Cubs Fire Blanks to Celebrate Memorial Day at Talking Stick

Danny Lockhart tripled, singled twice, and drove-in two runs, Jacob Rogers singled twice, walked, and knocked-in two runs, and four pitchers combined to toss a three-hit shutout, as the Cubs whitewashed the Rockies 7-0 in Memorial Day Extended Spring Training action this morning at Dust Storm Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort, east of Scottsdale, AZ. 

25-year old Cuban RHP Armando Rivero ($3.1M signing bonus in March) started the game for the Cubs and threw one shutout inning, surrendering one walk while striking out one. Rivero was consistently working at 94-95 MPH with his fastball, mixing it with a hard-breaking splitter and an occasional slider. Although he only struck out one, he got seven swings & misses among his 19 pitches. Rivero was the closer for Industriales in Serie Nacional (the Cuban Major League) prior to defecting, and so I wouldn't be surprised to see him move quickly through the system once he leaves EXST. He has late-inning shut-down type stuff.

RHP James Pugliese followed Rivero to the mound and tossed four innings of one-hit shutout ball (51 pitches- 38 strikes). He retired the first eight men he faced, and allowed his one hit (a single) with two outs in his fourth inning of work. He also walked one and struck out three. 

Though he may not have the ceiling of a Dillon Maples or a Duane Underwood, Pugliese has been the best Cub pitcher so far at EXST (1.86 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, .155 OppBA, 9/25 BB/K, and a team-leading 70% strikes in a team-leading 29.0 IP). He will very likely join Duane Underwood, Paul Blackburn, Trey Lang, and a 5th starter TBD to form the Boise starting rotation. (RHPs Ryan McNeil and Josh Conway would have been candidates for the Hawks rotation, but both suffered season-ending elbow injuries during the course of Extended Spring Training).

It's possible that a pitcher presently at Kane County (perhaps someone like Brian Smith or Ian Dickson) could be moved down to Boise next month to get regular work as a starter, or one of the pitchers currently projected to make-up the "Big Four" at AZL Cubs (Erick Leal, Alexander Santana, Daury Torrez, or Carlos Rodriguez) could possibly yet capture the 5th rotation slot at Boise. (The AZL Cubs only need four starting pitchers, because AZL teams get every fifth day off). RHRP Loiger Padron has also recently been stretched-out as a starter at EXST in case he is needed to start or to "piggy-back" at Boise.

RHP Daury Torrez followed Pugliese to the hill and hurled three shutout innings (needing only 31 pitches to do so), allowing two harmless singles. He struck out one and did not issue any walks. Torrez is a strike-throwing machine.

LHRP Hunter Ackerman then threw an 11-pitch 1-2-3 9th (4-3, 1-3, 4-3) to wrap things up neatly.

Steve Clevenger (strained oblique rehab) saw his first EXST game action at catcher, working as the Cub backstop for the first five innings (catching Rivero and Pugliese). He also batted five times. once each in the top of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th innings. He went 1-5, with an opposite-field RBI double into the LF corner in the top of the 3rd. (He later would score on the Danny Lockhart triple). Clevenger also grounded out 4-3 and popped out to the third-baseman in foul territory, and he was called out on strikes in his final final two Plate Appearances (and was none too pleased either time).  

In EXST Cubs roster news, catcher Lance Rymel has been promoted to Tennessee, and 3B Luis Acosta, OF Roberto Caro, and SS Frandy de la Rosa have been sent back to the Cubs Dominican Academy. (The DSL Cubs begin play this Friday).

The 23-year old Rymel was the Cubs 2012 28th round pick out of Rogers State U. He hit 226/353/321 in 16 EXST games (37 PA), throwing out 10-21 runners attempting to steal (48% CS), plus one PO.  

Here is the abridged box score from today's game:

X. Steve Clevenger, C: 1-5 (4-3, 2B, P-5, K, K, R, RBI)
NOTE: Clevenger batted five times, hitting third in the top of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th innings
1a. Kevin Encarnacion, CF: 1-3 (2B, K, 1-3, R)
1b. Justin Marra, C: 0-2 (4-3, K, RBI)
2. Danny Lockhart, 2B: 3-5 (P-6, 3B, 1B, 1B, 1-3, 2 RBI)
3. Jacob Rogers, 1B: 2-4 (4-3, L-4 DP, 1B+E6, 1B, BB, 2 RBI)
4a. Jesse Hodges, 3B: 0-2 (HBP, K, F-9)
4b. Mark Malave, 3B: 0-1 (K)
5. Xavier Batista, RF: 1-3 (1-3, BB, 2B, F-7, R)
6a. Trevor Gretzky, DH: 1-3 (K, 6-U FC, 1B, RBI)
6b. Rony Rodriguez, PH: 1-1 (1B)
7a. Dong-Yub Kim, LF: 0-2 (K, K)
7b. Garrett Schlecht, LF: 2-2 (1B, 2B, R)
8a. Carlos Penalver, SS: 0-1 (BB, 4-3, R)
8b. Rashad Crawford, CF: 0-1 (BB, 1-3, R)
9b. Francisco Sanchez, SS: 0-2 (5-2 FC, 5-3, R)

1. Armando Rivero: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 19 pitches (12 strikes), 1/1 GO/FO
2. James Pugliese: 4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 51 pitches (38 strikes), 5/4 GO/FO
3. Daury Torrez: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 31 pitches (21 strikes), 3/5 GO/FO
4. Hunter Ackerman: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 11 pitches (7 strikes), 3/0 GO/FO


Steve Clevenger: 1 PB

RF Xavier Batista - runner thrown out 9-5 trying to advance from 1st to 3rd on a single
LF Garrett Schlecht - runner on 1st base doubled-off 7-3 on L-7 line drive out 


WEATHER: Overcast with temperatures in the 80's  


Did Rivero have some type of injury? It seems like he has been at Fitch for a long period. How close to major league ready is he?

HAGSAG: Rivero wasn't injured, but he was brought along slowly because he hadn't pitched since 2011. He could be big league ready right now (as far as his stuff is concerned), but he will still need to get some innings at AA and/or AAA to build up his endurance and get into a "late-inning" routine.   

borbon leading off vs a lefty?

alright, then.

i guess it's "speed leads" tonight no matter what.

borbon 2r HR...lulz...

Alex Burnett?

...are Harvey Korman or Tim Conway next?

hawk and stone on WGN...a double dose of torture.

And in hell, there is no mute button on the remote.

i look forward to a night of hawk expressing huge amounts of biased joy/hatred...and stone micromanaging/advising a dozen players on how to be all-star awesome as opposed to what they are with blindingly obvious and condescending comments.

soriano just bounced a single off the LF/CF about running rather than watching the ball, guy?

19-30 record...watching the ball...turning doubles into singles...awesome.

"No hustle either, skip."

Lolly gagging

3 innings down in 45 minutes and a cubs lead...swank.

ROB G: I am getting the "Gray Page" too when index page loads fwiw. All browsers...

2nd complete game, 1st shutout for ninja.

Cubs lead this years tallest midget contest

Saw Albert Almora on Saturday in a doubleheader. The Kane County Cougars swept the Beloit Snappers in Geneva 4-3 (Almora scored the winning walk-off run in the bottom of the 7th) and 7-4. Rock Shoulders hit two home runs in the second game, but the hitting star was Almora. He was 4-7 (with 2 doubles) on the day (reaching base 6 times in 8 plate appearances, one on a HBP and one on a throwing error on a ball hit to 3rd), plus throwing out a runner at the plate tagging from 3rd after making a diving catch on a fly out to right center field. He showed an uncanny ability to put the bat on the ball, adjust to off-speed pitches and generate line drives. He only swung and missed at one pitch total in his 8 plate appearances, making contact with good timing on everything else that he swung at. Nobody fooled him or overpowered him, even on a pitch-to-pitch basis. Looked like a man playing with the boys, even though at 19 he is probably younger than everyone else out there, his birthday being in mid-April.

I also thought the error should have been score a hit and an error (allowing him to reach 2nd base). The play at first looked like it would have been very close if the throw hadn't been launched over the 1st baseman's head. No problems with his hustle (or speed) at all.

AZ Phil, did Almora appear to you to have an unusually good ability to get the bat on the ball? I was stunned by how well he handled everything thrown at him by the four pitchers he faced.

Thanks for that scouting report. Sounds very promising. As I always say whenever there's even a hint of potential: "Bring him up!"

JOE P: I would say Roni Torreyes and Albert Almora are probably 1-2 in the system for getting bat on ball. 

for those worried about such things as video scoreboards and advertising signage, good post on them mocking up Wrigley today at Bleacher Nation

I seemed to have found the offending post when it came to causing everything to go gray, haven't figured out the right sidebar yet.

Recent comments are on the left for the time being.

A sigh of relief...they are saying it's more hamstring cramp than pull (muscle strain).

per the Kane County Chronicle:

Rickles opened the frame with a line drive that was misjudged by Albert Almora in center field. Almora initially broke in on the ball, then stumbled trying to reverse directions and go back. Rickles wound up with a triple and Almora left the game at the end of the half inning with what Johnson described as a strain in his left hamstring.

“He’s got a little tight hammy,” Johnson said. “A real high tweak if you will. He didn’t really pull it.”

Johnson said the Cougars would see how Almora felt today when the team opens a short, three-day road trip to the Quad Cities, but suggested the Cubs’ 2012 first-round draft choice might take a day or two off.

and per an AA tweet:

No worries! Ill be back in a day or 2!! Good win boys!!!

Arizona Phil gets mentioned at Bleacher Nation, including a link to his TCR article

Recent comments

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  • May their next game go 26 innngs..and get suspended.

  • Hear Hear!

  • So many memories from this game -- Javy's HR, Grimm's Ks, Soler's throw, Schwarber's ridiculous bomb, Strop overcoming his demons, Lackey screaming at himself after giving up the hit to Hammel....just awesome stuff.

  • dodgers win...1 more game of pitcher use on the mets and dodgers (degrom + greenkey)

  • maddon is easily one of the best managers out there, that's why he's getting paid huge for someone that doesn't have to rent/own in NYC/LA.

    for the most part there's 2-3-5 of guys on that level, and 25-28 other teams trying to find a guy who's capable. they can also go out of favor rather quickly (m.sciossa recently). last year's NL MOY didn't make it a full year into 2015 before getting fired.

    no matter how one feels about how it could have been done cheaper with less commitment, we only know how this way is working out. it's been awesome so far.

  • Agree. It could not be more perfect that we beat the Cardinals in this ascendant season of all seasons, and in the first postseason series we ever saw them in.

  • I think all we can say is, "Okay, let's go on to the next series and see what happens." And how indescribably awesome is it to be able to say that on this date in this year.

  • Thanks, O&B. So funny about our age. Let's just say- I have always wondered why Durocher didn't give Hundley a few days off when he had Gene Oliver and John Boccabella on the bench.

  • Strop K'ing Peralta to start the 8th, given their history -- what a fantastic moment! And Javy bouncing back -- big time -- form yesterday's games.

    Contributions from literally everyone in this series -- Soler and Schwarber were off the charts -- Miggy's pick-off was awesome.

    This team is just so much damn fun.

  • Wish I knew how to post a pic. Both CUBSTER & I in attendance. I finally feel like some demons have been vanquished, and there is some magic here.

    Joe Maddon is far and away the best manager I have seen work for my team.

  • pretty much this. also, a magician.

  • Madden brought it in some lions and sharks to Wrigley Field and let them eat people

  • What did I miss?

  • I think Strop deserves a very special mention. He had so many struggles against the Cardinals but pitched two successful and very high pressure innings the last two games against them and looked nasty doing so.

  • How about this, the Cubs are 10-1 over the last 3 weeks.

  • I was thinking about it earlier that the Cubs are 101-66 and the Cards 101-65...but, does anyone outside of the two of us ever calculate records including post season? Don't think I've seen that ever before.