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The AZL Cubs defeated the AZL A's 3-2 at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning.

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The game featured another fine outing by RHP Julio Pena, and the victory was probably saved by a nifty 6-4-3 DP to end the top of the 8th inning, started with a super stop by SS Junior Lake, then a quick flip with a fast turn by 2B George Matheus, and completed with a nice stretch by 1B Sean Hoorelbeke. Too bad AZL games aren't televised, because that one would have made the highlight reel!

Today's AZL Cubs offensive heroes were RF Nelson Perez (a double and an RBI single) and catcher Jose Guevara (a double and RBI single through a drawn-in infield).  

Prior to the game, Rich Hill threw a simulated game that featured his new delivery, and it looks like he may actually have found the cure for his version of Steve Blass Disease. 

Halfway through the MLB Australian Baseball Academy Program (MLBAAP) season at Palm Meadows (Gold Coast), here's how the five Cubs players playing "down under" are doing:

I talked with Cubs Organizational Hitting Instructor Dave Keller today, and he admitted that he was the guy in the tower yelling at Felix Pie (in Spanish) after Pie left the AZL Cubs game on Sunday, but that the conversation had to do with Pie verbally being given the hitting schedule for Monday at Fitch Park (which otherwise was an off day for the AZL Cubs), and that there was no animosity involved in the exchange.

Felix Pie went 2-3 with a lead-off first-pitch double roped down the RF line, a bases loaded RBI walk on a 3-2 pitch, a grand slam HR hammered over the CF fence, and a hard-hit 4-3 GO, as the AZL Cubs thumped the AZL Royals 18-1 at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in hot and sunny Mesa. 

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So do I really think Pie was sent to Fitch Park to "rehab" a "sprained thumb"?

Well...

In what may have been the worst professional baseball game I ever saw, the AZL Cubs defeated the AZL Padres 16-15 yesterday in a four-hour nine inning game in 108 degree heat at Fitch Park Field #3.  

Bad fielding, bad pitching, bad everything.

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2008 33rd round pick Sean Hoorelbeke (Central Michigan) roped a two-run double into the left-centerfield alley on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, driving in the tying and winning runs and giving the AZL Cubs a 4-3 victory over the AZL Giants at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in Mesa.

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The AZL Cubs are now 1-2 in AZL league play.

3B Junior Lake gave the AZL Cubs a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd inning when he blasted a towering HR onto 8th Street, but the lanky 18-year old Dominican infielder got yanked out of the game by Manager Franklin Font after he failed to run out a ground ball in a later AB.

Just a typical Day in the Life of AZL baseball.  

Prior to the AZL game, LHP Rich Hill threw a two-inning (35 pitches - 22 strikes & 13 balls) simulated game on Field #1 under the watchful eye of Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins (who stood at various vantage points around the infield and home plate area during the session, including behind the mound).

Daryle Ward went 2-3 and scored a run, and Sean Hoorelbeke and Dwayne Kemp drove in two runs a piece with RBI doubles, as the AZL Cubs and AZL Angels played to a 5-5 tie at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in what was a final tune-up for AZL Opening Day on Sunday.

Ward, who played 1B and hit 3rd in the order, left the game amidst the usual handshakes, hugs, and kisses that accompany a "rehabber" leaving for the airport in the middle of a game. Whether DW will end up in Iowa or Tennessee is apparently still TBD. But if all goes well at who knows where, Ward is supposed to rejoin the Cubs next week In Chicago.  

Angel Guzman threw two innings (25 pitches - 19 strikes, 3/1 GO/FO) in an AZL Cubs intrasquad game at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning, allowing two runs (one ER) on two hits, with no walks and two stikeouts (both swinging). 
 
Also, Daryle Ward continued his rehab at Fitch Park, with an extended pre-game BP session in which he clubbed bomb after bomb over the RF fence. He also shagged some fly balls in RF.

Ten days after the 2008 Rule 4 Draft, the Cubs have signed 23 of their 51 draft picks.

Ten days after the 2007 Rule Draft, the Cubs had signed 23 of their 50 selections, although they eventually signed 33.

Angel Guzman (on the 60-day DL while rehabbing from 2007 TJS) threw two innings (28 pitches) in an intrasquad game, and Daryle Ward (on the 15-day DL while rehabbing from a back injury) took an extended BP session, as the AZL Cubs spent their first day home alone at Fitch Park. 

Also, three more players signed out of the recent Rule 4 Draft have reported to Fitch Park, bringing the count up to 22 drafted players signed (with 29 still unsigned), plus three non-drafted free-agents (NDFA) signed.

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