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 and Brad Zapenas collected three hits a piece, Francisco Sanchez stroked a two-run single and a double, and Loiger Padron tossed three innings of one-hit shutout ball, as the Cubs edged the Athletics 4-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 in Mesa, AZ

The game was pre-planned as a ten-inning contest so that all of the A's and Cubs pitchers who were scheduled to throw today could get their work. 

In EXST Cubs roster news, OF Reggie Golden has been promoted to Kane County. 

The Cubs 2010 2nd round draft pick out of Wetumpka, AL, Golden suffered two torn knee ligaments while running the bases as a member of the Peoria Chiefs in April 2012, and missed the balance of the 2012 season. He looked rusty at Minor League Camp this past March, and so he was left behind at Extended Spring Training to get into better playing shape. 

Golden was mired in a 1-22 slump through his first 11 Cactus League Extended Spring Training games, but turned things around beginning on April 30th. He ended up hitting 250/384/400 in 24 Cactus League EXST games (73 PA), with four doubles, one triple, one HR & 12 RBI, 12/19 BB/K, and two SB (no CS), but he was especially hot over his last ten games (35 PA), hitting 400/486/533 with two doubles, a triple, and eight RBI over that span.   

Also, RHRP Larry Suarez has been moved-up to Daytona.

In five Cactus League EXST games (7.0 IP), Suarez allowed one run (earned) on six hits and a walk with six strikeouts (1.29 ERA & 1.00 WHIP). Suarez struggled to throw strikes in Minor League Camp, and was left behind at Extended Spring Training to build up arm strength and work on his mechanics.

Now 23, the 6'4 270 Suarez was signed as a 16-year old "bonus baby" out of Venezuela on July 2, 2006 (the first day of the 2006 International Signing Period). He has occasionally shown flashes of talent (he was the closer for a while at Peoria last season), but has mostly been a disapointment. He is eligible to be a Rule 55 minor league free-agent (AKA "six-year free-agent") post-2013 if he is not added to the Cubs 40-man roster or agrees to a 2014 minor league successor contract by the 5th day following the conclusion of the 2013 World Series.   

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

Danny Lockhart tripled, singled twice, and drove-in two runs, Jacob Rogers singled twice, walked, and knocked-in two runs, and four pitchers combined to toss a three-hit shutout, as the Cubs whitewashed the Rockies 7-0 in Memorial Day Extended Spring Training action this morning at Dust Storm Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort, east of Scottsdale, AZ. 

25-year old Cuban RHP Armando Rivero ($3.1M signing bonus in March) started the game for the Cubs and threw one shutout inning, surrendering one walk while striking out one. Rivero was consistently working at 94-95 MPH with his fastball, mixing it with a hard-breaking splitter and an occasional slider. Although he only struck out one, he got seven swings & misses among his 19 pitches. Rivero was the closer for Industriales in Serie Nacional (the Cuban Major League) prior to defecting, and so I wouldn't be surprised to see him move quickly through the system once he leaves EXST. He has late-inning shut-down type stuff.

RHP James Pugliese followed Rivero to the mound and tossed four innings of one-hit shutout ball (51 pitches- 38 strikes). He retired the first eight men he faced, and allowed his one hit (a single) with two outs in his fourth inning of work. He also walked one and struck out three. 

Though he may not have the ceiling of a Dillon Maples or a Duane Underwood, Pugliese has been the best Cub pitcher so far at EXST (1.86 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, .155 OppBA, 9/25 BB/K, and a team-leading 70% strikes in a team-leading 29.0 IP). He will very likely join Duane Underwood, Paul Blackburn, Trey Lang, and a 5th starter TBD to form the Boise starting rotation. (RHPs Ryan McNeil and Josh Conway would have been candidates for the Hawks rotation, but both suffered season-ending elbow injuries during the course of Extended Spring Training).

It's possible that a pitcher presently at Kane County (perhaps someone like Brian Smith or Ian Dickson) could be moved down to Boise next month to get regular work as a starter, or one of the pitchers currently projected to make-up the "Big Four" at AZL Cubs (Erick Leal, Alexander Santana, Daury Torrez, or Carlos Rodriguez) could possibly yet capture the 5th rotation slot at Boise. (The AZL Cubs only need four starting pitchers, because AZL teams get every fifth day off). RHRP Loiger Padron has also recently been stretched-out as a starter at EXST in case he is needed to start or to "piggy-back" at Boise.

RHP Daury Torrez followed Pugliese to the hill and hurled three shutout innings (needing only 31 pitches to do so), allowing two harmless singles. He struck out one and did not issue any walks. Torrez is a strike-throwing machine.

LHRP Hunter Ackerman then threw an 11-pitch 1-2-3 9th (4-3, 1-3, 4-3) to wrap things up neatly.

Steve Clevenger (strained oblique rehab) saw his first EXST game action at catcher, working as the Cub backstop for the first five innings (catching Rivero and Pugliese). He also batted five times. once each in the top of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th innings. He went 1-5, with an opposite-field RBI double into the LF corner in the top of the 3rd. (He later would score on the Danny Lockhart triple). Clevenger also grounded out 4-3 and popped out to the third-baseman in foul territory, and he was called out on strikes in his final final two Plate Appearances (and was none too pleased either time).  

In EXST Cubs roster news, catcher Lance Rymel has been promoted to Tennessee, and 3B Luis Acosta, OF Roberto Caro, and SS Frandy de la Rosa have been sent back to the Cubs Dominican Academy. (The DSL Cubs begin play this Friday).

The 23-year old Rymel was the Cubs 2012 28th round pick out of Rogers State U. He hit 226/353/321 in 16 EXST games (37 PA), throwing out 10-21 runners attempting to steal (48% CS), plus one PO.  

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


Steve Clevenger stroked a double and an RBI single and scored a run, Carlos Penalver ripped a two-run single, walked, and scored a run, and Carlos Rodriguez tossed three innings of shutout ball, leading one squad of Cubs to a 5-3 victory over one squad of Diamondbacks on Whirlwind Field, and Yorman Garcia singled twice and drove-in two runs and Justin Bianco singled twice, walked, and scored a run, helping the other squad of D'backs edge the other squad of Cubs 4-3 on Jackrabbit Field, as the Cubs and Diamondbacks split a Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader played this morning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort, east of Scottsdale, AZ.

Clevenger played 3rd base for four innings and then moved to 1st base for the final three frames in the game on Whirlwind Field. He batted five times (once each in the top of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 7th innings), and went 2-5 for the day.         

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

Ryan Garvey belted a three-run HR onto 8th Street with two outs in the top of the 8th inning to put the Rockies up 7-4, and then they hung-on to defeat the Cubs 8-6 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 in Mesa, AZ. 

Jared Simon doubled twice, singled, stole a base, drove-in three runs, and scored another, and Correlle Prime singled three times and stole two bases for the Rockies.

Reggie Golden laced a two-run double and an RBI single for the Cubs.

Steve Clevenger (strained oblique rehab) played 3rd base for five innings and batted four times, hitting once in each of the first four innings. He singled in his first two AB, and then grounded out his last two times up. Clevenger is on the Cubs MLB 60-day DL, and is at Extended Spring Training preparing for an upcoming minor league rehab assignment at either AAA Iowa or AA Tennessee. (He isn't eligible to be reinstated from the 60-day DL until June 13th).   

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

Kevin Encarnacion led-off the game with a double and scored on a Justin Marra triple to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the top of the 1st inning, Dong-Yub Kim and Xavier Batista stroked back-to-back doubles to plate one run in the 5th and then Encarnacion drove-home Batista with a two-out RBI single for the Cubs second run of the inning, and Jacob Rogers doubled and scored on a Jesse Hodges RBI single in the 6th, as one squad of Cubs defeated one squad of Giants 4-2 on Field #1, and Fernando Pujadas singled twice, doubled, and scored a run, Rando Moreno tripled and singled and drove-in two runs, and Luis Pino and four relievers combined to toss a three-hit shutout, as the other squad of Giants blanked the other squad of Cubs 4-0 on Field #2, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader played this morning at Indian School Park in Scottsdale, AZ.

Ex-Cubs minor league RHRP Arturo Maltos-Garcia threw a 1-2-3 9th inning (F-8, K, P-2) for the Giants on Field #1. Maltos-Garcia and Austin Urban were JUCO pitchers selected by the Cubs in the 2011 draft who were given "over-slot" bonuses to sign, but who subsequently missed considerable time rehabbing from injuries (Maltos-Garcia from June 2011 TJS and Urban from 2011 back surgery). Both pitchers were unceremoniously released by the Cubs after throwing just one "live" BP session at Minor League Camp in March, and now both have signed with other MLB organizations (Maltos-Garcia with SF, and Urban with BAL).  

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

Yorman Garcia belted a three-run HR to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 lead, Wagner Mateo tripled, singled twice, drove-in two runs, and scored another, and Karl Triana tossed four innings of one-hit shutout ball, leading the Diamondbacks to a 7-4 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 in Mesa, AZ 

Shawon Dunston Jr ripped an RBI triple, singled, walked, reached base on an HBP, stole a base, and scored a run for the Cubs.

Steve Clevenger was a DH for the Cubs and batted four times, hitting once in each of the first four innings. He popped out to the third-baseman in the 1st inning, drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch in the 2nd, drilled an RBI double off the fence in right-centerfield in the 3rd inning, and flied out to the centerfielder in the 4th.    

Instead of playing two seven-inning games (as they usually do when they play each other), the Cubs and D'backs opted to play one 11-inning game. However, the umpires didn't get the message, so four umps showed up (ostensibly two for each game), and they ended up working as a four-man crew for the one game (something you don't see very often in an Extended Spring Training game). 

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

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):

Dustin Houle and Jalen Harris smacked back-to-back RBI doubles in a two run 4th, Francisco Castillo collected three singles (including a run-scoring hit in the 9th), and RHP Zach Quintana tossed five innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts, as the Brewers defeated the Cubs 3-1 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa, AZ.

The Cubs scored their one run in the bottom of the 1st inning, when Albert Almora ripped a two-out triple into the left-centerfield gap, and then scored on a Xavier Batista line-drive double into the LF corner. 

Almora was 2-4 for the day, including the 1st inning triple, an L-7 line-out in the 3rd. a strikeout (swinging) in the 6th, and a two-out single in the 8th. In five Cactus League Extended Spring Training games (22 PA), Almora is hitting 273/273/500 with three singles, a double and two triples, no walks, and four strikeouts.     

While the Cubs and Brewers were playing their game on Field #3, RHPs Chang-Yong Lim and Daury Torrez and LHPs Angel Mejias and David Villegas faced-off in a "sim" game on Field #2. Among the position players participating was Steve Clevenger, who was seeing his first game action of any kind since being placed on the Cubs MLB 60-day DL with a strained oblique on April 14th.    

Clevenger hit a couple of squared-up rocket line-drives, including one that almost took Daury Torrez's head off. He certainly didn't show any ill effects from the injury, and I would think he will likely get some ABs as a DH in Cactus League Extended Spring Training games beginning sometime next week, before going out on a rehab assignment at either Tennessee or Iowa. (He isn't eligible to be reinstated from the DL until June 13th).  

Here is the abridged box score from today's Cactus League Extended Spring Training 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):

Matt Garza looked all tuned up and ready to go tonight at Principal Park as he tossed six scoreless innings that required only 75 pitches by my count. Maybe it was the balls. More on those later. He also fielded his one chance with the glove flawlessly.

Jeff Samardzija had a pretty amazing night last night.
Dexter Fowler not so much.

Reggie Golden drilled a two-run single, an RBI double, and a triple, Mark Malave singled, doubled, walked, and scored two runs, Jeffrey Baez singled twice, walked, stole a base, and scored a run, and James Pugliese hurled four innings of shutout baseball, leading the Cubs to a 6-4 victory over the Rockies in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Dust Storm Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort, east of Scottsdale, AZ. 

After beginning the Cactus League Extended Spring Training schedule mired in a 1-22 slump (045/276/091 in 29 PA over the course of 11 EXST games), Cubs 2010 2nd round draft pick Reggie Golden has been on fire, hitting 423/483/692 over his last nine games (29 PA), bringing his season slash-line up to a more-respectable 250/438/479. Golden suffered two torn ligaments in his left knee a year ago while running the bases as a member of the Peoria Chiefs, and missed the rest of the 2012 season. He is just now rounding back into playing shape.        

James Pugliese has been pitching "lights out" over his last four Cactus League EXST appearances (two GS), allowing no runs on four hits and four walks with 11 strikeouts in 10.1 IP. With Josh Conway out for the season and Dillon Maples having been promoted to Kane County, Pugliese is putting in a claim on one of the open starting rotation slots at Boise.    

Wilfredo Petit returned to action today, catching for six innings and getting three AB. Petit suffered a bruise on the back of his left hand last week after being struck by a bat on a Catcher's Interference error, and although it initially appeared to be a serious injury, x-rays were negative. 

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

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