Jesse Hodges

Kevin Brown ripped an RBI triple and two singles and scored a run, Varonex Cuevas drilled a two-run triple and an RBI single, Jesse Hodges reached base four times (HBP, 2B, 2B, and BB), scored two runs, and drove-in another, Alberto Mineo collected three singles and scored a run, and five pitchers combined to throw a three-hitter, as the Cubs overwhelmed the Angels 10-1 in Cactus League  Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #1 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.

19-year old 6'2 Dominican stringbean LHP Jose Paulino was the most-impressive Cub hurler today, tossing four innings of one-hit shutout ball. If any of the Cubs teenaged Latin pitchers making their U. S. debut in 2014 make the Boise Opening Day roster, it would probably be Paulino. (I'm not counting RHSP Erick Leal because he was in the U. S. last year at AZL Cubs, and although RHRP Francisco Carrillo and LHRP Alberto Diaz will be making their U. S. debut this season, both pitchers are in their 20's).

Manny Ramirez served as a DH and batted five times in the game (once in each of the first five innings), going 1-5 with three ground outs, a fly out to RF, and a single off the LF wall (ManRam can still hit, but he just doesn't run as well as he once did).

Ryan Sweeney (Cubs MLB 15-day DL - hamstring) played CF for five innings and batted four times, going 1-3 with a walk, a single and a run scored. Sweeney seems to be running just fine, so I would think he will probably get moved-up to AAA Iowa very soon to continue his rehab (just like Justin Ruggiano did a couple of weeks ago), before being reinstated from the DL sometime next week (barring any setbacks).  

RHRP Kyuiji Fujikawa (Cubs MLB 60-day DL - 2013 TJS rehab) threw an inning and allowed one run on a HBP and an RBI double. He did strike out two batters, however (both swinging). His rehab has gone kind of slow, but he really needs to get out of here ASAP, even if it's just a minor league rehab assignment at Kane County or Daytona.   

In EXST Cubs roster news, INF Tim Saunders has been sent to Extended Spring Training from Daytona and he played 2B in today's game, so expect Saunders to be on the Boise Hawks Opening Day roster. RHP Trevor Graham also was returned to Extended Spring Training from Daytona, so he should join LHP Tyler Ihrig, RHP Erick Leal, and RHP Trevor Clifton (plus one more starter TBA, could be Jose Paulino) in the Boise starting rotation. And RHP Josh Davis has been moved up to Kane County from Extended Spring Training, in what will be his second tour with the Cougars this season. (Davis has logged some time with the Daytona Cubs in 2014, too).

Alberto Mineo (a double and a run scored), Oliver Zapata (an RBI triple and a run scored), Jesse Hodges (an RBI double and a run scored), Kevin Brown (an RBI single and a run scored), and Rashad Crawford (RBI triple) sparked the Cubs to a four-run 2nd inning, Jeffrey Baez belted an RBI triple and a double and scored two runs, and Erick Leal threw five innings of one-run ball, as the Cubs hammered the Diamondbacks 8-2 on Field #5, and Trey Masek and four relievers combined to toss a six-hit shutout and Gleyber Torres singled twice, walked, and drove-in the game's only run, as the Cubs whitewashed the D'backs 1-0 on Field #6, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader played this morning at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.     

In EXST Cubs roster news, RF Eloy Jimenez has been assigned to the DSL Cubs. 

The 17-year old Jimenez (last year's top-rated July 2 international free-agent) hit 238/270/357 in 24 Cactus League Extended Spring Training games (89 PA), with 4/22 BB/K. one HR, five doubles, a triple, and a team-leading 16 RBI. He had a sore arm in Minor League Camp that limited him to DH duty-only until mid-April, and even then he only started eight EXST games in RF. No question his defense needs a lot of work.

But Jimenez caught fire at the plate on May 14th, hitting 360/385/640 over his final seven games (26 PA). He hit his only Cactus League EXST home run in what turned out to be his last EXST game (versus the Angels in Tempe this past Tuesday), when he drove-in four runs with a three-run HR and an RBI single.   

Here are the abridged box scores from today's games (Cubs players only):  

Gleyber Torres (three singles, a double, and a walk) and Shamil Ubiera (two singles, a triple, and a walk) combined to reach base nine times, collect six RBI, and score four runs, Tyler Alamo drilled an RBI double and an RBI single, and Jesse Hodges singled, tripled, scored two runs, and drove-in another, as the Cubs outlasted the Athletics 9-7 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #2 (AKA "Connie Mack Field") at the Papago Baseball Facility in Phoenix, AZ. 

In 23 Cactus League EXST games (91 PA), the 17-year old Torres is now hitting 291/378/392, with four doubles and two triples, 8 RBI, 8 runs scored, 9/17 BB/K, two HBP (and he tried to charge the mound on one of them), 2 SB (2 CS) and one PO, and ten errors (seven fielding and three throwing). 

After hitting 297/367/446 with 42 doubles, four triples, eight HR, and 97 RBI, 89 runs scored, 27 SB (14 CS), and a 43/83 BB/K in 134 games (569 PA) in the DSL 2012-13, the 21-year old Ubiera is now hitting 328/355/517 with seven doubles, two triples, a 3/5 BB/K, 1 SB (0 CS), 3 GIDP, and a team-leading 12 RBI in 18 Cactus League EXST games (62 PA). He has played all three OF positions for the EXST Cubs, and has commited two errors (both in LF) and he has one outfield assist (while playing RF).     

RHRP Kyuji Fujikawa (on the Cubs 60-day DL - 2013 TJS) saw his first Cactus League EXST game action since April 14th (when he walked off the mound at Riverview Park in the middle of an AB after thowing 17 pitches), retiring all three batters he faced (4-3, F-9, P-3) on just 12 pitches. Fujikawa is eligible to be reinstated from the 60-day DL today, but he will require additional rehab work before he is ready to rejoin the Cubs (and that's presuming there are no further setbacks along the way).

Cubs 2013 5th round draft pick RHP Trey Masek (on Kane County 7-day DL) saw his first Cactus League EXST game action of 2014, but he was not as sharp as Fujikawa, surrendering a solo HR to the first batter he faced before walking two of the next three hitters. Masek was unable to complete his inning (21 pitches - only 9 strikes), and was relieved with two outs and a runner on 1st (the other baserunner had already been erased on a CS).       

RHP Erick Leal had a terrible outing, allowing six runs (five earned) on four hits and four walks in three innings of work (and the 71 pitches he logged in only 3.0 IP is not a typo). He struck out only one, and that was the last batter he faced.

RHP Trevor Graham was relaxing in a chair, charting the game from behind home plate, when he was called up to Daytona in the middle of the 7th inning. He was driven back to Riverview Park by the Strength & Conditioning coach so that he could catch a plane at Sky Harbor Airport ASAP.

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

Jesse Hodges reached base three times (two-run double, RBI single, and a walk) and drove-in three runs and Charcer Burks belted an RBI triple and a double and scored a run, leading the Cubs to a 6-1 victory over the Rockies in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ. 

Wilin Rosario (on Colorado Rockies MLB 15-day DL - viral infection) served as a DH and singled twice and hammered an RBI double for the Rockies in a losing cause.

OF Justin Ruggiano (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL since 4/24) returned to game action for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury while attempting to make a diving catch in the RF bullpen in the 9th inning of the Wrigley Field 100th Anniversary Game versus the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 23rd, serving as a DH and getting four Plate Appearances. Facing RHP Tony Bryant in all four of his AB, Ruggiano struck out (swinging) his first two times up in the bottom of the 1st and bottom of the 2nd (and looked bad in the process), but then he smacked a lead-off double off the CF fence in the bottom of the 3rd inning, before grounding out 6-3 in his final AB in the 4th. He was definitely not running at fuil-speed (he was removed for a "designated pinch-runner" after his double), but then he wasn't limping, either.

RHP Josh Conway (Cubs 2012 4th round pick - Coastal Carolina U.) saw his first game action in more than a year, getting the start for the Cubs and pitching one inning (17 pitches). His fastball was clocked at only 89-90 MPH (he was peaking at 94 last year), but his two-seamer had good sink and his hard-slider was dive-bombing the lower part of the strike zone. 

Conway underwent "Tommy John Surgery" (TJS) after suffering a torn UCL in a game against Liberty University prior to being drafted by the Cubs (a "2nd round talent" who supposedly fell to the 4th round only because of the TJS), and after spending the 2012 season on the 60-day DL he came back strong and was without question the most-impressive pitcher at Minor League Camp in 2013. He continued his outstanding work into Extended Spring Training, and he appeared to be about ready to join the Kane County or Daytona starting rotation (he had thrown 5.0 IP and 80 pitches in his previous start), when he suffered a season-ending elbow injury (described at the time as a stress fracture) while pitching in an EXST game at the Brewers Maryvale Baseball Complex on May 4, 2013 (see link). 

In EXST Cubs roster news, veteran MLB RHP Joel Pineiro has been moved up to AA Tennessee from Extended Spring Training, where he will replace RHP Ivan Pineyro (placed on Tennessee 7-day DL with a forearm strain) in the Smokies starting rotation. The 35-year old Pineiro was signed as a free-agent by the Cubs on March 30th, and has spent the last six weeks at Riverview Park getting "stretched-out" as a starting pitcher. (Prior to signing with the Cubs, Pineiro hadn't pitched since playing winter ball in Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente in Puerto Rico last off-season). 

Although it was announced at the time the Cubs signed Pineiro that he would be at Extended Spring Training for "about ten days" and then be assigned to AAA Iowa, it soon became clear that that just wasn't going to happen. For one thing, Pineiro really hasn't pitched that well (see below), and secondly, with Chris Rusin, Kyle Hendricks, Eric Jokisch, Dallas Beeler, and Tsuyoshi Wada filling the five slots, there is just no room for him in the I-Cubs rotation.

THE PITCHING LINES FROM JOEL PINEIRO'S SIX 2014 CACTUS LEAGUE EXST OUTINGS
4/12 - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 8/0 GO/FO, 64 pitches (48 strikes)
4/17 - 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1 PO, 7/2 GO/FO, 66 pitches (43 strikes)
4/22 - 4.2 IP, 9 H, 7 R (7 ER), 2 BB, 3 K, 3/3 GO/FO, 76 pitches (51 strikes)
4/28 - 5.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 7 K, 1 WP, 4/4 GO/FO, 60 pitches (45 strikes) 
5/3   - 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 2 GIDP, 10/4 GO/FO, 62 pitches (42 strikes)  
5/9   - 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 3 GIDP, 12/2 GO/FO, 77 pitches (50 strikes)
 
TOTAL: 28.2 IP, 33 H, 19 R (17 ER), 7 BB, 22 K, 1 HR, 4 WP, 1 PO, 5 GIDP, 44/15 GO/FO, 72% strikes, 5.34 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, .289 OppBA

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

Jeffrey Baez led-off the game with a home run and then laced an RBI single and stole a base in his next AB, Jesse Hodges belted an RBI triple and scored a run, Gleyber Torres singled twice, knocked-in two runs, and scored another, and Tyler Ihrig fired four innings of shutout ball with five strikeouts and combined with three relievers to help the Cubs whitewash the Giants 6-0 on Field #2, and Craig Massoni drove-in three runs with a two-run double and a sacrifice fly and Carlos Valdez hammered a solo home run, leading the Giants to a 6-1 victory on Field #1, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader action this morning at Indian School Park in Scottsdale, AZ.  

Slick-fielding AA Tennessee shortstop Elliot Soto (at Extended Spring Training while serving a 50-game Drug of Abuse suspension) reached base four times (three singles and a walk) and stole a base in a losing cause on Field #1. 

OF Casper Wells (on AAA Iowa Cubs 7-day DL - back spasms) continued his EXST rehab, playing RF for six innings and getting three Plate Appearances (he was in the clean-up slot in the batting order on Field #2 and he batted only when his spot in the order was due to hit). Wells walked twice and grounded out 6-3.

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

Welington Castillo homered, doubled, and singled, Jesse Hodges doubled twice and walked, and Duane Underwood tossed four innings of no run/no hit ball, as the Kane County Cougars rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 9th to edge the Burlingtom Bees (Los Angeles Angels Lo-A affiliate) 7-6 on Field #3, while the Inland Empire 66ers (the LAA Hi-A affiliate) drubbed the Daytona Cubs 12-3 on Field #6, in Cactus League Minor League Camp action this afternoon at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.

Trey Martin laced three doubles (one line-drive into the LF corner, one line-drive off the left-field fence, and one line drive into the left-center alley), walked, drove-in two runs, and scored another, Jesse Hodges singled twice, doubled, collected two RBI, and scored twice, and Michael Wagner threw three innings of one-hit shutout ball, as the Cubs outlasted the Angels 10-8 in AZ Instructional League action this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 in Mesa. 

Gioskar Amaya drilled two home runs and an RBI single and collected four RBI, Jesse Hodges doubled twice, singled, and drove-in two runs, and Kelvin Freeman belted a two-run HR, leading the Cubs to a 9-4 victory over the Athletics in Arizona Instructional League action this afternoon at the Papago Park Baseball Facility Field #2 (AKA "Connie Mack Field") in Phoenix.

Amaya also reached base on an HBP, stole a base, and made three diving stops & throws at 2B that resulted in run-saving put-outs (two of the stops made while going to his right, and one made while going to his left).  

Jesse Hodges reached base four times on a double, two singles, and a walk, drove-in three runs, and scored another, and Jose Morales also reached base four times on a double, two singles, and a walk, leading the AZL Cubs to a 7-2 victory over the Boise Hawks this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 in Mesa, AZ.  

Kevin Encarnacion went 4-4 with three singles and a double for Boise.

Cubs 2012 2nd round draft pick RHP Duane Underwood got the start for Boise and hurled 3.1 IP. He struggled to command his fastball (82 pitches - only 40 strikes), allowing two runs on four hits and five walks and two WP. He also struck out four.

RHP Jorge Diaz pitched for Boise although he is assigned to the AZL Cubs.  

The game was a seven-inning contest.  

The Hawks arrived by bus at 6 AM for the 7:30 AM game, and departed for Sky Harbor Airport after the conclusion of the game. They are due to arrive in Boise at 5:30 PM (local time). They will travel by bus from Boise to Eugene on Thursday, and will play their first 2013 NWL game Friday night.  

There was a lot of loud joking around by the Boise players (like giving Shawon Dunston Jr a rash of shit about his tweets), but the AZL Cubs were fairly quiet. Players spend ten weeks at Extended Spring Training trying to make the Boise roster (if not Kane County or Daytona), and failing to do so can be a bit of a let-down. For AZL Cubs players like RF Jeffrey Baez (323/400/554 in 75 PA - 24 EXST Cactus League), 3B Jesse Hodges (275/342/449 in EXST Cactus League play  - with 321/387/571 over his last ten games), and 1B-OF Xavier Batista (387/441/935 with four HR over his last ten EXST Cactus League games, plus another HR in yesterday's intrasquad game), there had to be a feeling of vindication in soundly beating the team that will be leaving without them. All three deserve to be in Boise (and Batista probably should be at Kane County), but justice is usually not a factor when it comes to assigning players to a particular minor league affiliate.

AA Tennessee OF Jae-Hoon Ha continued his rehab, playing CF for five inings for the AZL Cubs and batting seven times in the game (once each inning). Ha went 1-6 with two fly outs, two ground outs, a line-drive-out, an RBI double, and a HBP, with two runs scored. He also stole two bases (including third base, and then he scored on an E-2 overthrow), and he also won the bat toss by heaving his bat over the grandstand fence and into the bleachers after being hit in the ribs by an Ethan Elias pitch. Ha looks like he's very close to being ready to return to Tennessee.

AA Tennessee 1B Justin Bour (broken wrist rehab) saw his first game action since April 19th, playing 1B for four innings with the Boise squad and batting five times. He went 1-4 with a sharp ground single through the 3.5 hole and a walk. a 3-1 GO, and two strike outs (both swinging). Bour left the game temporarily during the 5th & 6th innings and went over to Field #1 and took about four dozen ground balls around first base. One thing about Bour is that he is a tireless worker.    

Beefy 3B-1B Mark Malave was pressed into service at 2B for the AZL Cubs today. That's because INF Brad Zapenas was absent from Fitch Park, possibly en route to join the Kane County Cougars to replace INF David Bote, who has been assigned to Boise. (Bote will join his Hawks teammates in Boise). Zapenas hit 382/446/564 in 22 EXST Cactus League games (65 PA) while rehabbing from 2012 season-ending shoulder surgery.  

RHP Mike Hamann was (somewhat surprisingly) not on the Boise roster posted yesterday, but that might be because be could be going to KC instead. (Hamann was the Cubs #1 closer at Extended Spring Training). Or he may not be 100%.

2009 South Korean bonus baby ($550K) OF Dong-Yub Kim has disappeared from Fitch Park and may heve been released (can't be confirmed). Kim sufferered a torn labrum in his right shoulder at AZ Instructs post-2009, and eventually learned to throw left-handed. But even then he has a below-average arm (even for a LF), and so he had to hit a ton to remain a prospect. And while he still has plus bat speed and runs well for a big guy, it probably isn't enough (245/328/396 with three doubles, one triple, one home run, and eight RBI, in 27 EXST Cactus League games - 61 PA). 
 
Here is the box score from today's game:

Steve Clevenger laced an RBI double and a single and scored two runs, Jesse Hodges belted an RBI double and a triple and scored three times, Dong-Yub Kim doubled, singled twice, drove-in two runs, and scored another, and Jacob Rogers drove-in three runs with an RBI 6-3 GO, a triple, and a bases-loaded walk, as the Cubs drubbed the Angels 16-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Diablo Park Field #7 in Tempe, AZ.

This was the final Cactus League Extended Spring Training game for Albert Almora (broken hand rehab), as he will be leaving Arizona tomorrow morning, en route to join the Kane County Cougars. In six Cactus League Extended Spring Training games (28 PA), Almora hit 259/286/444, with four singles, one double, and two triples, one walk and four strikeouts, five runs scored. and two RBI. He also stole a base.  

The Cubs 2012 1st round pick (6th overall), Almora sustained a broken hamate bone at Minor League Camp on March 14th.            

Steve Clevenger (strained oblique rehab) was a DH in today's game, and got four AB. He batted once in each of the first four innings, getting called out on strikes in his first PA, rifling a line-drive single over the pitcher's head his second time up and then scoring later that inning, roping an RBI double off the CF fence in his third AB before scoring another run later in that inning, and finally grounding into a DP his final turn at the bat.

Because Clevenger was placed on the Cubs MLB 60-day DL on April 14th, he won't be eligible to be reinstated until June 13th. So once Clevenger completes his work at Extended Spring Training, look for him to spend a few more days on a 20-day minor league rehab assignment at Tennessee and/or Iowa.  

Cubs 2012 6th round pick RHP Trey Lang got the start for the Cubs and had a poor outing, allowing three runs on three hits, four walks, and a HBP (plus a WP) in just 2.1 IP (63 pitches - only 29 strikes). Four Angel runners were cut-down on the bases in the first two innings of the game (two CS, one catcher PO, and one pitcher PO), or Lang's line could have been even uglier than it was.

17-year old Venezuelan LHP Carlos Rodriguez followed Lang to the mound and threw 2.2 IP of no-run/no-hit ball, allowing a walk to the the first man he faced before retiring the last eight batters in a row (4-3, F-8, K, 4-3, 3-U, L-6, P-3, L-1). Rodriguez will likely be one of the AZL Cubs starting pitchers this summer.  

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

Luis Baez stroked two run-scoring doubles (one to tie the game in th 6th and another to put the A's ahead in the 9th) and knocked-in three runs, helping to rally the Athletics to a 6-4 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Papago Park Field #2 (AKA "Connie Mack Field") in Phoenix, AZ.

Jesse Hodges smacked an RBI double and a solo HR, Albert Almora singled, doubled, and scored a run, and Paul Blackburn hurled three shutout innings for the Cubs in a losing cause.

The game was pre-planned as a ten-inning affair, so when the A's scored three runs in the bottom of the 9th to take a 6-4 lead, the Cubs still had a chance to mount a comeback. But they left the bases loaded in the top of the 10th.  

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

Oakland A's 2012 1st round draft pick (#11 overall) Addison Russell walked, tripled, and belted a two-run home run, Vicmal de la Cruz clobbered a solo home run and an RBI double, Reynaldo Mateo blasted a two-run HR, and Matt Olson singled twice and drove-in two runs, as the Athletics out-slugged the Cubs 13-8 in Arizona Instructional League action this afternoon at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.


Meanwhile, Jesse Hodges hammered a two-run home run and a double, Jorge Soler drilled a two-run triple, Marco Hernandez roped an opposite-field two run double, and Tim Saunders doubled, walked, stole a base, and drove-in a run, to help propel the Cub offense.


Andrew Velazquez singled twice, doubled, scored two runs, and drove-in another, Jonathan Griffin doubled twice and knocked-in two runs, and Alex Glenn blasted a three-run home run, to lead a ferocious 20-hit attack as the Diamondbacks crushed the Cubs 17-3 in Arizona Instructional League action Saturday night at the Main Stadium at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick east of Scottsdale.


The game was halted for about 25 minutes with two outs in the top of the 5th after Cubs outfielder Trey Martin was hit in the head with a pitch. Paramedics from the Salt River Fire Department were called by the Diamondbacks team trainer, and the ambulance responded directly to home plate where Martin was laying on his back.

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