Chad Fox

And here are the 29 players eligible to play in the 2009 post-season for the Chicago Cubs:

In an embarrassing conclusion to the saturday night game against the Brewers, the Cubs bullpen literally and figuratively exploded.

In a highlight on TV for Mr. Brenly, he went out on the ledge and predicted the two run HR from Micah Hoffpauir in the 5th inning as the big first baseman strode up to the plate. Brenly had given a handsignal to Hoffpauir before the game indicating his swing was just a pinch off the night before and he expected a sweet spot power shot tonight. Hoffpauir's blast to right was on the first pitch, making that a magic moment in the booth and both Len and Bob were somewhat giddy. Len Kasper couldn't recall any such prognostication from his partner in their 5 years together. It brought a game that felt like the Cubs were behind by a million runs actually back to a 3-2 defecit and made me realize that Ryan Dempster was having quite a solid outing.

Brenly the Prognosticator? Ryan Dempster deftly lasted into the 7th
inning although on TV, Len and Bob thought he was done after 6 and
they expressed their surprise to see him out on the mound beginning the 7th
after over 100 pitches. After back to back HR's to Counsell and Braun,
Dempster was done at 121 pitches. Cotts and Patton made the really ugly 7th a six spot for the Brewers.

During the disgusting 7th and 8th innings, the walkmasters paraded their stuff including walk(s) from Cotts, Patton, Fox and Heilman. I was suffering along with Ron Santo who said on the radio: "anytime you have 7 walks you don't deserve to win." Six of the nine walks the Cubs pitchers gave up came from the bullpen.

In the top of the 8th, the Cubs brought it back to  9-6 defecit with a 4 spot including back to back doubles by Fukudome and Bradley but the bullpen was yet to complete pouring kerosene on the ballgame.

The bottom of the 8th started with Chad Fox on the mound who promptly walked Braun (on 7 pitches) then blew out his right elbow on a pitch that was five feet high and wide above the strike zone. As we all know Fox's elbow has had multiple reconstructions and after his last term with the Cubs in which his usage by Dusty Baker drew criticism, he didn't get another surgery...just a miracle feeling that he could pitch on scar and duct tape. Apologies to Mr. Baker, time didn't heal that wound. In a 24 hour period the Cubs have exposed both the proximal humerus and the distal humerus. Ouch.

Chad Fox is now on the DL and the Cubs have called up Jose Ascanio from AAA Iowa as the bullpen parade continues.

Injury Delay...photo of Chad Fox after icing his elbow postgame.

Aaron Heilman replaces Chad Fox

Heilman promptly wets his pants by walking Fielder (4 pitches), Hardy (4 pitches) and Hart (6 pitches), with Hart's for the second run of the inning. Nobody to the rescue (Mets fans must be laughing their asses off). The cliche coaching visit to the mound does no good and then Duffy singles for another run and Kendall hits a sac fly for the Brewer's12th run.

As Arizona Phil has explained, Chad Fox was brought to the majors so that the Cubs will have roster flexibility if they get to the post-season. The Boy Scouts 60 day DL mastery merit badge goes to Jim Hendry.

 

In Houston, Ted Lilly straightened himself out after a ragged beginning—four-pitch leadoff walk to Kaz Matsui, gopher ball to Miguel Tejada; Miggy's first home run in 116 at-bats this season—as the Cubs beat the Astros, 8-5, to sweep the two-game series at Minute Maid Park.

The Cubs have now won six of seven and have climbed to four games above .500 for the second time this year, heading into a weekend series in Milwaukee.

It looks like I was on to something yesterday when I mentioned that Jeff Samardzija might get sent down. Chad Fox gets the call-up and has been added to the 40-man roster. As in years past, when Fox blows out his arm and has to go on the 60-day DL, the Cubs can call up anyone from their organization for the playoffs to take his spot (as long as he was with the organization by September 1st I believe).

Also, Derrek Lee sits again with the bulging disc issue and the lineup for tonight is Soriano, Riot, Bradley, Ramirez, Soto, Johnson, Hoffpauir, Miles and Harden against lefty Mike Hampton

Cubs Manager Lou Pniella generally prefers to delegate pitching matters to his pitching coach (that would be Larry Rothschild), but one aspect of the pitching staff Uncle Lou believes he understands is how to get his bullpen ready for Opening Day.

And a big part of this preparation is Piniella's belief that each of his relievers need to throw on back-to-back days once or twice during the last ten days of Spring Training, and each reliever needs to throw two innings one time, too.   

That's where Minor League Spring Training games can really come in handy. 

While Ryan Dempster, Jeff Samardzija, Randy Wells, and Kevin Hart made the two-hour bus trip to Tucson to pitch against the Colorado Rockies at Hi Corbett Field, Kevin Gregg, Chad Fox, and Luis Vizcaino took the 20-minute van ride to the Papago Park Baseball Complex in Phoenix (a former WWII POW Camp) to get their work in versus the Oakland A's AAA squad in a minor league game.      

The Cubs have re-signed FA RHP Chad Fox to a 2009 minor league contract, and Foxy also gets an NRI to Spring Training. Because he signed his minor league contract prior to December 11th, he will be eligible for selection in next week's Rule 5 Draft, and I'm sure he'll be in great demand.

While the 38-year old righthander will be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft, he will not be eligible to receive the automatic "no trade" rights through 6/15 that an Article XX free-agent normally would get, because a player has to sign a major league contract in order to qualify for the automatic NTC. 

Fox spent most of the 2008 season on the 60-day DL with some kind of necro-elbow problem (calling Dr. Cubster!), and in fact his presence on the DL gave the Cubs a post-season roster exemption they otherwise would not have had. So it wasn't like he was totally useless. Perhaps the Cubs plan to use him the same way in 2009, or maybe it's simply a matter of Fox having incriminating photos of Jim Hendry at the Tribune Company picnic.

But it's not like Fox spent the entire 2008 on the DL. He did manage to pitch in three games (3.1 IP) with the Cubs this past season, going 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA. And he spent some time on a rehab assignment at Fitch Park, too, where he threw in a couple of EXST intrasquad games.

Kerry Wood... eat your heart out!

 

Chad Fox is landing on the DL again, apparently re-injuring his right elbow playing catch with Scott Eyre. If you play the game of six degrees of separation, Will Ohman's ghost just played a trick on Chad Fox. Or maybe it was just being overly optimistic to expect his oft injured right pitching elbow to hold up. Fox has been on the Cubs 25 man roster for a whopping 17 days. He was activated May 2nd, so in his 2nd stint with the Cubs he's made it to the DL faster than his first. In 2005 he went on the DL April 26th, and he's spared us this time as his injury that year occurred while on the mound. I have vivid memories of his pain on that cold April night in 2005:

when he threw a slider Monday night and felt the "pop," he knew it was bad.

This time the diagnosis is ulnar neuritis or inflammation of the ulnar nerve. For a 37 year old pitcher with a history of 3 surgeries on the elbow (he didn't get surgery after the 2005 event), it's not surprising that pitching, given his surgical history, will make the nerve cranky. The ulnar nerve passes behind the medial/inside of the elbow called the cubital tunnel but this area is what most people call "the crazy bone", which gets it's name because impact to that area often dings the nerve causing sharp pain and tingling. The nerve is susceptible to inflammation leading to what is called cubital tunnel syndrome where the ulnar nerve inflammation leads to pain, numbness or even weakness in the hand, starting on the inside of the elbow and radiating down the forearm into the ring and little fingers. If the symptoms don't calm down with rest and anti-inflammatory medication then there are surgical options including transposing (moving) the nerve to a location anteriorly (further in front of the elbow) where it isn't as likely to be crimped from repetitive bending. There are alot of variations on that surgery. The fact that Chad Fox has had 3 previous surgeries, including Tommy John (Ulnar Collateral Ligament reconstruction), and he opted not to have surgery with his last "event" in 2005 indicates he will pass on any procedure this time as well. Expect the nerve symptoms to calm down but always be eager to come back with repetitive activity. The timeline to recovery? Well Cubs trainer, Mark O'Neal said:

"it could take a week, it could take two weeks, it could take two months. Who knows?"

The extra righty spot in the bullpen moves on. Kevin Hart, Chad Fox and now Jose Ascanio. My guess is if Ascanio, who has been closing for the Iowa Cubs (9 saves) can throw strikes, Lou is gonna fall in love with another hard throwing option out of the bullpen. Ascanio in Iowa has pitched 21 innings, given up 14 hits with a 2.08 era. Now if those numbers could translate to the big club, trainer Mark O'Neal's most pessimistic prognosis just might be a bit too optimistic.

UPDATE [1:00PM CST]: It will indeed be Jose Ascanio getting the call-up. 

Veteran LHP Scott Eyre (on the 15-day DL with a sore elbow since 3/23) completed the Extended Spring Training (EXST) portion of his rehab this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa, throwing one inning (18 pitches - 14 strikes) in the EXST Cubs 7-3 loss to the EXST A's.

Although Eyre did allow a run (a one-out broken bat single to center followed by an RBI double crushed off the centerfield "Green Monster"), he also struck out the side. His fast ball topped out at 91, and his slider was VERY sharp.

While Eyre was pitching, all of the young Cubs pitchers not scheduled to pitch today (who would normally sit in the grandstand and watch the game from there) crowded into the enclosed "bird cage" behind home plate to get a better look at a major league pitcher in action. They were pretty excited, especially since Eyre actually talked to them (unlike a certain now ex-Cubs pitcher who was rehabbing at Fitch Park for most of last season who shall remain nameless). .

RHP Chad Fox (elbow) completed the Fitch Park portion of his rehab on Saturday,moving his rehab to Daytona after proving he could throw two days in a row.

It's unkown for sure where exactly Eyre is headed to continue his rehab. The Cubs might want him to pitch in Florida (Daytona) where the weather is warmer than it is in Tennessee, Iowa, or Illinois, but they also might not want two rehabbing major league relievers at the same place at the same time. 

As is the custom when a Cubs player completes his rehab at Fitch Park and moves on, there were lots of handshakes and hugs as Eyre headed for the clubhouse. (I tried to give him a big hug, too, but I think he might have taken it the wrong way...) 

In addition to Eyre's final EXST outing, four other pitchers who are rehabbing also pitched today (and so naturally the Cubs team physician was in attendance).

The normally light-hitting Jose Made drove in six runs with two RBI triples and a Grand Slam homer, and Chad Fox and five other pitchers combined to throw a two-hit shutout, as the EXST Cubs (Boise group) probably created an international incident, drubbing Team China 11-0 at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning. 

While the more-advanced EXST Cubs (Boise group) were playing Team China on Field #3, the less-advanced EXST Cubs (AZL Mesa group) faced the EXST Giants on Field #2, and dropped a 4-3 decision in 11 innings.

It was not easy watching both games simultaneously, but I managed to do it without missing a pitch in either game, thanks in no small part to eleven cups of coffee, a bottle of amphetamines, and a strong bladder. 

Chad Fox continued his active rehab,,throwing 1.1 IP (four up, four down) in today's Extended Spring Training game versus the Brewers EXST team on Fitch Park Field #3.

Fox looked sharp, striking out the first two men he faced and getting the last two on 5-3 ground-outs.

The 37-year old right-hander was signed to a minor league contract by the Cubs last January and received and NRI to Spring Training, but pitched in only one Cactus League game before being shut-down with a sore elbow. 

He had missed most of the previous two seasons after retiring in April 2006 with what he thought was an elbow problem that turned out be just scar tissue from a previous surgery.    

While there is clearly no room for him in the Cubs' bullpen (at this time), he is probably getting close to the point where he can be assigned to a full-season club, probably AAA Iowa. 

It's also possible that the Cubs have promised Fox that if he is not added to their 25-man roster by a certain date (like maybe May 1st or June 1st), that he will be free to make his own deal elsewhere (see Rod Beck circa 2003).   

X
  • Sign in with Twitter