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

Francisco Acosta
Todd Blackford (had TJ surgery last May)
* Michael Bunton (limited physical activity- injury)
Rogelio Carmona
Rafael Dolis (limited physical activity - surgery rehab)
Eduardo Figueroa
Chad Fox (elbow rehab)
Yohan Gonzalez
Angel Guzman (limited physical activity - TJ surgery rehab)
Marcus Hatley
* Arik Hempy
Jim Henderson (limited physical activity – injury)
Robert Hernandez (serving 50-game prohibited substance suspension)
Chris Huseby
Grant Johnson (limited physical activity – sprained elbow ligament)
Kevin Kreier
Scott Meyer
Jon Mueller (limited physical activity – injury)
Billy Muldowney (had TJ surgery last July)
John Muller
Dionis Nunez
Julio Pena
Billy Petrick (has had a problem with weakness in shoulder) 
Jose Pina (limited physical activity – injury)
Cedric Redmond
Carlos E. Rojas 
Audy Santana
Ryan Searle
Jose Severino
Miguel Sierra
Larry Suarez (limited physical activity – injury)
Scott Taylor (serving 50-game prohibited substance suspension)
Harol Tolentino

Carlos Guevara
Carlos Perez
Tony Richie (sustained a rib cage injury in Minor League Camp)
Roberto Sabates 
* 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)
Kevin Soto 
* Luke Sommer

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


Thank you very much for your update, AZ Phil.

I was wondering why Huseby is in extended. From your previous reports, it had sounded like he'd break with the Chiefs and you don't have him listed as injured. Did he just blow his opportunity and now will have to wait his turn to get called up?

Also, what type of injury does Larry Suarez have?

Ryan O'Malley? At least he got his cup of coffee.

Submitted by Raisin101 on Fri, 04/04/2008 - 2:39pm.

Thank you very much for your update, AZ Phil.

I was wondering why Huseby is in extended. From your previous reports, it had sounded like he'd break with the Chiefs and you don't have him listed as injured. Did he just blow his opportunity and now will have to wait his turn to get called up?

Also, what type of injury does Larry Suarez have?


RAISIN: Chris Huseby doesn't appear to be injured, so he must have had major mechanical or command problems towards the end of Minor League Camp. Huseby has the type of delivery that can get out of tune without advance notice. The Cubs often will punish a pitcher who can't throw strikes at Peoria or Daytona with a quick-hook demotion or by keeping the guy at EXST after it appears he has made a full-season roster. It's happened to Mark Pawelek a couple or three times already. It appears the same thing happened to Arik Hempy.

Larry Suarez's injury involves either his elbow or his shoulder and he has been on limited physical activity status (he can run, take bunting practice, shag fly balls during BP, and do PFP) since the beginning of Minor Lague Camp. He throws left-handed when he has to make a throw back from the outfield during BP.

A lot of times when a Cubs minor league pitcher is diagnosed with a partially torn elbow ligament or a partially torn labrum or rotator cuff he will be told to rest his elbow or shoulder for a month or two at EXST before the doctors decide whether to proceed with surgery. That's the case with Grant Johnson (partially torn elbow ligament suffered the last week of ST) right now.

Other pitchers like Muldowney and Blackford have already had their surgeries, so for them it's just a matter of them getting their arm strength back to where it needs to be. That also is Billy Petrick's problem (arm strength) right now.

BTW. Jim Henderson is making normal (hard) throws during PFP, so I would think he could be cleared for full duty very soon. Not so for Dolis, Pina, or Mueller, though. They are still kind of fragile apparently. 

There are a couple of other Cubs minor leaguers who are on the DL of their full-season clubs (1B Micah Hoffpauir at Iowa and INF Ryne Malone at Daytona), but I haven't seen either of them at Fitch Park (yet).

I know Hoffpauir has a strained oblique and will probably rehab at Fitch, but I don't know what happened to Malone. But whatever happened to him must have happened after the Daytona Cubs left Arizona, because the last time I saw Malone (at the end of Minor League Camp) he looked OK.

Also, the Cubs signed three minor league FA pitchers who were released during ST and assigned them to AAA Iowa. All three have MLB experience:

LHP Randy Keisler (was released by MIN)
RHP Mike Burns (was released by PIT)
RHP Andy Cavazos (was released by NYM)

Like Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot, the 32-year old Keisler attended LSU and has pitched in 55 MLB games (20 GS) going back to the 2000 season with NYY, OAK, CIN, SD, and STL, and he will be a rotation starter for the I-Cubs. The 29-year old Burns was a reliever for HOU (4.94 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 27 games as a middle reliever in 2005) and then got into 18 games with CIN and BOS in 2006, and the 27-year old Cavazos made his MLB debut last season with STL, got into 17 games, and sported a lofty 10+ ERA, although prior to that he did have two good years as a reliever in AAA in 2006-07.


LaTroy and the Farns combined for 7 ER tonight in the 8th for the Yankees against the Rays. LaTroy did the vast majority of the damage, allowing 6ER on 6H in .2 IP. In fact, had retired two of the first three he faced before collapsing.

Farns came in to relieve with two men on and promptly gave up a donger to Carlos Pena.

Cubbery at its finest.

Wouldn't that be ex-Cubbery? Does it still apply to guys who aren't Cubs anymore?

I'm of the opinion that once you wear Cubbie Blue, you're always capable of reverting to form after you leave.

if chad fox makes it to wrigley we are in big trouble

since fox is a righty in a pen of wood/hart/marmol/howry/wuertz...yeah, the cubs probably are in trouble if he gets here any time soon barring sudden excellence.


...and that lieber guy

I am concerned about Antigua. He has been highly touted and got a pretty large bonus to sign. Do you think he is injured or has been sent back to the DSL for another year?

HAGSAG: I don't know what happened to Antigua. All of the other 2007 DSL Cubs pitchers who were at Minor League Camp are at EXST.

The only reason somebody gets sent back to the Dominican Republic this time of year is for disciplinary reasons, not because of poor performance on the field. And Antigua was the #1 prospect among the 2007 DSL Cubs coming into the 2008 season.

Other possible explanations for Antigua's absence could be that he was suspended (but not sent home to the Dominican) because he broke a team rule, or because he is sick with the flu, or because he has an injury that is precluding him from even limited activities on the field.

Recent comments

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  • James Russell elected free agency.

  • based on what SF has been doing every other year lately, getting access to the postseason playoffs seems to be what's important. bring on dat short series!

    that said, skipping the sudden death 1-game WC would be nice from here on out.

  • I know what you are saying, but I feel compelled to point out that there's no such thing as luck, curses, etc. The Cubs this year have as good as a chance as the Pirates to move on to the next round. If the Cubs proceed to the next round or not tomorrow, it will not be because of luck, but because one team outlasted the other. When/if the Cubs are lucky enough to make it to the league series, that's where they may find their biggest challenge. The Dodgers have a good, deep pitching staff.

  • debuting the new format 1 game "sudden death" WC matchup at yankee stadium does a perfect job of showing the intense emotion and drama this game can be.

    that said, i'm ready to not see yankee stadium or hear fans at yankee stadium for another 5 and 1/2 months. at least i don't have to sit through the braves with their "tommy hawk chawp" this postseason.

  • i'd like to know why the internet radio feed of the game (which is always delayed by a few seconds at best) is almost a minute faster than the ESPN cable TV coverage. wtf?

  • i dont know what order they'll be in, but i pretty much expect fowler/schwarb/rizzo/bryant/montero/castro/lastella/arrieta. any change at all (aside from the first 4 guys) wouldn't shock me, though. coghlan is still a wildcard in the lineup joe could always march d.ross out there with very slow arrieta pitching.

  • Yup. Have to agree. Baseball, like golf, certainly has that psych component for the player. There is no real reason why a fielding position should affect a batting average. The Cubs are 106 years over due for a little luck. Don't you guys think so? Maybe the rookies can bring some dumb luck on.

  • probably stacking capable lefties vs cole while keeping the "hot" castro in the game. fwiw, he's 1-6 lifetime with 0 bb/k vs cole (double).

    i chalk bryant's issues at the plate while playing OF up to coincidence so far.

  • I will call your dead horse, "Trigger".

    In one game, when anything is possble, I am glad that Joe Maddon is our Manager.

    He knows the stats better than all of us. It would seem, IF La Stella gets the start at 3B, it will be only up to the point that they were to get the lead (crosses fingers). From everything I have read, the game will be managed like a hoops game: offense/defense. So expect La Stella to be out of the game by the 5th. This team is incredibly deep which is so surprising. We never woulda thunk it.

  • i don't know what their roster plans are, but j.herrera is out there practicing with the team.

    i can't imagine him making any roster, though. dude had 4 PA the entire month of sept. him being a good dude to be around while keeping the clubhouse loose seems to be his main role at this point.

  • I know it's my own personal dead horse to beat --but Bryant has been a lousy hitter when playing the OF this year. Given that it's his first playoff game, I really hope they keep him in his natural position and don't mess with his routine.

    Lousy as in 8-for-45 with one XBH and no HR. Small sample and all that -- but why take the chance?

  • hard to tell what's up given they'll probably want to stack as many good lefties into the lineup as possible.

    castro being a bit hot doesn't help things. if he was still cool they'd probably stick la stella at 2nd and call it a day.

  • Madden won't announce lineups but Stella is practicing at 3rd and Bryant in LF today. I'd rather see Bryant at 3rd but I guess Stella has been hotter than Coghlan.

    /edit. Though I guess they could be practicing this with the idea Stella would come in as a PH then double switch him to 3rd base and Bryant to LF. Hope that's the plan instead

  • I really like the sound of that idea about expanding the AFL to ten teams. Each org. gets to field more players.
    They should do that anyway, regardless of Adv. Instructs.

  • Dallas Beeler, Corey Black, David Garner, Pierce Johnson, Steve Perakslis, James Pugliese, Duane Underwood Jr, and Rob Zastryzny threw early-morning bullpen side-sessions at Riverview yesterday.  

    Underwood threw last, and received specific one-on-one instruction from pitching coach Mike Mason. 

  • HAGSAG: There are only five advanced instructs squads left, and presently the only "co-op" team operating is the Angels/Cubs.

    The league was originally established as a "parallel" league to the AFL (a sort of "junior AFL"), for players too advanced for traditional ("basic") instructs but who were unable to get placed on AFL rosters due to AFL player-limits.