Alfonso Soriano slugged a two-run home run into the parking lot to cap a three-run 1st inning, Darwin Barney clubbed a solo HR to the base of the scoreboard in the 2nd inning, and Cub pitchers retired 19 of the last 21 men they faced, as the Cubs edged the Rangers 5-4 in Cactus League action this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.


Facing a mostly MLB lineup, LHP Chris Rusin got the start for the Cubs and worked five innings (87 pitches - 59 strikes), allowing four runs on seven hits (six singles and a double), no walks, and four strikeouts, with a 5/5 GO/FO. After surrendering four runs on six hits through the first two innings, Rusin retired ten of the last 11 men he faced, striking out three of the last four.   


Shawn Camp, Carlos Marmol, James Russell, and Blake Parker each threw one inning in relief, and combined to throw four innings of one-hit shutout ball with one walk and three strikeouts,


Bruce Chen was torched for five home runs (two by Javier Baez and one each by David DeJesus, Alfonso Soriano, and Alberto Gonzalez) over five innings, as the Cubs cruised to an 8-3 vistory over the Kansas City Royals in Cactus League action this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.


Baez took Chen deep with a solo HR onto the berm beyond the LF fence with two outs in the 1st, and then again with another solo HR (this one a Monster Jam) over the scoreboard and into the parking lot with two outs in the 5th, and has now hit four home runs in his last five plate appearances (he hit home runs in his final two PA versus Team Japan yesterday, including a walk-off two-run HR in the 9th).


Javier Baez homered in consecutive at bats, crushing a solo home run in the 7th and a walk-off two-run bomb in the 9th, helping to rally the Cubs to a 7-5 victory over Team Japan this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ. 


Team Japan is in Phoenix preparing for the World Baseball Classic Championship Round that will be played in San Francisco next week.


Kane County with a collective D'oh...
Albert Almora tweets he sustained a broken hamate bone in the distal wrist today.

Not a good day! Broke my Hamate bone!


Sun-Times scribe Gordon Wittenmeyer writes that the injury occurred while swinging a bat and Almora will get surgery on this injury.

...he broke the hamate bone, pre­sumably in his left hand. It’s a fairly common injury in hitters’ bottom hand. Almora broke the bone swinging a bat and will require minor surgery. The Cubs said he will need three-to-four weeks before resuming baseball activity. Almora is projected to open the season at Class A Kane County, and he’ll begin on the disabled list. He should return to game action in late May.

The hamate is a small bone in the distal or 2nd row of wrist bones just below the 4th/5th metacarpal (ring and little finger side hand bones). The bone has an unusual shape with a hook configuration. The fracture occurs most commonly in the connection between the base of the bone and the hook. Conventional wrist X-Rays often do not show this fracture but a specific additional view that is tangential to the wrist (carpal canal view) will show the fracture. Thus, it can be easily missed if not seen by a physician who is familiar with this injury and requests this additional view. If it's still in question, Computerized (CT) Imaging or MRI Imaging will confirm this fracture. Often hook of the hamate fractures do not heal  with rest and immobilization and so it's now common for athletes to get iinitial surgical treatment with excision of the hook fragment. Giants 3B Pablo (Big Panda) Sandoval, Rockie SS Troy Tulowitzki, Oriole OF Nick Markakis, Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia and Phillie OF Domonic Brown are recent players with hamate fractures and their stories are attached to the links I included. This injury is not nearly as serious as the distal radius wrist fracture that Derrek Lee sustained (back in 2006) because it's more distal in the palm and not as likely to impact wrist movement. Hook of the hamate fractures create issues with grip tenderness such as holding a bat but usually does not diminish bat speed. So if all goes well, Albert Almora should be able to return to hitting activity in about 6 weeks.

There IS a lot written about hamate fractures in baseball players, so here are a few links to the anatomy, imaging and treatment..after the jump.

Troy Tulowitzki drove-in both Colorado runs with an RBI double and a sacrifice fly, and Jorge de la Rosa and four relievers combined to toss a six-hit shutout, as the Rockies blanked the Cubs 2-0 in Cactus League action this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.


Here are the Cubs Minor League Camp rosters as of today (3/12).


There has been some player movement in both directions (mainly downward) over the past couple of days.


Rock Shoulders homered, singled and walked, and Garrett Schlecht ripped a two-out two-run double and walked, in a Minor League Camp intra-squad game played this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.


Because the Cubs had a day off from their MLB Cactus League schedule, Carlos Villanueva and Scott Baker traveled a half-mile down Center Street to Fitch Park and were the starting pitchers in the game. Villanueva threw three shutout innings (46 pitches - 29 strikes) and struck out five, and Baker allowed one run on four hits (the Shoulders HR the only run) in his three innings of work (36 pitches - 25 strikes).


Baker threw strikes but didn't fool the kids, however this was just his first actual game action (not including "sim" games) since having Tommy John Surgery on his elbow last April.   


Barret Loux (who is technically still on the Cubs MLB Spring Training roster) made the trip to Fitch with Villanueva and Baker and threw a couple of innings, although he was not effective, allowing three runs on five hits and a HBP in 2.0 IP.


Rob Whitenack (optioned to AA Tennessee yesterday) had control issues in his two innings of work (31 pitches - only 14 strikes, with three walks). He also allowed two hits and commited a throwing error on a pick-off attempt.


William Hill (2012 NDFA - Chicago State) and Bobby Buckner (2012 NDFA Texas A&M - Corpus Cristi) played in the game. Hill is the grandson of Cub great Billy Williams, and Buckner is the son of ex-Cub (and current Boise Hitting Coach) Bill Buckner.


Here is the unofficial box score:


Alfonso Soriano laced a two-out line-drive two-run double down the LF line and Dioner Navarro followed with a towering two-run HR over the RF bullpens to rally the Cubs to a 4-2 lead in the 6th, and then Jorge Soler slugged a solo home run to the top of the berm over the LF fence and Christian Villanueva drilled two-run HR over the left-center fence to key a five-run 8th, as the Cubs defeated the San Diego Padres 9-3 in Cactus League action this afternoon at Dwight Paterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.


LHP Travis Wood contributed with both his arm and his bat, throwing four innings of one-hit shutout ball with six strikeouts, and roping a line-drive lead-off single and then scoring on the Soriano double to ignite the four-run 6th. On the negative side, Wood did walk three over the course of the 4.0 IP (63 pitches - 35 strikes).


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).


Paul Konerko drilled two solo home runs, and Adam Dunn slugged a two-run home run off the White Sox team bus parked next to the Budweiser Party Pavillion beyond the RF fence, as the White Sox defeated the Cubs 8-3 this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park, in what is the Cactus League version of the Crosstown Classic.

Nick Swisher singled twice, homered, and drove-in four runs, Lonnie Chisenhall singled, doubled, and homered, and collected three RBI, Drew Stubbs singled and tripled and drove-in three runs, and Mark Reynolds homered and doubled and knocked-in two runs, leading a 20-hit attack as the Cleveland Indians scalped the Cubs 13-5 in Cactus League action this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Meaa, AZ.


Taylor Green singled, doubled, drove-in a run, and scored another, Carlos Gomez crushed a tape-measure home run, and Marco Estrada tossed four innings of one-hit shutout ball and combined with five relievers to throw a two-hitter, as the Milwaukee Brewers edged a Cubs split squad 4-3 in Cactus League action this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ 


Javier Baez drove-in all three Cubs runs with a two-run HR and a bases-loaded walk.


Ex-Cub Tony Campana laced a two-run pinch-hit double to cap a four-run 6th, and then tripled in the 8th, helping to rally the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 6-2 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League action this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.


Darnell McDonald and Junior Lake each had a single, a double, and an RBI, leading the Cubs to a 5-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics in Cactus League action this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.


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