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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  • La Stella (3B) batting fifth. Could be the La Stella game.

  • [Drafts plans for CTSteve idol.]

  • Pitcher batting 9th. Bryant in left, Schwarber in right.

  • i'm not ready for it to end.

    i'm not ready for "well, they weren't supposed to make it this year..."

    i'm not ready to talk about the off-season yet.

  • I can relate to that, E-Man. I don't think I'll enjoy watching a high-stakes away game like this on TV. I've watched a lot of games this season after they ended or at least after the Cubs got out to a decent lead. Since they usually win, I've gotten to see a lot of baseball.

    But in this case I think we should probably all watch the game live, and not let the pressure exceed the pleasure.

  • Remember, as I told my wife when our kids went off to college -- this is a good thing! Enjoy it!

  • Fully agree -- can't prove it. But, the numbers are what they are, and a lot of his OF games have come in Aug & Sept, when he has been killing the ball otherwise. And, knowing how baseball players love routine, it seems logical that it could at least be a a factor.

    Really, really, really hope I'm wrong on this.

  • Indeed! It has been absolute blast -- from getting swept by the Phillies to sweeping the Giants, I have always enjoyed being part of this group. Hope we have a lot more games to talk about this year.

  • Yes, cheers to me! I've noticed a fairly strong correlation between my tenure and Cubbie victories. 

    And thanks to Michael for our new diggs--and to y'all for sticking around! 

  • CHEERS to CT Steve for keeping this alive in 2015. Who would have thought that the season would have been so successful to this point? Thank you CT STEVE!

    I think I may be too nervous to watch the entire game. I will probably watch in bits and pieces - and constantly check MLB App. I will be like Blockhead: Nervous Nellie.

  • You can't prove the performance is because he played the OF. You just can't. Sorry.

    BTW, Bryant hit .168 in July playing 3B exclusively.

  • oh man, early on it seems like he made at least 1 stupid baserunning blunder per game and almost every single one turned into a positive for the cubs. it was magical.

  • Not surprised about Lester but bit surprised about Hendricks. Guessing that if something happens to Arietta right away they go to Lester but if they've burned relievers and are in extra innings they go to Hendricks.

  • My kids' 8:30pm (ET) bed time will be waived tonight (They are Rizzo & Castro fans). We'll get geared up in our Cubs apparel and will watch this as a family. I am stoked. Go Cubs!

  • Bryant: Base running adventures.

  • Remember Bryant's home-away splits, too.

    Wrigley: 21 HR, 59 RBI, .311/.408/.629
    Road: 5 HR, 40 RBI, .243/.333/.360