April 2013

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):


Ryan Dalton smacked a two-out two-run double to cap a three-run 6th, and veteran RHP Kip Wells and three relievers combined to throw a two-hitter with 14 strikeouts, as the Angels topped the Cubs 4-1 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this afternoon at Diablo Park Field #7 in Tempe, AZ.

The Angels signed Wells last Friday, and this was his first game outing of any kind in 2013. He allowed one unearned run, a single and a walk, with four strikeouts, in his two innings of work  

Two more prospects who recently arrived from the Cubs Dominican Academy made their U. S. debut today, as 17-year old switch-hitting SS Frandy de la Rosa (signed as a 16-year old last July 2nd for a $700K bonus) and 20-year old switch-hitting 2B Bryant Flete (296/419/419 for DSL Cubs #2 in 2012) saw action in the game. Flete will probably be the starting 2B for the AZL Cubs in 2013, and de la Rosa will likely spend Extended Spring Training battling Francisco Sanchez for the AZL Cubs starting SS job.

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

The Cubs today will make some roster moves including the return of everyone's least favorite closer since Mel Rojas.

According to Twitter, the moves will be Darwin Barney being reinstated from the disabled list to begin his 2013 scrappy campaign. He'll be joined by 37-year-old Cody Ransom, which will give Barney a nice peak into his MLB future while also rescuing us fans from anymore Brent Lillibridge at-bats(he's been DFA'd). Throw in Steve Clevenger's move to the 60-day disabled list and there are your position player updates.

C: Castillo, Navarro

INF: Rizzo, Barney, Castro, Valbuena, Gonzalez, Ransom

OF: Soriano, DeJesus, Schierholtz, Hairston, Sappelt

On the pitching side, Kameron Loe and Kevin Gregg join the team, they'll take the roster spots of Hisanori Takahashi(DFA'd) and Rafael Dolis(optioned). At the going rate, Loe or Gregg will either be closing or on the disabled list by the end of the week.

SP: Samardzija, Jackson, Wood, Villanueva, Feldman

RP: Camp, Russell, Marmol, Loe, Gregg, Bowden, Rondon

Barney gets the start tonight versus lefty Derek Holland, with Travis Wood taking the mound for the Cubs. Sappelt 8/Castro 6/Rizzo 3/Soriano 7/Hairston 9/Castillo 2/Barney 4/Gonzalez 5/Wood 1 are your starting 9.

Matt Hillsinger and Daniel Robertson each smacked a two-run home run, leading the Athletics to a 7-4 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Papago Park Sports Complex Field #2 (AKA "Connie Mack Field") in Phoenix, AZ.


Kevin Encarnacion roped a two-run double down the RF line and Wilfredo Petit followed with an RBI single one out later to key a Cub rally in the top of the 9th, but it fell short and the A's hung-on to win the game.


RHP Ryan McNeil (Cubs 2012 3rd round draft pick) threw three innings of one-hit shutout ball in a losing cause.   


Jorge Soler played CF and hit 3rd in the Cub lineup, going 1-5. He lined out sharply to left in the top of the 1st (outstanding diving catcher by A's LF Hillsinger), hammered a single through the 5.5 hole in the 4th, bounced out 6-3 in the 6th, and struck out (swinging) in his last two AB. Soler is now 1-8 (with three strikeouts) in two EXST games since arriving in Mesa last Thursday. (He took BP on Friday, played in a game at Fitch Park on Saturday, and the EXST Cubs have Sundays off).


Crafty Chris Rusin worked seven strong innings under the weather, you might say, in pitching the Iowa Cubs to their second straight win over the Albuquerque Isotopes this afternoon at Principal Park. He wasn't sick. He just kept the ball down (to the tune of 11 ground outs) and out of the southerly jet stream blowing toward the fences as the I-Cubs notched consecutive W's for the first time in 2013.

Injury update: Steve Clevenger, who was going to get another start at 3B today, is instead on the sidelines with a strained oblique, suffered on the final, ugly swing in Saturday's loss. He is expected to miss at least six weeks.

The Cubs will go shorthanded today, then fill Clevenger's roster spot Tuesday, when Darwin Barney returns from his brief rehab stay in Iowa. (Barney went 1-for-4 in the I-Cubs' win Saturday.)

As for this afternoon's game at Wrigley, the Cubs go for the split in the series finale against the World Champs. Lineups after the jump.

Jeffrey Baez rapped out four singles, stole a base, scored two runs, and drove-in another, and Trevor Gretzky, Luis Acosta, and Francisco Sanchez each hammered an RBI double, but the Giants rallied for three runs over the final two innings to defeat the Cubs 8-5 on Field #2, while on Field #3, Josh Conway tossed three shutout innings for the Cubs, but three Giants pitchers combined to throw a two-hit shutout with nine strikeouts, Leonardo Fuentes smacked an RBI triple and Sam Eberle followed with an RBI double to spark a two-run 7th, and Rando Moreno clubbed a bases-clearing three-run triple to cap a three run 8th, as the Giants blanked the Cubs 5-0 and swept the doubleheader, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.

The position players were divided up according to where they are projected (as of right now) to be assigned in June, so the squad on Field #2 was essentially the AZL Cubs, and the squad on Field #3 was what will likely eventually be the Boise Hawks (again, at least as things stand right now)

The game on Field #2 was called in the middle of the 7th inning, and the game on Field #3 was called in the middle of the 8th inning.

Jorge Soler batted 3rd and played RF in the game on Field #3, going 0-3 with two ground outs and a called third strike.

David Bote started at 2B for the Cubs squad on Field #3, but was pulled from the game after the 5th inning when Manager Bobby Mitchell was notified that Bote was being promoted and needed to get to Sky Harbor Airport to catch a plane ASAP. As a result, 1B Jose Dore was moved over to 2B for the final three innings, the first time he has played the position in pro ball.

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

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.

Ian Stewart singled, doubled, drove-in a run, and scored another, Jacob Rogers singled twice and scored twice, Garrett Schlecht hammered an RBI double and walked, and Justin Marra ripped an RBI single, walked, and scored a run, leading the Cubs to a 7-4 victory over the Athletics in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa, AZ.


Continuing his Extended Spring Training rehab assignment, Stewart played 3B for six innings and batted five times (once in each of the first five innings), going 2-5. He grounded out 3-U in his first AB, struck out swinging in his 2nd and 5th PA, roped a line-drive single to right in his 3rd AB, and crushed an RBI double into the RF corner his 4th time up. He didn't handle any chances at 3rd base, but he ran the bases at full tilt, showing no ill effects from the quad strain that sidelined him for most of MLB Spring Training.


The Defensive Play of the Game featured (once again) CF Rashad Crawford, who sprinted at full speed toward the infield and then made a diving catch in short center of what would otherwise have been a bloop single.


Slapped with a five-game suspension following an on-the-field incident in a game at Clearwater a couple of days ago, Daytona Cubs RF Jorge Soler is now at Fitch Park. He took BP on Field #1 with the recent-arrivals from the Dominican Academy (Acosta, Caro, K. Encarnacion, and F. Sanchez) during the EXST game. Whether he will remain in Mesa beyond the five-game FSL suspension remains to be seen...


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


Roni Torreyes singled twice, tripled, drove-in two runs, and scored another, Carlos Penalver singled twice, scored two runs, and stole a base, Jose Dore mashed a solo HR, and Paul Blackburn tossed three shutout innings, as the Cubs defeated the Diamondbacks 5-2 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Whirlwind Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort, east of Scottsdale, AZ. 

The game was pre-planned as an 11-inning affair, so that more innings would be available for the Cubs and D'backs pitchers who were scheduled to throw today.

Jeffrey Baez smacked a three-run home run onto 8th Street, Danny Lockhart singled twice and drove-in three runs, and Ryan McNeil (Cubs 2012 3rd round draft pick) threw three innings of shutout ball with four strikeouts, leading the Cubs to a 12-7 victory over the Angels in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa, AZ.


Ian Stewart continued his Extended Spring Training rehab assignment, batting five times (once in each of the first five innings) and going 1-4, reaching base on an RBI single and an HBP. He also flied out, lined out, and grounded out.


Rockies hitters rapped out six extra-base hits (a double, three triples, and two HR) and five Rockies pitchers combined to toss a six-hit shutout with twelve strikeouts, as the Cubs were whitewashed 9-0 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training Opening Day action this morning at Dust Storm Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ. 


Rehabbing from a strained quad suffered in an intrasquad game in February, Ian Stewart played 3B for five innings and batted six times (once in each of the first six innings), going 0-6 with three strikeouts (all three swinging), two fly outs, and a line-drive out, leaving seven baserunners stranded (four in scoring position).


Long time, no post.

 

While the I-Cubs are opening the season in Albuquerque and getting the Isotopes off and running, finishing touches are being put on their headquarters here in Des Moines. Yesterday was Open House and a parking lot full of fans came to walk the warning track and tour the remodeled clubhouses. Too bad Chicago and their Cubs don’t get along as cozily as Des Moines does with ours. The city helped rebuild the ballpark back in the 1990’s, replaced the playing field not long ago and kicked in on this latest project too, despite that we can’t keep the libraries open a rightful amount of hours.

I have come to hate the Tomahawk Chop and accompanying crowd hum as much as anything about the Cardinals, Brewers, or White Sox. Go, Cubs, go, dammit!

Cubs lineup v. Tim Hudson (3 ER, 6H over 4.1 v. Phillies on 4/1, ND): DeJesus 8, Castro 6, Rizzo 3, Soriano 7, Schierholtz 9, Navarro 2, Valbuena 5, Gonzalez 4, Samardzija 1

Braves lineup v. Jeff Samardzija (0 ER, 2 H, 9 K, 0 BB over 8 IP v. Pirates on 4/1, WIN): BJ Upton 8, Heyward 9, Justin Upton 7, Gattis 2, Uggla 4, Francisco 5, C. Johnson 3, Pena 6, Hudson 1

Also, the Braves have placed Freddie Freeman on the 15-Day DL with a strained right oblique--Len Kasper called that one when it happened last night--and his roster spot is being assumed by Blake DeWitt.

Provide your own punch line.

 

2013 Chicago Cubs Minor League Camp drew to a close this morning, as the Iowa Cubs completed their final Spring Training work-out before flying to Albuquerque this afternnon. They willl open their PCL season versus the Isotopes Thursday night.


Brooks Raley threw six innings of three-hit one-run ball and Reggie Golden belted a two-run double, as the Boise/Mesa Cubs (Extended Spring Training) edged the Iowa Cubs 2-1 in an intrasquad game this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa, AZ. 


The Internet ate my homework...let's try that again.

Game 1: Cubs @ Pirates 12:35 PM CST

vs. AJ Burnett

2012: 3.51 ERA/3.52 FIP

vs. Jeff Samardzija

2012: 3.81 ERA/3.55 FIP

*D. DeJesus, CF S. Marte, LF
S. Castro, SS * G. Jones, RF
*A. Rizzo, 1B A. McCutchen, CF
A. Soriano, LF *P. Alvarez, 3B
*N. Schierholtz, RF G. Sanchez, 1B
W. Castillo, C #N. Walker, 2B
*L. Valbuena, 3B R. Martin, C
B. Lillibridge, 2B C. Barmes, SS
J. Samardzija, P A.J. Burnett, SP

The weather is around 40 degrees in Pittsburgh and all the MLB Network cutaways to the park show it snowing. Yet, the weather forecast says it should pass by game time, although I imagine a delay is possibility. If the game does get in, join me(and hopefully others)in Parachat to pass the time.

Before the game, Darwin Barney was indeed placed on the disabled list and he'll join Matt Garza, Ian Stewart, Scott Baker and Arodys Vizcaino to start the season. Alberto Gonzalez will get the active roster spot and pitcher Robert Whitenack was the 40-man casualty as he was DFA'd. Doubtful in my opinion that he'll get claimed by anyone unless the Astros are feeling frisky.

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