May 2013

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):

17-year old Panamanian LHP Anfernee Benitez tossed four innings of no run/no hit ball with eight strikeouts, 16-year old Dominican SS Sergio Alcantara singled twice, tripled, and scored two runs, and Tyler Linton cracked a two-run double to cap a four run 8th inning rally, as the Diamondbacks outlasted the Cubs 8-6 on Field #4, and Wagner Mateo belted an RBI double to put the D'backs on the board in the top of the 1st, and Andrew Velasquez laced an RBI triple to plate the Diamondbacks final run in the top of the 4th, as the D'backs withstood a Cub rally in the bottom of the 9th (Cubs scored twice and left the bases loaded) and defeated the Cubs 5-3 on Field #2, sweeping a Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader played this morning at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.    

Jose Rosario got the start for the Cubs on Field #4 and had a rough 1st inning, surrendering four runs on four hits (three singles and a double) and a walk. But then he found his rhythm and retired 12 of the last 13 men he faced (five on strikes) before reaching his pre-planned pitch limit (67). 

Rony Rodriguez whacked a two-run HR in the bottom of the 5th and Justin Marra followed an inning later with a two-run double to help the Cubs tie the game on Field #4, and then the Cubs took a 6-4 lead in the bottom of the 7th, before the D'backs erupted  for four runs off reliever Chad Martin (capped by the Tyler Linton two-run two-bagger) in the top of the 8th. Martin had a really poor outing, allowing four runs on six hits (three singles, two doubles, and a triple) in just two innngs of work 

Albert Almora was in the lineup on Field #4 and played CF for six innings, getting four AB and going 1-4. He struck out (swinging) twice against Anfernee Benitez, then he broke up the no-hitter by rifling a single off RHRP Bobby Hillier and past the D'backs third-baseman leading off the bottom of the 5th (before scoring on the Rony Rodriguez HR), and popped up to the second-baseman in short RF in his final PA (also versus Hillier).

Prior to the doubleheader, RHP Chang-Yong Lim (July 2012 TJS rehab) threw a 25-pitch "live" BP inning on Field #1, facing Jose Morales (strained hamstring rehab), Lance Rymel, and Justin Marra. The 36-year old side-armin' Korean and one-time closer for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows (NPB) was signed by the Cubs post-2012, and has been rehabbing at Fitch Park for the past couple of months. Barring a medical setback, I would think he will probably see some EXST game action soon. (Fellow South Korean Dong-Yub Kim bowed to Lim in "we are not worthy" style as he passed behind the batting cage on Field #1 on his way to Field #4).   

In EXST Cubs roster news, INF Bryant Flete has been moved down to the VSL Cubs. Flete had an interesting weekend, playing in the EXST game at Talking Stick last Friday, flying to Venezuela on Saturday, and then playing in the VSL Cubs inaugural yesterday morning (Flete hit lead-off and played SS for the VSL Cubs).  

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

The Cubs just took 2 of 3 from the Nationals including winning games started by Strasburg and Gio.  Their starting pitching has put up the third best ERA in the senior circuit without their best pitcher. 'Mo Gregg is locking down games in the 9th, and Anthony Rizzo is the left-handed power hitting droid you've been looking for...what's not to love?

(clicks on Yahoo MLB Standings...quickly clicks off Yahoo MLB standings)

Back to the positive....let's talk the Anthony Rizzo deal...7/$41M with option years.

Once a novelty in the league, these pre-arbitration deals are fast becoming the norm. I'm sure someone's studied it more thoroughly than me, but it seems rare that they don't work out for the organization. Safe to say, he'll be a Cub for a long time though...unless he's not and they trade him away with Castro for all the good players in the league.

The other interesting tidbit I read over the weekend, was this report/presumption that Scott "2.53 ERA" Feldman could be the odd man out of the rotation once Matt Garza returns to showcase himself to a contender every 5 days. According to the Patrick Mooney tweet, Dale Sveum says Samardzija, Jackson and Travis Wood will stay in the rotation and they're not willing to try EXTREME 6-man style. That leaves Carlos Villanueva and Scott Feldman as the logical goats, although both have pitched better (by ERA at least) than Samardzija and Jackson. First, I don't get why they wouldn't try a 6-man until a deal can be made, the Cubs aren't contending for anything and showcasing these pitchers in the starter role isn't the worst thing they can do. But if I had to choose between demotion options, I think Edwin and Villanueva would be the more logical choices. Villanueva seems to be pitching over his head a little more than Feldman right now and I think we all expected he was set for the swing-man role when he was signed and that's probably the role that would interest other teams. Now Edwin signed the big deal, and that usually takes precedence over the quality of the pitching, but since the Cubs are all about flipping short-term assets for long-term assets, then it would make sense to showcase Feldman until a trade could be made, while Edwin dives into his pool of gold for a few weeks (or months) waiting to be put back into the rotation.

Jeffey Baez belted an inside-the-park HR off the CF "Batter's Eye," drilled an RBI single, and walked, Justin Marra hammered a three-run triple, singled, walked, and scored a run, Kevin Encarnacion laced a bases-loaded three-run double, and Yasiel Balaguert blasted a solo HR, as the Cubs swept a Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader from the Giants by scores of 6-3 and 10-7 this morning at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.   

Joey Rapp (on an EXST rehab) walloped a two-run HR for the Giants in a losing cause.

In 16 Cactus League Extended Spring Training games (43 PA), Jeffrey Baez is hitting 342/419/684 with a team-leading four HR. The 19-year old right-handed hitting Venezuelan OF signed with the Cubs for a reported $350K bonus in July 2010 as a 16-year old, at the beginning of the 2010 International Signing Period. Baez went hitless in seven PA at Extended Spring Training last season before breaking his wrist diving for a ball in right field, and then was sent back to the Cubs Dominican Academy where he hit 291/378/448 in 48 games (202 PA) for DSL Cubs #1. 

In two DSL seasons (2011-12), Baez hit a combined 286/363/424, with 8 HR & 64 RBI, 22 doubles, 60 SB (19 CS), 97 runs scored, and 17 outfield assists (playing all three OF slots, but mainly CF) in 116 games (497 PA). He had a brief six-game trial with the AZL Cubs after the conclusion of the DSL season last August, and was likely ticketed for the AZL Cubs this season. But don't be surprised if the "other" Baez skips the AZL, joining fellow Venezuelan teenaged hot-shot Carlos Penalver on what should be a very interesting Boise Hawks team.  

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

Yasiel Balaguert mashed a two-run home run to key a three-run 3rd, Jeffrey Baez belted a solo HR, Trevor Gretzky collected an RBI double and two singles and scored three runs, Carlos Penalver singled, doubled, walked, stole a base, and scored two runs, Reggie Golden singled twice, walked, drove-in a run, and scored two more, and Lance Rymel doubled and walked and drove-in three runs, as one squad of Cubs throttled one squad of Diamondbacks 10-2 on Whirlwind Field, and Ben Eckels and three relievers combined to throw a three-hitter with ten strikeouts and Damion Smith laced a bases-loaded three-run double, as the other squad of D'backs defeated the other squad of Cubs 4-1 on Jackrabbit Field, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader played this morning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.  

The game on Whirlwind Field was called by mutual agreement in the middle of the 9th inning, and the game on Jackrabbit Field was called by mutual agreement in the middle of the 8th.

The Cubs got outstanding work from their two starting pitchers today. RHP James Pugliese fired three innings of one-hit shutout ball (80% strikes) with five strikeouts on Whirlwind Field, and 19-year old Dominican RHP Alexander Santana tossed three innings of no-run/no-hit ball on Jackrabbit Field, retiring nine of the ten men he faced (the only blemish being an HBP).  

In EXST Cubs roster news, INF David Bote and C-DH Carlos Escobar have been moved up to Kane County.


Bote was hitting 219/324/344 in 12 Cactus League EXST games (37 PA), with two triples, one SB (three CS), and 5/8 BB/K. He has played 2B, SS, and 3B for the EXST Cubs, and this is the second time he has been moved up to a full-season club since the end of Minor League Camp (he was with the Daytona Cubs for about a week last month when Tim Saunders was on the DL). The 20-year old Bote was the Cubs 18th round pick in the 2012 June Draft out of Neosho County CC.     


The Cubs 2012 15th round draft pick out of the U. of Nevada, Escobar was sidelined with an ankle injury during Minor League Camp and for the first three weeks of Extended Spring Training. But he hit 462/462/846 in five Cactus League EXST games (13 PA) since returning to action, and he hammered two home runs over a period of three days last week (one in an intrasquad game at Fitch Park, and then a tape measure shot last Saturday at Maryvale). Escobar had a 25% CS in Cactus League EXST games, and he also picked one runner off base.    


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

The Cubs have moved their second Dominican Summer League (DSL) team to Venezuela (Ciudad Alianza), and so 2013 will see the debut of the VSL Cubs (and no more DSL Cubs #2). 

While the Cubs have signed many Venezuelan players over the years (with Carlos Zambrano, Angel Guzman, Ronny Cedeno, and Geremi Gonzalez being the most-notable ones), they have operated a team in the Venezuelan Summer League (VSL) only once previous, and that was a "co-op" team shared with the Minnesota Twins in 2007.

The VSL has been in operation since 1997 and had at one time as many as a dozen teams. However, in recent years the number of MLB clubs with affiliates in the VSL has dwindled to just four (Mariners, Rays, Tigers, and Phillies in 2012), with the Cubs bucking the contraction trend by actually putting a new team in the league this season. 

It is perhaps a little bit strange that the Cubs have chosen to move one of their DSL teams to Venezuela just as their new state-of-the-art multi-million dollar Dominican Academy goes on-line, but they probably recognize the potential motherload of baseball talent that's just waiting to be discovered in Central & South America (including Brazil), and having a presence in the VSL could help the Cubs get a foothold there.     

While the Dominican Summer League (DSL) does not begin play until June 1st, VSL Opening Day is next Monday (May 13th), and the VSL regular season runs through August 5th. A best two-out-of-three playoff between the 1st and 2nd place teams follows the conclusion of the regular season.     

The VSL roster limit is 35, but at present the Cubs have assigned only 24 players to the VSL Cubs, with 22 of the players from Venezuela, one from Curacao, and one from the Dominican Republic. (Essentially all of the Venezuelan players who had been assigned to DSL Cubs #1 or DSL Cubs #2 were moved to the VSL Cubs). The two Mexican players assigned to the Dominican Academy (RHP Javier Castro and LHP David Villegas) could be assigned to the VSL Cubs, too, as well as any Cuban or other non-Dominican international players (including no more than two players from Puerto Rico) the Cubs may sign in coming months.

There are also 11 Venezuelan players presently assigned to the Cubs Extended Spring Training team (RHP Daniel Adrian, OF Jeffrey Baez, C Erick Castillo, 2B Bryant Flete, RHP Erick Leal, 3B Mark Malave, LHP Angel Mejias, SS Carlos Penalver, C Wilfredo Petit, LHP Carlos Rodriguez, and LHP Luis Villegas) who could be moved down to the VSL Cubs, although most of the Venezuelans at EXST are likely ticketed for the AZL Cubs or Boise.   

2013 VSL CUBS:

Carlos Penalver had four hits (an RBI double and three singles) and scored a run, Reggie Golden singled twice, walked, drove-in a run, and scored two more, Mark Malave belted a two-run double and scored a run, and Duane Underwood and Trey Lang combined to throw six shutout innings, leading the Cubs to a 6-1 victory over the Angels in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 in Mesa, AZ.   

With his four hits today, Penalver is now hitting 381/422/524 with three doubles and a triple and only four strikeouts in 45 Cactus League Extended Spring Training Plate Appearances (17 games). He also leads the EXST Cubs in stolen bases with with four (no CS), and has committed only two errors (his second error coming today). The 18-year old Venezuelan was signed by the Cubs as a 16-year old for a reported $550K bonus on July 2, 2010 (the first day of the 2010 International Signing Period), and he is probably the best defensive shortstop in the organization. 

Matthew Carasiti threw five shutout innings and combined with three relievers to throw a four-hitter, and Raimel Tapia and Dillon Thomas drilled RBI singles, as the Rockies edged the Cubs 2-1 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. 

Jeffrey Baez belted a solo HR to account for the Cubs lone run.

RHP Dillon Maples got the start for the Cubs and threw four innings (67 pitches), allowing one run on two hits (both singles), three walks, and a HBP. He struck out three and really had the sinker working (8/0 GO/FO). Maples did struggle with his comand throughout the first two innings (a 22-pitch 1st and a 25-pitch 2nd), but then retired six of the last seven men he faced on just 20 pitches. After completing his 67-pitch four inning stint, Maples went out to the bullpen and threw 20 more pitches, so he should be well stretched-out if the Cubs decide to move him up to Kane County before the end of Extended Spring Training. (FWIW, he also threw 78 pitches in an intrasquad game last Thursday). 

LHP Kyler Burke (strained oblique rehab) "piggy-backed" with Maples and also threw four innings (58 pitches), allowing one run (it was unearned) on three hits (all singles) and a walk, with two strikeouts. He looks like he is about ready to leave EXST and join either Kane County, Daytona, or Tennessee (depending upon where a slot is available).    

So, yeah, Garza looked good today; free and easy. Anyone who cares what they were has probably already seen the raw numbers. Two of the hits he surrendered were a swinging bunt and a deliberate one. Nobody hit anything very hard. He was hitting 94 consistently out of his windup; 92 from the stretch. One of his strikeouts was a nice hard slider that broke down and in on Brett Wallace and got him swinging. Whatever sort of fastball he throws that tails away from lefties was also sharp. He threw a few mid-70’s curveballs. Has he always had that pitch? It was used sparingly. The only 1-2-3 inning was the first.

Jacob Rogers blasted a three-run home run over the right-centerfield fence to put the Cubs on the board in the bottom of the 1st inning, Dong-Yub Kim belted a solo HR over the LF fence and off the roof of a house on the north side of 8th Street, singled, and walked, and Shawon Dunston Jr laced an RBI triple, singled, and scored two runs, leading the Cubs to an 8-1 victory over the Athletics in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 in Mesa, AZ.  


Just by taking the field today the Iowa Cubs snapped their three-game skid at the hands of Mother Nature. Then they proceeded to hand Oklahoma City its first loss in a week by whipping the Redhawks 5-2 in the first game of a twinbill at Principal Park with a little help from rehabbing Kyuji Fujikawa.

Carlos Escobar blasted a 420+ foot two-run HR that landed on the roof of a mobile classroom at Frank Borman Elementary School beyond the left-centerfield fence to put the Cubs on the scoreboard in the top of the 1st, Shawon Dunston Jr belted a triple and two singles, scored two runs, and drove-in two more, and Yasiel Balaguert laced a two-run triple, singled, walked, and scored two runs, as the Cubs outlasted the Brewers 9-7 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Maryvale Baseball Complex Field #7 (AKA "Paul Molitor Field") in Phoenix, AZ.   

Tyler Roberts doubled twice, singled, scored two runs, and drove-in one, and Dustin Houle singled, doubled, walked, and scored three runs, to aid the Brewer cause.   

The pitcher's mound on Field #7 was in deplorable condition. It had apparently baked in the heat (the infield was hard as cement) and then had been over-watered just prior to start of the game, so starting pitchers Josh Conway (Cubs) and Daniel Keller (Brewers) were constantly slipping & sliding on clods of dirt when they hit their respective landing spots after throwing a pitch, and the two pitchers had to continually go to the back of the mound and scrape mud out of their cleats. The mound was also tacky at the rubber, so that at one point the cleats on Keller's right shoe got stuck in the mud and he had to abort a pitch by throwing it directly into the ground.

Meanwhile, Conway looked uncomfortable from his very first pitch, continually pawing at his landing spot and scraping mud out of his spikes after every single pitch. A member of the grounds crew was eventually located after the end of the 1st inning (today is Saturday, so there was just a "skeleton crew" on duty), and while he raked up the mud clods, nothing was done to dry up the mud itself or stamp-down the mound. On his second pitch in the bottom of the 2nd inning, Conway's spikes got caught in the mud and he tripped and threw a pitch awkwardly, about six feet over the head of the Brew Crew batter. A loud pop could be heard when he let go of the pitch, and his arm recoiled as if he had been shot. He was obviously in tremendous pain, and he ran up the 1st base line into foul territory before coming to a stop and going to one knee.  

Only after Conway left the game did two other members of the Maryvale grounds crew arrive and completely manicure the mound to make it safe for the pitchers. 

Conway was immediately driven back to Fitch Park in the Cubs utility van, and presumably he will be examined next week.

Conway was the Cubs 4th round draft pick last season out of Coastal Carolina University, and he was considered a pre-draft 1st or 2nd round talent who fell to the 4th round only because he had elbow UCL reconstruction (Tommy John Surgery) prior to the June draft. But after nearly making the Kane County starting rotation out of Minor League Camp, Conway has been the most-impressive Cubs pitcher so far at Extended Spring Training, and after throwing five solid innigs and 80 pitches in his previous start last Monday, he appeared to be on the verge of getting a promotion to Kane County or possibly Daytona.

Jose Rosario was scheduled to once again "piggy-back" with Conway (with both pitchers throwing four or five innings each), but Conway's early exit caused the Cubs to turn to reliever Mike Hamann to get ready quickly and throw a couple of innings. Rosario eventually did enter the game in the bottom of the 4th, and he had a miserable outing, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits (including three doubles), three walks, a wild pitch, and a two-base throwing error over three innings of work. He benefited from an inning-ending 4-6-3 DP and two runners being thrown out at the plate trying to score on singles to the outfield, or his final line would have been even worse. 

Reggie Golden earned the notorious "Golden Sombrero," striking out four times (all four times swinging), and he did it in four AB. 

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

Before yesterday's bottom of the ninth, Aroldis Chapman had allowed 5 hits, 2 walks, and 1 measly run over 13.1 IP. Friday, the Cubs got to him for 4 hits, 2 BB, and 3 runs in just two-thirds of an inning, and his ERA jumped from 0.68 to 2.57. It was also just the second time in 17 career appearances v. the Cubs that Chapman has been scored upon at all. Thus, I am counting yesterday as a moral victory and in my mind, with wins today and Sunday the Cubs can still achieve a series sweep. Or, at least a moral sweep.

Lineups for Saturday, 12:05 start:

The Cubs have reinstated 3B Ian Stewart from the 15-day DL and have optioned him to AAA Iowa. (Stewart came into the 2013 season with one minor league option year left).

Stewart suffered a strained quad in an intrasquad game at HoHoKam Park in February, and missed the entire 2013 MLB Cactus League Spring Training schedule. He was placed on the Cubs MLB 15-day Disabled List on March 31st (retro to 3/22), and was left behind at Extended Spring Training when the Cubs left Arizona at the end of March.

Stewart hit 200/250/267 in 16 PA at Extended Spring Training, and then was moved up to AAA Iowa on a minor league "rehab" assignment on April 14th, where he has hit an ice-cold 091/255/114 in 58 PA. 

Since the maximum number of days a position player can spend on a minor league rehab assignment is 20 (it's a maximum of 30 days for pitchers), May 3rd is the end of the assignment (time that was spent at Extended Spring Training prior to going to Iowa is not considered part of the minor league rehab assignment). However, a club does not have to reinstate a player to an active roster after the conclusion of a minor league rehab assignment if the player is not healthy enough to play (like if the original injury or illness reappears and/or was aggravated or if a different injury occurred during the course of the rehab assignment).   

Because Stewart made his debut on an MLB 25-man roster more than three years ago, Optional Assignment Waivers had to be secured before he could be optioned to the minors. Optional Assignment Waivers are revocable (meaning the request can be withdrawn if the player is claimed), and once secured they are good for the entire waiver period. So Stewart can be sent back & forth to the minors without any restrictions (that is, he can be recalled and then be optioned to the minors again anytime during the current waiver period without Optional Assignment Waivers needing to be requested & secured each time). The current waiver period just started this past Tuesday, and it doesn't end until 4 PM (EDT) on July 31st.

BTW, although Optional Assignment Waivers had to be secured before Stewart could be optioned to the minors, Stewart did NOT have to give his consent to the assignment. Only players who have accrued at least five years of MLB Service Time must give their consent before they can be optioned to the minors, and Stewart (if he had remained on the 15-day DL or if he had been reinstated to the 25-man roster instead of being optioned) would not have reached five years of MLB Service Time until July 31st. (And now that he's been optioned to the minors, Stewart reaching five years of MLB Service Time will be even further delayed).

John Polonius blasted a two-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the 4th to break a 4-4 tie and propel the Giants to a 6-4 victory on Field #1, and Jonathan Jones belted a two-run walk-off double off the LF fence on a 3-0 pitch with two outs in the bottom of the 5th as the Giants edged the Cubs 4-3 on Field #2 (thus sweeping the doubleheader), in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Indian School Park in Scottsdale, AZ. 

Kevin Encarnacion doubled, tripled, and scored a run and Jacob Rogers hammered a solo home run on Field #1, and Reggie Golden slugged a tape-measure two-run HR on Field #2, to provide most of the Cubs offensive highlights.

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.  

X
  • Sign in with Twitter