Kazmir Makes Cub Kids Look Like... Minor Leaguers
Scott Kazmir and Alexander Burkard combined to throw a four-hit shutout, leading the EXST Angels to an 8-0 whitewashing of an EXST Cubs split squad in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Diablo Park Field #3 in Tempe this morning.
Kazmir has been on the Los Angeles Angels 15-DL with "back tightness" since April 9th, but he sure looked healthy today, throwing 6.2 IP of one-hit shutout ball (102 pitches – 62 strikes, 10/6 GO/FO), and not allowing his first hit until there was one out in the top of the 6th inning (opposite-field double lined into the RF corner by Dustin Geiger). Kazmir walked three and struck out three during the course of his outing, inducing one GIDP. Kazmir consistently threw his fastball at 91-92 MPH, and kept the Cubs youngsters off-balance with an assortment of change-ups and breaking balls.
This is at least the third or maybe even the fourth time Kazmir has started an Extended Spring Training game against the Cubs over the past month, and if I didn’t know better, I would say he is being showcased. (There actually were a couple of scouts in attendance at today’s game). Either that or he is trying to earn the prestigious “Angel Guzman Award” (the Extended Spring Training version of the Cy Young Award), bestowed upon the MLB pitcher who spends the most inordinate or excessive period of time on an Extended Spring Training rehab assignment without getting reactivated from his team’s disabled list.
So how many pitches will Kazmir throw in his next EXST rehab start? 115? 120?
Besides getting shutout by Kazmir & Co., things did not go well for several EXST Cubs in particular today.
Daytona RHP Oswaldo Martinez made his 2011 debut, getting a “rehab” start in today’s game at Diablo Park. The 22-year old Martinez last pitched in a game for Obregon in the Mexican Pacific League (LMP) this past January, was shut-down with an undisclosed medical problem upon arrival at Minor League Camp in March, and was placed on the Daytona Cubs 7-day DL prior to Opening Day. The Mexican right-hander struggled with his control today, throwing 19 pitches, but only eight strikes, and was removed from the game after getting only two outs in the bottom of the 1st inning. He allowed two runs on one hit (an RBI triple) and two walks.
19-year old RHP Ryan Hartman (Cubs 2010 16th round draft pick out of Mt Zion HS - Mt Zion, IL) followed Martinez to the mound, and he also had major control issues (as he has had most of the Spring), throwing 52 pitches (only 24 strikes) in just 1.2 IP, allowing two runs on two hits, three walks, and an HBP.
19-year old Dominican RHP Alvido Jimenez was the third Cubs pitcher, and unlike O. Martinez and Hartman, Jimenez’s problem was that he did throw strikes, getting clubbed for five runs on seven hits (three singles, two doubles, a triple, and a home run) in just 2.1 IP (57 pitches).
And Max Kwan (2010 NDFA – U. of Washington) saw his first game action behind the plate in more than a month, but things did not go very well. In just the five innings Kwan was in the game, four Angel runners tried to steal a base, and all four were successful (all of the throws were off-target), and Kwan also committed a throwing error, lobbing a “rainbow” 15 feet over the third-baseman’s head on a stolen base attempt at 3rd base that allowed the runner to score.
Kwan has been battling “Mike Ivie-itis”, the same affliction that plagued Jae-Hoon Ha this time last year when Ha was a catcher (before he was moved to OF). This is not a medical problem, but rather a “mental block” where the catcher is unable to make routine throws, even back to the pitcher after a pitch. The Cubs employ a sports psychologist at Fitch Park who works with players who are recovering from injuries, or who are having difficulty dealing with failure (often for the first time in their life), or who develop a “mental block” of one type or another (like “Steve Blass Disease,” where a pitcher is unable to throw strikes), but there is no guarantee that the player will respond and overcome the obstacle. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t.
While one squad of EXST Cubs played the Angels at Diablo Park, the other squad was facing the EXST Rockies at Fitch Park. Unfortunately I have no information about the game played at Fitch.
Here is today’s abridged box score for the game played at Diablo Park (Cubs players only):
1. Pin-Chieh Chen, 2B: 0-3 (P-3, K, 3-1, BB)
2. Blair Springfield, CF: 1-2 (E-6, BB, BB, 1B, CS)
3. Wilson Contreras, 3B: 0-4 (5-4-3 DP, F-8, 5-4 FC, 4-3)
4. Jesus Morelli, LF: 1-4 (3-U, 6-3, K, 1B)
5. Reggie Golden, DH: 0-3 (BB, K, P-4, P-6)
6. Marco Hernandez, SS: 1-4 (6-4 FC, 5-3, 1B, 6-3 DP)
7a. Max Kwan, C: 0-2 (5-3, F-9)
7b. Johan DeJesus, C: 0-1 (K)
8. Gregori Gonzalez, RF: 0-3 (P-3, 5-3, 1-5-3)
9. Dustin Geiger, 1B: 1-3 (F-7, 2B, 1-3)
1. Oswaldo Martinez: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 0 K, 19 pitches (8 strikes), 2/0 GO/FO
2. Ryan Hartman: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 52 pitches (24 strikes), 2/1 GO/FO
3. Alvido Jimenez: 2.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R (5 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 57 pitches (39 strikes), 2/4 GO/FO
4. Ramon Garcia, 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 46 pitches (26 strikes), 2/4 GO/FO
1. 3B Wilson Contreras - E5 (errant throw attempting to throw-out batter at 1st base on infield hit allowed runner to score from 3rd base)
2. C Max Kwan - E2 (overthrow on stolen base attempt at 3rd base allowed runner to score)
3. 3B Wilson Contreras – E5 (throwing error allowed batter to reach base safely)
Max Kwan: 0-4 CS, 1 E (see above)
WEATHER: Sunny and breezy with temperatures in the 70’s