Team Ramirez Tags Russell at Fitch
Aramis Ramirez ripped a towering home run high over the LF fence onto 8th Street and Max Ramirez drilled a liner off the right-centerfield fence and almost took the pitcher's head off with a line drive up the middle, as James Russell was hit hard in a 25-pitch "live" BP session at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning.
Aram did not take "live" BP last year and did not hit against live pitching yesterday, either, but he looked very comfortable hitting against Ryan Dempster and James Russell today.
And Max Ramirez continued to show off his offensive skills today, battering Russell in a five-pitch AB. A one-time Texas Rangers Top 10 Prospect, the 26-year old Ramirez was acquired off waivers from Boston last month, and he is known as an offensive-first C-1B. Whether he will be able to beat-out Koyie Hill for the #2 catcher job is questionable, because the Cubs pitchers who matter seem to prefer throwing to K. Hill when Geovany Soto is not in the lineup. But if he keeps hitting the ball in Cactus League play as well as he has this week at Fitch Park, it might be tough to keep M. Ramirez off the Opening Day 25-man roster. His best chance to make the team would probably be if Geo's shoulder keeps him from handling a #1 catcher's work-load (at least at the beginning of the season), or if something happens to K. Hill. The other ways M. Ramirez could make the Opening Day roster would be if the Cubs opt to go with just four outfielders (Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, Kosuke Fukudome, and Tyler Colvin) and cut both Reed Johnson and Fernando Perez, or if they go with just one back-up infielder (Darwin Barney) and cut Jeff Baker.
Among the other pitchers who threw today, Jeff Samardzija got a lot of ground balls on Field #2 facing Fukudome, Perez, Bryan Lahair, and Brad Snyder, and Carlos Marmol was just plain filthy, with Josh Vitters managing to hammer the one and only ball hit hard off the Cub closer (a line drive). All of the Cubs position players except Koyie Hill had the opportunity to face "live" BP against Cubs pitchers today, although Hill did have a lengthy BP session hitting the offerings of Cub coaches on Field #1 after the "live" BP session had concluded.
It was "picture day" today, so the Cubs wore their home white pinstripe uniforms instead of the blue batting practice tops & grey pants they normally wear at Fitch Park.
Koyie Hill (Looper & Silva)
Chris Robinson (Samardzija & Stevens)
Steve Clevenger (Maine & Rice)
GROUP 1 HITTERS (vs Looper & Silva)
GROUP 2 HITTERS (vs Samardzija and Stevens)
GROUP 3 HITTERS (vs Maine & Rice)
Geovany Soto (Dempster & Russell)
Welington Castillo (Marmol & Marshall)
Max Ramirez (Carpenter & Smit)
GROUP 1 HITTERS (vs Dempster & Russell)
GROUP 2 HITTERS (vs Marmol & Marshall)
GROUP 3 HITTERS (vs Carpenter & Smit)