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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  • I know, man. What a season. 3rd best record in all of baseball, good enough to have won any division other than the one there in.

    With a win tomorrow, the Cubs will match their 2008 record. Bad omen, I know. If they do win, the most recent year in which the Cubs will have won more games would be 1945 (98-56), the last time they went to the World Series.

    I'll take that omen instead...

  • "oh yeah, and get the fuck off my lawn. :D"

    Ok, now that was funny. :)

  • KB 0-5 with 8 LOB. Really? He is torturing me with 99 RBI. He is also a very different hitter at home vs. road. I suspect most young hitters are.

  • Greinke still in for the 8th. 3 up, 3 down. After 8. 108 pitches, ERA still at 1.66 according to mlb boxscore and he's in line for a 19th win.

  • Greinke 95 pitches through 7. Gives up one run (solo HR to Hedges). ERA at 1.66. Doubt that they will let him give up 5 runs in the 8th.

    Dodgers ahead 2-1.

  • 96 wins with one game to go. Who woulda thunk it.

    Cubs 96 wins have clinched a better record than any AL team and the NL West/East division winners too.

  • cubs win, pirates lose...

  • the curse is now yours.

  • cog a HR away from the cycle after a single in the 6th.

  • Hendricks: 15 up, 15 down.

  • he strongly separates his post-playing career from his playing career, though he loves to visit the barrier of player and fan. many ex-players don't put up this barrier.

    he's not interested in going back to the clubhouse or pretty much anything field/game related, but he'll grab a ticket and observe with the fans and visit ex players on "neutral" ground. he's written 3 pieces for the new yorker and other pieces elsewhere. i remember one photo/bio piece he did, but don't remember where i read it (years ago).

  • ?
    I find your comments rather obtuse. He recognized he didn't want to pursue baseball anymore and went back to school to learn how to become a better writer - opening up a new chapter in his life.

    I don't know where you find a "sad disconnection" because he is writing about his experiences? He pursued a ball career for a long time so no doubt there is some meloncholy in his tone, but I just don't know what the fuck you are talking about.

  • he has an almost sad disconnection from the game based on his writings. even though he's "been there" (no matter how much of a minor role) he doesn't seem to feel like he belongs or deserves to belong in the boy's club.

    he seems to go to great lengths to enjoy the game from an arm's length while occasionally getting close enough for a high-5 from those who affirm him that he belongs.

  • I read that guy's article about why he quit baseball and it was really well done too. In terms of Rizzo, I have seen multiple references to how this is Rizzo's team just as much as Madden's and it makes that pick up that much better that we have someone that is not only a great player but a leader and all around great guy (been reading about all the charity work he does too). There is really nothing not to like about Rizzo.

  • Nice article on Rizzo

    Written by ex teammate

  • JD concurred with Ariettas second at bat