Cubs & A's Fit to be Tied at Fitch Park

The Cubs and Athletics played to a 5-5 tie in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training game played this morning on Field #4 at the Lew Wolff Training Complex at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.

Frandy de la Rosa (two-run single) and Tyler Alamo (RBI single) drilled run-scoring hits to highlight a three-run third that gave the Cubs an early 3-0 lead. Then after the A's took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the eighth on a Miguel Mercedes solo home run, the Cubs came back and tied the game in the top of the ninth as pinch-hitter Tyler Pearson belted a two-out triple to right-center and scored on a game-tying Bryant Flete RBI single. The A's loaded the bases on two walks and a Cub error in the bottom of the 9th, but were unable to push across the winning run.  

Robert Garcia singled, doubled, and scored two runs for the Cubs.   

Cub pitchers allowed only four hits in the game (none until the fourth, and only one through six), but they also walked eight, hit a batter, and threw three wild pitches. Collectively, Cub pitchers threw only 53% strikes today. The two Cub catchers (Tyler Alamo and Jhonny Pereda) took a physical beating behind the plate, with numerous balls short-hopping them before hitting a collar-bone or a groin.  

Two veteran ex-MLB pitchers recently signed by the Cubs to minor league contracts saw action in today's game, as RHP Felipe Paulino (released by the Red Sox at the end of SpringTraining) and LHRP Daniel Schlereth (released by the Tigers last month) each worked an inning.  

The 6'3 260+ 31-year old Paulino came out like a house afire, striking out the first two men he faced (both swinging) on seven pitches before walking the next two hitters on 3-2 pitches, finally retiring the side on a pop-out to the first-baseman in foul territory. He cuts a rather large figure on the mound, with a physique similar to that of Jumbo Diaz or Jonathan Broxton. 

Originally signed by the Houston Astros as an International free-agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2001, Paulino has pitched in the big leagues with Houston, Colorado, Kansas City, and the White Sox. He underwent an elbow UCL transplant (TJS) post-2012 when he was with the Royals, and then missed most of last season with a right shoulder injury while a member of the White Sox. 

The 28-year old Schlereth worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the 2nd (F-9, 4-3, P-4), but had command issues, going to a three-ball count on the first two hitters he faced and a two-ball count on the third hitter before retiring them. He needed 15 pitches to retire the side, but threw only seven strikes.

Schlereth was the 1st round pick (26th overall) of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008 out of the University of Arizona, and was part of the Max Scherzer/Curtis Granderson/Edwin Jackson/Ian Kennedy/Austin Jackson/Phil Coke three-team mega-deal in December 2009, going to the Tigers with Scherzer, Coke and A. Jackson (Granderson went to the Yankees, and E. Jackson and Kennedy ended up in Arizona). 

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

1. Kevonte Mitchell, CF: 0-2 (BB, BB, K, 6-3, R, RBI)
2. Frandy de la Rosa, 2B: 1-3 (2-3 SH, 1B, 3-U, K, 2 RBI)
3a. Tyler Alamo, C: 2-3 (P-3, 1B, 1B, RBI) 
3b. Jhonny Pereda, C: 0-1 (5-3) 
4a. Adonis Paula, 3B: 1-3 (K, 1B, 6-4-3 DP) 
4b. Carlos Jimenez, 3B: 0-1 (F-7)
5a. Miguel Rico, DH #1: 0-3 (5-3, 6-3, 6-3)
5b. Tyler Pearson, PH: 1-1 (3B, R)
6. Bryant Flete, SS: 2-4 (1B, P-5, 3-1, 1B, RBI, CS)
7. Roney Alcala, 1B: 0-4 (F-8, K, F-7, K) 
8. Varonex Cuevas, DH #2: 1-3 (3-U, 1B, 6-3) 
9. Robert Garcia, RF: 2-3 (1B, 4-6 FC, 2B, 2 R) 
10. Danny Gutierrez, LF: 1-3 (1B, P-3, 6-3, R)

1. Felipe Paulino: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GO/FO, 22 pitches (12 strikes) 
2. Daniel Schlereth: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GO/FO, 15 pitches (7 strikes) 
3. Austyn Willis: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 4/2 GO/FO, 22 pitches (14 strikes) 
4. Jordan Brink: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 1/1 GO/FO, 19 pitches (10 strikes) 
5. Jae-Hoon Ha: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 2 WP, 0/2 GO/FO, 20 pitches (9 strikes) 
6. Corbin Hoffner: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 20 pitches (11 strikes) 
7. Hector Perez: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 1/1 GO/FO, 17 pitches (10 strikes) 
8. Andin Diaz: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 0 K, 3/0 GO/FO, 18 pitches (8 strikes) 

1. 3B Carlos Jimenez - E-5 (two base throwing error allowed batter to reach 2nd base safely)
2. C Jhonny Pereda - E-2 (overthrow at 3rd base on stolen base allowed baserunner to score unearned run)
3. 3B Carlos Jimenez - E-5 (fielding eror allowed batter to reach base safely)

1. Tyler Alamo: 0-3 CS
2. Jhonny Pereda: 0-1 CS, 1 E (see above) 

LF Danny Gutierrez - threw out baserunner 7-5 trying to advance from 1st to 3rd on line single to LF 

WEATHER: Partly cloudy & breezy with temperatures in the 90's 




guess Bulls are content with just one win in Cleveland...oof

Hey, Phil! Not an AZ question, but I figure you might have a take on it: Why did McKinney start this season at A+ after being pretty successful there last year? And is it time to promote him to AA now that he has put up .305/.402/.476 with 3 HR, 12BB:11K, and a non-inflated .319 BABIP? He seems like he'd fit nicely into the AA lineup with the similarly disciplined Vogelbach and Schwarber. Is it just a matter of that AA outfield being very crowded? Also, any info on why Almora had been starting a bunch of games in LF and RF in AA prior to his DL time?

CHARLIE: I don't know why Albert Almora has been moved around the outfield this season at AA, but the Cubs (probably more than any other organization) value defensive versatility. Also, both Jake Hannemann and Pin-Chieh Chen are at Tennessee and they project as centerfielders, so they need to play CF, too. 

In the case of Billy McKinney, there were issues about his defense at Instructs last fall and again at Minor League Camp, and I suspect that's why he was sent back to Hi-A. He's basically an offense-first player who will almost certainly end up in LF, but even so he needs to work harder on defense, and I think the Cubs were sending him that message when they assigned him to Myrtle Beach. 

There is nothing wrong with McKinney offensively, though. He won the HR Derby at Instructs last October, and he is a really good all-around hitter with a good eye at the plate. He will be an MLB LF. I'm just not so sure it will be with the Cubs. 

I think McKinney probably could handle AA pitching OK, but there really isn't any reason to push it. He's only 20 (he would be a sophomore in college right now if he hadn't signed with Oakland), and the Tennessee OF is already crowded (with Almora, Hannemann, Chen, and Rademacher all vying for playing time).

BTW, I have come around to believing that Kyle Schwarber will be moved to LF sooner rather than later. It's not because I don't think he can be an MLB catcher, because no question he has improved defensively as a catcher, and he really wants to be a catcher, but his bat is way too valuable to take a chance on an injury sidetracking his career. Not with a bat like he has. If he moves to LF, he will be up with the Cubs in Chicago this time next year.  

That all makes sense! I didn't realize McKinney had any defensive issues; I certainly hope he improves, since a 15-20 HR left fielder (even with good discipline and a high average) is much more valuable if he can play at least average D.

In my view, they didn't want McKinney to get promoted before I had a chance to get a look at him when his team travels to suburban Washington in early June. (The Daytona Cubs never made it this far up the coast.) AZ Phil mentioned his age. I would just add that there was something peculiar about McKinney's numbers at Stockton and Daytona, both A+. While he hit very well at Daytona, in 210 PAs he only added one HR to the 10 he had hit at Stockton. At Myrtle Beach, he's socking HRs again.

1-1 today last night...a homer...and 4 walks. .313/.431/.518

Speaking of Almora, he was back in the Smokie lineup for the first game of yesterday's doubleheader.

Phil, snowed today here in Montana. Miss being there. Would have loved to see the big whale pitch today! I see Vogelbach is on a streak with the Smokies. Also, McKinney is on fire at Myrtle Beach.

wasn't Rick Reuschel the original big Whale? Later they toned it down to call him big daddy.

I think it was just "The Whale". With Reuschel, it wasn't his size (listed as 6'3" @ 215 lbs. on, though an '89 SI piece mentions 235 to 240) -- it was how doughy and flabby it looked on him. Vogelbach looks ripped by comparison. Combine that with the fact that he always smoked the other pitchers when they ran wind sprints in the outfield before the games and got used as a pinch runner numerous times when he wasn't pitching. Guys with the best looking physiques aren't always the best athletes. Funny humans.

He was a very good athlete. He fielded his position well (2 gold gloves), could get down a bunt and was a decent hitter for a pitcher.

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