Chad Fox Sighting at Fitch
Chad Fox threw a 25-pitch "live" BP session and the recently suspended Robert Hernandez threw a 50-pitch simulated game, as the Cubs Extended Spring Training team (EXST) had a full-squad work-out at Fitch Park this morning.
Hernandez, who would have been in the Peoria Chiefs starting rotation if he hadn't gotten himself suspended for testing positive for steroids, has joined fellow minor league RHP Scott Taylor (also suspended 50 games for testing positive for a prohibited substance) at Fitch Park, preparing themselves for when the suspensions are over.
As for Fox, he looked OK, especially the last five or six pitches he threw. Some of you may remember that Fox was signed to a minor league contract during the off-season, and received an NRI to big league camp with the Cubs. But he was shut-down after only one ST game appearance early in the Cactus League season, and (until today) I hadn't seen him since.
Fox and Hernandez threw on Field #4, pitching to the most-advanced hitters available at EXST (Tony Richie, Jeffrey Rea, Leon Johnson, and Brandon Guyer), with veteran minor league pitching coach Rick Tronerud supervising.
Angel Guzman is apparently throwing only "side sessions" (bullpen sessions) so far, and I'm not sure how far he has gotten in that endeavor, but he is definitely not as far along as Chad Fox at the moment.
There are several players I expected to see today who were not present, including LHP Mark Pawelek and RHP Alberto Alburquerque (both were assigned to EXST at the very end of Minor League Camp). One of the two may have been promoted to Peoria to replace Hernandez, but then where's the other one? Also, I did not see Scott Eyre, although he supposedly is at Fitch Park rehabbing from a sore elbow.
Additionally, three position players who were injured towards the end of Minor League Camp and were assigned to EXST to rehab (L. Johnson, Rea, and Richie) have apparently been cleared for duty, and now it's just a matter of time before they are game-ready, but even after they are 100%, there needs to be an open slot somewhere on one of the full-season teams before they can get their Letter of Transit and escape Casablanca.
Here are the 55 players who were physically present at Fitch Park today for the full-squad EXST work-out:
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Todd Blackford (had TJ surgery last May)
* Michael Bunton (limited physical activity- injury)
Rafael Dolis (limited physical activity - surgery rehab)
Chad Fox (elbow rehab)
Angel Guzman (limited physical activity - TJ surgery rehab)
* Arik Hempy
Jim Henderson (limited physical activity – injury)
Robert Hernandez (serving 50-game prohibited substance suspension)
Grant Johnson (limited physical activity – sprained elbow ligament)
Jon Mueller (limited physical activity – injury)
Billy Muldowney (had TJ surgery last July)
Billy Petrick (has had a problem with weakness in shoulder)
Jose Pina (limited physical activity – injury)
Carlos E. Rojas
Larry Suarez (limited physical activity – injury)
Scott Taylor (serving 50-game prohibited substance suspension)
Tony Richie (sustained a rib cage injury in Minor League Camp)
* Alvaro Sosa
Luis Bautista (1B-C)
Starlin Castro (SS)
John Contreras (3B)
Gian Guzman (SS)
# Dwayne Kemp (2B)
* Bryan Jost (1B)
Junior Lake (SS)
Elvis Lara (2B)
# Jose Made (2B-OF)
* Jeffrey Rea (2B-OF - had unknown-type injury in Minor League Camp)
Josh Vitters (3B)
Brandon Guyer (limited physical activity – surgery rehab)
* Leon Johnson (sustained finger injury in Minor League Camp)
# Andres Quezada
* Nelson Perez (limited physical activity – unknown-type injury)
* Luke Sommer
EXACT WHEREBOUTS UNKNOWN (by me):
Alberto Alburquerque, P (was demoted to EXST at end of Minor League Camp)
* Jeffry Antigua, P (was with BOISE/MESA group in Minor League Camp)
Cory Bailey, P (was with IOWA group in Minor League Camp)
Rafael Cova, P (has yet to report - is supposedly having visa problems in Venezuela)
* Jeff Culpepper, OF (was in Minor League Camp - limited activity only)
* Clark Hardman, OF (was with PEORIA group first week of Minor League Camp)
Kitt Kopach, P (was in Minor League Camp – limited activity only)
Oswaldo Martinez, P (was in Minor League Camp – limited activity only)
* Mark Pawelek, P (was demoted to EXST at end of Minor League Camp)
* Marc Sawyer, 1B (did not report to Minor League Camp))
I strongley suspect Bailey got released at the end of ST, and Culpepper and/or Kopach may have been released or possibly retired after failing to come back from major injuries. I'm sure we'll find out eventually.
With the status of Bailey still TBD, here are the 26 Cubs minor leaguers who were definitely released during Minor League Camp (March 1st through March 31st):
Luis Astorga, LHP
Matt Canepa, C
Alex Cintron, INF (had NRI to big league camp - has since signed with BAL)
Miguel Cuevas, RHP
Brian Dopirak, 1B (has since signed minor league deal with TOR)
Derrick Ellison, LHP
Yuri Higgins, RHP
Matt Hudgins, C
Scott Koerber, LHP
Tim Layden, LHP
Brian Leclerc, OF
Simon Lee, RHP
Matt Maradeo, RHP
Andrew McCormick, RHP
Billy Mottram, 3B
Ryan O'Malley, LHP
Taylor Parker, LHP
Hernan Ramos, RHP
Jesus Reyes, OF
Alan Rick, C-1B
Chris Rivera, RHP
Carlos R. Rojas, SS (has since signed minor league deal with BAL)
Joel Santo, RHP (has since signed minor league deal with HOU)
Shingo Takatsu, RHP (had NRI to big league camp)
Chris Walker, OF
Chi-Hsiang Wen, OF
Everytime I recall Szcur's bne marrow donation to a stranger, it makes me smile:
If Matt is out will Kawasaki get the call-up? Or "Shane"?
"Matt Szczur will undergo an MRI on his right hamstring on Tuesday."
One of the reasons I think Maddon is a great manager -- he has changed the conversation on Baez from HR & strikeouts to great defense, versatility and an all-around good ballplayer. He rarely talks about his offense, which is the only thing anybody used to talk about with Javy. He took a lot of pressure off the kid, and he seems to have responded.
Good pitching and some nifty D tonight -- nice win.
In case you didn't see it -- it was the Little League play where the guy on first gets caught in a rundown on purpose and the guy on third tries to score. It worked.
Gotta love the Pirates pitcher intentionally hitting Zobrist, then allowing Zobrist to score on a 2-out wild pitch.
Also, glad to see Zobrist coming around with RISP after my remarks last week. Heh!
ESPN reporting heyward day-to-day with an injured wrist
ESPN game tonight, btw.
Cardinal way #48
"negligent transmission of STDs"
Heyward getting the night off.
Grand Slammin' Sczcur in RF - La Stella batting 2nd
Twitterverse reporting that Heyward is dealing with a sore right wrist
Cardinal way #47
See ya on parrot chat
In what was probably the last start for RHSP Jeremy Null at EXST...
Intrasquad game this morning on Field #5 at Riverview Baseball Complex:
4.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 2 WP, 1 GIDP, 5/4 GO/AO, 75 pitches (50 strikes)
Next stop is likely either South Bend or Myrtle Beach (TBD)
There does seem to be something funky about closers pitching in non-save situations -- they never seem to be as effective. But, to your point, there could not have been a save situation in that game, so why not use your best reliever?
Your thought: don't pitch Rondon at all, since a save can't happen in extra innings at home.
Maddon's thought: might as well pitch him now, because there's no later.