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)
Can someone tell me what happened on Russell's error?
BILLY BUCKS: As things stand right now, Dylan Cease will be in the Eugene starting rotation when the NWL season begins play in June, and if he peforms well there he could perhaps move up to South Bend toward the end of the minor league season or for the MWL playoffs (if South Bend qualifies).
i'm more "wtf?" about him hitting 2nd than playing LF...especially since zobrist exists.
Soler's primary position is suppose to be in left for this season so technically he is not out of position. Although I agree, it does seem weird given their histories.
Any idea of where/when Cease will head for the season?
Over/under on HBP tonight?
Yes, I know KB played LF and Szczur played RF last night, but there's a legit case that RF is the easier draw at PNC.
Seems an odd lineup -- Soler in LF and Bryant in RF? Two guys out of position? I guess Fed has to catch tonight so All Star Gramps can catch Lester tomorrow. Or maybe Joe just wants somebody else to catch a no-hitter. Would love to see KB get the power turned on. C'mon Jorge -- channel your playoff self!
All it took was Schwarber, Heyward, and Szczur getting hurt for him to get to play again. Let's go ahead and call this little stretch your last real chance to prove you belong on this team, Jorge.
soler hitting 2nd...didn't expect that one.
tonight: Fowler, Soler, Bryant, Rizzo, Zobrisjt, Baez, Russell, Federowicz, Arrieta
roster shuffle official per Sun Times, Gordon Wittenmeyer on twitter...Szczur to DL with minor hamstring strain, Chris Villanueva to 60 day DL, Ryan Kalish to 40 man roster and gets the call-up.
There's an interview with Heyward up on ESPN where he says the wrist thing has been lingering and he just brought it up with the team as it didn't go away. So that could very well explain why he hasn't had the same hard contact recently.
Ryan Kalish writeup (by Peter Gammons last November):
Villanueva goes to the 60 day DL.
Peter Gammons just tweeted that teammates are tweeting Kalish is getting recalled. Not sure which ones and what they'll do with the 40 man but there we go.