Hoff-POWER! Completes Rehab, Is Iowa Bound
Micah Hoffpauir completed his injury rehab today, driving in the EXST Cubs first run in a 9-7 victory over the EXST Angels at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in Mesa, before heading back to Des Moines to rejoin the Iowa Cubs. .
The 28-year old Hoffpauir, who has been on the I-Cubs DL since suffering a strained oblique just prior to Opening Day, was one of the Cubs top hitters in Spring Training, leading the team in several offensive categories and impressing Cubs manager Lou Piniella with both his stick and his glove.
In other EXST roster news, three pitchers who had been at Fitch Park rehabbing from injuries or physical problems over the past month moved up to full season clubs this past weekend.
RHPs Billy Petrick (shoulder stiffness) and Grant Johnson (sprained elbow ligament) have been assigned to Daytona, and RHP Jim Henderson (sore back) has been assigned to AA Tennessee. Petrick is still on the Iowa DL, so he will likely eventually end up at Iowa.
In addition, 2007 24th round draft pick RHP Scott Meyer (Lamar) has been released. Meyer is the 6th player drafted and signed by the Cubs last June to get cut. Given his D-1 college experience, Meyer should be able to hook-up with an independent league team if he wishes to continue his baseball career, as many ex-Cubs minor leaguers have done previous.
The Cubs will also be converting still another position player to pitcher at Fitch Park, as 22-year old switch-hitting Dominican OF Andres Quezada will be trading his bat for a change-up and breaking ball.
Quezada was always a little short on hitting, but he was a very good defensive outfielder with a plus-arm. We'll have to see how he makes the transition to throwing off a mound. (I suspect the Cubs probably told him: "You have two choices, Q... you can become a pitcher, or you can go home").
Also, 17-year old Korean bonus baby SS Hak-Ju Lee (who has been compared by one Cubs scout to a young Derek Jeter) will be reporting to the MLB Australian Baseball Academy next month, along with LHP Cody Hams (who will be leaving Fitch Park on May 21st) and recently-signed RHP Adam Spencer (who is still in high school in Australia).
It is not yet clear if Lee will be attending the AZ Instructional League in September (as fellow Korean Dae-Eun Rhee did last year), or if he will make his U. S. debut next March at Minor Leagie Camp at Fitch Park. But he will definitely NOT be playing for the AZL Cubs at Fitch Park this Summer
In injury news, 2007 #1 draft pick Josh Vitters (who just returned to Fitch Park from Peoria) and EXST Cubs 4th-string catcher Jose Guevara are sidelined with hand injuries, while 2B Jeffrey Rea (quad) and LF Brandon Guyer (fractured elbow) are improving albeit still restricted to BP only at this time.
As for today's game, once again Micah Hoffpauir played a "compressed" game, playing 1st base in the field and batting 3rd in each of the first three innings, before saying "adios" and heading for the Fitch Park clubhouse.
In Hoffpauir's first AB, the strapping Texan flew out to the warning track in RF, followed by a 6-3 ground out in the bottom of the 2nd, and then a ground RBI single back up through the middle in his 3rd AB in the 3rd inning.
SS Junior Lake had a big day at the plate, going 4-5 with three RBI (Lake is one of the Cubs top position player prospects at EXST), and RHP Julio Pena (who started the game for the EXST Cubs) threw three shutout innings and was VERY sharp, striking out four without allowing a walk.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only). And remember, Micah Hoffpauir batted third in each of the first three innings, and then left the game...
1. Kevin Soto, LF: 1-4 (3B, R, BB, CS)
2. Drew Rundle, CF: 2-4 (3B, RBI, 2 R, HBP)
3a. Micah Hoffpauir, 1B: 0-1 (F-9)
3b. NONE - SKIPPED
4. Nelson Perez, RF: 1-5 (2 R, 2 K)
5a. Luis Bautista, C: 2-3 (K)
5b. Alvaro Sosa, C: 1-2 (K)
6a. NONE - SKIPPED
6b. Bryan Jost, 1B: 0-3 (R, BB, K)
7. Junior Lake, SS: 4-5 (2B, 3 RBI)
8a. Micah Hoffpauir, DH #1: 0-1 (6-3 GO)
8b. NONE - SKIPPED
9, John Contreras, 3B: 2-5 (2 R)
10. Dwayne Kemp, 2B: 1-4 (3B, R)
11a. Micah Hoffpauir, DH #2: 1-1 (RBI SINGLE)
11b. NONE - SKIPPED
12.Carlos Perez, DH #3: 0-4 (RBI, GIDP)
1. Julio Pena - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 GIDP (3/2 GO/FO)
2. Dionis Nunez - 3.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 1 K (1/7 GO/FO)
3. John Muller - 2.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 0 K (2/4 GO/FO)
4. Kevin Kreier - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K
ERROR (1): Kemp (bobble)
CATCHERS DEFENSE: Sosa 1-1 CS
WEATHER: High in low 80's and breezy
KILLER BEE UPDATE: The African (killer) bee hive in the tree adjacent to Field #3 has been removed by an exterminator, but there were a few stragglers who apparently didn't get the memo who were buzzing the general area in search of (what used to be) their home. Very sad. A stinger is a terrible thing to waste.