Cubs Rally to Edge Angels at HoHoKam Park

Scott Hairston blasted a tape-measure home run down the LF foul line and into the parking lot to cap a four-run 7th, and pinch-runner Shawon Dunston Jr scampered home with what proved to be the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the 8th, as the Cubs rallied to edge the Los Angeles Angels 7-6 in Cactus League action this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in warm & sunny Mesa, AZ.

box score

The Angels took a 4-0 lead through 4-1/2 innings, scoring all four runs off Cubs SP Edwin Jackson. Facing a mostly "minor league" lineup, E-Jax worked 5.0 IP (82 pitches - 54 strikes, 7/6 GO/FO) plus one batter in the 6th, allowing five runs (all earned) on eight hits (five singles and three doubles). He did not issue any walks, he struck out two, and he threw one WP.   

The final run charged to Jackson was an inherited runner, who scored when LHRP Hisanori Takahashi surrenderd an RBI double to Efren Navarro with one out in the top of the 6th. Takahashi worked two innings (25 pitches - 14 strikes) and was not charged with a run, and he allowed two hits (both of the hits by LH hitters).

From what I have seen of Takahashi this Spring, he is (like James Russell) a fly ball pitcher with a propensity for allowing the HR ball and he does not seem to be particulary tough on LH hitters. His stuff probably profiles better as a #5 starting pitcher than as a LOOGY or a LH relief specialist. In fact Takahashi was stretched out as a starter up until his last two appearances (two relief outings in the last three days), and Manager Dale Sveum probably considers Takahashi more of a spot starter/long reliever who happens to throw LH than a lefty relief specialist. So I would not be too surprised if the Cubs are in the market for a LH reliever who is actually tough on LH hitters, perhaps somebody who might get released or be made available by another MLB club the last week of Spring Training. 

After being shut-out over the first four innings by veteran SP Joe Blanton, the Cubs scored their first run of the day with two outs in the bottom of the 5th as Darwin Barney smacked a double into the LF corner, and Edwin Jackson followed with an RBI bloop single to CF (Jackson's second hit of the day) to drive-in Barney. (The Cubs have three starting pitchers who are dangerous hitters: Edwin Jackson, Jeff Samardzija, and Travis Wood).     

Down 5-1 going into the bottom of the 6th, the Cubs scored another run as Anthony Rizzo singled, and Nate Schierholtz came through with a one-out opposite-field RBI double into the left-center alley.

Then the Cubs put up a four-spot in the bottom of the 7th off Angels lefty reliever Nick Maronde to take a 6-5 lead.  

Brent Lillibridge led-off with an opposite-field triple down te RF line (Blanton's final hitter), and PH Dave Sappelt (facing LHP Maronde) drew a walk. David DeJesus followed with a sharp RBI single to center to score Lillibridge and send Sappelt to 3rd, with DeJesus alertly taking 2nd on the throw. (DeJesus has been nothing short of amazing against LHP so far in Cactus League play, after putting up an atrocious 149/289/149 slash-line with zero extra base hits versus LHP last season). Alberto Gonzalez then ripped a two-run double into the left-center alley to score Sappelt and DeJesus, but was thrown out trying to stretch the double into a triple (in other words, he made the first out of the inning at 3rd base). Scott Hairston (who murders LHP) gave the Cubs the lead (and put an exclamation point on the inning) with his two-out solo HR into the parking lot. 

Carlos Marmol took the hill for the Cubs in the 8th with the task to protect the one-run lead, but he was unable to do that, laboring through a 22-pitch inning (throwing only 10 strikes), walking two and hitting a batter, as the Angels scored the tying (unearned) run on a Steve Clevenger passed ball with two outs. 

But Clevenger redeemed himself in the bottom of the 8th, lacing a lead-off opposite-field double into the left-center alley off Angels RP Ernesto Frieri. (Clevenger is hitting a robust 378/400/459 in 22 Cactus League games). Pinch-runner Shawon Dunston Jr moved up to 3rd base on a ground out, and after PH Welington Castillo drew a two-out walk, Dunston scored on a Frieri WP.  

Making his first appearance since leaving last Sunday's game mid-inning with a blister, Rafael Dolis worked a scoreless 18-pitch 9th to record the save. Dolis did allow singles to the first two men he faced, but minimized the threat by picking off the first baserunner with an excellent move to 1st (and he almost picked-off the second baserunner, too, with the exact same move). 

Takahashi, Dolis, Zach Putnam, and Cory Wade are competing for the final spot in the Cub bullpen, but I think Takahashi has the edge, although the Cubs certainly could acquire a reliever prior to Opening Day, either one who was released (as happened with Shawn Camp last year), or via waiver claim, or in a trade. But whatever happens, the final spot in the bullpen will probably eventually go to Carlos Villanueva, once Matt Garza is healthy enough to rejoin the starting rotation and Villanueva is no longer needed in the rotation.    

It appears that with 3B Ian Stewart (quad) likely starting the season on the disabled list and with Luis Valbuena the (mostly) everyday third-baseman for a while, Steve Clevenger and Alberto Gonzalez are battling for the last spot on the bench. While Gonzalez is a legitimate MLB utility infielder with the defensive skiills to play SS-2B-3B (temporarily replacing Valbuena in that role), Clevenger can play C-1B-3B and supersub Brent Lillibridge can play anywhere (allowing Valbuena to slide over to SS or 2B if necessary), and having Clevenger available on the bench would make it less of a risk to use Welington Castillo as a PH on days he is not the starting catcher. So I think Clevenger willl win the job, unless the Cubs sign a free-agent utility player or acquire one in a trade prior to Opening Day.

If Lillibridge and Takahashi (both signed to minor league contracts and both Non-Roster Invitees to Spring Training) make the Cubs Opening Day MLB 25-man roster, they will have to be added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster. If that happens (and it's fairly likely), I would expect RHPs Arodys Vizcaino and Scott Baker (both rehabbing from 2012 TJS) to be placed on the 60-day DL to make room on the 40-man roster for the two NRI additions. If an additional roster slot beyond those two is needed, the Cubs could recall Junior Lake (who sustained a fractured rib during Spring Training) from his Optional Assignment and place him on the MLB 60-day DL, although if they were to do that, Lake would accrue MLB Service Time and would be paid at the Major League salary rate (rather than at the minor league "split contract" salary rate) while he is on the MLB 60-day DL.   

Something else to keep in mind is that if and when Ian Stewart is healthy enough to be reactivated from the DL, the Cubs could choose to option Stewart to Iowa (and I'm not talking about a minor league rehab assignment). Stewart has one minor league option left, and because he has not yet accrued five years of MLB Service Time (he is 122 days short going into the 2013 season). he cannot refuse an Optional Assignment to the minors. (He can elect free-agency if he is outrighted, however). Optional Assignment Waivers would need to be secured before Stewart can be optioned, but Optional Assignment Waivers (just like Trade Waivers in August & September) are revocable the first time they are requested in a given waiver period, so the Cubs could choose to withdraw (revoke) the waiver request if Stewart were to be claimed (presuming they don't want to lose him on a waiver claim). And if he is not claimed and Optional Asignment Waivers are secured, the Cubs could option Stewart to the minors (as long as it is prior to the 122nd day of the 2013 MLB regular season, which is July 29th). NOTE: Stewart would continue to get paid his 2013 $2M salary even if he is optioned to the minors.   



astros sign r.cedeno...lulz.


"Paul Sullivan ‏@PWSullivan

Baker has right elbow strain. Will not throw for month and reevaluate."

Baker has right elbow strain. Will not throw for month and reevaluate
Welcome to the 60 day DL Scott Baker.

I've written on Scott Baker's elbow before.

This is not a good sign since what is strained is his graft replacing the ulnar collateral ligament. This is quite a different situation than evaluating an original UCL. How durable the graft is depends on what was used as his graft source as there are several options including cadaver options (allograft, graft from cadaver source) vs another ligament from the patient like palmaris longus (forearm) or medial hamstring (distal thigh usually the semi-tendinosis or gracilis) or plantais (leg), (autograft, graft from the patient). If I were Baker, this is the point where I'd get the additional opinion of his original surgeon, Dr. David Altchek from Hospital for Special surgery in NYC. Dr. Altchek is also one of the national experts on sports medicine including the TJ procedure. He's known as the Mets team doc. Of course, there are others and Dr. James Andrews or Dr. Lewis Yocum names always starts to pop up when tertiary opinions come into play in pitchers. Baker is only 12 months out from surgery and the timetable to recovery is a range, usually 12-18 months. Hoping for recovery at 12 months just might be premature even though he will eventually be OK.

Dr Altchek...

Original Baker surgery info...

And an LA Times article that discusses graft issues (palmaris vs hamstring) with quotes from Drs. Andrews and Yocum.

Though numerous careers have been saved by Tommy John surgery, its overall success rate is actually about 85%, Yocum and Andrews said.

"People think it's 100% successful," Andrews said. "It's not."

Thanks CUBSTER. I wonder what things were in Baker's contract to mitigate the risk on the part of the Cubs? How much of Baker's deal is guaranteed?

E-MAN: Supposedly $5.5M guaranteed plus $1.5M in potential bonuses ($150K each at 145, 150, 155, 160, 165, 170, 175, 180, 185, and 190 IP).

Also, there was no report of a club option for 2014, which would seem to be a reasonable perk for a club signing a TJS rehabber. (Even Jim Hendry got that when he signed Ryan Dempster after his TJS).

Rizzo-Soriano back to back doubles. Cubs 1 Tribe 0 after top 3rd.

Rusin crusin' Through 5, 1-0. I think I heard the Indians TV broadcast crew say he had 59 pitches through 5 IP. Only flaws were 3 walks, 2 singles.
I hope he does well in Iowa. He seems to know how to pitch without overpowering stuff.

For those of you who have strong enough stomachs to watch a video (and static step by step pictures) of Tommy John UCL surgery the following link shows the classic procedure with a palmaris longus graft from the forearm. There are a few technique variations and this one does use a docking technique for the humerus attachement. The docking technique was developed by Dr. Altchek.

from Dr. Khalfayan out of Seattle:

Oh, dear god- I am squeamish and I ignored your warnings.

That's super informative and really nasty.

...and really nasty
It could be worse. This kind of surgery is done with a tourniquet over the upper arm limiting blood loss and helping the surgeon see the anatomy better.

4-0 Cubs on a double to the wall by Steve Clevenger. Dioner Navarro runs the bases with a piano on his back but scores from first. Should have been thrown out at home but the throw was bad. Announcer on TV said he should have slid but if he had he never would have gotten back up. Ha.

"Dioner Navarro runs the bases with a piano on his back but scores from first"

...wait til you see brad nelson run...if you ever get a chance.

watching him this spring, i can't really figure out how he was a guy who stole 10+ bases a few times in the minors.

v.wells to the yanks...LAA to pay 32m of 42m (2 years).

not bad for the yanks...wonder what they gave up.

speaking of the yanks...if jeter goes on the DL (as expected) they will have $82m+ on the DL...via 4 players.

"wonder what they gave up"

Probably a lot less than they would have for Sori.

29m of 42m the latest "strong" rumor...still no news on the other player(s) involved.

Recent comments

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  • Per Jesse Sanchez at, Cubs reportedly have signed 20-year old Cuban OF Eddy Julio Martinez for $3M bonus. 

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