Cubs Take Sentimental Journey to Cactus League Victory

Joe Mather blasted a three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the 7th to turn a 6-4 deficit into a 7-6 Cubs lead, and Blake Lalli smashed a solo HR over the RF bullpens in the 8th to provide an insurance run, as the Cubs rallied to defeat the Cincinnati Reds 8-6 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in warm & sunny Mesa, AZ, this afternoon.

The game featured a pre-game fly-over by a World War II vintage B-17 bomber (“Sentimental Journey”) that is based at Falcon Field in Mesa.

NOTE: Scroll down for the updated MINOR LEAGUE CAMP rosters (effective today 3/12).

Ian Stewart got the Cubs on the board in the bottom of the 1st against RHP Bronson Arroyo, ripping an RBI triple into the right-center alley to score Marlon Byrd, who had singled with one out. (Brett Jackson rifled a single to right to lead-off the inning, but was thrown-out trying to stretch the hit into a double). Alfonso Soriano followed Stewart, slugging his 4th Cactus League home run (a two-run shot over the LF scoreboard) to cap the three-run inning.The Cubs scored another run in the 2nd, as Darwin Barney grounded a double down the LF line, and after Steve Clevenger and Brett Jackson walked to load the bases, with one out, Marlon Byrd lofted sacrifice fly to CF to drive-home Barney and give the Cubs a 4-1 lead.

After being sidelined with the flu last week, LHP Paul Maholm made his Cub game debut today, starting the game and allowing one run (a Todd Frazier solo HR) on two hits, no walks, and two strikeouts, in two innings of work (24 pitches – 13 strikes, 5/0 GO/FO). Maholm then threw another 15 pitches in the bullpen after he left the game, demonstrating that he probably could have gone another inning if that was part of the plan. A former rotation-starter for the Pirates, Maholm was signed by the Cubs as a free-agent during the off-season, and is expected to be in the Cubs starting rotation in 2012.

RHP Jeff Samardzija “piggy-backed” with Maholm, throwing three innings (39 pitches – 27 strikes). The Shark allowed two runs on two hits and a HBP in his first inning of work (the top of the 3rd), before retiring the last eight men he faced. The big righthander did not walk anyone, and he struck out three, with a 4/2 GO/FO. Samardzija should have gotten out of the 3rd allowing just one run, but SS Junior Lake rushed a throw while trying to complete a room-service 4-6-3 DP, extending the inning.

Like Maholm, Samardzija threw another 15 pitches in the bullpen after he was removed from the game, so he probably could have gone four innings if asked. (Samardzija appeared to be getting stronger & stronger and his command improved as he threw more pitches).

Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo worked an easy 1-2-3 6th inning as he battles to win a job in the Cubs bullpen (although he faced only minor league hitters), but closer Carlos Marmol had another bad outing. With the Cubs up 4-3 through six, Marmol gave up the lead in the 7th, allowing three runs on a walk, a double, a HBP, a two-run RBI single, another walk that re-loaded the bases, and a sac fly. Marmol had just about zero command today (29 pitches – only 14 strikes).

Now down 6-4, the Cubs took back the lead in the 7th when Joe Mather continued his hot power-hitting, unloading his two-out three-run dinger that landed well beyond the left-centerfield fence off Reds RHRP Carlos Fisher, following walks to Dave Sappelt and Jim Adduci. Kerry Wood worked a scoreless 8th, and then Blake Lalli ripped his bomb leading off the bottom of the inning. RHP Marcos Mateo then worked a 1-2-3 9th (P-4, K, 6-3) for the save. (Mateo is out of minor league options, so the Cubs need to decide by the end of Spring training if he is MLB-worthy).

Defensive play of the day was a one-out diving catch by 2B Bobby Scales that kept the potential tying run at 3rd base (and saved Kerry Wood) with one out in the top of the 8th. Although he did get an NRI to Spring training with the big club, Scales will likely serve as a player-coach at AAA Iowa in 2012. (He is viewed by the Cubs as a potential future manager or instructor/coach)

Meanwhile, newly signed 20-year old Cuban LHP Gerardo Concepcion made his debut on Field #2 at Fitch Park, working out with the AA Tennessee squad. Also, several of the Cubs top prospects (including SS Javier Baez, 1B Dan Vogelbach, and 3B Jeimer Candelario) were moved down to the Boise/Mesa squad (which will become the Cubs Extended Spring Training squad next month) from the Peoria squad. There were a few other roster adjustments as well, as the six players sent to Minor League Camp this past weekend (RHPs Marco Carrillo, Trey McNutt, and Dae-Eun Rhee, C Micah Gibbs, INF Jonathon Mota, and OF Jae-Hoon Ha) have reported to Fitch Park.

Here are the updated Cubs Minor League Camp rosters (effective today)

IOWA (34)

Frank Batista
Dallas Beeler
Marco Carrillo
Hung-Wen Chen
Marcus Hatley
Aaron Kurcz
Jordan Latham
Oswaldo Martinez
Trey McNutt
* Brooks Raley
Kevin Rhoderick
* Nate Robertson
* Ryan Rowland-Smith
Brian Schlitter
Ryan Searle
Nick Struck
Tony Zych

Juan Apodaca
Luis Flores (see NOTE)
# Micah Gibbs
Mario Mercedes
NOTE: Luis Flores is on the RESTRICTED LIST while serving a 50-game Prohibited Substance suspension, but he is participating in Minor League Camp activities

Leugim Barroso
# David Macias
Rebel Ridling
Jonathon Mota
Greg Rohan
Nate Samson
Marquez Smith
Elliot Soto

* Michael Burgess
Evan Crawford
Jae-Hoon Ha
Ty Wright


* Jeffry Antigua
Dan Berlind
* Gerardo Concepcion
* Brent Ebinger
Ricardo Estevez (see NOTE)
* Casey Harman
Ty’Relle Harris
* Eric Jokisch
Matt Loosen
Yoannis Negrin
Dae-Eun Rhee
Juan Serrano
* Matt Spencer (ex-OF)
Larry Suarez
NOTE: Ricardo Estevez is on the RESTRICTED LIST while serving a 50-game Prohibited Substance suspension, but he is participating in Minor League Camp activities

* Sergio Burruel
Taylor Davis
* Rafael Lopez
Chad Noble

* Justin Bour
* Matt Cerda
# Zeke DeVoss
* Jake Opitz
* Rubi Silva
Rafael Valdes
* Logan Watkins

Abner Abreu
John Andreoli
Eliecer Bonne


* Kyler Burke (ex-OF)
Zach Cates
Eduardo Figueroa
Dustin Fitzgerald
P. J. Francescon
Su-Min Jung
* Austin Kirk
Luis Liria
* Jeff Lorick
A. J. Morris
Starling Peralta
Jose Rosario
* Zac Rosscup
Bryce Shafer
Hayden Simpson
Charles Thomas (ex-3B)
Brett Wallach

Anthony Giansanti (ex-OF)
Neftali Rosario

# Arismendy Alcantara
* Wes Darvill
Dustin Harrington
Paul Hoilman
* Richard Jones
Pierre LePage
Ronald Torreyes

* Pin-Chieh Chen
Reggie Golden
* Ben Klafczynski
Mayke Reyes
Blair Springfield


* Hunter Ackerman
* Willengton Cruz
Ramon Garcia
Ryan Hartman
Michael Jensen
Pete Levitt
Carlos Martinez
Hector Mayora
* Sheldon McDonald
* Andrew McKirahan
Tarlandus Mitchell
Yao-Lin Wang
Ben Wells
Joe Zeller

Wilson Contreras (ex-3B)
* Justin Marra
# Wilfredo Petit

Gioskar Amaya
Xavier Batista
Ryan Durrence
Dustin Geiger
# Marco Hernandez
# Brian Inoa
Kenny Socorro
Brad Zapenas

Yasiel Balaguert
* Eduardo Gonzalez
Dong-Yub Kim
# Oliver Zapata


Jose Arias
Ian Dickson
David Henrie
Jin-Young Kim
Felix Pena
Roderik Pichardo
James Pugliese
Austin Reed
Colin Richardson
Tayler Scott
* Brian Smith
Scott Weismann

* Alberto Mineo
Antonio Valerio

Javier Baez
# Jeimer Candelario
* Danny Lockhart
# Rock Shoulders
* Dan Vogelbach

* Delbis Arcila
* Shawon Dunston, Jr
Trey Martin
* Garrett Schlecht (LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)

Gregori Gonzalez, IF-OF (?)
Yohan Gonzalez, P (?)
* Cam Greathouse, P (supposedly will report to EXST)
Alvido Jimenez, P (?)
Arturo Maltos-Garcia, P (2011 TJS rehab)
Amaury Paulino, P (?)
* Nelson Perez, OF (?)


Phil - Dillon Maples is listed as limited activity only. Is he injured, and if so, do you know the extent of the injury?

Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:14pm — DavidP

Phil - Dillon Maples is listed as limited activity only. Is he injured, and if so, do you know the extent of the injury?


DAVID P: Maples has some type of injury, but I don't know what it is. It could be something as minor as a blister, or it could be something more serious. I will find out eventually.

profile...seems to have taught the mastery of the delayed steal to team. Blake DeWitt pulled it off today.

Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:23pm — Rob G.
J. Lake
profile...seems to have taught the mastery of the delayed steal to team. Blake DeWitt pulled it off today


ROB G: Junior Lake led the AFL in stolen bases last fall, and most of them (if not all of them) were the "Junior Lake Special."

His technique in unreal and his timing is impeccable. Catchers and middle infielders know he is going to do it, and yet they still can't stop him. The catcher will frequently double-clutch and/or the middle infielders are constantly caught flat-footed. It's like he found the Twilight Zone between a conventional "straight steal" and a traditional delayed-steal.

Give him credit, then, for some baseball smarts. If he can just figure out the hitting part.

I thought he looked like a shortstop, though, in that Saturday game (Rockies?).

and the defense

at least he's got 1/10th of the game down.

A tall RH hitting Latin American OF took BP with the Peoria squad at Fitch Park Field #1 this morning and put on a power display.

Is this someone we've all heard about over the last few months???

Sammy is back, bitches! No wait, Sammy wasn't particularly tall. Julio Zuleta?

Do you know who this was?
If you do, would you be allowed to say who?

Surely it was George Solar, cousin of Jorge Soler who bears an uncanny resemblance but is absolutely not him.

be a helluva coup if Soler snuck into the U.S. somehow...

Soler bats left, no?

edit: Never mind, disregard.

jose canseco?

Minor League Spring Training games start next Friday.

That's when we'll start to see MLB pitchers who need work pitch in minor league ST games, and injury rehab guys play in ST games (usually batting once in each of the first five innings) at the minor league facilities.


Two quick, minor questions, if you have the time.

a) What's your take on Frank Batista with AAA for now? I had thought entering the season that he had a 50/50 shot at being in Tennessee (or going back to Daytona), but this seems to give him a better chance of starting at Tennessee than I expected.

b) Matt Spencer at AA to start mildly surprises me. I can't help but get the feeling that this might be a make or break scenario for him, considering his age. Thoughts?


Tue, 03/13/2012 - 6:42am — toonsterwu


Two quick, minor questions, if you have the time.

a) What's your take on Frank Batista with AAA for now? I had thought entering the season that he had a 50/50 shot at being in Tennessee (or going back to Daytona), but this seems to give him a better chance of starting at Tennessee than I expected.

b) Matt Spencer at AA to start mildly surprises me. I can't help but get the feeling that this might be a make or break scenario for him, considering his age. Thoughts?



TOONSTER: I'm not surprised that Frank Batista was assigned to the Iowa squad (at least initially).

The Cubs now have their four best RH relief prospects (Rhoderick, Kurcz, Batista, and Zych) assigned to the Iowa squad (Tony Zych was moved up to the Iowa squad from the Tennessee squad yesterday). Also, both Rhoderick and Zych pitched in MLB Cactus League games last week. Of course, it is likely that one or more of them will be moved down to the Tennessee squad once more pitchers arrive at Fitch Park from big league camp, but still, all four are together at the highest-level at Minor League Camp right now.

I think what that all means is that while the Cubs may take even more time than did the previous regime with developing starting pitcher prospects (McNutt, Beeler, Rusin, etc), they appear to be wasting no time moving their best relief prospects up the pipeline (especially with Cashner and Carpenter no longer around), possibly with the result that we will see one or more of them in Wrigley Field by mid-season if the other more-experienced candidates falter.

As far as Matt Spencer is concerned, I think the reason he was initially assigned to the Tennessee squad is all about his age. (He's 26). Likewise, the older Cuban defectors were assigned to the Iowa and Tennessee squads, too. (26-year old SS Leugim Barroso was assigned to the Iowa squad, and 27-year old RHP Ricardo Estevez, 27-year old RHP Yoannis Negrin, 28-year old INF Rafael Valdes, and 25-year old OF Eliecer Bonne were assigned to the Tennessee squad).

Although he had pitched in HS and occasionally in his freshman year at UNC (before he transferred to Arizona State), Spencer just started pitching full-time at Instructs last year (and he had major control issues there), so he needs time to develop as a pitcher. I think it's very likely that he (like Kyler Burke last year) will be assigned to Extended Spring Training and then move up to Boise once the short-season teams start play, but because he will likely be tracked as a lefty reliever (his fastball is clocked in the upper 90's), he could move fast after that (and he is eligible to be a 6YFA post-2013, so the Cubs don't have a lot of time to mess around with him). Or he could just flame-out and get released.

Speaking of converted position players, LHP (ex-OF) Kyler Burke is eligible to be a Rule 55 minor league free-agent (6YFA) after this season, so the Cubs need to decide whether to add him to the 40-man roster by 5 PM (EDT) on the 5th day following the conclusion of the 2012 World Series, or risk the distinct possibility that he will opt to sign elsewhere.

So with Burke, deciding whether to roster him is not going to be about whether the Cubs think he he might get selected in the December 2012 Rule 5 Draft. If the Cubs think he has big league potential, they would need to add him to the 40 just to keep him from walking away post-2012. (BTW, I suspect Burke might very well be on the list of players the Padres get to choose from as compensation for the Cubs signing Hoyer/McLeod).

One other thing about a position player converting to pitcher or a pitcher converting to position player...

There are service time restrictions in the lower minor leagues that normally would preclude very experienced minor leaguers from playing there except on injury rehab assignments, but a position player converting to pitcher (as was the case recently with Charles Thomas, Kyler Burke, Matt Spencer, et al) or a pitcher converting to position player (as happened with Chris Huseby a couple of years ago) gets a one-year exemption that allows him to play for the AZL Cubs, Boise, Peoria, or Daytona.

However, there is a caveat.

During the one-year exempt period, a position player converting to pitcher can only pitch in a game (he cannot play a position in the field), and a pitcher converting to position player cannot pitch in a game. In other words, no "two-way players" allowed if the exemption is being used.

PHIL: Noting your getting reliever's "into the pipeline" comment, who is the Plan B for Marmol just not being able to close anymore?

Is Corpas remotely possible?


Is Trevor Miller a Joe Borowski?

Don Young?

Don Young is dead.

Maybe he still has an arm though.

You might as well try Adolpho Phillips if you are going that route.

Phillips is Marmol.

Don Young was Plan B

I heard Brooks Krieschnik do a promo for the local sports radio station. Maybe he's available?

Mel Rojas!!

kurry woods

Recent comments

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  • AZ PHIL- Is Clayton Richard a free agent or not? One site I see he is, on another no. MLB has him listed as a free agent, Cot's contracts says he is a FA, baseball-reference says he's not, but Cubs have him on active roster. I know that he is just short of MLB 6 years service by just like 15 days, but that doesn't always matter.

  • Except that he gave up Russell and McKinney for a half-season of Hammel...

  • Beane cam at least point and laugh at Hammel.

  • The genius Angelo traded Olsen at Martzs request

  • Maybe Theo will sign Shark just so he can call Billy Beane and say: "Let's see...Russell? Check. McKinney? Check. Hammel? Check. Ninja? Check. Any other deals?"

  • To be fair to Emery and Trestman the foreshadowing of last year started happening well before them with the failure or mismanaging of multiple draft classes forcing the team to overspend in a free agency market that is even worse than baseball. Kyle Long seems like a good pick but they traded away another good one in Olson because of Martz's stupidity and inability to change his offense to fit the team talent.

  • HAGSAG: I think Domonic Brown does fit the criteria of a reclamation project, but unless he is willing to accept a minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training, I don't think the Cubs would be interested given where the Cubs are right now. A couple of years ago? Yes. But probably not now.

    Brown would be better-off going to a club that is rebuilding and re-establish his value there, like Chris Coghlan did with the Cubs. And if he can re-establish his value, he could get traded to a contender at the trade deadline and take it from there.  

  • "they just fade away"

    (Except in the cases of no-fade lefties like Moyer, Orosco and Rich Hill.)

  • Amazing to me how quickly it fell apart under Trestman. Year 1, they were a Chris Conte brain fart away from making the playoffs. Year 2 -- coach, staff and GM all fired.

  • I am sure Jonathon Mota will be signed next.

  • AZ Phil, what is your thoughts on Domonic Brown as a reclamation project?

  • He also played LF in deference to Curtis Granderson.

    Meh... other moves to make...hope to see a move or two soon.

  • I haven't seen much Bears football this year - difficult to watch the games out here, but the game I saw the week before I was watching in shock as I saw them actually make tackles. And Cutler has looked really good, too.

    I guess people can quibble about play calling, but the team I saw is way more than 50% better coached (my only very minor disagreement with your comment).

    Under Trestman, the team didn't do anything right. This team played like a well coached team when I saw them play the Rams.

  • "What is sometimes overlooked about Vogelbach because of his "bad body" and because he has struggled so much defensively is that he is a hard worker, has a great attitude, loves to play the game, and is very well-liked by his teammates, and while that may not seem important, teams do actually value stuff like that. "

    As well they should. Replace a word here and there and you are describing any worker someone would hire.

  • Hak-Ju Lee signs a minor league contract with SF Giants.

    Some closure on the 6 degrees of Separation for Matt Garza/Chris Archer

  • Hahahahaha