Erick Castillo

Turner Uses Hidden Ball Trick to His Advantage

Eloy Jimenez drilled an RBI double and an RBI single, Erick Castillo collected four singles, scored a run, and drove-in another, and RHP Jacob Turner hurled three innings of one-hit shutout ball for the Cubs, and Fernando Pujadas ripped two doubles and knocked-in two runs for the Giants, as the two teams played to a 4-4 tie in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Indian School Park Field #2 in Scottsdale, AZ.     

Jacob Turner got the start for the Cubs and was masterful, working three shutout innings (37 pitches - 29 strikes) and easily retiring the first eight men he faced (3-U, 4-3, 6-3, K, F-8, F-8, K, 3-1) on just 32 pitches, before surrendering a two-out bouncing double down the LF line (just out of the reach of a diving Adonis Paula) in the bottom of the 3rd inning. He then got the final out on a 3-1 GO to complete his outing.

Turner is on the Cubs MLB 60-day DL (retro to 3/27) with a right elbow flexor strain, and today was his first game action since being shut-down on March 10th during MLB Spring Training.  

As is the practice when a major league pitcher throws in a minor league game, Turner was allowed to use the official "Major League": baseball (which has a different feel than the official "Minor League" ball), and his club (in this case the Cubs) is responsible for supplying the Major League balls to the home plate umpire each half-inning. Then when the big leaguer finishes his inning, the Major League baseballs are sent back to the bench, and the Minor League balls are returned to the home plate umpire.

The Minor League ball that was in play when the last out of the top of the 2nd was recorded was inadvertently left on top of the mound after the conclusion of the half-inning, and when Turner got out to the mound and saw it, he picked it up, looked at it for second, and then disdainfully tossed it out of play (usually the umpires job) while a Major League baseball suddenly appeared in his glove at the exact same time (a variation on what I believe magicians call the "vanishing elephant illusion"). It was absolutely amazing (or I was in a drooling stupor, not sure which). Then Turner made the Giants disappear.

Chris Denorfia (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL - hamstring strain) continued his rehab in the game, playing LF for five innings and batting four times. He grounded out sharply 5-3 on a 1-2 pitch in the top of the 1st, hammered an opposite-field double off the RF fence on the first pitch he saw his second time up, roped a line-drive single over the second-baseman's head into right-field on a 2-1 pitch in his 3rd AB, and struck out (swinging) on a 1-2 pitch in his final Plate Appearance of the day.

Denorfia has five hits (three singles and two doubles), two walks, and four strikeouts in four games (16 PA) this week, and appears to be pretty close to completing the Extended Spring Training portion of his rehab. I suppose he could go directly back to Chicago, but I suspect he will probably spend at least a day or two at AA Tennessee or AAA Iowa to face more-advanced pitching before he is reinstated from the DL.

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):

Eloy Goes Deep to Help Cubs Defeat Angels at Riverview

Alberto Mineo (RBI double), Tyler Alamo (RBI single), and Adonis Paula (RBI single) collected run-scoring hits to highlight a four-run 3rd, 17-year old Andruw Monasterio smacked a two-run double, Eloy Jimenez belted a solo home run, and Jose Paulino hurled four shutout innings and combined with four relievers to toss a three-hitter, as the Cubs cruised past the Angels 7-1 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.  

The game was pre-planned as a ten-inning affair so that all of the pitchers who were scheduled to throw could get their work. 

Frandy de la Rosa drilled his team-leading seventh double in the game and is now hitting 279/324/443 in 19 Cactus League EXST games (68 PA), and it appears that he has won the Opening Day starting second-base job at Eugene.

The Eloy Jimenez HR gives him the team lead with two, and he is now hitting 317/348/583 in 19 Cactus League EXST games (66 PA). In addition to the two home runs, Eloy also has four doubles and is tied for the team lead in triples with three (tied with Kevin Encarnacion), and he leads the team in RBI (15 ) and in runs scored (11). He has three walks and ten strikeouts in the 66 PA, and he has also stolen three bases (no CS).    

In EXST Cubs roster news, INF Bryant Flete has been moved-up to AA Tennessee, and catcher Erick Castillo has been assigned to Extended Spring Training from AA Tennessee, as Flete and Castillo essentially changed places.

The 22-year old left-handed hitting Flete is a versatile player defensively and a polished player offensively, capable of playing 2B, SS, and 3B. and with a patient approach and a good eye at the plate. He hit a combined 274/385/355 in 189 career minor league games (761 PA) 2012-14, and in 13 Cactus League EXST games (35 PA) this season, Flete hit 357/485/500, with four doubles, seven walks and five strikeouts, one stolen base (one CS), seven runs scored, and three RBI.  

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):  

Four Jacks Give Cubs Winning Hand at Riverview Park

Zak Blair (single, walk, 3-run HR, three runs scored), Kevin Brown (single, walk, solo HR, three runs scored), and Erick Castillo (three singles and a solo HR) slugged back-to-back-to-back home runs to cap a six-run 2nd inning, Varonex Cuevas clubbed a two-run HR, singled, walked, and scored two runs, and Roney Alcala drilled a two-run double, as the Cubs decimated the Diamondbacks 15-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center in Mesa, AZ.  

Fernery Ozuna belted a solo HR, a triple, and a single, and Damion Smith slugged an RBI double, singled, walked, and stole two bases for the D'backs in a losing cause.

The Cubs came into game having homered only five times in their first 42 Cactus League EXST games (Tyler Alamo, Rashad Crawford, Erick Castillo, Jeffrey Baez, and Rony Rodriguez with one each), so hitting four dingers in one game was a bit of a surprise. (And Erick Castillo now leads the team in HR with two).   

In EXST Cubs roster news, 22-year old LHP Tyler Ihrig (Cubs 2013 23rd round draft pick - College of Marin) and 22-year old RHP Trevor Graham (Cubs 2013 13th round draft pick - Franklin Pierce University) have been promoted to Hi-A Daytona, replacing RHP Jose Rosario (assigned to Extended Spring Training) and RHP Zach Cates (placed on D-Cubs 7-day DL). Graham and Ihrig have been the two best starting pitchers so far at Extended Spring Training and the duo very likely would have been the Boise Hawks top two starters, too. Graham was scheduled to start today's game at Riverview Park and Ihrig was scheduled to start tomorrow, so the EXST Cubs pitching plans were thrown into disarray with the two promotions (although nobody is complaining).   

THE PITCHING LINES FROM TYLER IHRIG'S SEVEN 2014 CACTUS LEAGUE EXST OUTINGS
4/11 - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 40 pitches (25 strikes)  
4/16 - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 3/0 GO/FO, 25 pitches (15 strikes) 
4/23 - 3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 4 K, 3/2 GO/FO, 51 pitches (32 strikes) 
4/29 - 3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 4/1 GO/FO, 38 pitches (26 strikes) 
5/5   - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 5 K, 3/1 GO/FO, 39 pitches (27 strikes) 
5/10 - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 2/5 GO/FO, 53 pitches (39 strikes)  
5/16 - 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 1 PO, 1 GIDP, 5/2 GO/FO, 61 pitches (41 strikes)
TOTAL: 21.0 IP, 16 H, 8 R (4 ER), 4 BB, 26 K, 1 WP, 1 PO, 1 GIDP, 22/13 GO/FO, 67% strikes, 1.71 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, .211 OppBA

THE PITCHING LINES FROM TREVOR GRAHAM'S FIVE 2014 CACTUS LEAGUE EXST OUTINGS
4/10 - INTRASQUAD GAME
4/15 - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1 GIDP, 7/0 GO/FO, 43 pitches (26 strikes)  
4/21 - 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 0/3 GO/FO, 33 pitches (24 strikes)  
4/26 - INTRASQUAD GAME 
5/2   - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 65 pitches (36 strikes)   
5/8   - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 2/6 GO/FO, 52 pitches (30 strikes) 
5/15 - 4.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 4/1 GO/FO, 68 pitches (45 strikes)
TOTAL: 17.0 IP, 14 H, 4 R (3 ER), 5 BB, 22 K, 1 HR, 1 WP, 1 GIDP, 15/12 GO/FO, 62% strikes, 1.59 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, .226 OppBA   

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):

Cubs Win One & Tie Another at Riverview Park

Eloy Jimenez belted an RBI triple and Rony Rodriguez and Justin Marra drilled RBI singles to highlight a three-run 1st inning, Oliver Zapata, doubled, singled, and walked, and Erick Castillo smacked a pinch-hit solo home run, helping the Cubs defeat the Giants 5-3 on Field #5, and Kevin Brown tripled, singled, walked, and scored a run, and Roney Alcala (RBI ground out & a two-run single) and Arnaldo Calero (two run-scoring doubles) drove-in three runs a piece as the Cubs rallied from a four-run deficit to tie the Giants 6-6 on Field #6, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader action this morning at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.

Ryan Jones slugged a two-run HR, doubled and scored, and singled for the Giants on Field #6.

Justin Ruggiano (Cubs MLB 15-day DL - hamstring) and Casper Wells (AAA Iowa 7-day DL - back spasms) continued their EXST game rehabs, with Ruggiano playing RF with Squad "B" on Field #5 and Wells playing RF with Squad "A" on Field #6.

Ruggiano played RF for four innings and then moved to DH for one more inning, getting three Plate Appearances in the game. He struck out (swinging) in his first AB, drew a walk his second time up and then (apparently feeling a bit frisky) was thrown-out trying to steal, and he flied out to right in his third PA. He also commited an error, dropping a line-drive that was hit right at him (eventually leading to an unearned run scoring).  

Wells played RF for eight innings and went 1-3, with a pop out to 1st, a bloop double (he later scored), a line-out to CF, and a walk.    

Meanwhile, C-1B-3B Mark Malave is no longer switch-hitting, He is now batting only RH (and actually has been for a while). Malave drives the ball with more authority RH. and from what I've seen so far, he does not appear to be adversely affected hitting RH versus RHP.

Last year OF Rashad Crawford gave up switch-hitting, opting to hit only LH (to take better advantage of his plus-speed), and that move has worked out well for him. 

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only):

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