Hill Begins Long Climb Back
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.
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).
Hill was sent to Fitch Park from the AAA Iowa Cubs as a "special project" after the left-hander was unable to throw strikes consistently at Iowa (as was also the case at Spring Training in February and March and with the Cubs in Chicago earlier in the season).
Riggins had Hill slow down his delivery and work on being consistent with the part of his mechanics where he rocks back and pulls his right shoulder up, before rocking forward again and reacquiring his target. Apparently that's where Hill's mechanics are out of whack. He has been unable to replicate that part of his delivery from pitch-to-pitch. Riggins also videotaped the session for later analysis.
Whether Riggins and Hill will be able to fix the lefty's mechanical problem so that he will be able to replicate his delivery and find a consistent release point from pitch to pitch remains to be seen, but Hill will be working with Riggins at Fitch Park until the problem is fixed, however long that might be. Hopefully increased self-confidence will follow the hoped-for successful mechanical repair.
In addition to the Hill sim game, LHP (ex-OF) Leon Johnson threw at 20-pitch "live" BP session (also on Field #1) as the ex-outfielder continues to try and make the conversion to throwing off the mound, and RHP Rafael Dolis (2007 Tommy John Surgery) and RHP Cedric Redmond (labrum tear rehab) squared off in a two-inning sim game on Field #3 prior to the AZL game.
Dolis, who can throw 96 MPH when healthy, suffered from a sore shoulder at Extended Spring Training in April-May while rehabbing from the '07 TJS, but (barring any further medical setbacks) he will supposedly be activated and get into AZL Cubs game action later this week. He is Jose Ceda Lite.
Redmond, a 2006 27th round draft pick who was signed as a "Draft & Follow" out of Oakton Community College a year ago, is expected to be activated next week (again, provided there is no medical setback in the meantime). Redmond has a nice riding fastball and a very effective change-up that dives downward and away from left-handed hitters like a splitter/screwball.
In AZL Cubs roster activity, catcher (and Cuban Defector) Roberto Sabates (2007 39th round draft pick) has been released. Sabates has below-average receiving skills and throwing arm, and is only a so-so hitter (albeit with plus-power). He hopes to hook-up with an independent league team. Sabates is the 8th Cubs 2007 Rule 4 Draft pick to get released (another retired, and 24 remain members of the Cubs organization).
Also Iowa OF Felix Pie (hand injury) has arrived at Fitch Park for physical rehab, although he can't swing a bat.
Here is the current AZL Cubs roster:
* bats or throws left
# bats both
* Jeffry Antigua
* Jeffrey Beliveau
* Luke Sommer (ex-OF)
* Matt Cerda
Robinson Chirinos (also IF-OF)
# Alvaro Sosa
Starlin Castro (SS-2B)
John Contreras (3B-1B)
Sean Hoorelbeke (1B)
* Bryan Jost (1B)
Dwayne Kemp (2B-OF)
Junior Lake (SS-3B)
George Matheus (SS-2B)
* Kurt Calvert
* Nelson Perez
FITCH PARK INFIRMARY (REHAB or LIMITED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY):
Ryan Acosta, P
Alberto Alburquerque, P
Alberto Cabrera, P
* Tony Campana, OF
* Jeff Culpepper, OF
Rafael Dolis, P
Jose Guevara, C
Angel Guzman, P
* Clark Hardman, OF
Jim Henderson, P
* Rich Hill, P
* Leon Johnson, P (ex-OF)
Kitt Kopach, P
Tarlandus Mitchell, P
Jon Nagel, P
Billy Petrick, P
* Felix Pie, OF
Cedric Redmond, P
Larry Suarez, P
Schwarber's was hit hard, into cross wind
Fowler's was straight up, heyward followed it until it went out
Mama Schwarber wants to have a word with you.
Mrs Fowler would like a word with you.
It seems to be blowing a bit out to right but far less than yesterday and much cooler so shouldn't be too much of an effect.
Only one of our hrs last night was out because of the wind though I think.
Which direction is wind blowing today? With Lackey a groundball pitcher, it might help Cubs if it is blowing in today and a 2-1 game instead of a 10-6 game.
I have convinced myself that Hammel's second half struggles were due to minor injuries and fatigue so with the extra rest he is going to be lights out.
Benji Molina is out of lineup
Yes. Unfortunately, as many of us, I have seen this movie before. Do not care for Hammel, and unlike other managers Joe will pull the plug quickly at least. I hope before things were to get out of hand.
Many of us are like "abused spouses" or whatever - with this Cubs stuff. You get hurt so many times, the trust rapidly erodes.
If the Cubs can get to Lackey early, its gonna be a big key to a W or L.
No idea what will happen. The Cards are the Cards and they have come back from 2-1 holes twice in the last 4 years, so I don't see them in panic mode at all. If anything, I expect the Cubs to be pressing more than the Cards today.
I want the Cubs to win because it would be great for the city, and great for the fans. But more than anything, I want the Cubs to win so I can see this team play for at least one more week this year. Never enjoyed watching a team more than this year.
Just to remember how far we have come: last year's opening day lineup was Bonifacio, Lake, Castro, Rizzo, Olt, Castillo, Schierholz, Barney, and Samardzija. It's been a fun ride this year!
BRADSBEARD: I haven't noticed any new rule or a change in the interpretation of an existing rule happening in Advanced Instructs, I don't know what rules will be tested in the AFL, although almost all recent rule changes and new interpretations of existing rules (the home plate collision rule, replay, time clock between innings, et al) do get their start in the AFL.
AZ Phil: I've heard that the AFL will be testing out a new force out rule that would affect break-up plays (like the Utley play). Have you heard anything about this new rule and any details about it? Are they testing it out at the advanced instructs as well?
Pretty sure I already know the answer to this, but since I will be in NYC next week I want to confirm... If the Cubs were to advance to the NLCS, the winner of LAD/NYM would have home field based on being a division winner (as opposed to Cubs by virtue of better record), correct?
CUBSTER: This "hammy" is on the other leg I heard last night. See you at the ballyard today young man!