Double Plays, Errors, and Injuries Strike Cubs at Fitch Park
The EXST Diamondbacks turned four double plays and took advantage of seven EXST Cubs errors to score three unearned runs, en route to a 6-3 victory in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.
Today’s game was extended an extra half-inning so that all of the Cubs pitchers who were due to throw could get their scheduled work. Several other Cubs pitchers threw in a “sim game” on Field #2 simultaneous with the EXST game on Field #3.
This was the final Cactus League Extended Spring Training game for the Cubs, as the players will be given a short break before returning to Fitch Park after next week’s draft to prepare for the start of the short season leagues. The Boise Hawks begin play on June 17th at Eugene (Hawks home opener is June 22nd), and the AZL Cubs first game is the night of June 20th versus the AZL Giants at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.
The AZL Cubs will play their home games at HoHoKam Park (with a 7 PM start time) up through July 24th, before moving to Fitch Park and playing their home games in the morning (11 AM start time) beginning on July 26th.
As far as today’s game is concerned, lanky 20-year old Dominican LHP Willengton Cruz got the start (his third game started in six days), and allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits in three innings of work (53 pitches – 35 strikes). He was the unlucky victim of five errors behind him (four in the first inning alone), but he came back strong to strike out the last five batters he faced (all swinging).
Of the ten Cubs pitchers at Extended Spring Training who spent last season pitching in the Dominican Summer League, W. Cruz and 20-year old Dominican RHP Starling Peralta are easily the top two, and I would say both have a good chance to get assigned to Boise (skipping AZL Cubs).
Unfortunately, two Cubs suffered injuries and had to leave today’s game. OF Jesus Morelli was hit on the left hand by a pitch (and it did not look good), and catcher Johan DeJesus had to be helped from the field after taking a foul tip direct hit on the groin/protective cup. DeJesus was on the ground writhing in pain for five minutes, and looked like he was about to pass out once he got to his feet. (Just watching it made me feel like passing out, too).
1B Trevor Gretzky (Oaks Christian HS - Westlake Village, CA) worked out for Cubs scouts on Field #1. The son of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, Trevor didn't show a whole lot at the plate (opposite-field stroke with warning track power), but he is still recovering from labrum surgery. He has a lanky body with long legs, and looks like he could maybe benefit from an off-season body-building regimen at Camp Colvin. If he does not choose to sign with an MLB club this year, he will attend San Diego State.
Here is today’s abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1. Vismeldy Bieneme, 2B: 2-4 (1B, 6-3, K, 1B, RBI)
2a. Eduardo Gonzalez, RF: 0-1 (4-6-3 DP)
2b. Jesus Morelli, RF: 0-0 (HBP)
2c. Wilson Contreras, PR-3B: 0-2 (L-7, 3-1)
3. Marco Hernandez, SS: 0-4 (L-9, 3-6-3 DP, F-8, K)
4. Dong-Yub Kim, LF: 1-4 (P-4, K, K, 1B)
5. Brandon May, 1B: 2-4 (2B, 1B, 6-3, 6-4-3 DP, R)
6. Brian Inoa, DH #1: 1-3 (K, K, 2B, R)
7. Max Kwan, DH #2: 1-2 (1B, BB, E-6, RBI)
8a. Johan DeJesus, C: 0-2 (P-4, K)
8b. Carlos Romero, C: 0-1 (4-6-3 DP)
9. Gregori Gonzalez, 3B-RF: 1-3 (6-3, K, 2B, R, RBI, SB)
10. Oliver Zapata, CF: 0-2 (F-9, P-6, BB)
1. Willengton Cruz: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 53 pitches (35 strikes), 1/2 GO/FO
2. Luis Liria: 3.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 47 pitches (27 strikes), 6/0 GO/FO
3. Jose Rosario: 3.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 44 pitches (30 strikes), 5/0 GO/FO
4. Ramon Garcia: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 GIDP, 18 pitches (12 strikes)
1. 1B Brandon May - E3 (missed catch on pick-off attempt at 1st base allowed base-runner to advance to 2nd base)
2. 2B Vismeldy Bieneme - E4 (dropped pop fly in infield allowing batter to reach base safely – eventually scored unearned run)
3. C Johan DeJesus - E2 (errant throw on stolen base attempt at 2nd base alllowed runner on 3rd base to score)
4. C Johan DeJesus - E2 (missed catch on play at the plate on RBI single allowed batter to advance to 2nd base)
5. LF Dong-Yub Kim - E7 (fielding error on RBI double allowed batter to advance to 3rd base – eventually scored unearned run)
6. SS Marco Hernandez - E6 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely and unearned run to score)
7. 1B Brandon May - E3 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely)
Johan DeJesus 3-5 CS, 2 E (see above)
WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 90’s
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.
soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.
he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.