Cubs Extended Spring Training

Ramirez Heats Up & Olt Has Active Day at Riverview Park

Ricardo Marcano (RBI single) and Varonex Cuevas (two-run single) drilled run-scoring hits to highlight a three-run 4th, as the Eugene Emeralds rallied to edge the Mesa Cubs 3-2 in Extended Spring Training intrasquad action this morning on Field #1 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park. 

The game was called after 5-1/2 innings of play. It was supposed to be a seven-inning affair, but one of the pitchers scheduled to throw in the game (RHRP John Michael Knighton) was called up to South Bend during the game, so the contest had to be truncated.   

Knighton (known as "Bama" to his teammates) was the most-consistent Cub reliever at Extended Spring Training. He features a "natural" upper-80's cutter and a curve, and he threw the highest-percentager of strikes (67%) of any EXST Cubs pitcher who worked more than six innings in Cactus League EXST games:

JOHN MICHAEL KNIGHTON - Age 21 - 2014 17th round draft pick (Central Alabama CC)
2.93 ERA - 0.91 WHIP - .228 OppBA
15.1 IP, 13 H, 8 R (5 ER), 1 BB, 11 K, 1 HBP, 1 HR, 2 WP, 1 GIDP, 17/16 GO/FO, 67% strikes, 13.0 PITCHES-PER-INNING
NO ERRORS
11 GAMES

RHRP Neil Ramirez (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL - right shoulder inflammation) continued his EXST rehab, making his second appearance on the mound in three days, and Mike Olt (on Cubs 60-day DL - fractured right wrist) made his second rehab start in three days.  

Ramirez entered the game in the top of the 4th inning, with one out and a runner at 2nd base. He faced three hitters, striking out Mike Olt (looking) on a 3-2 pitch, before issuing a walk to Jhonny Pereda on a 3-1 pitch and striking out Carlos Jimenez (swinging) on three pitches.  

In 1.1 IP in two Cubs EXST intrasquad games (today and Friday), Ramirez has allowed no runs, two hits and a walk, and struck out four. 

Olt moved back & forth between the two teams, serving as a DH for the Mesa Cubs and playing third-base for Eugene.

He began the game as the Mesa DH, drawing a walk in the top of the 1st, before advancing to 2nd base on a WP and scoring on a Carlos Sepulveda RBI single to right. He batted in the bottom of the 1st inning for Eugene, reaching base on a two-out HBP. He then played third-base for two innings (top of the 2nd & top of the 3rd) for Eugene, before once again serving as a DH for Mesa in the top of the 4th (when he struck out looking against Neil Ramirez). He batted for Eugene again in the bottom of the 4th (line-drive single to right-center, then scored later in the inning on the Varonex Cuevas two-run single), before returning to the field and playing third-base again for two more innings (top of the 5th & top of the 6th). He handled two grounders flawlessly at third, turning both into 5-3 outs.    

After the game, Olt high-fived himself for doing his part to help Eugene rally to win the game, and cursed himself for not doing enough to prevent the Mesa Cubs from losing.   

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

Late Rally Helps Emeralds Sparkle at Riverview

Kevonte Mitchell smashed a solo HR to lead-off the inning and Frandy de la Rosa belted a two-run triple and scored on a WP to highlight a four-run 8th, as the Eugene Emeralds rallied to defeat the Mesa Cubs 5-3 in Extended Spring Training intrasquad action this morning on Field #1 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park. 

Eloy Jimenez reached base four times (two singles and two walks) for Eugene, Yohan Matos slugged a solo HR and singled twice for the Mesa Cubs, and the two starting pitchers (LHP Justin Steele and RHP Oscar de la Cruz) combined to hurl six innings of shutout ball.

Mesa Cubs LF Jose Paniagua left the game after being hit on the helmet by a Daniel Bard fastball in the top of the 4th. (Bard was pulled out of the game after throwing only eight pitches).

Mike Olt (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL - broken right wrist) took pre-game BP but did not play in the game.

In EXST Cubs roster news, OF Shawon Dunston (on Myrtle Beach 7-day since April 23rd with a right shoulder injury) has completed his rehab and has returned to the Pelicans, and C-1B Alberto Mineo has been moved-up to Myrtle Beach.

Mineo will be inactive at MB (technically he's on the Eugene Reserve List) and will serve as a bullpen catcher for the Pelicans, but he can be activated if necessary.

Here is the abridged box score from today's game, followed by the updated Cubs Extended Spring Training roster: 

Olt & Ramirez Ready to Rumble at Riverview

Ho-Young Son tripled, singled twice, stole two bases, scored three runs, and drove-in two more, Kevonte Mitchell belted a bases-loaded triple, singled, and walked, and Joey Martarano drilled a double and an RBI single and scored a run, helping the Eugene Emeralds thrash the Mesa Cubs 10-2 in Extended Spring Training intrasquad action this morning on Field #1 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park. 

Neil Ramirez (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL - right shoulder inflammation) saw his first game action since April 16th, and Mike Olt (on Cubs MLB 60-day DL - fractured right wrist) saw his first game action since April 20th,

Getting the start for Eugene, Ramirez allowed singles to the first two men he faced (an infield single followed by a line-drive single to right) and then the runners pulled off a double-steal. Ramirez then struck out the next two hitters, one swinging and one looking. He threw 17 pitches (11 strikes), and was pulled from the game when he reached his pre-planned pitch limit.

Mike Olt played 3rd base for three innings for the Mesa Cubs and got four Plate Appearances, one in each of the first four innings. He struck out (swinging) on three pitches against Neil Ramirez in the top of the 1st, was called out on strikes on a 1-2 pitch in the 2nd, drew a walk and scored a run in the 3rd, and grounded out 6-3 in his fourth and final PA in the 4th (with the last three AB coming against LHP Jose Paulino). He did not handle any chances in the field.

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


Martarano & Marcano Lead Emeralds to Victory at Riverview

Joey Martarano and Ricardo Marcano doubled, singled, walked, and scored two runs a piece, leading the Eugene Emeralds to a 4-1 victory over the Mesa Cubs in Extended Spring Training intrasquad action this morning on Field #1 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.  

The game was called after eight innings of play. 

Here is the abridged box score from the game: 

Giants Rally to Edge Cubs at Riverview

1B (ex-LHP) Nick Jones reached base four times (two singles and two walks) and drove-in what proved to be the game-winning run, Nathaniel Javier drilled a two-run double, singled, and scored two runs, and Julio Pena singled twice, knocked-in two runs, and scored another, as the Giants rallied from a 7-2 deficit to edge the Cubs 8-7 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #1 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.  

Eloy Jimenez belted a solo HR, Adonis Paula hammered a two-run double, singled twice, and scored a run, and Shawon Dunston Jr singled twice, stole a base, and scored two runs for the Cubs in a losing cause.  

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

Turner Continues Rehab at Riverview, While Denorfia is Leaving on a Jet Plane

Eloy Jimenez (two-run double), Tyler Alamo (RBI double), and Ricardo Marcano (RBI single) stroked consecutive running-scoring hits to highlight a four-run 6th, and LHSP Justin Steele (Cubs 2014 5th round draft pick - George County HS - Lucedale, MS) tossed 5.1 IP of one-run ball (11/2 GO/FO), leading the Eugene Emeralds to a 4-1 victory over the Mesa Cubs in Extended Spring Training intrasquad game action this morning on Field #6 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.  

RHP Jacob Turner (on Cubs MLB 60-day DL- right flexor strain) started the game for Mesa and threw 3.2 IP of shutout ball (56 pitches), allowing four hits (all singles) and two walks, with two strikeouts and a 3/4 GO/FO. This will almost certainly be Turner's last EXST rehab outing before he departs for one of the Cubs full-season minor league affiliates, where he will continue his rehab under Article XIX-C.

Turner's fastball velocity sat at 91-92 MPH through his first two innings of work, but then it spiked to 93-94 over his final two frames. He had some command issues at times with his cutter, but his breaking ball was very sharp. 

OF Chris Denorfia (on Cubs 15-day DL - hamstring strain) has definitely completed the Arizona portion of his rehab and is en route to AA Tennessee, where he will spend the weekend facing more advanced pitching than he saw at EXST. Then he will (presumably) re- join the Cubs in Detroit on Tuesday.   

Originally, Denorfia was supposed to remain at Extend0ed Spring Training through Saturday and then spend the first-half of next week at Tennessee, but the timetable was pushed-up when he got back into playing shape sooner than was expected. In six Cactus League EXST games (24 PA), Denorfia hit 400/500/550, reaching base 12 times in the six games (five singles, three doubles, and four walks). He also struck out five times in the 24 Plate Appearances.   

Prior to the intrasquad game, RHRP Neil Ramirez (on Cubs 15-day DL - right shoulder inflammation), RHRP Anthony Carter (on AAA Iowa 7-day DL), and LHSP Rob Zastryzny (on AA Tennessee 7-day DL - foot injury) squared-off in a two-inining "sim" game on Field #5. Ramirez threw two innings (25 pitches - 15 in the first inning, then ten in the second), and Carter and Zastryzny threw one inning a piece (15 pitches each).   

Here is the abridged box score from today's intrasquad game, followed by the updated Cubs Extended Spring Training roster: 

A's Cry Wolff at Fitch Park

Miguel Mercedes belted a two-run home run and Vicmal de la Cruz singled, doubled, and scored two runs, as the Athletics edged the Cubs 3-2 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #4 at the Lew Wolff Training Complex at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ. 

Adonis Paula slugged a solo HR and Frandy de la Rosa singled and tripled for the Cubs in a losing cause. 

In EXST roster news, IF-OF Varonex Cuevas has been moved-up to AAA Iowa. The 22-year old switch-hitting super-sub was hitting only 204/235/327 with one HR and three doubles, four RBI, six runs scored, two walks, 14 strikeouts, and no SB (two CS), in 18 Cactus League EXST games (51 PA) this season, but he has been hot lately, putting up a 353/421/588 line over his last six Cactus League EXST games (19 PA). He has played 2B-3B-SS-LF at EXST. 

Cuevas was signed by the Cubs as an 18-year old out of the Dominican Republic in May 2011, and spent his first three seasons with the DSL Cubs (240/344/304 in 163 DSL games 2011-13) before arriving in the U. S. last season. He hit 288/416/493 in 24 Cactus League EXST games (89 PA) last season before being assigned to Boise, where he struggled (hitting just 118/211/235 in 12 NWL games). He then was moved down to the AZL Cubs, where he hit 318/368/466.  

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

Cubs Blank Angels at Diablo Park

Jhonny Pereda roped an RBI single, doubled, and walked, Roney Alcala doubled twice and drove-in a run, and LHSP Jose Paulino hurled five innings of shutout ball with an 11/0 GO/FO and combined with three relievers to toss a five-hit shutout, as the Cubs blanked the Angels 4-0 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #7 at Diablo Park in Tempe, AZ.

Chris Denorfia (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL with a strained hamstring) continued his EXST rehab today, playing left field for all nine innings and getting four AB. He drilled line-drive singles in each of his first two PA, then walked his third time up, and flied out to the warning track in left in his fourth and final AB, Denorfia was running the bases at full-tilt and he made a nice running catch in left (although he had to wait until Jose Paulino left the game to do it, because Paulino was a "ground-ball machine" today).

The plan at present is for Denorfia to remain at Extended Spring Training through Saturday, but actually he looks to be 100% right now.

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

Denorfia and Dunston Help Cubs Salvage Tie at Riverview

Chris Denorfia (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL - strained hamstring) belted an RBI double, walked, and scored a run and Shawon Dunston Jr (on Myrtle Beach Pelicans 7-day DL - right shoulder injury) doubled, stole two bases, and scored a run for the Cubs, and Jesus Lopez drilled a two-run single, doubled, and walked and Vicmal de la Cruz singled, doubled, and scored a run for the Athletics, as the Cubs and A's played to a 5-5 tie in Cactus League Extended Spring Training game action this morning on Field #6 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park. 

The game was called after eight innings of play. 

RHP Pierce Johnson (on AA Tennessee7-day DL with a lat strain) continued his EXST rehab, working three innings (37 pitches) for the Cubs and allowing two runs on four hits (two doubles and two singles) and no walks, with three strikeouts (all three swinging) and a 4/2 GO/FO. Johnson had excellent command today and threw a high percentage of strikes (71%). His fastball velocity sat consistenty at 92 MPH (max), with only an occasional drop-off to 91.  

18-year old Colombian RHP Erling Moreno (2014 TJS) made his second game appearance in a week. The 6'3 righthander allowed two hits (a single and a double) in 1.2 IP, and successfully escaped a "runner at 3rd and out out" situation. Moreno's fastball velocity sat at 89-90 (down a couple of MPH from last week), but he displayed outstanding command of all of his pitches, most noteworthy an advanced change-up (unusual for an 18-year old) 

Cubs 2014 5th round draft pick RHP Dylan Cease (2014 TJS) also made his second game appearance in a week (he faced the A's at Fitch Park last Monday), but he did not fare as well as Moreno. While he only allowed one run, he also allowed six of the ten batters he faced to reach base (three singles and three walks, plus a WP) in just 1.1 IP. Cease's fastball velocity was at 95-97 MPH in both innings, down a couple of ticks from his outing last week when he touched 99.

Prior to the Cactus League EXST game, RHP Marcelo Carreno (post-2013 shoulder surgery) and RHP Trey Masek (2014 shoulder surgery) squared-off in a two-iining "sim" game on Field #3.   

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

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