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

The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • Would hope so. Don't think the Cards can activate a retired player for the playoffs.

  • I'm curious. In your experience watching prospects at the lowest and more instructional level, what do teams teach their young players regarding takeout slides (for instance, would they teach guys to do the Coghlan/Kang type slide, discourage late slides like Utley's and Holliday's, etc.), and has what they teach changed at all in recent years?

  • Phil, now that instructs are over, did you see any players worthy of the title of breakout?

  • Yeah Schwarber would have still gone out I think. Fowler's was aided but hey if the wind is blowing out nothing wrong with just trying to get the ball in the air.

  • Schwarber's was hit hard, into cross wind

    Fowler's was straight up, heyward followed it until it went out

  • Mama Schwarber wants to have a word with you.

  • Mrs Fowler would like a word with you.

  • It seems to be blowing a bit out to right but far less than yesterday and much cooler so shouldn't be too much of an effect.

    Only one of our hrs last night was out because of the wind though I think.

  • Which direction is wind blowing today? With Lackey a groundball pitcher, it might help Cubs if it is blowing in today and a 2-1 game instead of a 10-6 game.

  • I have convinced myself that Hammel's second half struggles were due to minor injuries and fatigue so with the extra rest he is going to be lights out.

  • Benji Molina is out of lineup

  • Yes. Unfortunately, as many of us, I have seen this movie before. Do not care for Hammel, and unlike other managers Joe will pull the plug quickly at least. I hope before things were to get out of hand.

    Many of us are like "abused spouses" or whatever - with this Cubs stuff. You get hurt so many times, the trust rapidly erodes.

    If the Cubs can get to Lackey early, its gonna be a big key to a W or L.

  • No idea what will happen. The Cards are the Cards and they have come back from 2-1 holes twice in the last 4 years, so I don't see them in panic mode at all. If anything, I expect the Cubs to be pressing more than the Cards today.

    I want the Cubs to win because it would be great for the city, and great for the fans. But more than anything, I want the Cubs to win so I can see this team play for at least one more week this year. Never enjoyed watching a team more than this year.

  • Just to remember how far we have come: last year's opening day lineup was Bonifacio, Lake, Castro, Rizzo, Olt, Castillo, Schierholz, Barney, and Samardzija. It's been a fun ride this year!

  • BRADSBEARD: I haven't noticed any new rule or a change in the interpretation of an existing rule happening in Advanced Instructs, I don't know what rules will be tested in the AFL, although almost all recent rule changes and new interpretations of existing rules (the home plate collision rule, replay, time clock between innings, et al) do get their start in the AFL.  

  • Yep