Kyuji Fujikawa

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).

RHP Pierce Johnson (AA Tennessee 7-day DL - calf - hadn't thrown in a game since May 19th), RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (Cubs MLB 60-day DL - 2013 TJS - hadn't thrown in a Cactus League EXST game since last Monday), and LHP Zac Rosscup (Cubs 15-day DL - shoulder - hadn't thrown in a game since May 9th) combined to toss 3.2 IP of two-hit shutout ball and Danny Canela belted a double and a triple for the Cubs, and LHP Jonah Wesely threw three innings of one-hit shutout ball with five strikeouts for the Angels, as the two teams played to a 2-2 tie in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #4 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ. 

42-year old OF Manny Ramirez (signed by the Cubs last week to be a player-coach at AAA Iowa) has arrived at Riverview Park to get into playing shape, and so security has been increased. There was a definite uptick in attendance today (most-likely related to Manny's expected arrival), although ManRam did not play in the EXST game.

17-year old OF Eloy Jimenez was at Riverview Park today, too, watching the game from the bleachers (he hasn't played in a game since last Tuesday). Whether his trip to the DSL has been indefinitely postponed or just temporarily delayed remains to be seen. It would be nice if Eloy could play in at least one or two more Cactus League EXST games, though, since he leads the EXST Cubs in RBI and is (was) in the middle of a hot streak (hitting 360/385/640 since May 14th). 

LHP Andin Diaz (who was assigned to the DSL Cubs last Friday) was not present at Riverview today and presumably has reported to the DSL Cubs, although (who knows?) maybe he'll pop up again, too.

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

Shilo McCall drilled a two-run single and a solo home run and scored twice, Jonah Arenado ripped an RBI single and two doubles and scored a run, Carlos Valdez singled twice, doubled, and scored three runs, Tyler Hollick smacked an RBI double, singled, walked, and scored a run, Julio Pena doubled twice and singled, and John Riley hammered a solo HR, as the Giants pounded out 19 hits (including seven doubles and two home runs) en route to a 10-5 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training Memorial Day action on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.   

Jeffrey Baez and Varonex Cuevas belted solo home runs for the Cubs.

The EXST Cubs hit only three HR over their first 37 Cactus League games, but they have hit nine HR over their last nine Cactus League Extended Spring Training games.

2014 EXST CUBS HOME RUNS (thru 5/26 - 46 games): 12
Jeffrey Baez - 2
Erick Castillo - 2
Rashad Crawford - 2
Varonex Cuevas - 2
Tyler Alamo - 1
Zak Blair - 1
Kevin Brown - 1
Rony Rodriguez - 1 

RHRP Kyuji Fujikawa (on Cubs MLB 60-day DL - 2013 TJS rehab) started the game for the Cubs and threw a 14-pitch 1-2-3 1st inning (F-8, 6-3, K-looking). Fujikawa has thrown three times in the last six days, working one inning each time (40 pitches total - 23 strikes - 58% K), and he has retired all nine men he has faced in those 3.0 IP (4-3, F-9, P-3, K, F-8, 3-1, F-8, 6-3, K).  

RHP Erick Leal had his second consecutive poor outing, allowing seven runs (all earned) on 11 hits (including four doubles and two HR) and a walk in 5.0 IP (71 pitches). Over his last two games (8.0 IP - 141 pitches) Leal has allowed 13 runs (12 ER), 15 hits, and five walks.

Rashad Crawford belted an inside-the-park two-run home run (opposite-field line-drive smoked over the left-fielder's head) to highlight a three-run third, and the bullpen tossed 7.2 IP of two-hit shutout ball, helping the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the Rockies in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Dust Storm Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.

The home run was Crawford's second in Cactus League EXST game action (his first HR was hit over the RF fence on Field #5 at Riverview Park on April 21st), so Crawford has now tied Erick Castillo for the team-lead in HR with two (six others--Tyler Alamo, Jeffrey Baez, Zak Blair, Kevin Brown, Varonex Cuevas, and Rony Rodriguez--have one HR a piece). And the Cubs (as a team) have hit seven of their ten home runs in their last five games.  

Five Cub "rehab" pitchers saw work in today's game (including four who threw in the intrasquad game last Saturday), so Rehab Pitching Coordinator Rick Tronerud and Rehab Athletic Trainer Chuck Baughman made the trip up to Salt River Fields from Riverview Park (they did not bring their golf cart, however).  

* Cubs 2012 4th round draft pick RHP Josh Conway (2012 pre-draft TJS & May 2013 elbow stress fracture) got the start and breezed through the bottom of the 1st inning (allowing just a two-out single) before surrendering a run on two hits (including an RBI triple) and a walk in the bottom of the 2nd. The 23-year old needed 37 pitches to get four outs. 

* Veteran NPB & MLB RH reliever Kyuji Fujikawa (May 2013 TJS) retired all three men he faced (K-swinging, F-8, 3-1), although he was continually shaking and stretching his arm during the outing. 

* 20-year old 2012 3rd round draft pick 6'3 RHP Ryan McNeil (May 2013 TJS) made his first Cactus League EXST game appearance since April 15, 2013, and retired all five hitters he faced (F-8, 6-3, L-8, P-1, 3-U) on just 13 pitches (10 strikes), He looked very good in a two-inning stint in last Saturday's intrasquad game, too. For those of you who haven't seen McNeil this year, he is sporting the popular Jeff Samardzija look (they could be brothers).  

* 24-year old 6'5 240+ LHP Michael Heesch (Cubs 2012 8th round draft pick) had another fine outing (he's been throwing in Cactus League EXST games for about the last ten days, so he should be about ready to move up to the KC or Daytona bullpen), allowing a two-out single while striking out two (both swinging) and doing it all on just 11 pitches (10 for strikes), and lots of grunts.

* 18-year old RHP Jesus Castillo (the other pitcher acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks along with RHP Erick Leal in exchange for OF Tony Campana in February 2013) made his U. S. game debut and punched-out two in his one innng of work. Unlike Leal (a "curve-ball first" pitcher who uses his 88 MPH fastball to set-up his excellent breaking ball), Castillo has a "lively" fastball that rides 92-93 MPH and a decent change-up (especially for such a young guy) but no breaking ball. And, just like C. J. Edwards, Jose Paulino, and Hector Perez, Castillo is an all-legs "stringbean" (6'2 165). Castillo probably has a higher ceiling than fellow-Venezuelan Leal, but he is also clearly not anywhere near as polished, and so he will very likely be assigned to the AZL Cubs next month, while Leal will almost certainly be in the Boise starting rotation. 

With today's victory, the Cubs have won three in a row and are closing-in on the .500 mark (they are now 19-21-4 in 2014 Cactus League Extended Spring Training games).

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

Rony Rodriguez and Eloy Jimenez belted back-to-back RBI doubles, Ricardo Marcano followed with an RBI single, and Tyler Alamo capped the inning with a two-run home run over the LF fence, as the Cubs plated five runs in the 5th en route to a 7-3 victory over the Diamondbacks on Field #5, and Cesar Carrasco doubled twice and reached base on an error and scored three runs, and Dane McFarland and Sergio Alcantara laced two RBI singles a piece to drive-in a combined four runs, as the D'backs defeated the Cubs 5-1 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.  

The bad news--or is it good news?--is that the Cubs' closer position is back up for grabs. Kyuji Fujikawa, tagged for 3 runs in yesterday's blown save, has been placed on the 15-day DL with a right forearm strain. Rafael Dolis is taking his roster spot. Per Toni Giannetti in the Sun-Times, the Cubs will resort to closer by committee. James Russell and Shawn Camp are Dale Sveum's likely finishers.

Saturday lineups after the jump.

Cedric Hunter smacked a three-run home run to cap a five-run 6th, and Zach McAlister threw four shutout innings, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 9-2 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League action this afternoon at cold & dreary Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.


Javier Baez produced both of the Cub runs with a two-run HR just to the left of the CF Batter's Eye ("Green Monster") with no outs in the top of the 1st. Baez also fisted an opposite-field bloop single into right-center in his second AB.


David DeJesus collected two hits, including a lead-off bounding double down the RF line off LHP David Huff that preceded Baez's HR in the 1st. (DeJesus hit only 149/289/149 with no extra-base hits in 113 PA vs LHP in 2012, so it's big news anytime he does anything against a lefty).


Luis Valbuena smacked a two-out two-run HR into the upper bullpen beyond the RF fence in the bottom of the 4th to turn a one run deficit into a one run lead, and then after the Blue Squad pushed across a run to tie the game in the top of the 5th, Edwin Maysonet blasted a three-run HR with two outs in the bottom of the frame to lift the White Squad to a 6-3 victory in a five-inning intrasquad game played this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.

Brett Jackson (two singles and a double) and Dave Sappelt (two doubles and a single) had three hits a piece for the Blue Squad.

'Twas the night before the Winter Meetings, when all through the hotel

Not a creature was stirring, not even Rosenthal.

The writers hung out by the bar with care

In hopes that a GM would soon be there.

Anyway, the Rumor Mill goes full tilt tomorrow as the Winter Meetings begin in Nashville. According to Kapman, the Cubs are searching for a starting pitcher and a right fielder. They also want a third baseman, but pickings are slim.

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