Berg and Carrillo Get Rehab Work at EXST
Sean Hoorelbeke slammed a double off the right-centerfield fence with two outs in the top of the 8th, scoring Chris Weimer from 1st base with the go-ahead run, as the EXST Cubs edged the EXST A's 3-2 in a rematch at the A's Minor League Complex Field #2 at Papago Park in Phoenix this morning.
RHP Larry Suarez was scheduled to start, but he was bumped to three innings of middle-relief to allow rehabbing Iowa Cubs RHP Justin Berg and Tennessee Smokies RHP Marco Carrillo to get some game action.
Berg, who was added to the Cubs 40-man roster in November 2008, was placed on the Iowa Cubs DL last month with a sore shoulder and has been at Fitch Park rehabbing for the past couple of weeks. His best pitch is a power-sinker, and when he's right, he gets a lot of ground balls. Well, he got ground balls today (four hitters, four ground balls), but only two outs, thanks to a leaky infield defense.
Berg worked one inning (16 pitches - 12 strikes) today, and looked very good. He did allow one unearned run, and his inning was terminated early (with only two outs) when he reached his pre-determined pitch limit, but he actually should have gotten four outs in the inning (all on ground balls) with no base-runners. But the first two A's batters reached base on errors by Cubs infielders (one by 3B Jose Made, and the other by 1B Chris Weimer), and then with runners at 1st & 3rd and no outs, 2B George Matheus bobbled a "rrom service" easy 4-6-3 DP ball, and was only able to get the batter out at 1st base, further prolonging the inning.
The only question about Berg is how his arm bounces back over the next couple of days, but if it does bounce back normally and there are no further medical setbacks, I would think the 24-year old should be back in the Iowa Cubs bullpen in relatively short order.
Fellow-rehabber (and Culiacan, Mexico native) Marco Carrillo followed Berg to the mound, and the little right-hander (he's only 5'11) pitched four innings of one-hit shutout ball, allowing a four-pitch walk to the first batter he faced, and then throwing 34 out his next 47 pitches for strikes, retiring 12 of the last 13 men he faced, striking out four. He also picked a runner off 1st base (he has an OUTSTANDING pick-off move for a RHP). Carrillo went a combined 9-8 between Daytona and Tennessee as a 21-year old last season, and based on his performance today, he looks to be ready to rejoin either the Daytona Cubs or Tennessee Smokies starting rotation immediately.
Both Berg and Carrillo were watched closely by Cubs "Rehabilitation Pitching Coach" Brad Kelley (ably assisted by videographer Billy Muldowney, who is rehabbing at Fitch Park after undergoing elbow surgery in March). Prior to this season, AZL Cubs Pitching Coach Rick Tronerud was responsible for both the 20+ AZL Cubs pitchers AND the rehab guys (including injured pitchers assigned to Fitch Park and position players being converted to pitcher), but the Cubs decided during the off-season to split the duties between two coaches, resulting in the Kelley hire.
19-year old 6'4 255 Venezuelan bonus baby (and Carlos Zambrano clone) Larry Suarez was pushed back to the 6th inning to accomodate Berg and Carrillo, but once he got into the game, he pitched three solid innings (42 pitches - 30 strikes), allowing one run on three hits, while walking none and striking out five. Suarez has really nasty stuff, and with the improved command he has shown this Spring (he was rehabbing from elbow surgery most of last year), he could be in line for a big year at Boise (or possibly even at Peoria or Daytona, if the Cubs opt to move him out of Fitch Park before mid-June). Suarez has been one of the top pitchers (so far) at EXST (RHPs Julio Pena and Su-Min Jung being the other two).
LHP Melvin Vasquez had an interesting bottom of the 9th. Protecting a 3-2 Cub lead, Vasquez gave up a single and a walk, and then the next batter reached base on a Juan Medina brain-fart (the catcher fielded a bunt and tried to get the lead runner out at 3rd base when he should have taken the out at 1st). With the bases loaded and no outs, Vasquez proceeded to induce two weak infield ground outs that resulted in force plays at the plate, and then after running the count to 3-0 on the next hitter (remember, the bases are loaded), he fired three consecutive strikes (the last two swinging) to secure the victory.
Besides Hoorelbeke's clutch 8th inning double, the one other offensive item of note was a two-hit day (plus a SF-RBI and a stolen base) for Dwayne Kemp, who played shortstop today. Kempy has been on fire at the plate, and he looks a lot more relaxed this season in the field, too. He showed off his athleticism at SS today, making four fine stops & throws. If the Cubs can become convinced that Kemp can play SS in addition to 2B, he would be more-likely to get a promotion to Peoria a lot sooner. He brings a lot of positive energy to the field, and he has surprising power for a little guy (sort of like a right-handed hitting version of Mike Fontenot).
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only)
1. Jose Valdez, CF: 0-3 (K, E-2, SH, F-8 - 1 R)
2. Dwayne Kemp, SS: 2-3 (1B, 1B, F-9 SF, L-7 - 1 RBI, 1 SB)
3. Chris Weimer, 1B: 1-4 (K, K, L-4, 1B - 1 R)
4. Sean Hoorelbeke, DH #1: 1-3 (1-3, BB, K, 2B - 1 RBI)
5. Jericho Jones, DH #2: 1-4 (1B, F-8, 6-3, F-7)
6a. Jose Guevara, C: 1-3 (1-3, F-8, 1B)
6b. Juan Medina, C: 1-1 (1B)
7. Kevin Soto, RF: 0-4 (L-6, 6-3, F-8, 4-6-3 GIDP)
8. Jesus Morelli, LF: 0-3 (BB, L-4, 2-3, 6-3)
9. George Matheus, 2B: 0-2 (K, BB, 6-3 - 1 R)
10. Jose Made, 3B: 1-3 (4-3, 1B, 4-3)
1. Justin Berg - 0.2 IP, 0 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 2/0 GO/FO, 16 pitches (12 strikes)
2. Marco Carrillo - 4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 PO, 4/3 GO/FO, 51 pitches (34 strikes)
3. Larry Suarez - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 5 K, 3/1 GO/FO, 42 pitches (30 strikes)
4. Melvin Vasquez - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GO/FO
5. George Pineda - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GO/FO
NOTE: Berg's inning was terminated early (with two outs) when he reached his proscribed pitch count, and an extra half-inning was played after the Cubs had already won the game 3-2 in nine innings, allowing Pineda to get his pre-scheduled inning of work
1. 3B Jose Made bobbled ground ball (E-5) allowing batter to reach base with no outs in 1st inning (runner eventually scored, resulting in unearned run)
2. 1B Chris Weimer bobbled ground ball (E-3) allowing batter to reach base and runner on 1st base to advance to 3rd base with no outs in 1st inning
3. C Jose Guevara fielded tapper in front of plate and then made errant throw (E-2) to 1st base allowing batter to reach base leading off bottom of the 3rd.
4. LF Jesus Morelli bobbled line drive single to LF (E-7) with runner on 2nd base and one out in the bottom of the 10th inning (the special extra half-inning tacked onto the end of the game), allowing runner who had stopped at 3rd base to score an unearned run.
Jose Guevara 0-1 CS
Juan Medina 1-2 CS
WEATHER 100 degrees, hot & sunny (did I mention it was hot?)