain now ex-Cubs pitcher who was rehabbing at Fitch Park for most of last season who shall remain nameless). .

RHP Chad Fox (elbow) completed the Fitch Park portion of his rehab on Saturday,moving his rehab to Daytona after proving he could throw two days in a row.

It's unkown for sure where exactly Eyre is headed to continue his rehab. The Cubs might want him to pitch in Florida (Daytona) where the weather is warmer than it is in Tennessee, Iowa, or Illinois, but they also might not want two rehabbing major league relievers at the same place at the same time. 

As is the custom when a Cubs player completes his rehab at Fitch Park and moves on, there were lots of handshakes and hugs as Eyre headed for the clubhouse. (I tried to give him a big hug, too, but I think he might have taken it the wrong way...) 

In addition to Eyre's final EXST outing, four other pitchers who are rehabbing also pitched today (and so naturally the Cubs team physician was in attendance).

RHP Billy Petrick (at EXST trying to stengthen his shoulder) worked two innings (28 pitches), and he threw the ball very well. He gave up back-to-back doubles with two outs in the top of the 1st inning, but one of the two-baggers was misplayed into a double by neophyte LF Elvis Lara (he was moved from 2B to LF last month at Minor League Camp), and the other was a blooper that fell into the "Bermuda Triangle" between SS-2B-CF.   
 
Tennessee RHP Jim Henderson worked one inning, and struggled a bit with his control. He allowed one run on a walk, a stolen base, and an opposite-field line single to RF.

Daytona RHP Jon Mueller worked two innings and threw the ball better than his line might otherwise indicate, striking out three with a heater that had a lot of zip, and a nice overhand breaking ball that acted like a splitter.

Mueller worked three effective innings in the Camp Day intrasquad game last Thursday in his first 2008 game action, and so he could get out of Fitch Park sooner rather than later.

Daytona RHP Todd Blackford (2007 TJ surgery) had a very poor outing, walking four hitters in his two innings of work. He didn't allow a run, thanks to a CS and a GIDP, but he couldn't find home plate, either.

Up until today, it appeared that Blackford was the most advanced of the Cubs minor league pitchers rehabbing at EXST and might be the next pitcher to get his "Letter of Transit" out of Fitch Park, but if he can't throw strikes, he isn't going anywhere.

Pitching Coach Rick Tronerud did not hide his displeasure with Blackford's performance when he made a trip to the mound after Blackford walked the bases loaded in the 7th. (Tronerud did ALL the talking).    

The one EXST Cub pitcher who got into today's game who was not rehabbing was RHP John Muller, who worked the 9th. But as is typical for a closer who pitches when the game is not on the line, he got hit fairly hard (three singles in addition to a walk), although he did strike out the last two hitters he faced with his killer slider.

Prior to the game, prized 6'7 RHP prospect Chris Huseby threw a 25-pitch "live" BP session on Field #2 to the Cubs position players who did not play in the EXST game on Field #3. Huseby has yet to pitch in an EXST game, as the EXST pitching coaches (Tronerud and Pratt) are trying to fix his severely messed-up mechanics that caused him to be left behind at Fitch Park when the Peoria Chiefs departed Arizona at the end of March. 

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

LINEUP:
1. Elvis Lara, LF: 1-4 (1-3, 5-3, 1B-RBI, 4-3)
2. Drew Rundle, DH #1: 2-4 (2B, Kc, 1B + R, Ks)
3. John Contreras, 3B: 0-4 (4-3, Kc, 5-3, 5-3)
4. Luke Sommer, RF: 2-4 (F-8, 2B, 2B-RBI + CS, F-7)
5. Carlos Perez, C: 1-2 (BB, F-7,  BB, 1B)
6. Andres Quezada, CF: 0-2 (BB, 1-3, Ks, BB)
7. Junior Lake, DH #2: 1-4 (F-9, 2B + R, P-6, 6-3)
8a. Bryan Jost, 1B: 0-2: (4-3, BB + R, 4-3)
8b. Luis Bautista, 1B: 0-0
9. Starlin Castro, SS: 1-2 (1B, BB, P-4)
10. Jose Made, 2B: 0-2 (6-4-3 GIDP, F-7 SF-RBI, F-8)

PITCHERS:
1. Billy Petrick - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 GIDP (28 pitches - 18 K, 3/2 GB/FB)
2. Jim Henderson - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1K (2/0 GB/FB)
3. Scott Eyre -1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K (18 pitches - 14 K)
4. Jon Mueller - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K
5. Todd Blackford - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 1 K, 1 GIDP (4/0 GB/FB)
6. John Muller - 1.0 IP, 3 H. 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K

ERRORS (2):
1. Andres Quezada (fumbled ball in CF allowing runner to take extra base)
2. Jose Made (bobbled RBI ground ball allowing batter to reach 1st base)
 
CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Carlos Perez: 2-4 CS

BASERUNNING ADVENTURES:
1. Drew Rundle was thrown out 9-4-5 trying to stretch a double into a triple with one in the 1st.
2. Elvis Lara was thrown out 8-3-6 to end the bottom of the 5th, when he tried to take 2nd base on an RBI single where the throw home was cut-off by the first-baseman.
3. Luke Sommer was thrown out at 3rd base on a 3-2 pitch "strike 'em out out, throw 'em out" to end the bottom of the 6th inning. 

WEATHER: Warm and not a cloud in the sky, temp in the 80's

ATTENDANCE: 6

Comments

Great to see Huseby throwing even if it's not in a game yet. What are the chance he gets to Peoria this season?

Per Daytona's local rag, Eyre and Fox are both headed to Daytona. Fox will start on Tuesday and Eyre will pitch on Wednesday.

Submitted by Raisin101 on Mon, 04/21/2008 - 8:37pm.

Great to see Huseby throwing even if it's not in a game yet. What are the chance he gets to Peoria this season?

--------------------------------

RAISIN: If Chris Huseby can get his mechanics fixed, he'll be a rotation starter at Peoria sometime in 2007. If he can't, then I guess he'll probably end up at Boise where the 30-man roster makes it easier to carry pitchers who aren't ready to pitch in games. Same goes for Mark Pawelek.

BTW, Pawelek's rehab is currently limited to "live" BP only, because while his ankle doesn't hurt him when he throws off a mound, it does hurt when he has to field his position, like covering 1st base on a ground ball hit to the first-baseman.

Also, I mentioned last weekend that IF-OF Ryne Malone was removed from Daytona's roster when Jonathan Mota got promoted from Peoria to Daytona, and it is now confirmed that Malone has been released. RHP Ryan Meyers (one of two players acquired from the Mets for Angel Pagan) has also been released from Daytona.

And RHP Rafael Cova (who spent a couple of days at Tennessee after Michael Cooper went on the DL, but got dropped when Juan Mateo was demoted from AAA Iowa) has been assigned (loaned) to Los Potros de Tijuana (Mexican League). Cova spent last season pitching for Tijuana.

It's not well-known, but the Cubs have established an informal working relationship with Los Potros de Tijuana over the past couple of years. The Cubs signed Mexican catcher Enrique Lujan in 2005 and immediately assigned him ("loaned" him) to Tijuana (Lujan was subsequently released), Tijuana LHP Marco Tovar and RHP Alan Guerrero were invited to attend the Cubs AZ Instructional League camp at Fitch Park last Fall (both are currently pitching for Tijuana), and the Cubs purchased Cova from Tijuana last August.

Among other things, the "working relationship" with a Mexican League club gives the Cubs another option when there is no room for a player at Iowa, Tennessee, Daytona, or Peoria. As long as the player is willing to accept the assignment to the Mexican League (as Cova did), the Cubs can keep a player they like under contract and in their organization instead of having to release him. (And even Anglo players can be assigned to the Mexican League, as long as it's OK with the player).

So while the Tijuana club in the Mexican League is technically not an affiliate of the Cubs, the informal "working relationship" between the two clubs is a way for the Cubs to extend their international scouting presence into Mexico, as clubs like the Dodgers, Padres, and Diamondbacks have been doing quite successfully for years.

If the Cubs can sign and devlelop a future major leaguer like Fernando Valenzuela, Oliver Perez, Erubiel Durazo, Vinny Castilla, Antonio Osuna, or Oscar Villarreal out of Mexico even only every five years, it will be worth the effort.

Great work as always Phil, One question. Do the cubs have a DeLorian equipped with a flux capacitor down in Mesa? I presume this is what it will take to make Husbey a Peoria Rotation starter in 2007.

Phil, you are a fountain of information. Keep up the great work.
Is Mark Sawyer going to show up?

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