John Leonard belted an RBI triple, singled twice, and scored a run, and Carter Bell drilled a two-run double, as one squad of Diamondbacks defeated one squad of Cubs 5-2 on Field #3, while on Field #4, 16-year old Sergio Alcantara doubled, tripled, and scored a run and Michael Brenly singled, doubled, and scored two runs for the Diamondbacks, and Neftali Rosario singled, walked, scored a run, and knocked-in another for the Cubs, as the two squads played to a 4-4 tie, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader action this morning at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.

Brad Zapenas (2012 shoulder surgery rehab) doubled, tripled, drove-in three runs, and scored two more, Jeffrey Baez ripped a two-run double, singled, walked twice, and scored a run, and Rashad Crawford hammered a bases-loaded three-run triple, leading one squad of Cubs to a 13-7 victory over one squad of Giants on Field #3 (formerly known as Field #2), and Rony Rodriguez belted a bases-loaded three-run double, singled, and scored a run, and Justin Marra laced a two-run double, walked, and scored twice, as the other squad of Cubs defeated the other squad of Giants 7-4 on Field #4 (formerly known as Field #3), in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader played Tuesday morning at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.  

Albert Almora laced an opposite-field RBI triple into the RF corner and then scored one out later on a sacrifice fly, Josh Vitters roped an RBI double, and Jose Rosario threw four innings of one-hit ball, helping the Cubs edge the Athletics 4-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 (formerly known as "Field #3") in Mesa, AZ. 

Almora (the Cubs 2012 1st round draft pick) saw his first game action in more than six weeks, since having hand surgery on March 16th (he broke his hamate bone at Minor League Camp on March 14th). He was a DH and hit five times in today's game, once in each of the first five innings. He lined out to CF in his first AB, then bounced out to third, reached base on an E-5 (another bouncer that the A's third-baseman tried to cut-off in front of the shortstop), ripped his RBI triple (and then he tore his pants and got a pretty good "raspberry" on his left thigh sliding home on the sac fly), and (in his last AB) grounded out to short. 

Josh Conway got the start for the Cubs and went five strong innings (80 pitches), allowing two runs on four hits (all four singles) and two walks, while striking out six (five swinging). He retired nine of the first ten men he faced and then four of the last five, but in between he gave up two runs on four hits in the top of the 4th. The way he is being stretched out makes it look like the Cubs might be thinking about moving him up to Kane County or Daytona in the near future.

Jose Rosario followed Conway to the mound and threw four innings of one-hit ball (although he did walk three). He surrendered a lead-off triple in the top of the 9th, but looked like he would get out of the inning and leave the runner stranded at 3rd after retiring the next two hitters. However, a two-out fielding error by 1st baseman Mark Malave allowed the runner at 3rd to score. Rosario looks like he might be about ready to move up to either Kane County or Daytona, too.


Eric Aybar (on an injury rehab assignment) singled and walked and scored two runs, Quentin Davis punched-out three RBI singles, and Jonathan Walsh belted a solo HR, as the Angels rallied to defeat the Cubs 7-4 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Diablo Park Field #7 in Tempe, AZ.

Dillon Maples got the start for the Cubs and allowed one run on two hits and two walks in three innings of work (50 pitches). He also struck out five and threw a wild pitch. His hammer-curve was virtually unhittable (as it usually is), and he was able to command his fastball somewhat better today than in previous outings.  

Josh Vitters continued his EXST rehab assignment, playing 3B for seven innings and batting five times. He flied out twice, grounded out, and reached base on an Eric Aybar error and on an HBP, and he also made an outstanding double-saving backhanded diving catch on the 3rd base line. He certainly looks like he's ready to return to Iowa.

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

Josh Vitters singled twice and ripped an RBI double, Carlos Penalver doubled twice, scored a run, and knocked-in another, Trey Lang tossed three innings of no-run no-hit ball, and catcher Lance Rymel threw out five baseruners (four caught stealing and one picked-off), as the Cubs edged the Rockies 5-4 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.

Vitters was placed on the AAA Iowa Cubs DL with a back strain earlier this month, and before that he missed most of MLB Spring Training with a quad strain. He is presently on a rehab assignment with the EXST Cubs, and he played 1st base for five innings today and batted four times (once each in the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings). All three of his hits were rockets, and even the F-7 out was a near HR. (He also played 3rd base in yesterday's intrasquad game -- see below).   

Cubs 2012 1st round draft pick Albert Almora (broken hamate bone during Minor League Camp) has started taking pre-game BP with the other position players, so I would think he will probably be seeing some EXST game action very soon, and then perhaps get moved-up to Kane County sometime next month.

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

Jaron Shepherd and Correlle Prime smacked solo home runs to highlight a three-run 1st inning, 2012 1st round pick David Dahl blasted a two-run HR to key a three-run 4th, Jared Simon singled, tripled, walked twice, and scored two runs, and Jeff Popick singled twice, doubled, and drove-in a run, leading the Rockies to an 8-2 victory over the Cubs in Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 (formerly known as "Field #3") in Mesa, AZ.


Garrett Schlecht drilled a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the 2nd inning and Trevor Gretzky crushed a 420+ ft solo HR over the right-centerfield fence with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to account for the two Cub runs.


The defensive play of the day was a run-saving diving catch of a sinking line-drive by Rashad Crawford in short CF.


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


Josh Conway, Erick Leal, and Carlos Martinez combined to throw a three-hitter, retiring the last ten men a row, and David Bote drilled an RBI single to tie the game and Jacob Rogers followed one out later with a sacrifice fly to give the Cubs the lead, as one squad of Cubs rallied for two runs in the 5th and held on to edge one squad of Diamondbacks 2-1 on Whirlwind Field, and Carter Bell blasted a three-run home run to cap a five-run 3rd and Josh Parr singled and tripled and scored two runs, leading the other squad of D'backs to a 7-1 victory over the other squad of Cubs on Jackrabbit Field, as the two squads split a Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader played this morning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.   


Former Cubs minor leaguer Michael Brenly (released during Minor League Camp) was the catcher for the Diamondbacks squad on Whirlwind Field, and he went 0-3 (K, F-7, K).


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


For those of you who might be looking ahead a bit, here are the Cubs minor leaguers who are eligible to be free-agents post-2013, and the Cubs minor leaguers who are eligible for selection in the December 2013 Rule 5 Draft.

The Brewers go for the series sweep, their 7th win in a row overall, and their 17th win in the last 22 meetings with the Cubs.

Is that depressing enough for you?

Cubs v. Wily Peralta (0-1, 6.19; pitched well but took an ND in 4/9 game at Wrigley which the Cubs eventually won against the Brewer bullpen): DeJesus 8, Castro 6, Rizzo 3, Soriano 7, Schierholtz 9, Castillo 2, Valbuena 5, Barney 4, Feldman 1.

Brewers v. Scott Feldman (0-2, 6.00; pitching for the first time since a loss to the Giants 10 days ago): Aoki 9, Segura 6, Braun 7, Weeks 4, Maldonado 2, Gonzalez 3, Gomez 8, Betancourt 5, Peralta 1.

 

John Polonius (two RBI doubles) and Shilo McCall (a three-run HR and an RBI FC) knocked-in four runs a piece, leading the Giants to an 11-2 victory over the Cubs on Field #1, and Steven Neff and three relievers combined to toss a one-hit shutout, as the Giants blanked the Cubs 2-0 on Field #2, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader action this morning at Indian School Park in Scottsdale, AZ.


RHP Guillermo Moscoso got the start for the Cubs on Field #2, and threw four innings of shutout ball with five strikeouts. He allowed four hits (all singles) and did not issue any walks. He was a strike-throwing machine today (46 pitches - 38 strikes). I would think he will likely be in the Iowa starting rotation by the end of the month.  


Kevin Encarnacion singled, doubled, and walked, and scored a run for the Cubs squad on Field #1. 


In EXST roster news, RHP David Cales has been promoted to Daytona, and LHP Matt Iannazzo has been moved up to Kane County.  


Here are the 2013 EXST stats for Cales and Iannazzo:  


DAVID CALES: 5.40 ERA & 1.40 WHIP - 5.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 8 K (5 G)
MATT IANNAZZO: 0.00 ERA & 0.33 WHIP - 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K (2 G)


Cales spent the 2012 season rehabbing from 2011 shoulder surgery, and the 5'8 side-armin' Iannazzo was signed as a Non-Drafted Free-Agent (NDFA) out of U. of Pittsburgh last June.  


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


What do you call this stretch of time in Chicago Cubs' history anyway?
(I'm talking about the team playing in the Major League ballparks, of course.)
Is it The Intermission?
Growing Pains?
The 105th Year Stretch?
Even though most of us kind of shrug through these games, it's nice to see some kind of emotion displayed once in awhile.
Which was why I was so happy to watch an animated Dale Sveum run out of the dugout and argue for his pitcher.

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):

Hector Mercedes roped a two-run triple to highlight a three-run 6th and Randy Ortiz tripled and singled, scored two runs, and stole a base, leading one squad of Giants to a 9-3 victory on Field #2, and Cristian Otero smacked a two-run triple, singled twice, and scored three runs, Alberto Robles drove-in two runs with an RBI double and an RBI single, and Ryan Jones doubled twice, stole a base, and scored a run, leading the other squad of Giants to a 9-2 victory on Field #3, as the Cubs were swept in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader played this morning at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.


Garrett Schlecht (two-run triple and a walk), Jacob Rogers (solo HR), Shawon Dunston Jr (single, triple, and a run scored), and Jose Dore (RBI triple and a run scored) provided what Cub offense there was. 


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


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