Valbuena & Maysonet Rally White Squad to Victory

Luis Valbuena smacked a two-out two-run HR into the upper bullpen beyond the RF fence in the bottom of the 4th to turn a one run deficit into a one run lead, and then after the Blue Squad pushed across a run to tie the game in the top of the 5th, Edwin Maysonet blasted a three-run HR with two outs in the bottom of the frame to lift the White Squad to a 6-3 victory in a five-inning intrasquad game played this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.

Brett Jackson (two singles and a double) and Dave Sappelt (two doubles and a single) had three hits a piece for the Blue Squad.

After rolling out 4-3 twice in yesterday's game, B-Jax showed a really nice stroke in all three of his AB today, driving an opposite-field double into the left-center alley off LHP Brooks Raley leading off the game (before stealing 3rd & scoring on a Darnell McDonald RBI single), ripping a hard ground ball single through the 3.5 hole with two outs in the top of the 2nd (also off Raley), and stroking a line-drive single to right-center off Drew Carpenter with two outs in the 4th. He also made a fine running catch to rob Steve Clevenger of extra bases.

Sappelt hammered a single in the 1st off Raley, and then a double off the right-centerfield fence in the 3rd inning off Shawn Camp. Sappelt also collected a "gift" double leading off the 5th (and later scored the tying run on a Christian Villanueva RBI double) when White Squad CF Matt Szczur lost a routine fly ball in the sun.

Brooks Raley got the start for the White Squad and labored through his two innings of work (55 pitches - only 28 strikes), allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and a walk. The damage probably would have been a lot worse if not for a timely & nifty Raley pick-off of baserunner Darnell McDonald (froze him like the proverbial "Deer in Headlights") at 1st base after McDonald drove-home Brett Jackson with the game's first run in the top of the 1st.

Alberto Cabrera started for the Blue Squad and had an outing worthy of Carlos Marmol, walking four while striking out three in two innings. Cabrera racked up a lot of strikeouts but struggled with his command while pitching in the Dominican Winter League post-2012, too (13/20 BB/K in 14.1 IP), so today's performance was probably not an aberration. Like Marmol, Cabrera has nasty stuff and is sometimes virtually unhittable, but he has had a lot of trouble finding the strike zone lately.

Japanese RHP Kyuji Fujikawa made his U. S. (and Cub) game debut today, throwing a scoreless inning. He obviously has an effective splitter, and had several of the White Squad hitters flailing away at it.

The two late long-balls were surrendered by Michael Bowden (the Luis Valbuena two-run bomb in the 4th) and Blake Parker (the game-winning Edwin Maysonet three-run dinger in the 5th). Parker allowed two hits and threw a wild pitch to put runners at 2nd & 3rd with no outs, but looked like he might get out of the jam when he struck out Johermyn Chavez (looking) and Junior Lake (swinging). But then Maysonet drilled his game-winning shot over the LF fence to give the White Squad the victory.

Johermyn Chavez has had an inauspicious debut in a Cub uniform (he was signed as a Six-Year Minor League FA post-2012 after spending seven seasons in the Seattle organization). Besides being the last player to arrive in Camp (not the best way to make a good first impression), Chavez (playing RF) kicked & threw the ball around in the top of the second in today's game, making two careless errors on the same play (one fielding & one throwing). And while he did draw walks in his first two AB, he also swung at a pitch in the dirt (Parker's WP) and then struck out (looking) with no outs and the potential winning run at 3rd base in the bottom of the 5th (the pre-planned final inning of the game).

Chavez was a Mariner Top 10 Prospect just a couple of years ago, but after struggling at AA in 2011 and 2012 (hitting just 222/322/369 in 201 AA games), he was outrighted off the Seattle 40-man roster and became a Rule 55 minor league free-agent (6YFA), signing with the Cubs last November.

Here is the unofficial box score from today‘s game:

1. Brett Jackson, CF: 3-3 (2B, 1B, 1B, R, SB)
2. Darnell McDonald, LF: 2-3 (1B, L-8, 1B, RBI, PO)
3. Rafael Lopez, C: 0-2 (BB, L-3, K)
4. Dave Sappelt, DH: 3-3 (1B, 2B, 2B, R)
5. Brian Bogusevic, RF: 0-3 (K, 4-3, 6-3)
6. Christian Villanueva, 3B: 1-2 (6-4 FC, BB, 2B, RBI)
7. Alberto Gonzalez, 2B: 0-3 (6-3, 5-3, 6-3)
8. Brad Nelson, 1B: 0-3 (4-3, F-8, 3-U)
9. Javier Baez, SS: 1-2 (1B, 5-3, R)

1. Logan Watkins, 2B: 0-3 (K, K, 4-3)
2. Matt Szczur, CF: 1-2 (BB, 6-3, 1B, R, CS)
3. Steve Clevenger, C: 1-3 (F-8, F-8, 1B, R)
4. Johermyn Chavez, RF: 0-1 (BB, BB, K, R)
5. Junior Lake, 3B: 0-2 (BB, P-3, K)
6. Edwin Maysonet, SS: 1-3 (K, P-4, HR, R, 3 RBI)
7. Brent Lillibridge, 1B: 1-2 (2B, BB, 6-3, R, RBI)
8. Jorge Soler, LF: 0-1 (BB, F-7)
9. Luis Valbuena, DH: 1-2 (P-2, HR, R, 2 RBI)

1. Alberto Cabrera: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 4 BB, 3 K, 37 pitches (13 strikes), 0/2 GO/FO
2. Kyuji Fujikawa: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 22 pitches (13 strikes), 1/2 GO/FO
3. Michael Bowden: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HR, 17 pitches (11 strikes), 1/2 GO/FO
4. Blake Parker: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 1 WP, 22 pitches (17 strikes), 1/0 GO/FO 

1. Brooks Raley: 2.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 1 PO, 55 pitches (28 strikes), 3/1 GO/FO
2. Shawn Camp: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 16 pitches (7 strikes), 2/1 GO/FO
3. Drew Carpenter: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 14 pitches (8 strikes), 1/1 GO/FO
4. Jensen Lewis: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 19 pitches (13 strikes), 3/0 GO/FO  


1. RF Johermyn Chavez - E-9 - fielding error on a ground single to RF allowed batter to advance an extra base
2. RF Johermyn Chavez - E-9 - throwing error allowed one runner to score unearned run from 3rd base and another to advance from 2nd to 3rd 

Rafael Lopez: 1-1 CS

Steve Clevenger: 0-1 CS


WEATHER: Sunny & cool with temperatures in the low 60's





also, is zac rosscup seeing any action with the ST crew or just mini-camp?

i'm willing to look past the fact he's a dubstep/trap music fan and still root for him.

CRUNCH: Zac Rosscup (biceps tendinitis) is in the rehab group at Fitch Park. 

BBAmerica top 100 with 0/80 scale ranking + ETAs...

16 Javier Baez ss, Cubs
Age: 20. ETA: 2014.
Bat: 60. Power: 65. Speed: 50. Defense: 55. Arm: 65.

33 Albert Almora of, Cubs
Age: 18. ETA: 2015.
Bat: 65. Power: 50. Speed: 55. Defense: 75. Arm: 60.

34 Jorge Soler of, Cubs
Age: 21. ETA: 2015.
Bat: 60. Power: 70. Speed: 50. Defense: 55. Arm: 70.

83 Arodys Vizcaino rhp, Cubs
Age: 22. ETA: 2014.
Fastball: 70. Curve: 70. Changeup: 50. Control: 60. Command: 55.

...they're really bullish on almora showing up early. he turns 21 april 2015.

I don't buy those ETAs. Baez is likely to hit some bumps along the way, and SS isn't going to be some gaping hole to fill. Vizcaino should make it to Wrigley this year, barring further injury (in which case there is no ETA). Soler in 2015 seems reasonable. But if Jackson is fixed enough to get on base at a respectable rate and Soler makes it Wrigley in 2015, then there is no rush for Almora--I have a hard time imagining that they will let either Jackson or Almora occupy LF in a season in which they might contend. I don't really see any of these guys spending significant time in the majors until they are 23 or so, unless they absolutely light up every level of the minors they see.

I'm also not really sure where that 50 power rating is coming from for Almora--that's all projection, I guess.

agreed...the ETAs are a guess anyway. i'm a little surprised how bullish they are on some of the kids, especially almora.


Modest win streak, attendance quadruples.

Phil, I think of you while I shovel the snow you lucky SOB.

Thanks for keeping us warm.

i can't figure out if this is good news or bad news...then i remember that our starting RF is nate schierholtz and it all seems moot.

"With the recent injury to Ian Stewart, Luis Valbuena has the opportunity to open the season as the Cubs' starting third baseman."

Josh Booty won MLB Network's "The Next Knuckler" reality/game show thing...he reported to AZ Dbacks camp on friday...

along with his relatively short time with the knuckleball and pitching on whole, he supposedly has a 88+mph fastball to compliment it might be interesting once his circus appearance in ST is over and (if) he's given a minor league assignment.

it's a lot better story (for him) than the last time he ended up in the national spotlight...

Are the scrubs pitching mainly to give the big league starters more time to get ready?

JUMBO: I think the idea is to give the pitchers who are either "on the bubble" or not likely to make the Opening Day roster as much game action as possible in the early part of Spring Training, since innings will be hard to come by as it gets closer to Opening Day. 

Another factor is that some pitchers (especially relievers and young pitchers) can get ready to pitch in games sooner than some of the others, so they get first call to arms. 

plus, a lot depends on who's playing golf together that day. =p

I always love the February write-ups the best, Phil, thank you. Any idea what kind of speed Fujikawa was throwing on that splitter?

JOHN B: The general public (or "lay people" as Mel Brooks would say) were not allowed anywhere near Theo, Hoyer, McCleod and the other dozen or so members of the Cubs Front Office who were sitting in the first four rows behind home plate (both games), and that's where the only gun in the house was located (there were no scouts at the games). But just based upon my own personal observations, I would describe Fuji's splitter as a hard splitter with good tumbling action. I wasn't as impressed with his fastball, but it's early and at least he does throw it for strikes. It looks like his approach is to get ahead in the count by painting a corner with his fastball and then try to get the batter to chase the splitter (which often is not a strike).  

I think Fujikawa could very well be the closer. Whether Marmol would get traded or moved to a set-up role I can't say, but I've always liked Marmol better as a set-up guy who can come into a game with men on base and strand the inherited runners, because he has a "puncher's chance" of striking out the side if need be. (There was one season when Marmol and Michael Wuertz were unbelievable at stranding inherited runners, and when a reliever or two are able to do that consistently, the team wins more games).

And if Marmol is used as a set-up man and has one of those days where he has command issues, there would be somebody else "throwing behind him" if he can't find home plate. Of course Marmol wants to be the closer, and I'm not sure how willing he would be to go back to being a set-up guy at this stage of his career, especially since he will be a free-agent post-2013.   

Stewart and Vitters out 10-14 least.


"#Cubs Scott Baker threw 45 pitches in bullpen Sat. Will do at least 2 sim games/live BP before he gets in a game. Says he feels good"

i try to go to and Firefox asks me if i meant and if i needed protection from possible harmful sites.

i see what u did there.

the most expensive piece of the TOR/MIA trade that MIA kept is now injured...$1.5m 2013 + $1.5m 2014...

"Jeff Mathis was diagnosed with a broken collarbone and is expected to miss six weeks."

...hit by a foul tip.

11-2 cubs over angels...punishment.

Carrie Muskat ‏@CarrieMuskat
Today's #Cubs lineup: DeJesus CF, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Schierholtz RF, Navarro C, Bogusevic DH, Barney 2B, Villanueva 3B

good to see castro hitting 2nd and barney hitting 8th...hope this trend continues into the season.

Recent comments

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  • it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
    should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?

    sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on my Ted Abernathy imitation when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.

  • HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).  

    Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.

  • I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.

  • One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players. 

  • CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis  at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely. 

  • has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.

  • As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?

  • AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?

  • Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.

  • AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.

  • I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.

    But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.

  • Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.

    Jason deGrom -- oh, my.

  • Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.

    Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.

  • Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.

    Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.

  • that game sounds fun as hell.

  • I was just wondering the same thing. I'd rather not see it at all. If it's inaccurate, it's a bad viewer experience. If it's accurate, it shows some shitty calling by the umpire.