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Starlin Castro went 3-4 with a single, a double, and a triple, Junior Lake crushed a two-run homer, Jose Made tripled twice, and 17-year old Dominican LHP Jeffry Antigua pitched four strong innings of one-run ball (retiring the final ten men he faced), leading the EXST Cubs to an 8-1 victory over the EXST Angels in a Rush Hour "Beat the Heat" Special (9 AM start) at Diablo Park Field #3 in Tempe this morning.

The Cubs have optioned RHP Jose Ascanio to AAA Iowa, and have recalled LHP Neal Cotts from the same club.

Ascanio was acquired from the Atlanta Braves last December for LHP Will Ohman and IF-OF Omar Infante, and was optioned to AAA Iowa during Spring Training. He went 1-0 with nine saves at Iowa (2.08 ERA, allowing 14 H and one HR in 21.2 IP, with a 1.01 WHIP, a .179 OBA, and an 8/23 BB/K) before being recalled on May 19th when Chad Fox was placed on the DL with a sore elbow.

Ascanio got into five games with the Cubs over the past ten days, going 0-0 with a 1.80 ERA, allowing one run (earned) on four hits (.235 OBA) over 5.0 IP, with a 3/3 BB/K. He threw one scoreless inning in last night's Cubs victory over the Dodgers. 

The 28-year old Cotts was also optioned to Iowa during Spring Training (March 21st), and had spent the entire 2008 season (up until now) at Iowa, posting a 2-0 record with three saves, a 2.00 ERA, and a 1.22 WHIP in 19 games, all in relief (.232 OBA, 23 hits in 27 IP, no HR, and a 10/33 BB/K). Cotts has been particularly effective versus left-handed hitters, allowing just seven hits (.206 OBA) and one walk with 15 K in 9.1 IP (0.78 WHIP).

Cotts was acquired by the Cubs from the White Sox in November 2006 for RHP David Aardsma and LHP Carlos Vasquez. He was selected by the Oakland A's in the 2nd round of the 2001 Rule 4 Draft out of Illinois State, and was traded to the White Sox after the 2002 season.   

Cotts has 3+077 MLB service time and will (once again) be eligible for salary arbitration after the 2008 season. He is making $800K (plus another $75K in potential performance bonuses) in 2008, and will be out of minor league options as of Spring Training 2009.   

As many of you know by now, Thursday is usually Camp Day at Cubs Extended Spring Training.

And so it was in fact today, as the EXST Cubs first had some fielding drills & took BP on Fitch Park Fields 1, 2, and 4, followed by a three-inning intrasquad game on Field #3 (and with no Banana Break in between, either!).

The EXST Giants put up a six spot in the bottom of the 1st inning en route to a 12-7 victory over the EXST Cubs at Indian School Park Field #2 in Scottsdale this morning. 

The EXST Angels scored three runs in the top of the 6th to break a 1-1 tie, and went on to defeat the EXST Cubs 4-2 at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.

RHP Robert Hernandez got the start for the Cubs and worked four innings, allowing only one unearned run on one hit, while walking one and striking out three. Hernandez completed his 50 game suspension this past Sunday, and so he can be assigned back to Peoria at any time.

Kyler Burke lined a game-tying RBI single to CF with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, and Roberto Sabates followed with a line-drive game-winning RBI single to LF, as the EXST Cubs rallied to edge the EXST Angels 9-8 this morning in a "Rush Hour Special" (9 AM start) at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.

The EXST Angels defeated the EXST Cubs 6-4 this morning at very windy Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.

While the EXST Cubs were losing 8-3 to the EXST Giants this morning on Fitch Park Field #3, Angel Guzman continued his rehab from September 2007 TJ surgery, throwing 20 pitches in a "simulated game" on Field #2.

Facing five EXST Cubs who were not in the starting lineup on Field #3 (Junior Lake, George Matheus, Nelson Perez, Kevin Soto, and Josh Vitters), the 26-year old Guzman once again had good velocity (consistently throwing his fastball 92-94 MPH, same as last Thursday), but also once again struggled with his control, (throwing ten balls and ten strikes in his one inning of work). But at least nobody hit the ball hard off him.

RHP Robert Hernandez, serving a 50-game prohibited substance suspension, threw four shutout innings (70 pitches, 3 H, 2 BB, 6 K), but RHP Harol Tolentino surrendered a game-winning three-run walk-off HR in the bottom of the 9th, as the EXST A's defeated the EXST Cubs 6-3 at the Papago Park Sports Complex in Phoenix this morning.

Continuing his rehab from last September's Tommy John surgery, Angel Guzman threw 14 pitches (8 balls & 6 strikes) in an EXST Camp Day intrasquad game at Fitch Park this morning. 

Guzman had previously thrown a "simulated game" last Friday and a "live" BP session on Monday.   

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