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Rich Harden threw four shutout innings and Welington Castillo's two run home run capped a five-run 5th, as the Iowa Cubs (Cubs AAA affiliate) edged the Sacramento River Cats (Oakland A's AAA affiliate) 5-4 before an unusually large Minor League Camp crowd of 50+ at cool & breezy Fitch Park Field #3 this afternoon

Cubs Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild and Assistant Pitching Coach Lester Strode were in attendance, and the place was absoluely crawling with beat writers, bloggers, and assorted Cubs fans intent on watching an actual Cubs major league pitcher throw on a day when the big club had the day off, and they were not disappointed.

However, very few stayed for the whole game. 

So for those of you who want to know how Harden looked, but also just HAVE to know how the Iowa Cubs did it,.. here is... the... rest...of... the... story...

The Cubs have released 2003 #1 draft pick OF Ryan Harvey.

The 24-year old Harvey had one of the top two or three RF arms in the organization and awesome power (he hit four home runs for Daytona in one game a couple of years ago), but he just was not a good hitter (he is a first-ball fastball hacker--247/298/448 with 83 HR and 539 strikeouts in 471 career minor league games), and he suffered from nagging injuries (knee, hamstring, back, etc) throughout his career,

Harvey's release comes almost exactly a year after the Cubs released Harvey's one-time HS teammate and fellow slugger 1B Brian Dopirak (Cubs #2 pick in 2002). Dopirak signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays after he got released and spent most of the 2008 season playing in hometown Dunedin, FL. B-Dope then re-signed with the Blue Jays (he was a minor league free-agent post-2008) and got an NRI to ST with the Jays this Spring as part of the deal (although he has been returned to Tornoto's minor league camp) 

So I wouldn't be surprised if Harvey follows Dopirak to the Blue Jays organization, even if it means he has to go back to the Florida State League again (where he would play for his hometown team) in 2009, although the Jays would probably agree to give him a shot in AA first.  

Harvey's release is definitely not a surprise. He will be a minor league free-agent after this season, and was just not progressing fast enough to think that he would be a candidate to get added to the Cubs 40-man roster post-2009. So cutting him now is probably just the best thing for everybody, especially for Harve. .

Harvey was a combination RF-RHP in HS, and I had thought (and have written here at TCR) that he might be converted to pitcher at some point with the Cubs when he continually struggled as a hitter, but while the Cubs have converted more than a dozen postion players to pitcher over the past couple of years (and no organization converts position players to pitcher to the extent that the Cubs do), they never do it unless the player agrees to the move. So I think it's pretty likely that the Cubs asked Harvey to consider a move to pitcher, but he declined.  

 

Alfonso Soriano drove in two runs and reached base four times on two singles and two wallks, Milton Bradley had three hits including a double and a solo home run, and Geovany Soto drove in two runs with a double and a sacrifice fly, leading the Cubs to a hard-fought 9-8 victory over the Colorado Rockies this afternoon in front of a record Ho Ho Kam Park crowd of 13,298.

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Alfonso Soriano ripped a two-out two-run single to cap a three-run 7th, and Carlos Zambrano threw six innings of one-run ball, leading he Cubs to a 5-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners in Cactus League action before 13,002 fans at Dwight Patterson Field at Ho Ho Kam Park this afternoon in hot & sunny Mesa, AZ.

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Jake Fox had three hits and drove in five runs with a two-run double and a three-run homer, Milton Bradley drove in three runs with a two-run home run and an RBI single, Alfonso Soriano drove in two runs with a solo HR and an RBI single, and Sean Marshall started the game and pitched five strong innings (getting ten ground balls), as the Cubs drubbed the White Sox 13-2 in Cactus League action at Camelback Ranch this afternoon

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I know many of you probably watched today's game on WGN, but for those of you who didn't, or for those of you who did but weren't paying attention....

There has been a lot of talk out here this Spring about if and when the Cubs will leave Mesa.

Nick Noonan capped a five-run 9th with a two-out grand slam, as the Giants rallied to defeat the Cubs (and leave a lot of Cubs fans speechless) before a record crowd of 13,024 under sunny skies at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon.   

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Also, the Cubs sent have sent non-roster RHPs Esmailin Cardidad and Ken Kadokura to minor league camp. This brings the Cubs Spring Training roster down to 43 (including Ted Lily and Kosuke Fukudome, who are still playing in the WBC) 

The 35-year old Karokura was making his U. S. debut after spending 13 years playing in Japan, and I suspect he will be released (or will request his release) prior to Opening Day and will return to Japan. He probably isn't at the point in his career where he would want to spend a year playing AAA ball. He didn't really have a bad Spring with the Cubs, but he had a tendency to get ahead of hitters 0-1 or 1-2 and then nibble, nibble, nibble. I don't think Manager Lou Piniella likes that approach too much.  

Caridad is a different matter, however, I have him rated as one of the Cubs Top Ten prospects, and he pitched very well so far this Spring and could surface sometime this season in Chicago. Now 25, Caridad was (like Alfonso Soriano and Timo Perez) originally signed by the Hiroshima Carp and was assigned to their Dominican Academy, before pitching in Japan in 2007. But Caridad became a free-agent on a technicality after that season, and Cubs Player Personnel Director Oneri Fleita personally signed the right-hander while on a trip to the Dominican Republic in December 2007  Caridad pitched at Daytona and Tennessee in 2008 (going a combined 13-7, 3.73 ERA, 1.11 WHIP), and then pitched in the AFL with the Mesa Solar Sox in October-November '08. He can start or relieve.

As for today's game...      

Matt Brown crushed a bases-loaded double to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 lead, as the Angels rallied to defeat the Cubs 6-4 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon, in a game many of you probably watched on WGN-TV.

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Sam Fuld and Andres Blanco slammed home runs and Sean Marshall took a shutout into the 5th inning, as a Cubs "split squad" drubbed a Seattle Mariners "split squad" 8-1 in front of 10,910 happy fans at sunny Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon in Mesa

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