Tony Campana Helps Rally D'backs to Victory at HoHoKam Park
Ex-Cub Tony Campana laced a two-run pinch-hit double to cap a four-run 6th, and then tripled in the 8th, helping to rally the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 6-2 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League action this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.
The Cubs scored twice in the bottom of the 1st inning off D'backs starter Trevor Cahill to take an early 2-0 lead.
David DeJesus worked a lead-off walk, and then Luis Valbuena grounded a single through the 3.5 hole into RF. Anthony Rizzo was up next, and he feathered a bloop double down the LF line to score DeJesus, as Valbuena advanced to third base. Alfonso Soriano hit a high-velocity screaming rope right at Arizona third-baseman Martin Prado for the first out of the inning, but Nate Schierholtz was able to loft a fly ball deep enough into CF to score Valbuena from third base with the second run of the inning (and what would prove to be the Cubs final run of the day).
The Cubs offense was mostly quiet after the two-run 1st inning, although Jorge Soler (facing MLB LHRP Tony Sipp) did triple off the LF fence with two outs in the 8th.
Junior Lake came into the game in the top of the 6th and played CF, and he handled two chances with no difficulty. Lake got considerable playing time in both LF and CF in Winter Ball (Dominican Winter League) poat-2012, so this is not the first time he has played OF, but he had been playing 3B exclusively (in workouts and in games) since the start of big league camp last month.
As I have mentioned here before, Lake is not a good defensive shortstop, and he's even worse at 3rd base. But with his power, speed, and arm (he is rated as having the #1 arm among position players in the organization), either CF or RF would seem to be a logical fit. He struggles to hit RHP (because he is a really bad breaking ball hitter), but he handles LHP OK. I could see him eventually as an MLB RH platoon OF, although he needs at least a year of AAA to smooth out the rough edges (and he has two minor league options left, so there is no reason to rush him).
Jeff Samardzija made his second Cactus League start of 2013, and went three innings (52 pitches - 29 strikes, 5/3 GO/FO) for the Cubs today, allowing one run on one hit, while issuing three walks and going 3-0 on a fourth hitter. He had only one strikeout.
Samardzija's command was off the entire outing, as he seemed perturbed either by the umpire's calls and/or catcher Welington Castillo's handling/framing of his pitches. The Shark set the Diamondbacks down 1-2-3 on just eight pitches in the top of the 1st (although Aaron Hill made the third out on a pop up on a 3-0 pitch), but he ran into trouble right from the outset in the 2nd, needing 28 pitches to get through the inning. Miguel Montero lined an opposite-field single to open the frame, and then Paul Goldschmidt and Eric Hinske drew walks to load the bases with no outs. At this point Samardzija found the good stuff and induced Mark Teahan to tap into a 4-6-3 DP (although Montero did score on the play), and then struck out Cliff Pennington (swinging) for the third out.
Brad Snyder led-off the top of the third with a walk (after starting the AB down 0-2), and then stole 2nd base. He advanced to 3rd on a ground out, but Samardzija retired the next two hitters and stranded the runner at third on a 1-3 comebacker to the mound ond a line-drive out to preserve the Cubs 2-1 advantage.
Michael Bowden (who must have thrown about 100 pitches warming up in the bullpen while Samardzija was laboring through the second and third innings) finally got into the game in the top of the 4th, and was not sharp (23 pitches - only 12 strikes). He retired the first man he faced on a ground out, before walkiing Goldschmidt and Hinske. Mark Teahan then ripped a line-drive RBI single to CF (misplayed for an error by David DeJesus), scoring Goldschmidt with the tying run, as Hinske and Teahan advanced an extra base on the DeJesus fumble. Luis Valbuena (playing shortstop today) then saved two runs with a spectacular diving catch that prevented a low line drive from going into CF for what surely would have been a two-run single.
No question Valbuena is one of the better utility infielders the Cubs have had in many years. I can think of more than a few Cubs teams in my life as a Cub fan (going back to 1960) that would have benefited from having a utility infielder like Valbuena on the roster.
Cory Wade worked a VERY impressive 1-2-3 seven-pitch 5th (and all seven pitches were strikes!), but Rafael Dolis imploded in the top of the 6th as he walked in two runs (28 pitches thrown - only 12 strikes).
Miguel Montero led-off the 6th with an easy grounder to Javier Baez, but the young shortstop made an atrocious overthrow nowhere near 1st base, allowing Montero to reach on an E-6. A. J. Pollock then lined a single to left to move Montero up to 2nd, and after Mark Teahan flied out, Dolis completely lost the strike zone, walking Hinske, Pennington, and Snyder in quick succession to force in two runs. Blake Parker relieved Dolis, and PH Tony Campana immediately ripped a two-run double into the RF corner to score Hinske and Pennington, and send Snyder to third. You had to see it to believe it, but Campana was rounding 2nd base when Snyder was only half way to 3rd and Pennington was only half-way home (both runners had tagged up in case the ball was caught).
Campana tripled (there was nobody on base in front of him, so he didn't have to stop at 2nd base) in the 8th.
I know a lot of Cubs fans did not like having Tony Campana on the roster, and there probably was no place for him on the Cubs 2013 Opening Day 25-man roster because both CF and RF will have platoons (although circumstances might change later in 2013 or in 2014), but the Cubs did NOT have to DFA a player (who turned out to be Campana) to make room on the 40-man roster for free-agent OF Scott Hairston. RHP Arodys Vizcaino (2012 TJS rehab) could have been placed on the 60-day DL at the start of Spring Training to make room on the 40 for Hairston.
As it was, Campana was Designated for Assignment to clear the roster spot for Hairston, and the Cubs did eventually trade Campana to Arizona for two (possibly) promising 17-year old Venezuelan pitchers, But that trade was made just shortly before the deadline when the Cubs would have had to place Campana on Outright Assignment Waivers (the Cubs had ten days to either trade, release, or outright Campana to the minors once he was Designated for Assignment, but because it takes two days to get a player through waivers, the Cubs had to place Campana on Outright Assignment Waivers no later than 2 PM Eastern on the 8th day, and he could not have been traded once he was placed on Outright Waivers).
So did the Cubs play it smart when they DFA'd Campana when they did, or would it have been better to place Vizcaino on the 60-day DL and hold onto Campana a while longer (even if he started the 2012 season at AAA Iowa) to see if he might fit on the Cubs 25-man roster later, or at least wait and see if he might net more return in a trade when the Cubs would not be under pressure to trade him immediately for whatever they can get? Were the two pitchers acquired for Campana a reasonable return in terms of value? Or was it just another case of the front office undervaluing players developed by the previous regime, as was the case when they lost Ryan Flaherty to the Orioles in the December 2011 Rule 5 Draft, or when they traded Tyler Colvin and D. J. LeMahieu to the Rockies for Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers at about the same time?