Jose Morales

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:

Xavier Batista blasted his fourth home run in four games (a solo shot in the top of the 6th that put him into a tie for the team-lead in HR with Jeffrey Baez), Jose Morales hammered an RBI triple, scored a run, and drew a walk, and Carlos Penalver doubled, walked, and scored two runs, as the Cubs and Angels played to a 6-6 tie in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Diablo Park Field #6 in Tempe, AZ.   

Junior Lake played six innings at 3B and batted six times, going 1-6. He drove-in a run with an RBI 5-3 GO in the 1st, reached base on an RBI infield single, stole a base, and scored a run in the 2nd, struck out swinging in the 3rd, reached base on a 5-4 FC and stole a base in the 5th, was called out on strikes in the 6th, and struck out swinging in the 7th. 

In five Cactus League Extended Spring Training games (26 PA), Lake is hitting 409/500/682 with six doubles, seven runs scored, three RBI, 3/6 BB/K, and 3 SB (1 CS). He has played three of the five EXST games at 3B and two in CF, and he has not commited an error at either position.   

RHP Paul Blackburn got the start for the Cubs and was roughed-up in the bottom of the 1st inning, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits (four singles and a triple).  Bit then he got into a groove and retired nine in a row. 

RHP Armando Rivero relieved Blackburn and was hit hard, allowing three runs on five hits (four singles and a triple) in 1.2 IP. He struck out three (all three swinging).  

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

Junior Lake doubled, walked and scored two runs, Jose Morales singled twice, walked, and scored two runs, and Carlos Penalver stroked a two-run double and a single and scored a run, but one squad of Diamondbacks ralliied to score four runs with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to tie one squad of Cubs 7-7 on Quail Field, and RHP Alexander Santana retired the first nine men he faced, Francisco Sanchez singled twice, knocked-in a run, and scored another, and Mark Malave singled twice and walked, but the other squad of D'backs rallied to score one run in the 7th to tie the game and three more in the 8th to take the lead, defeating the Cubs 5-2 on Whirlwind Field, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader played this morning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.

Junior Lake (fractured rib cage rehab) played CF for six innings and batted four times (once every-other inning), going 1-3. He bounced out 5-3 in the 1st inning, drew a walk and scored a run on the Carlos Penalver RBI double in the 3rd, belted a double (his 6th two-bagger in his last three games) into the left-centerield alley with two outs in the 5th, and bounced into a 5-2 FC with a runner at 3rd base and one out in the top of the 7th, before scoring on a Yasiel Balaguert RBI triple. 

In EXST Cubs roster news, C-1B-3B Steve Clevenger has completed the Extended Spring Training portion of his rehab, and has been moved-up to AAA Iowa.

Clevenger was placed on the Cubs MLB 60-day DL with a strained oblique on April 14th, and will not be eligible to be reinstated until June 13th.  

In eight Cactus League Extended Spring Training games (34 PA), Clevenger hit 355/412/516, with five doubles and seven RBI, and 3/2 BB/K.  

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

Xavier Batista walloped two two-run home runs, Junior Lake belted three doubles, scored twice, and drove-in a run, and Steve Clevenger stroked a two-run double, leading the Cubs to a 9-2 victory over the Athletics in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Papago Park Field #2 (AKA "Connie Mack Field") in Phoenix, AZ.

The game was pre-planned as an 11-inning contest, and the game was called in the middle of the 11th inning after all of the Cubs and A's pitchers who were scheduled to throw in the game got their work.

Junior Lake (rib cage fracture rehab) played third-base for six innings and batted six times, hitting once in six of the first seven innings.

He lined a double off the LF fence (near-HR) in his first AB in the top of the 1st, and then scored from second base on a Yasiel Balaguert 4-3 GO (Lake was running on the pitch, and he didn't stop when he got to third-base, putting on the "after-burners" before sliding home safely just ahead of the throw in a cloud of dust). Lake also doubled in the top of the 2nd inning, this time an RBI two-bagger off the right-centerfield fence (another near-HR). He struck out swinging on a breaking ball in the 4th, but doubled again in the top of the 5th (opposite-field line-drive sliced into the RF corner) before scoring on Clevenger's two-run double. Lake popped-out to the first-baseman and grounded into a 6-4-3 DP in his final two AB.

Steve Clevenger (strained oblique rehab) was the starting catcher for the Cubs and was the backstop for the first six innings, and then moved to DH for the rest of the game. He batted five times, and went 1-5 with the big two-run double in the top of the 5th. He also struck out swinging, grounded out to the first-baseman (unassisted), flied out to CF, and reached base on an E-6. He was thrown out trying to steal third-base after the 5th inning double, and was picked-off 1st base after reaching on the E-6. He twisted his ankle on the pick-off and limped off the field after being tagged out by the A's first-baseman.

X. Batista came into the game hitting 182/262/255 with no home runs and just one RBI and 19 strikeouts in 22 Cactus League Extended Spring Training games (61 PA), so hitting a couple of two-run HR in one game probably felt pretty good. 

2012 6th round draft pick RHP Trey Lang was the Cubs starting pitcher and worked 3.2 IP, allowing two runs (one earned) on just one hit (a 4th inning single) with five strikeouts (all five swinging). But he also walked five, hit a batter, and threw two wild pitches, and needed 75 pitches (only 36 strikes) to get the 11 outs (including a 28-pitch 4th inning that he could not even finish). Lang will likely be one of the starting pitchers at Boise, although his control issues are a big problem and have been all year.

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

James Sneed roped a two-run single and Ryan Dalton followed with an RBI single to highlight a two-out three-run rally in the top of the 3rd inning, and Tyler DeLoach tossed 3.2 IP of one-hit shutout relief with seven strikeouts, helping the Angels defeat the Cubs 4-1 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 in Mesa, AZ.  

Junior Lake (fractured rib cage rehab) saw his first game action since March 6th, playing 3rd base for five innings and getting five AB.

Lake batted once in each of the first five innings, going 1-3 with a single and two walks. He also was retired on a 1-3 comebacker to the mound and was called out on strikes. In addition, he was caught stealing after reaching base on the single. 
    
Ex-Minnesota Twins switch-hitting C-1B-3B-PH Jose Morales also returned to action today after missing almost six weeks with a strained hamstring. He went 0-3, and knocked-in the Cubs lone run with a F-7 sacrifice fly.

The 30-year old Morales was signed as a minor league free-agent last month and reported to Extended Spring Training to get into playing shape, but promptly pulled a hammy in his very first EXST game on April 19th. He has been restricted to limited activity (essentially just BP and "sim" games) ever since. Once he is deemed ready to move up, he will likely be assigned to AAA Iowa. 

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

Shawon Dunston Jr reached base four times on three singles and a walk, scored twice, and drove-in a run, Yasiel Balaguert singled twice, tripled, and knocked-in four runs, and Jacob Rogers smacked a two-run triple and walked, leading one squad of Cubs to a 7-3 victory over one squad of Diamondbacks on Field #3, and Francisco Sanchez hammered a two-run triple and then scored on a WP in a three-run 5th, and Garrett Schlecht, Erick Castillo, and Wilfredo Petit punched-out consecutive singles with two outs in the bottom of the 7th, rallying the other squad of Cubs to a 4-4 tie with the other squad of D'backs on Field #2, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader played this morning at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.

As is usually the case when they play an EXST doubleheader, both games were seven-inning affairs, and the games were played simultaneously on adjoining fields.

RHP Dayan Diaz saw his first 2013 game action today, starting and pitching one inning in the game on Field #3. Signed by the Cubs as a minor league free-agent last November, Diaz got an NRI to Spring Training, but never got to pitch in an MLB Cactus League game because of a sore arm. (In fact, he never even threw "live" BP while with the big club). He has been rehabbing at Fitch Park for the past six weeks.   

The Cubs have signed 30-year old veteran switch-hitting C-1B-3B-PH Jose Morales to a minor league contract, and he was a DH in the game on Field #2. He went 2-3, roping two line-drive singles and striking out (swinging). With Steve Clevenger on the DL for at least 60 days with a strained oblique, it's possible that Morales was signed to eventually provide Manager Dale Sveum with the third catcher he seems to covet. 

The Cubs have been working out Jose Dore (acquired from SD last month) at 3rd base this week, and he played there in yesterday's intrasquad game and then again in today's EXST game on Field #2. He looks like a "natural" at the hot corner, and although he probably will continue to see action at 1B-LF-RF, it looks like he wil be playing a lot of 3rd base in the coming days. (He also got three innings at 2nd base last week, as the Cubs apparently see him as a bit of a "super-sub"). 

Conversely, I doubt that 18-year old slugging INF Luis Acosta (signed on July 2, 2011 - $1.1M bonus) will be remaining at 3rd base. His throws have been consistently scatter-gun (in fact, about the worst I have ever seen), and he was worked-out at 2nd base in pre-game infield practice this morning (although he did not play in the game). He was signed as a ahortstop, but was moved to third-base at DSL Instrux post-2012 because of defensive struggles at SS. If second-base doesn't work out, he'll probably be moved to LF. (He also needs to learn how to hit breaking balls, or at least recognize a breaking ball and then not swing at it).  

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

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