Angel Guzman Throws Simulated Game at Fitch Park
Marcus Hatley threw four shutout innings (thus becoming the first EXST Cubs pitcher to throw four), and George Matheus drove in two runs with a triple, scored the third run later that same inning, and made two outstanding defensive plays in the field, as the EXST Cubs defeated the EXST Giants 3-1 this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.
Prior to the EXST game, Chicago Cubs RHP Angel Guzman (on the 60-day DL after undergoing TJ surgery last September) continued his rehab, throwing a two-inning "simulated game" on Field #2.
Facing six of the position players not in the EXST Cubs starting lineup (Brandon Guyer, Bryan Jost, Josh Vitters, John Contreras, Gian Guzman, and Dwayne Kemp), Gooz threw two innings, with 15 pitches each inning (30 pitches total). As far as I could tell, his velocity was good, but he was off with his control, throwing only about 50% of his pitches for strikes.
Barring any setbacks, Guzman should be on target for EXST game action sometime next week, with a 30-day (maximum) minor league rehab assignment to begin sometime after that. The Cubs will probably not want to send him out on the minor league rehab until August, though, so they can seemlessly recall him from the rehab and activate him from the DL when rosters expand on September 1st.
Ex-catcher Jake Muyco (converted to pitcher a couple of weeks ago) and newly-arrived Venezuelan RHP Israel Camacaro were the "opposing" pitchers in the simulated game on Field #2, each throwing one inning (20 pitches each). Muyco was pumping his fastball over the plate for strike after strike, but (not unexpectedtly) he tended to bounce his breaking balls and left his off-speed pitches up in the strike zone a bit too much.
In EXST roster news, the Cubs have decided to convert still another position player to pitcher. This week's victim is OF Luke Sommer, the Cubs 2007 30th round draft pick out of the University of San Francisco. Sommer does have experience as a pitcher, as he was a combination LHP-OF in high school before being converted to a full-time outfielder at USF.
Like fellow ex-outfielder Andres Quezada (who was converted to pitcher a few days ago), Sommer was probably a potential candidate for release at the end of Extended Spring Training, so having the chance to try his hand at pitching (again) is probably an attractive alternative to unemployment.
Rehabbin' 2B-OF Jeffrey Rea (quad) and 1B Matt Craig (leg) played in today's EXST game, and Rea even played defensively at 2B (Craig was a DH). This would tend to indicate that barring any further medical setbacks, the two players should be moving out of Fitch Park within a few days (possibly as soon as early next week, but of course that's still TBD), with Craig rejoining AA Tennessee (where he is presently on the DL), and Rea likely to be assigned to Peoria (where he will probably be Ryne Sandberg's everyday 2B and #2 hitter).
Here is today's abridged EXST box score (Cubs players only):
1. Cesar Salazar, CF: 1-4 (RBI, SB)
2a. Jeffrey Rea, 2B: 1-3 (2B)
2b. Gian Guzman, 2B: 1-1
3. Matt Craig DH #1: 0-4 (3 K)
4. Nelson Perez, RF: 1-4 (K)
5. Luis Bautista, 1B: 0-4
6. Drew Rundle, LF: 0-4 (2 K, GIDP)
7. Junior Lake, 3B: 0-3 (K)
8. Alvaro Sosa, C: 0-2 (R, BB, K)
9. Starlin Castro, DH #2: 1-2 (R, BB)
10. George Matheus, SS: 2-3 (3B, 2 RBI, R)
1. Kevin Kreier - 3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K (5/0 GO/FO)
2. Marcus Hatley - 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP (6/5 GO/FO)
3. Harol Tolentino - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K (1/3 GO/FO)
CATCHERS DEFENSE: Alvaro Sosa: 1-3 CS
WEATHER: Partly cloudly and not as hot as yesterday
ATTENDANCE: 10 (We tend to see significantly larger crowds on Fridays and Saturdays than we do on the other days of the week)
NOTE: The Cubs travel to the Peoria Sports Complex tomorrow for a game with Team China, as Jim Lefebvre's club continues to prepare for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. (BTW, that's Peoria, Arizona, not Peoria, Illinois). What's significant about the Peoria Sports Complex is that, unlike the Papago Sports Complex where the EXST Cubs played the EXST A's yesterday, the Peoria Sports Complex is not the site of a former WWII POW camp.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump
Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.
j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.
felix pena, your turn.