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Brett Vertigan laced an RBI double and an RBI single, Yairo Munoz ripped an RBI single and a double and scored a run, Joe Bennie drilled an RBI single and a double, and Dayton Alexander smacked a solo HR, as the Athletics drubbed the Cubs 10-5 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morining on Field #2 (AKA "Connie Mack Field") at the Papago Baseball Complex in Phoenix, AZ.  

Eloy Jimenez clobbered a three-run home run, Manny Ramirez celebrated his Cub debut with a tape-measure solo HR, and Gleyber Torres belted an RBI double to account for the five Cub runs.

Signed by the Cubs as a minor league player-coach ten days ago, the 42-year old Ramirez saw his first game action of 2014 today, serving as a DH and hitting 2nd in each of the first four innings. Having last played in August 2013 with AAA Round Rock (Texas Rangers affiliate in the PCL) where he hit a lackluster 259/328/370 with three HR in 30 games, you would  think ManRam might be a bit rusty, but he did not appear to be today. The veteran slugger drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch his first time up, flied out to right-center in his second AB (a fly ball that was deep enough to allow a baserunner to advance from 2nd to 3rd after the catch), flied out to the 385 sign in LF his 3rd time up (A's left-fielder caught the ball with his back up against the wall), and blasted a 400+ foot HR (with an accompanying major league bat-flip) over the LF fence and out into the desert in his 4th and final PA in the top of the 4th inning.

Ryan Sweeney (on the Cubs 15-day DL after suffering a hamstring injury on May 2nd) also served as a DH in today's game and (like Manny) batted four times, once in each of the first four innings. He struck out (swinging) on a 1-2 pitch in the top of the 1st, drew a walk on a 3-1 pitch in the 2nd, and popped out (P-5, and P-6) in his final two AB. 

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):

Gleyber Torres drilled four singles, stole a base, and scored three runs as the Cubs edged the Diamondbacks 5-4 on Whirlwind Field, and Fernery Ozuna (RBI single), Jordan Parr (two-run single), Jacob Mayers (two-run double), and Jose Herrera (RBI double) rapped run-scoring hits to highlight an eight-run 3rd and Eric Brooks and five relievers combined to toss a three-hitter, helping the D'backs throttle the Cubs 11-3 on Quail Field, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader played this morning at Salt Rivers Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.  

This was the 8th multi-hit game for Torres and his second four-hit game, and he is now hitting 311/388/398 with four doubles and two triples, 14/18 BB/K, one HBP, and four SB (two CS and two PO) in 30 Cactus League EXST games (118 PA). He has committed 13 errors (11 fielding and two throwing) in his 30 games, however his errors tend to come in bunches and seem to result from carelessness, and then he'll play immaculate defense for several games in a row. He has also made a number of highlight-reel plays at SS, and his throws are always plus-strong & almost always accurate.

Eloy Jimenez returned to game action after a week's absence during which he was supposedly en route to the Cubs Dominican Academy. (He was a spectator at yesterday's game). Jimenez served as DH for Squad "B" (he has only played eight games in RF) and went 1-5 in the game on Whirlwind Field, collecting two RBI (one with a 1st inning single, and the other on a 4-3 GO in the 9th that ultimately proved to be the game-winner). While Jimenez is hitting a mediocre 236/266/348 (with 4/22 BB/K) in 25 Cactus Legue EXST games (94 PA), he is hitting a robust 333/355/567 with one HR, two doubles, and a triple, and ten RBI over his last eight games (31 PA) going back to 5/14, and he leads the EXST Cubs team in RBI with 18. (I know it's not a skill, but Jimenez does seem to have a knack for collecting RBI). Though I suspect they won't, I truly hope the Cubs will give Eloy a chance to remain in Mesa (with Gleyber Torres) and play for the AZL Cubs this summer. He does have defensive issues in RF and he did struggle offensively for a while (though certainly not lately), but so do a lot of players in the AZL.  

RHP Ben Wells (sent back to Extended Spring Training from Daytona a couple of weeks ago to try and "right the ship") made his 2014 Cactus League EXST game debut today and got rocked, allowing seven runs (all earned) on six hits (two doubles and four singles) and three walks in just 2.0 IP. Extended Spring Training is almost over, so it's difficult to predict what the Rx will be for Wells.   

RHP Scott Frazier (who has been unable to throw strikes going back to Minor League Camp) made his Cactus League EXST game debut as well, and threw a shutout inning with one strikeout, although he did walk two batters and threw two WP. There are some in the Cub organization who believe Frazier has the best (and nastiest) stuff in the system, but he just has all kinds of trouble finding the strike zone with it. He got by today, but just barely. Frazier would be the closer at Boise (heck, he'd probably be the closer at Daytona) if he could just throw strikes.  

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only):

RHP Pierce Johnson (AA Tennessee 7-day DL - calf - hadn't thrown in a game since May 19th), RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (Cubs MLB 60-day DL - 2013 TJS - hadn't thrown in a Cactus League EXST game since last Monday), and LHP Zac Rosscup (Cubs 15-day DL - shoulder - hadn't thrown in a game since May 9th) combined to toss 3.2 IP of two-hit shutout ball and Danny Canela belted a double and a triple for the Cubs, and LHP Jonah Wesely threw three innings of one-hit shutout ball with five strikeouts for the Angels, as the two teams played to a 2-2 tie in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #4 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ. 

42-year old OF Manny Ramirez (signed by the Cubs last week to be a player-coach at AAA Iowa) has arrived at Riverview Park to get into playing shape, and so security has been increased. There was a definite uptick in attendance today (most-likely related to Manny's expected arrival), although ManRam did not play in the EXST game.

17-year old OF Eloy Jimenez was at Riverview Park today, too, watching the game from the bleachers (he hasn't played in a game since last Tuesday). Whether his trip to the DSL has been indefinitely postponed or just temporarily delayed remains to be seen. It would be nice if Eloy could play in at least one or two more Cactus League EXST games, though, since he leads the EXST Cubs in RBI and is (was) in the middle of a hot streak (hitting 360/385/640 since May 14th). 

LHP Andin Diaz (who was assigned to the DSL Cubs last Friday) was not present at Riverview today and presumably has reported to the DSL Cubs, although (who knows?) maybe he'll pop up again, too.

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):   

Up until last year, MLB First-Year Player Draft (Rule 4 Draft) slots could not be traded.

A club could lose a draft slot for signing a Type "A" Article XX-B free-agent (and it still can, although now they are called "Qualified Players"), or could gain a pick or picks if the club offered salary arbitration to one of its own Type "A" or Type "B" Article XX-B MLB free-agents and then the player signed with another club (and it still can receive one "compensation pick" between the 1st and 2nd rounds for losing a player to free-agency, as long as the player spent the entire previous season with that club AND the club offers the Article XX-B free-agent a one-year contract with a salary at least as much as the average salary of the top 125 salaries in MLB the previous season AND then the player subsequently signs with another club prior to the Rule 4 Draft).

But Rule 4 Draft slots could not be traded under any circumstances.  

However, the MLB Rule 4 Draft Competitive Balance Lottery (CBL) was established per the 2012-16 CBA, and these draft slots CAN BE TRADED.

Alberto Mineo (a double and a run scored), Oliver Zapata (an RBI triple and a run scored), Jesse Hodges (an RBI double and a run scored), Kevin Brown (an RBI single and a run scored), and Rashad Crawford (RBI triple) sparked the Cubs to a four-run 2nd inning, Jeffrey Baez belted an RBI triple and a double and scored two runs, and Erick Leal threw five innings of one-run ball, as the Cubs hammered the Diamondbacks 8-2 on Field #5, and Trey Masek and four relievers combined to toss a six-hit shutout and Gleyber Torres singled twice, walked, and drove-in the game's only run, as the Cubs whitewashed the D'backs 1-0 on Field #6, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader played this morning at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.     

In EXST Cubs roster news, RF Eloy Jimenez has been assigned to the DSL Cubs. 

The 17-year old Jimenez (last year's top-rated July 2 international free-agent) hit 238/270/357 in 24 Cactus League Extended Spring Training games (89 PA), with 4/22 BB/K. one HR, five doubles, a triple, and a team-leading 16 RBI. He had a sore arm in Minor League Camp that limited him to DH duty-only until mid-April, and even then he only started eight EXST games in RF. No question his defense needs a lot of work.

But Jimenez caught fire at the plate on May 14th, hitting 360/385/640 over his final seven games (26 PA). He hit his only Cactus League EXST home run in what turned out to be his last EXST game (versus the Angels in Tempe this past Tuesday), when he drove-in four runs with a three-run HR and an RBI single.   

Here are the abridged box scores from today's games (Cubs players only):  

Dillon Thomas blooped a two-out two-run double between three Cub defenders in short right-field in the top of the 5th as the Rockies edged the Cubs 3-2 on Field #5, and Denzel Richardson belted an RBI triple and a single and scored a run to help the Rockies rally from a 4-1 deficit to tie the Cubs 4-4 on Field #6, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader action this morning at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.

In EXST Cubs roster news, Elliot Soto has completed his 50-game "Drug of Abuse" suspension and has been assigned to AA Tennessee. In 18 Cactus League Extended Spring Training games (68 PA), Soto hit 333/397/417 with 6/9 BB/K, one double, two triples, 3 SB (0 CS), 12 RUNS, and 5 RBI, while playing outstanding defense at SS. 

Also, INF Giuseppe Papaccio has been sent back to Cubs Extended Spring Training from Daytona, and 1B Danny Canela has been sent to Cubs Extended Spring Training from Kane County. Both players were assigned to Squad "A" in the split squad doubleheader, with INF Varonex Cuevas and OF Shamil Ubiera moving from Squad "A" to Squad "B."    

And LHP Andin Diaz (hasn't pitched in a Cactus League EXST game since April 23rd) has been assigned to the DSL Cubs, who will begin their 2014 season tomorrow morning versus the DSL Marlins. The 21-year old Diaz spent the previous two seasons pitching in the DSL, but had his career sidetracked for a while by a 50-game PED suspension in August 2012 that carried over into 2013.

Here are the abridged box scores from today's games (Cubs players only):

Arnaldo Calero (solo HR, two walks, and an HBP) reached base four times, Gleyber Torres (two walks and an RBI single), Bryant Flete (RBI triple, RBI double, and a single), and Tyler Alamo (RBI single, a walk, and an HBP) reached base three times a piece, and the foursome combined to collect five RBI and score five runs, leading the Cubs to an 8-5 victory over the Athletics in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #2 (AKA "Connie Mack Field") at the Papago Baseball Complex in Phoenix, AZ.

Seongmin Kim belted a bases-clearing three-run double for the A's. 

Tennessee Smokies RHP Matt Loosen (on the Restricted List since 5/22 and hasn't pitched since 5/17) got the start for the Cubs today and worked 3.2 IP (69 pitches), allowing three runs (all ER) on two hits and four walks. He retired 11 of the first 13 men he faced before running out of gas (temperature 100+) in the bottom of the 4th.

RHP Trey Lang (Cubs 2012 6th round draft pick - Gateway CC) walked four consecutive batters in the bottom of the 7th before being relieved. Lang has now appeared in 11 Cactus League EXST games so far in 2014... COMBINED LINE: 16.1 IP, 23 H, 18 R (17 ER), 21 BB, 16 K, 2 HBP, 8 WP, 314 pitches (49% strikes), 9.37 ERA, 2.69 WHIP, .338 OppBA. 

In 18 Cactus League EXST games (55 PA), Cubs infielder Bryant Flete is hitting a robust 372/491/442, with one double and one triple, 11/10 BB/K, 8 RUNS, 9 RBI, and two SB (two CS), and has committed four errors (two at SS and two at 2B). The 21-year old Venezuelan has played both 2B and SS at EXST (although 2B is his best position), and he presently leads the team in both AVG and OBP (minimum 48 PA to qualify). So don't be too surprised if Flete wins a spot on the Boise Hawks Opening Day roster, especially if the Cubs opt to keep 17-year old SS Gleyber Torres in Mesa (AZL Cubs) for the summer. 

Meanwhile, Torres is hitting a very respectable 272/374/359 in 27 Cactus League Extended Spring Training games (108 PA), with 13/20 BB/K, four doubles, two triples, two SB (two CS and two  PO), 12 RUNS, and 10 RBI, but he has committed 11 errors. 

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

Raul Linares ripped a game-winning walk-off RBI double with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, as the Angels rallied from a four-run deficit to edge the Cubs 7-6 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Diablo Park Field #7 in Tempe, AZ.

Eloy Jimenez belted a three-run home run and an RBI single, Jeffrey Baez singled twice, walked, stole a base, and scored three runs, and Kevin Brown singled twice, walked, and scored two runs to help the Cubs take an early 4-0 lead, and Nataniel Delgado doubled twice and scored and Trevor Gretzky laced a two-run triple to aid the Angel comeback.  

The Angels collected six doubles and one triple among their nine hits.

RHRP Pedro Strop (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL - groin) continued his EXST rehab with a shutout inning (18 pitches - 10 strikes). Strop was not as sharp this morning in Tempe as he was on Saturday in Scottsdale, as he walked one and was behind in the count on just about every hitter, but he did not allow a hit, he struck out two, and he got the third out on a broken bat 5-3 GO. 

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only): 

Shilo McCall drilled a two-run single and a solo home run and scored twice, Jonah Arenado ripped an RBI single and two doubles and scored a run, Carlos Valdez singled twice, doubled, and scored three runs, Tyler Hollick smacked an RBI double, singled, walked, and scored a run, Julio Pena doubled twice and singled, and John Riley hammered a solo HR, as the Giants pounded out 19 hits (including seven doubles and two home runs) en route to a 10-5 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training Memorial Day action on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.   

Jeffrey Baez and Varonex Cuevas belted solo home runs for the Cubs.

The EXST Cubs hit only three HR over their first 37 Cactus League games, but they have hit nine HR over their last nine Cactus League Extended Spring Training games.

2014 EXST CUBS HOME RUNS (thru 5/26 - 46 games): 12
Jeffrey Baez - 2
Erick Castillo - 2
Rashad Crawford - 2
Varonex Cuevas - 2
Tyler Alamo - 1
Zak Blair - 1
Kevin Brown - 1
Rony Rodriguez - 1 

RHRP Kyuji Fujikawa (on Cubs MLB 60-day DL - 2013 TJS rehab) started the game for the Cubs and threw a 14-pitch 1-2-3 1st inning (F-8, 6-3, K-looking). Fujikawa has thrown three times in the last six days, working one inning each time (40 pitches total - 23 strikes - 58% K), and he has retired all nine men he has faced in those 3.0 IP (4-3, F-9, P-3, K, F-8, 3-1, F-8, 6-3, K).  

RHP Erick Leal had his second consecutive poor outing, allowing seven runs (all earned) on 11 hits (including four doubles and two HR) and a walk in 5.0 IP (71 pitches). Over his last two games (8.0 IP - 141 pitches) Leal has allowed 13 runs (12 ER), 15 hits, and five walks.

 

Johneshwy Fargas singled twice and drove-in the tying and winning runs with a two-run double as the Giants rallied to edge the Cubs 3-2 in 12 innings in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Indian School Park Field #2 in Scottsdale AZ.

RHRP Pedro Strop (on the Cubs MLB 15-day DL retroactive to 5/6 - groin) started the game for the Cubs and threw one inning (12 pitches - 11 strikes), striking out three. One batter did reach base on a third strike WP, but Strop totally handcuffed the young Giants with his hard slider and mid-90's gas. He looks like he is ready to be reinstated from the DL and maybe provide some misery to big league hitters.    

The Cubs managed only four hits (three singles and a double) and struck out 13 times over the course of the 12 innings, although they did draw six walks.  

In EXST Cubs roster news, RHP Josh Davis (2013 NDFA - Belmont University) has been moved up to Daytona, and RHP Ben Wells has been sent to Extended Spring Training from Daytona. Davis began the season at Extended Spring Training, and then was moved up to Kane County on April 12th. He was sent back to EXST from KC on May 2nd.   

Also, LHP Michael Heesch (Cubs 2012 8th round draft pick - USCB) has been moved up to Kane County from Extended Spruing Training.

THE PITCHING LINES FROM JOSH DAVIS'S FOUR 2014 CACTUS LEAGUE EXST OUTINGS
4/9   - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 3/1 GO/FO, 30 pitches (23 strikes)
4/12 - AT KANE COUNTY thru 5/2
5/5   - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 0 K, 1 GIDP, 5/1 GO/FO, 33 pitches (21 strikes)
5/13 - 2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 3 K, 1 GIDP, 2/1 GO/FO, 36 pitches (24 strikes)   
5/17 - INTRASQUAD GAME  
5/21 - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 0/3 GO/FO, 34 pitches (22 strikes)  
TOTAL: 8.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R (2 ER), 3 BB, 7 K, 2 GIDP, 10/6 GO/FO, 68% strikes, 2.25 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, .289 OppBA

THE PITCHING LINES FROM MICHAEL HEESCH'S FIVE 2014 CACTUS LEAGUE EXST OUTINGS
5/9   - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GO/FO, 5 pitches (4 strikes)  
5/12 - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GO/FO, 18 pitches (12 strikes)
5/14 - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R,0 BB, 2 K, 18 pitches (13 strikes)
5/17 - INTRASQUAD GAME
5/20 - 2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 3/1 GO/FO, 42 pitches (27 strikes)
5/23 - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GO/FO, 11 pitches (10 strikes) 
TOTAL: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K, 1 HBP, 5/4 GO/FO, 70% strikes, 0.00 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, .227 OppBA 

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs player only):

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