Spencer Hits Early and Often at Extended Spring Training
Xavier Batista and Blair Springfield drove-in two runs a piece in a four-run Cubs 2nd, and Matt Spencer whacked a home run over the RF fence leading-off the bottom of the 3rd, as the EXST Cubs held-on to defeat the EXST A's 6-5 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.
At Extended Spring Training while rehabbing from a broken toe suffered last month in Minor League Camp, Matt Spencer hit in each of the first five innings of today’s game (he batted in all nine innings yesterday), going 2-4 with the solo HR, a single, and a walk. He left the game after playing just five innings, possibly an indication that he has completed his rehab assignment and will be re-joining the AA Tennessee Smokies tomorrow or Monday. (Spencer was acquired from the Oakland A's last December along with pitchers Jeff Gray and Ronny Morla for IF-OF Jake Fox and INF Aaron Miles).
Trailing 1-0, the Cubs erupted for four runs in the bottom of the second inning. Spencer led-off with a line single, Charles Thomas drew a walk, and Sergio Burruel was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Then with one out, 18-year old Dominican slugger Xavier Batista ripped a double off the LF fence to drive-in two, and with two outs, Blair Springfield lined a single to right-center to plate the other two runs.
The Cubs scored their final runs of the day in the bottom of the third inning. Spencer hit a lead-off HR over the RF fence, and then Vismeldy Bieneme drew a walk, Pin-Chieh Chen singled to right (Chen’s second hit of the day) sending Bieneme to 3rd, and Charles Thomas bounced an RBI single with a lot of top-spin through the box and into CF to knock-in Bieneme.
The Cubs bullpen did a pretty good job in the middle innings, at one point retiring 13 A's batters in a row. 20-year old Dominican LHP Marcos Perez was especially impressive, throwing two perfect 1-2-3 innings, striking out three, and doing it while throwing only 14 pitches (13 for strikes!). In two apperarances so far for the EXST Cubs, Perez has thrown four perfect innings (29 pitches - 24 strikes), with four strikeouts. If the Peoria Chiefs are in need of another lefty reliever (and it would appear they are), I would think that M. Perez is definitely a strong candidate to get tabbed.
In EXST Cubs roster news, LHP James Leverton has been moved up to Peoria, replacing RHP Jon Nagel, who was placed on the Chiefs 7-day DL. Leverton struck out all four batters he faced in his only EXST appearance last Monday.
Here is today’s abridged box score (EXST Cubs players only):
NOTE: 1B Matt Spencer batted in each of the first five innings, getting five plate appearances total in the game.
X. Matt Spencer, 1B: 2-4 (4-3, 1B, HR, BB, 4-3, 2 R, RBI)
1. Vismeldy Bieneme, 3B: 0-2 (4-3, BB, 6-3, R)
2. Pin-Chieh Chen, 2B: 2-3 (1B, 1B, F-8, CS)
3a. SKIPPED FIRST TWO TIMES
3b. Melvin Camarena, 1B: 0-1 (F-8)
4. Charles Thomas, DH #1: 1-2 (BB, 1B, P-4, R, RBI)
5a. Sergio Burruel, C: 0-1 (HBP, 6-4-3 GIDP, R)
5b. Jose Guevara, C: 0-1 (K)
6. Arismendy Alcantara, SS 0-3 (P-7, 1-3, K)
7. Xavier Batista, RF: 1-3 (2B, 5-4-3 GIDP, 6-3, R, 2 RBI)
8. Manuel Pestana, LF: 0-3 (5-3, K, F-8)
9. Blair Springfield, DH #2: 1-3 (1B, P-4, P-4, 2 RBI)
10. Kyung-Min Na, CF: 0-2 (K, K)
1. Luis Liria – 3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 3 K, 1/4 GO/FO, 50 pitches (32 strikes)
2. John Mincone – 2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 1 K, 1 PO, 3/1 GO/FO, 34 pitches (18 strikes)
3. Marcos Perez – 2.0 IP, 0H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 2/1 GO/FO, 14 pitches (13 strikes)
4. Yohan Gonzalez – 2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 3 K, 1/2 GO/FO, 33 pitches (21 strikes)
2B Pin-Chieh Chen E-4 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base with one out in the top of the 3rd inning – did not score).
Sergio Burruel: 0-1 CS, 1 PB
LF Manuel Pestana threw out batter 7-4 trying to stretch a single down LF line into a double with no outs in the top of the 2nd inning.
WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 80’s
"Terms of the deal were not disclosed."
Theo inks five year extension
PC tonite at PNC
Not as a major factor, but could be a tie-breaker. But, yeah, on performance and experience, it's Coghlan.
Arrieta’s 2.85 ERA would be good enough to lead 26 other teams. He's 3rd on #Cubs behind Hendricks (1.99) and Lester (2.28)
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For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.