Ruggiano & Conway Return to Game Action at Riverview Park
Jesse Hodges reached base three times (two-run double, RBI single, and a walk) and drove-in three runs and Charcer Burks belted an RBI triple and a double and scored a run, leading the Cubs to a 6-1 victory over the Rockies in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.
Wilin Rosario (on Colorado Rockies MLB 15-day DL - viral infection) served as a DH and singled twice and hammered an RBI double for the Rockies in a losing cause.
OF Justin Ruggiano (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL since 4/24) returned to game action for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury while attempting to make a diving catch in the RF bullpen in the 9th inning of the Wrigley Field 100th Anniversary Game versus the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 23rd, serving as a DH and getting four Plate Appearances. Facing RHP Tony Bryant in all four of his AB, Ruggiano struck out (swinging) his first two times up in the bottom of the 1st and bottom of the 2nd (and looked bad in the process), but then he smacked a lead-off double off the CF fence in the bottom of the 3rd inning, before grounding out 6-3 in his final AB in the 4th. He was definitely not running at fuil-speed (he was removed for a "designated pinch-runner" after his double), but then he wasn't limping, either.
RHP Josh Conway (Cubs 2012 4th round pick - Coastal Carolina U.) saw his first game action in more than a year, getting the start for the Cubs and pitching one inning (17 pitches). His fastball was clocked at only 89-90 MPH (he was peaking at 94 last year), but his two-seamer had good sink and his hard-slider was dive-bombing the lower part of the strike zone.
Conway underwent "Tommy John Surgery" (TJS) after suffering a torn UCL in a game against Liberty University prior to being drafted by the Cubs (a "2nd round talent" who supposedly fell to the 4th round only because of the TJS), and after spending the 2012 season on the 60-day DL he came back strong and was without question the most-impressive pitcher at Minor League Camp in 2013. He continued his outstanding work into Extended Spring Training, and he appeared to be about ready to join the Kane County or Daytona starting rotation (he had thrown 5.0 IP and 80 pitches in his previous start), when he suffered a season-ending elbow injury (described at the time as a stress fracture) while pitching in an EXST game at the Brewers Maryvale Baseball Complex on May 4, 2013 (see link).
In EXST Cubs roster news, veteran MLB RHP Joel Pineiro has been moved up to AA Tennessee from Extended Spring Training, where he will replace RHP Ivan Pineyro (placed on Tennessee 7-day DL with a forearm strain) in the Smokies starting rotation. The 35-year old Pineiro was signed as a free-agent by the Cubs on March 30th, and has spent the last six weeks at Riverview Park getting "stretched-out" as a starting pitcher. (Prior to signing with the Cubs, Pineiro hadn't pitched since playing winter ball in Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente in Puerto Rico last off-season).
Although it was announced at the time the Cubs signed Pineiro that he would be at Extended Spring Training for "about ten days" and then be assigned to AAA Iowa, it soon became clear that that just wasn't going to happen. For one thing, Pineiro really hasn't pitched that well (see below), and secondly, with Chris Rusin, Kyle Hendricks, Eric Jokisch, Dallas Beeler, and Tsuyoshi Wada filling the five slots, there is just no room for him in the I-Cubs rotation.
THE PITCHING LINES FROM JOEL PINEIRO'S SIX 2014 CACTUS LEAGUE EXST OUTINGS:
4/12 - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 8/0 GO/FO, 64 pitches (48 strikes)
4/17 - 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1 PO, 7/2 GO/FO, 66 pitches (43 strikes)
4/22 - 4.2 IP, 9 H, 7 R (7 ER), 2 BB, 3 K, 3/3 GO/FO, 76 pitches (51 strikes)
4/28 - 5.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 7 K, 1 WP, 4/4 GO/FO, 60 pitches (45 strikes)
5/3 - 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 2 GIDP, 10/4 GO/FO, 62 pitches (42 strikes)
5/9 - 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 3 GIDP, 12/2 GO/FO, 77 pitches (50 strikes)
TOTAL: 28.2 IP, 33 H, 19 R (17 ER), 7 BB, 22 K, 1 HR, 4 WP, 1 PO, 5 GIDP, 44/15 GO/FO, 72% strikes, 5.34 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, .289 OppBA
Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):
Xa. Justin Ruggiano, DH #1: 1-4 (K, K, 2B, 6-3)
NOTE: Ruggiano batted 3rd in the bottom of the 1st & 2nd innings and 1st in the bottom of the 3rd & 4th innings)
Xb. Bryant Flete, DPR: NO AB (R)
1a. Jeffrey Baez, RF: 0-2 (6-3, F-7)
1b. Arnaldo Calero, RF: 0-2 (4-6-3 DP, L-6)
2a. Rashad Crawford, CF: 0-2 (3-1, F-8)
2b. Charcer Burks, CF: 2-2 (3B, 2B, R, RBI)
3a. Oliver Zapata, LF: 1-2 (P-5, 2B, R)
3b. Shamil Ubiera, LF: 1-2 (K, 1B, RBI)
4. Eloy Jimenez, DH #2: 0-4 (5-3, E-5, K, K, R, SB)
5a. Varonex Cuevas, 2B: 1-2 (2B, L-8, R)
5b. Zak Blair, 2B: 1-1 (1B, BB)
6. Gleyber Torres, SS: 0-3 (1-3 SH, 6-3, 6-U FC, K)
7, Jesse Hodges, 3B: 2-3 (2B, 1B, BB, L-9, 3 RBI, CS)
8a. Roney Alcala, 1B: 0-1 (3-1)
8b. Kevin Brown, 1B: 0-1 (BB, 3-U, R)
9a. Mark Malave, C: 0-1 (5-3)
9b. Erick Castillo, C: 0-1 (BB, K)
1. Josh Conway: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, ! K, 2/0 GO/FO, 17 pitches (11 strikes)
2. Michael Heesch: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GO/FO, 18 pitches (12 strikes)
3. Jose Paulino: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 2/5 GO/FO, 48 pitches (30 strikes)
4. Hector Perez: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 2/2 GO/FO, 30 pitches (20 strikes)
5. Greyfer Eregua: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 3/2 GO/FO, 18 pitches (15 strikes)
CUBS ERRORS: 2
1. SS Gleyber Torres - E-6 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely)
2. SS Gleyber Torres - E-6 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely - eventually scored unearned run)
CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Mark Malave: 0-1 CS
WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 80's
BILLY BUCKS: As things stand right now, Dylan Cease will be in the Eugene starting rotation when the NWL season begins play in June, and if he peforms well there he could perhaps move up to South Bend toward the end of the minor league season or for the MWL playoffs (if South Bend qualifies).
i'm more "wtf?" about him hitting 2nd than playing LF...especially since zobrist exists.
Soler's primary position is suppose to be in left for this season so technically he is not out of position. Although I agree, it does seem weird given their histories.
Any idea of where/when Cease will head for the season?
Over/under on HBP tonight?
Yes, I know KB played LF and Szczur played RF last night, but there's a legit case that RF is the easier draw at PNC.
Seems an odd lineup -- Soler in LF and Bryant in RF? Two guys out of position? I guess Fed has to catch tonight so All Star Gramps can catch Lester tomorrow. Or maybe Joe just wants somebody else to catch a no-hitter. Would love to see KB get the power turned on. C'mon Jorge -- channel your playoff self!
All it took was Schwarber, Heyward, and Szczur getting hurt for him to get to play again. Let's go ahead and call this little stretch your last real chance to prove you belong on this team, Jorge.
soler hitting 2nd...didn't expect that one.
tonight: Fowler, Soler, Bryant, Rizzo, Zobrisjt, Baez, Russell, Federowicz, Arrieta
roster shuffle official per Sun Times, Gordon Wittenmeyer on twitter...Szczur to DL with minor hamstring strain, Chris Villanueva to 60 day DL, Ryan Kalish to 40 man roster and gets the call-up.
There's an interview with Heyward up on ESPN where he says the wrist thing has been lingering and he just brought it up with the team as it didn't go away. So that could very well explain why he hasn't had the same hard contact recently.
Ryan Kalish writeup (by Peter Gammons last November):
Villanueva goes to the 60 day DL.
Peter Gammons just tweeted that teammates are tweeting Kalish is getting recalled. Not sure which ones and what they'll do with the 40 man but there we go.
Jesee Rogers just said he thought Ryan Kalish would be the call up.