EXST Cubs Extended Spring Training

Jeremy Sy belted an RBI triple and a single and Nick Noonan singled, doubled and scored a run, as the Giants edged the Cubs 3-2 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Indian School Park Field #2 in Scottsdale, AZ.

Gleyber Torres ripped an RBI triple and a single and scored a run, Charcer Burks singled twice, drove-in a run, and stole three bases, Roney Alcala reached base three times on a single, a double, and a walk, and starting pitcher Pierce Johnson (hamstring rehab) struck out eight in five innings of work, leading the Cubs to a 5-3 victory over the Rockies in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.  

Dayton Alexander knocked-in two runs with an RBI single and a sacrifice fly, leading the Athletics to a 7-3 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #2 (AKA "Connie Mack Field") at the Papago Park Baseball Facility in Phoenix, AZ. 

Eloy Jimenez drove-in two of the three Cub runs with a sharply-hit RBI ground single through the 5.5 hole with two outs in the 1st inning and a two-out bases loaded walk on a 3-2 pitch in the 5th.

The Cub offense collected more walks (8) than hits (3) in the game, while Cub pitchers surrendered more walks (8) than hits (6).   

The game was pre-planned as a ten-inning affair so that all of the pitchers who were scheduled to throw today could get their work.

In EXST Cubs roster news, AAA Iowa OF Jae-Hoon Ha (post-2013 broken wrist) has completed his EXST rehab and has rejoined the I-Cubs, and INF Giuseppe Papaccio has been moved up to AA Tennessee.

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

Kevin Encarnacion belted a bases-loaded three-run triple and a double and scored three runs, Yasiel Balaguert singled three times, drove-in two runs, and scored another, and Xavier Batista collected three hits including a solo home run and an RBI single, helping one squad of Cubs defeat another squad of Cubs 12-6 in an Extended Spring Training intrasquad game played this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 in Mesa, AZ. 

Squad "B" pitchers retired 19 of the last 20 men they faced, as Squad "B" rallied from an early 6-1 deficit to win the game.  

The game was pre-planned as a ten-inning contest so that more pitchers could get work. 

The players had three days off during the First-Year Player Draft, and the team reconvened in Mesa yesterday. The players came into today's intrasquad game unaware of who would be going to Boise and who will be staying in Mesa. The Boise roster was to be announced by Hawks Manager Gary Van Tol at a team meeting at 2:00 (MST) this afternoon at the Fitch Park clubhouse, and supposedly one or two of the roster slots were still up for grabs going into the game.   

Boise's first game is this Friday night at Eugene (first home game is next Monday night), and the AZL Cubs will begin league play on June 20th. All AZL Cubs home games will be night games played at HoHoKam Park (Dwight Patterson Field).

Not related to the battle for Boise roster slots, AA Tennessee OF Jae-Hoon Ha (lower back strain rehab) played CF for five innings and batted five times in the game, going 1-5 with two strikeouts (one swinging & one looking), a FC, a F-9 fly out, and a line-drive opposite-field single. He also stole a base. Ha suffered the back strain during batting practice prior to a Smokies game on May 3rd, and this was his first game action since suffering the injury.   

Also, Iowa Cubs RHP Carlos Gutierrez (2012 shoulder surgery rehab) threw one inning and allowed the solo HR to Batista, and switch-hitting ex-Minnesota Twins C-1B-3B Jose Morales (strained hamstring rehab) was the starting catcher for Squad "A" and was behind the dish for seven innings.     

The Cubs claimed Gutierrez off waivers from Minnesota last October, and then outrighted him to Iowa in November. He was assigned to the Iowa squad at Minor League Camp, but was left behind at Extended Spring Training to continue his rehab. He got into one Cactus League Extended Spring Training game on April 10th, and then was shut-down for about six weeks. He has been pitching in "sim" games for the past couple of weeks.

Gutierrez was a former Twins 1st round draft pick out of the University of Miami, where he was the Hurricanes closer. He was throwing mostly cutters & sinkers today, topping out at 92 MPH.   

The Cubs signed Morales to a minor league contract in April, and he suffered the hamstring injury in his very first Cactus League EXST game on April 19th. He returned to game action on May 30th, and should be about ready to move up to Iowa. 

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

Xavier Batista blasted his fourth home run in four games (a solo shot in the top of the 6th that put him into a tie for the team-lead in HR with Jeffrey Baez), Jose Morales hammered an RBI triple, scored a run, and drew a walk, and Carlos Penalver doubled, walked, and scored two runs, as the Cubs and Angels played to a 6-6 tie in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Diablo Park Field #6 in Tempe, AZ.   

Junior Lake played six innings at 3B and batted six times, going 1-6. He drove-in a run with an RBI 5-3 GO in the 1st, reached base on an RBI infield single, stole a base, and scored a run in the 2nd, struck out swinging in the 3rd, reached base on a 5-4 FC and stole a base in the 5th, was called out on strikes in the 6th, and struck out swinging in the 7th. 

In five Cactus League Extended Spring Training games (26 PA), Lake is hitting 409/500/682 with six doubles, seven runs scored, three RBI, 3/6 BB/K, and 3 SB (1 CS). He has played three of the five EXST games at 3B and two in CF, and he has not commited an error at either position.   

RHP Paul Blackburn got the start for the Cubs and was roughed-up in the bottom of the 1st inning, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits (four singles and a triple).  Bit then he got into a groove and retired nine in a row. 

RHP Armando Rivero relieved Blackburn and was hit hard, allowing three runs on five hits (four singles and a triple) in 1.2 IP. He struck out three (all three swinging).  

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

Junior Lake doubled, walked and scored two runs, Jose Morales singled twice, walked, and scored two runs, and Carlos Penalver stroked a two-run double and a single and scored a run, but one squad of Diamondbacks ralliied to score four runs with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to tie one squad of Cubs 7-7 on Quail Field, and RHP Alexander Santana retired the first nine men he faced, Francisco Sanchez singled twice, knocked-in a run, and scored another, and Mark Malave singled twice and walked, but the other squad of D'backs rallied to score one run in the 7th to tie the game and three more in the 8th to take the lead, defeating the Cubs 5-2 on Whirlwind Field, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader played this morning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.

Junior Lake (fractured rib cage rehab) played CF for six innings and batted four times (once every-other inning), going 1-3. He bounced out 5-3 in the 1st inning, drew a walk and scored a run on the Carlos Penalver RBI double in the 3rd, belted a double (his 6th two-bagger in his last three games) into the left-centerield alley with two outs in the 5th, and bounced into a 5-2 FC with a runner at 3rd base and one out in the top of the 7th, before scoring on a Yasiel Balaguert RBI triple. 

In EXST Cubs roster news, C-1B-3B Steve Clevenger has completed the Extended Spring Training portion of his rehab, and has been moved-up to AAA Iowa.

Clevenger was placed on the Cubs MLB 60-day DL with a strained oblique on April 14th, and will not be eligible to be reinstated until June 13th.  

In eight Cactus League Extended Spring Training games (34 PA), Clevenger hit 355/412/516, with five doubles and seven RBI, and 3/2 BB/K.  

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

Junior Lake doubled twice, singled, walked, stole a base, and scored three runs, Jeffrey Baez doubled twice, scored twice, and knocked-in a run, Shawon Dunston Jr belted a two-run triple, singled, stole a base, and scored two runs, Brad Zapenas drove-in three runs with a double and two sacrifice flies, and Xavier Batista hammered a solo home run (his third HR in two days), as the Cubs drubbed the Rockies 13-3 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 affair so that more pitchers could get game work.  

Junior Lake (fractured rib cage rehab) played CF for seven innings and batted five times, going 3-4 with two doubles (both rifled off the LF fence), a line-drive single, and a walk, plus a strikeout (swinging). 

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

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):

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