LaHair Ball Day at Fitch Park

Bryan LaHair singled, doubled, and tripled, scored two runs, and knocked-in two more, and Nate Samson had two hits, drove-in three runs and scored another, but it wasn’t anywhere near enough, as the Arkansas Travelers (Los Angeles Angels AA affiliate) took advantage of six errors to defeat the Tennessee Smokies 7-3 on Field #2, and the Salt Lake Bees (Angels AAA affiliate) outlasted the Iowa Cubs 13-8 on Field #3, in Cactus League Minor League game action this afternoon at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.


Cubs first-baseman Bryan LaHair (hitting .188 with only one XBH and 11 K in 33 PA in Cactus League games through this past weekend) was assigned to Fitch Park today, and was apparently advised to get as many Plate Appearances as possible in as short a time as possible, because he was inserted into both the Tennessee and Iowa lineups (usually batting 2nd in the inning) at every opportunity. In total, he batted seven times, had three hits (a single, a double, and a triple), grounded out twice, flied out once, and struck out (swinging) in his final AB (he was probably tired). On two occasions he no sooner had scored a run for the I-Cubs on Field #3 than he ran through the gates separating the fields to take an AB for the Smokies on Field #2.


While LaHair was being omnipresent, the other players just confined themselves to playing in one game or the other.


Cubs #1 pitching prospect RHP Trey McNutt got the start for Tennessee, and allowed two runs on three hits (two doubles and single) plus a walk and a HBP in two innings of work. He struggled with his command (51 pitches – only 30 strikes), but he had good velocity and struck out three (two swinging).


22-year old LHP Eric Jokisch (who led all Cubs minor leaguers in wins last season, with 10 combined between Peoria and Tennessee) threw the next two innings, and allowed a run on two hits (a single and a triple) and a walk. He did not rack-up any strikeouts.


One-time Venezuelan bonus baby Larry Suarez (all 6’4 270 of him) was the third Tennessee pitcher to take the hill, and he struggled with his control. The 22-year old right-hander allowed two runs on three hits and two walks, and was pulled out of the game prior to completing his second inning of work.


24-year old Cuban defector RHP Juan Yasser Serrano threw a hitless 9th.


Meanwhile over on Field #3, RHRP Brian Schlitter saw his first game action since 2010, needing only six pitches to get through his one inning. Schlitter missed the 2011 season with an elbow injury that kept him on the 60-day DL for the entire season, a “pre-existing” injury that resulted in two waiver claims being voided, with the Cubs having to refund the waiver payment and pay Schiltter his major league split salary ($417K) while he spent the year at Fitch Park. He was outrighted to AAA after the season. Some of you may remember Schlitter as the PTBNL acquired by the Cubs from the Phillies in exchange for veteran LHRP Scott Eyre in August 2008, and he made his MLB debut (with the Cubs) in August 2010.


RHP Ty’Relle Harris (acquired from Atlanta in 2010 in the Derrek Lee trade) saw his first game action since being seriously injured after being hit by a drunk driver outside a nightclub in Knoxville last June. He appeared to be throwing the ball very well today.


The rest of the pitchers who took the hill at Fitch Park this afternoon were moved up (just for the day) from the Daytona, Peoria, or Boise/Mesa squads, and (generally) it showed. The one exception was Daytona RHRP P. J. Francescon (Cubs 2011 40th round draft pick out of Trevecca Nazarene U), who threw two shutout innings and struck out five. He was really dealin’ today. Francescon put up a 1.20 WHIP with 8/44 BB/K in 38 IP at three stops after signing last Summer, finishing up his pro debut at Hi-A Daytona.


Most of the roster movement at Minor League Camp is downward (as players cut from the MLB squad are sent to Fitch Park, a cascade of other roster moves result as another player gets moved down from the Iowa squad to Tennessee, and then another goes from the Tennessee squad to Daytona, etc), but every now & then someone manages to swim upstream. A performance like Francescon’s today (a Daytona pitcher throwing “light’s out” in a AAA game) could open some eyes and cause one of those reverse movements.


As usual, several of the player assigned to the Boise/Mesa squad served as late-inning replacements. (Boise/Mesa does not play games until it becomes the Cubs Extended Spring Training squad next month).


Here are the abridged box scores from the two games played today at Fitch Park (Cubs players only)


FITCH PARK FIELD #2


NOTE: Bryan LaHair batted 3rd in the 1st inning, and 2nd in the 5th.


TENNESSEE LINEUP:
X. Bryan LaHair, DH #1: 0-2 (F-7, 3-U)
1a. Zeke DeVoss, 2B: 1-3 (K, K, 1B, SB)
1b. Pierre LePage, 2B: 1-1: (1B, RBI)
2a. Logan Watkins, SS: 0-1 (6-3, BB, BB, SB)
2b. Brad Zapenas, SS: 0-1 (6-4-3 DP)
3a. Matt Cerda, 3B: 0-2 (BB, 4-3, 6-4-3 DP, R)
3b. Jeimer Candelario, 3B: 0-1 (K)
4. Justin Bour, 1B-DH: 1-4 (1B, L-5, 4-3, 3-1, R)
5a. Richard Jones, DH-1B: 0-3 (F-9, F-8, F-7)
5b. Justin Marra, PH: 0-1 (K)
6a. Nelson Perez, RF: 1-1 (BB, 2B)
6b. Dong-Yub Kim, RF: 0-1 (5-3)
7a. John Andreoli, LF: 1-2 (1B, 5-3, RBI)
7b. Delbis Arcila, LF: 0-0 (BB)
8a. Rafael Lopez, C: 1-2 (1B, 5-3, RBI, PO)
8b. Chad Noble, C: 0-1 (K)
9. Taiwan Easterling, CF: 0-1 (K, HBP, HBP, R, 2 SB)
10. Luis Flores, DH #3: 0-3 (K, 3-U, F-9)


TENNESSEE PITCHERS:
1. Trey McNutt: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 51 pitches (30 strikes), 3/0 GO/FO
2. Eric Jokisch: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 25 pitches (17 strikes), 3/2 GO/FO
3. Larry Suarez: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 2 K, 40 pitches (24 strikes), 2/1 GO/FO
4. Scott Weismann: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 GIDP, 29 pitches (23 strikes), 4/1 GO/FO
5. Juan Serrano: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 14 pitches (12 strikes), 0/1 O/FO


TENNESSEE ERRORS: 6
1. C Rafael Lopez - E2 (errant throw allowed runner on 1st base to advance to 2nd base)
2. 3B Matt Cerda - E5 (overthrow to 1st base on infield single allowed batter to advance to 2nd base)
3. 3B Jeimer Candelario - E5 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely)
4. P Scott Weismann - E1 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely)
5. P Juan Serrano - E1 (errant throw allowed batter to reach base
6. SS Brad Zapenas - E6 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely)


TENNESSEE CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Rafael Lopez: 1-1 CS, 1 E (see above)


FITCH PARK FIELD #3


NOTE: Bryan LaHair batted 2nd in the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 6th innings, and he led-off the 3rd inning.


IOWA LINEUP:
X. Bryan LaHair, DH #1: 3-5 (3B, 4-3, 2B, 1B, K, 2 R, 2 RBI)
1. Nate Samson, 2B: 2-3 (1B, F-7 SF, F-9, 2B, R, 3 RBI)
2. Ty Wright, LF: 2-4 (1B, 1B, K, K, 2 RBI, CS)
3. Jae-Hoon Ha, CF: 1-3 (BB, 3B, 6-3, K, R)
4. Rebel Ridling, DH #2: 1-4 (K, 1B, F-7, K)
5a. Michael Burgess, RF: 0-2 (K, K)
5b. Abner Abreu, RF: 0-1 (K)
6a. Jason Jaramillo, C: 0-2 (F-8, 6-4-3 DP)
6b. Juan Apodaca, C: 0-1 (F-8)
7a. Marquez Smith, 3B: 0-2 (6-3, K)
7b. Jake Opitz, 3B: : 0-1 (F-7)
8a. Jonathon Mota, SS: 1-2 (6-3, 2B)
8b. Carlos Penalver, SS: 1-1 (1B, R, SB)
9. Greg Rohan, 1B: 0-1 (BB, 6-3, BB, 2 R)
10. Leugim Barroso, DH #3: 1-3 (K, 2-3, 1B, R, RBI)


IOWA PITCHERS:
1. Brian Schlitter: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 6 pitches (4 strikes), 0/3 GO/FO
2. Ty’Relle Harris: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 30 pitches (16 strikes), 1/3 GO/FO
3. Bryce Shafer: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 3 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 1 K, 4 WP, 24 pitches (9 strikes), 2/0 GO/FO
4. Eduardo Figueroa: 0.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R (5 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 26 pitches (11 strikes), 0/2 GO/FO
5. P. J. Francescon: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 30 pitches (20 strikes), 1/0 GO/FO
6. Ramon Garcia: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R (5 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 25 pitches (13 strikes), 2/1 GO/FO
7. Austin Reed: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 19 pitches (8 strikes), 0/1 GO/FO


IOWA ERRORS: 2
1. C Jason Jaramillo – E2 (overthrow at 2nd base on stolen base attempt allowed runner to advance to 3rd base)
2. 2B Nate Samson - E4 (errant throw on rundown between 2nd & 3rd allowed runner to score)


DAYTONA CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Jason Jaramillo: 0-1 CS, 1 E (see above)
Juan Apodaca: 0-2 CS


ATTENDANCE: 52


WEATHER: Mostly cloudy, cool, and VERY breezy, with temperatures in the 50’s

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Comments

AzPhil - Thoughts on Francescon? Seems like a nice sleeper candidate who gets dropped to the side in discussions about the system. Still can't believe we got him for that cheap. Are we looking at more of a Matt Loosen-esque (albeit, shorter and smaller) type of righty starter, 91-93 on the fastball, decent breaking ball (slider?), solid change, or do you think he has the potential to be a bit more? Or might he be better off in the pen? Seems like he could move fast as a pen arm, but I haven't gotten the feeling that he would really jump as a pen arm and be a possible late inning Derek Lowe-type. Would really prefer to see him stay as a starter, and it would seem like Daytona would be an ideal place for him to start this year - Tennessee would seem like an awfully hard push from the get-go.

Oh, how did Austin Reed look? Was never as high as others were on him 2 years ago, but seems like he gets a bit over-looked now. Can really pound out the grounders, and I would love to see him as a piggyback option in Peoria, but it seems he's slated for XST. Can he swim upstream?

AzPhil - Thoughts on Francescon? Seems like a nice sleeper candidate who gets dropped to the side in discussions about the system. Still can't believe we got him for that cheap. Are we looking at more of a Matt Loosen-esque (albeit, shorter and smaller) type of righty starter, 91-93 on the fastball, decent breaking ball (slider?), solid change, or do you think he has the potential to be a bit more? Or might he be better off in the pen? Seems like he could move fast as a pen arm, but I haven't gotten the feeling that he would really jump as a pen arm and be a possible late inning Derek Lowe-type. Would really prefer to see him stay as a starter, and it would seem like Daytona would be an ideal place for him to start this year - Tennessee would seem like an awfully hard push from the get-go.

Oh, how did Austin Reed look? Was never as high as others were on him 2 years ago, but seems like he gets a bit over-looked now. Can really pound out the grounders, and I would love to see him as a piggyback option in Peoria, but it seems he's slated for XST. Can he swim upstream?

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TOONSTER: P. J. Francescon is an interesting guy. I would say he is a major league prospect, although not a Top 15. He reminds me a LOT of Michael Wuertz (and I hope I'm not damning him with faint praise when I say that). He has a REALLY good change-up (better than solid, it's a swing & miss strikeout pitch), and he mixes that with a fastball that he he can spot wherever he wants to put it. Because hitters have to look for the change, his fastball is "sneaky fast," AND, he throws it for strikes. His breaking ball is OK (I guess), but it's nothing special.

Austin Reed still has significant command issues. He went Ball-3 on three of the four hitters he faced today. He got away with it today, but you can't do that and have much long-term success. He was assigned to the Boise/Mesa squad very early in Minor League Camp, so the Cubs apparently still view him as a raw talent who has a ways to go.

Thanks.

The way you make him sound, perhaps partly due to the Wuertz comparison (seemed odd at first due to slider vs. changeup, but it makes sense, a guy with a superb secondary pitch and with enough giddyup on the fastball), seems to suggest that you think he's better off in the pen. If the Cubs decide to put him in the pen, I don't see any issue with pushing him up to Tennessee to see if he can survive. Still would like to see him developed as a starter first, preferably, and see if he can put up either a sinker or improve his breaking ball.

As a side note, unrelated to anyone on the docket today, but I don't recall what your take on Loosen was/is. The reports I recall on Loosen are vaguely along the lines of 90-92 fastball, above average slider, solid-average curve, decent change? Is there hope for his secondary stuff to get better? Physically, always got the feeling that he could probably jack up the fastball a bit out of the pen. Tyler Clippard-ish type of talent?

Tue, 03/20/2012 - 12:17am — toonsterwu

As a side note, unrelated to anyone on the docket today, but I don't recall what your take on Loosen was/is. The reports I recall on Loosen are vaguely along the lines of 90-92 fastball, above average slider, solid-average curve, decent change? Is there hope for his secondary stuff to get better? Physically, always got the feeling that he could probably jack up the fastball a bit out of the pen. Tyler Clippard-ish type of talent?

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TOONSTER: The way you described Matt Loosen is exactly right. He's more polished than most of the pitchers in the system. If his secondary stuff does improve beyond average, he definitely could be a decent MLB back-of-the rotation starter or middle reliever.

As far as MLB pitchers are concerned, I don't know who would be a good comp, but within the Cubs organization, I would compare Loosen to maybe Yao-Lin Wang.

BTW, the San Diego Padres will soon be selecting a Cubs minor leaguer as compernsation for the Cubs signing Hoyer/McLeod. Supposedly SD gets to choose from among 12 players, and just from my own personal observation, I am going to say the list includes Jeffry Antigua, Frank Batista, Kyler Burke, Matt Cerda, Pin-Chieh Chen, Wes Darvill, Dustin Geiger, Austin Kirk, Austin Reed, Jose Rosario, Yao-Lin Wang, and Logan Watkins.

The only one on the above list that I would really regret losing is Kuyler Burke.

I'd like to keep Wang, Watkins, and Burke around. Wang has a shot to be a starter, I think. Watkins is likely to be at least a relatively useful bench player. And Burke obviously has a high ceiling, though it might be difficult to keep him around until he's ready (if he's ever ready).

Update on Kyler Burke for what it's worth--

I think they've played away both days so Phil hasn't been able to report on it, but here is what I gather from my sources that have been at both games.

Kyler pitched 2 innings Friday and 2 1/3 innings Monday. He has retired all 13 batters faced with no walks or hits. Here's a summary:

Inning 1: K, K, FO
Inning 2:  GO, FO, FO
Inning 3: GO to 1B, GO to P, Popout to 3B
Inning 4: FO to LF, GO to 2B, FO to RF
Inning 5: K

I would assume he was pulled in the 3rd inning Monday because of pitch count.

Hey chatt, do you get a sense if Kyler feels like he'll be given a shot to start?

That said, a strong spring could really put him on the Padres radar.

Well, I haven't personally spoken to him about that specific subject, in fact my info above did not come from him either. With that said, I think the idea is for him to be a reliever at first. Much of it depends on whether he can successfully develop a fourth pitch. He currently throws a fastball changeup and 12 to 6 curveball, but has been working on developing a slider. I think in the minors he will either start or have some piggyback outings like he did last year to ensure he gets an adequate amount of innings.

Doug Padilla (works with Bruce Levine) at ESPN 1000 has an article on the 25 man roster, quotes from Sveum on man-love for Joe Mather and a mention of DeWitt in trade rumors. Says the final bench otherwise would be: Mather, Reed Johnson, Blake DeWitt, Jeff Baker and a backup catcher (either Steve Clevenger or Welington Castillo). Looks like Sappelt and Campana should get tickets to Iowa.

“I’d be lying if I said it was real close,” Sveum said when asked where Mather stood in the backup outfield spot battle. “The guy’s doing everything he possibly can. He can play so many positions, he can hit the ball out of the ballpark. He’s hit all kinds of pitching so far. He’s hit velocity, he’s hit side-arm right-handers. He played a heck of a center field [over the weekend] in Vegas. He can steal you a base.”

http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/i...

DeWitt’s name has come up in recent trade rumors, and if he was dealt it could open a spot for a player such as Adrian Cardenas or Alfredo Amezaga to become a backup middle infielder.

So it looks like Cubs are worried about project LaHair.

If he still struggles, this Spring what is back up plan or is he opening day at first no matter what?

Certainly I have no inside knowledge, but I would guess with (1) his performance last year during the season, (2) our goal of developing Rizzo at AAA, (3) our lack of other options in the system, and (4) our overall limited outlook for 2012, that LaHair will get at least until June as starting 1B, regardless of his performance this spring. If LaHair struggles, we might see some Jeff Baker at 1B more often, but I doubt we look outside the system or rush Rizzo or any other project.

Sure would be good to have McGehee (ok...just joking based on the long discussion in the previous thread!)

I get the feeling that they want Rizzo to get time in Iowa no matter what. I imagine LaHair will start the year. If he struggles, and they don't think Rizzo is ready/should be called up, then I'd imagine Baker, with a slim darkhorse look at Rebel Ridling if he hits well in AAA.

Similar Wittenmeyer article in the Sun-Times on the 25 man roster. More Mather-love and some mention of Wells or Rod Lopez gets the swingman role in the bullpen. Sveum said he expect final decisions to be made early by 3-28, next monday.

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/...

Phil-
Heading out there this weekend through Wednesday. Can you tell me what the typical schedule is around Fitch, as well as some of the other complexes? Finding game info is easy for the MLB teams, but not for practices or the minor leaguers.

Tue, 03/20/2012 - 7:37am — tribe22

Phil-
Heading out there this weekend through Wednesday. Can you tell me what the typical schedule is around Fitch, as well as some of the other complexes? Finding game info is easy for the MLB teams, but not for practices or the minor leaguers.

============================================

TRIBE22: With the Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games having started last Friday, Spring Training minor league camps kind of work like this:

For each organization, there are usually two minor league home games and two minor league road games every day. Either the AAA and AA squads are at home and the "A" and Hi-A squads play on the road, or vice-versa. Game time is normally 1 PM (or whenever the umpires arrive), and there is no charge. There is also no public address announcer, no music, no concessions, and no between-inning contests). Just baseball.

NOTE: Because there are 15 MLB organizatins in AZ, one organization has to play intrasquad games at home (AAA vs AA and Hi-A vs "A") every day, instead of four games against another organization's minor league affiliates.

Sometimes an MLB player or pitcher needing work will play in a minor league Spring Training game. (Like with Bryan LaHair yesterday). You might even get to see your team's best starting pitcher or closer throwing in a minor league game.

MLB players rehabbing from an injury will sometimes play in a minor league Spring Training game, because a hitter can get six or seven ABs (as many as he needs) all at one time & place, or a pitcher can throw under more controlled circumstances, like throwing a certain number of pitches each inning. (Because a minor league Spring Training game is less formal than an MLB ST game, an inning can be stopped before three outs are recorded if the pitcher has reached his max pitch limit for that inning, or an inning can be extended if three outs are recorded too quickly).

Minor league teams usually work out between 8 AM - noon (infield practice, then PFP & baserunning drills, and finally BP, usually in that order), and sometimes a pitcher--maybe an MLB pitcher rehabbing an injury--will throw either "live" BP or a "sim" game at 8:30 or 9:00. Occasionally a free-agent will come into minor league camp just for a day to get a work-out/try-out (BP for a FA hitter, or "live" BP for a FA pitcher).

The two minor league squads that are on the road that day do their work about 30-45 minutes ahead of the other two squads, but they're on different fields so it doesn't matter. So the two "road" teams usually finish BP earlier than the other two squads, and they also leave the field earlier because they have to travel to another facility to play their games.

In some cases, a club's minor league facility is located on the same grounds as the MLB Spring Training stadium (as is the case with COL, AZ, LAA, MIL, etc, but NOT with OAK, SF, or the CUBS), so if the MLB team is playing a Cactus League home game that day, the minor league squads playing there have to leave from their facility earlier than normal because of potential traffic congestion getting to the site.

All four of the minor league games are played against the same organization, which is usually not the same organization the MLB club is playing that day (in other words, if it is the same organization, it's just a coincidence). For example, yesterday the Cubs AAA and AA squads played the Angels AAA and AA affiliates at Fitch Park, and the Cubs Hi-A and "A" squads traveled to Diablo Park in Tempe and played the Angels Hi-A and "A" affiliates there, while the Cubs MLB squad played a road game versus the Seattle Mariners in Peoria.

Every day a few players & pitchers from minor league camp are assigned as extra men with the MLB squad for that day only, and so they leave minor league camp early and join the MLB squad for BP.

During Spring Training, the Cubs minor league teams play only the other "east-side" teams (LAA, SF, OAK, COL, and AZ), and the west-side teams (SEA, SD, TEX, KC, CLE, CIN, LAD, and CHW) only play each other, too, and then the Milwaukee Brewers (located in a more central location) are the "swing team," and they play both east-side and west-side teams.

BTW, before the AZ Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies moved to Salt Rivers Fields at Talking Stick (east of Scottsdale) last year, both clubs had their minor league HQ in Tucson, and they played either an intrasquad game or games against each other EVERY day. (Same thing for Extended Spring Training and Instructs). That got old in a hurry!

Thanks a lot! How do you determine which players who are no longer with the MLB team and are now in MLB camp? Lake and Rizzo, for example, have already been sent down, but are still playing with the MLB team?

Tue, 03/20/2012 - 2:08pm — tribe22

Thanks a lot! How do you determine which players who are no longer with the MLB team and are now in MLB camp? Lake and Rizzo, for example, have already been sent down, but are still playing with the MLB team?

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TRIBE22: Even though a player may have been optioned to the minors, he can still play in MLB Cactus League Spring Training games. In the cases of Cabrera, Lake, Vitters, and Szczur, they have not reported to Minor League Camp and each continues to be assigned to the Cubs MLB squad every day (although probably not for much longer), even though all of them were optioned to the minors last week.

The main reason a club options a player to the minors during Spring Training is so if the player is injured after being optioned, he can be placed on a minor league disabled list and be paid his minor league split salary (about $45,000 for a player on a 40-man roster for the first time, like Beliveau, Lake, Vitters, and Szczur), instead of having to be placed on an MLB DL and be paid his major league split salary (minimum $480,000).

The reason all players eligible to receive a minor league split salary are not optioned to the minors at first opportunity is that a player who is optioned to the minors during Spring Training must remain on Optional Assignment for the first ten days of the MLB regular season, so (for example) the Cubs would not want to option Tony Campana, Scott Maine, Adrian Cardenas, Welington Castillo, et al, to the minors until they are sure that they will not make the MLB 25-man Opening Day roster.

ian stewart returns.

also, audio feeds "free" on cubs.com with a mlb.com login (free).

rodrigo lopez continues his oddly good spring...

5ip 3h 1er 1bb 4k

12ip 9h 3er 1bb 9k so far

guess who's injured?

carlos marmol? yeah, him.

neat...supposedly hand/wrist at least.

Pat Boyle ‏ @CSNBoyle
Marmol says hand cramp in pitching hand.. Going for precautionary MRI now.. He said he is not concerned

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