Eyre Follows Fox Out of Town
Veteran LHP Scott Eyre (on the 15-day DL with a sore elbow since 3/23) completed the Extended Spring Training (EXST) portion of his rehab this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa, throwing one inning (18 pitches - 14 strikes) in the EXST Cubs 7-3 loss to the EXST A's.
Although Eyre did allow a run (a one-out broken bat single to center followed by an RBI double crushed off the centerfield "Green Monster"), he also struck out the side. His fast ball topped out at 91, and his slider was VERY sharp.
While Eyre was pitching, all of the young Cubs pitchers not scheduled to pitch today (who would normally sit in the grandstand and watch the game from there) crowded into the enclosed "bird cage" behind home plate to get a better look at a major league pitcher in action. They were pretty excited, especially since Eyre actually talked to them (unlike a certain now ex-Cubs pitcher who was rehabbing at Fitch Park for most of last season who shall remain nameless). .
RHP Chad Fox (elbow) completed the Fitch Park portion of his rehab on Saturday,moving his rehab to Daytona after proving he could throw two days in a row.
It's unkown for sure where exactly Eyre is headed to continue his rehab. The Cubs might want him to pitch in Florida (Daytona) where the weather is warmer than it is in Tennessee, Iowa, or Illinois, but they also might not want two rehabbing major league relievers at the same place at the same time.
As is the custom when a Cubs player completes his rehab at Fitch Park and moves on, there were lots of handshakes and hugs as Eyre headed for the clubhouse. (I tried to give him a big hug, too, but I think he might have taken it the wrong way...)
In addition to Eyre's final EXST outing, four other pitchers who are rehabbing also pitched today (and so naturally the Cubs team physician was in attendance).
RHP Billy Petrick (at EXST trying to stengthen his shoulder) worked two innings (28 pitches), and he threw the ball very well. He gave up back-to-back doubles with two outs in the top of the 1st inning, but one of the two-baggers was misplayed into a double by neophyte LF Elvis Lara (he was moved from 2B to LF last month at Minor League Camp), and the other was a blooper that fell into the "Bermuda Triangle" between SS-2B-CF.
Tennessee RHP Jim Henderson worked one inning, and struggled a bit with his control. He allowed one run on a walk, a stolen base, and an opposite-field line single to RF.
Daytona RHP Jon Mueller worked two innings and threw the ball better than his line might otherwise indicate, striking out three with a heater that had a lot of zip, and a nice overhand breaking ball that acted like a splitter.
Mueller worked three effective innings in the Camp Day intrasquad game last Thursday in his first 2008 game action, and so he could get out of Fitch Park sooner rather than later.
Daytona RHP Todd Blackford (2007 TJ surgery) had a very poor outing, walking four hitters in his two innings of work. He didn't allow a run, thanks to a CS and a GIDP, but he couldn't find home plate, either.
Up until today, it appeared that Blackford was the most advanced of the Cubs minor league pitchers rehabbing at EXST and might be the next pitcher to get his "Letter of Transit" out of Fitch Park, but if he can't throw strikes, he isn't going anywhere.
Pitching Coach Rick Tronerud did not hide his displeasure with Blackford's performance when he made a trip to the mound after Blackford walked the bases loaded in the 7th. (Tronerud did ALL the talking).
The one EXST Cub pitcher who got into today's game who was not rehabbing was RHP John Muller, who worked the 9th. But as is typical for a closer who pitches when the game is not on the line, he got hit fairly hard (three singles in addition to a walk), although he did strike out the last two hitters he faced with his killer slider.
Prior to the game, prized 6'7 RHP prospect Chris Huseby threw a 25-pitch "live" BP session on Field #2 to the Cubs position players who did not play in the EXST game on Field #3. Huseby has yet to pitch in an EXST game, as the EXST pitching coaches (Tronerud and Pratt) are trying to fix his severely messed-up mechanics that caused him to be left behind at Fitch Park when the Peoria Chiefs departed Arizona at the end of March.
Here is today's EXST abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1. Elvis Lara, LF: 1-4 (1-3, 5-3, 1B-RBI, 4-3)
2. Drew Rundle, DH #1: 2-4 (2B, Kc, 1B + R, Ks)
3. John Contreras, 3B: 0-4 (4-3, Kc, 5-3, 5-3)
4. Luke Sommer, RF: 2-4 (F-8, 2B, 2B-RBI + CS, F-7)
5. Carlos Perez, C: 1-2 (BB, F-7, BB, 1B)
6. Andres Quezada, CF: 0-2 (BB, 1-3, Ks, BB)
7. Junior Lake, DH #2: 1-4 (F-9, 2B + R, P-6, 6-3)
8a. Bryan Jost, 1B: 0-2: (4-3, BB + R, 4-3)
8b. Luis Bautista, 1B: 0-0
9. Starlin Castro, SS: 1-2 (1B, BB, P-4)
10. Jose Made, 2B: 0-2 (6-4-3 GIDP, F-7 SF-RBI, F-8)
1. Billy Petrick - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 GIDP (28 pitches - 18 K, 3/2 GB/FB)
2. Jim Henderson - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1K (2/0 GB/FB)
3. Scott Eyre -1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K (18 pitches - 14 K)
4. Jon Mueller - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K
5. Todd Blackford - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 1 K, 1 GIDP (4/0 GB/FB)
6. John Muller - 1.0 IP, 3 H. 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K
1. Andres Quezada (fumbled ball in CF allowing runner to take extra base)
2. Jose Made (bobbled RBI ground ball allowing batter to reach 1st base)
Carlos Perez: 2-4 CS
1. Drew Rundle was thrown out 9-4-5 trying to stretch a double into a triple with one in the 1st.
2. Elvis Lara was thrown out 8-3-6 to end the bottom of the 5th, when he tried to take 2nd base on an RBI single where the throw home was cut-off by the first-baseman.
3. Luke Sommer was thrown out at 3rd base on a 3-2 pitch "strike 'em out out, throw 'em out" to end the bottom of the 6th inning.
WEATHER: Warm and not a cloud in the sky, temp in the 80's