Confucius Say: "Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win!"

Josh Vitters went 3-4 with a single, a double, and a triple, a walk, one RBI, and two runs scored, Kyler Burke went 3-4 with two RBI and a run scored, and Carlos Perez had four singles, as the EXST Cubs banged-out 19 hits en route to an 8-6 victory over Team China at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in Mesa.

Team China, which is based at the Peoria Sports Complex while preparing for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, was making its second appearance at Fitch Park during Extended Spring Training 2008. The EXST Cubs also have played two road games versus Team China in Peoria.

Team China is managed by ex-Cubs manager Jim Lefebvre, and he has his hands full trying to teach the most basic of fundamentals to a team full of "blank slates."

I first saw Team China out here a year ago, and although the team still needs a lot of work (especially the pitching staff, which mainly consists of soft-tossing right-handed breaking ball pitchers), there is no question that the Chinese are doing a better job of hitting, running the bases, and catching the ball than they did last year.

20-year old RHP Chris Huseby got the start for the Cubs today, and went one inning (20 pitches, only eight strikes). Because he has been having major control issues and has been struggling to throw strikes since Minor League Camp in March (in his last simulated game, he threw 30 pitches - 24 balls and only six strikes), Huseby rarely pitches in EXST games. So in an effort to help rebuild some confidence in the young right-hander, Boise pitching coach Tom Pratt had Huseby throw mostly change-ups and curve balls (Huseby fastballs tend to end up in the batter's ear). But even then he still threw more balls than strikes.  

Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only)...

LINEUP:
1. Cesar Salazar, CF: 1-5 (2 RBI)
2a. Marwin Gonzalez, 2B: 0-3
2b. Jose Made, 2B: 1-2 (3B, R)
3. Josh Vitters, 3B: 3-4 (2B, 3B, RBI, 2 R, BB, K)
4. Kyler Burke, RF: 3-4 (2B, 2 RBI, R, BB, K)
5. Robinson Chirinos, DH-C: 2-5 (RBI, K)
6. Junior Lake, DH #2: 0-4 (GIDP)
7a. Carlos Perez, C: 4-4 (R)
7b. Dwayne Kemp, PR-DH 1-1 (R)
8. Drew Rundle, 1B: 2-3 (R, SH)
9. Starlin Castro, SS: 0-4 (SB, PO, GIDP)
10. Kevin Soto, LF: 2-3 (3B, R, 2 RBI, SF, K)

PITCHERS:
1. Chris Huseby - 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP (20 pitches - 8 strikes, 12 balls)
2. Miguel Sierra - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 2 K (2/5 GO/FO)
3. Jose Pina - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (4/1 GO/FO)
4. Julio Pena - 2.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 2 K (2/2 GO/FO)     
5. Michael Bunton - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 GIDP

ERRORS (1):
Josh Vitters, E-5, bounced throw past 1st baseman allowing batter to reach base with two outs, then runner scored on two-out double.

CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Carlos Perez, 0-1 CS, and one PB

WEATHER: Clear skies, game-time temperature in the 80's, with a S/W breeze. 

ATTENDANCE: 4, plus Cubs VP of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita was watching the game from the tower.  
 

Comments

Thanks, AZ Phil. Do you think there's any chance Huseby regains his control and mechanics this season? What happened between last season when he posted respectable numbers at Boise and this season? Also, Vitters has only been swinging the bat a few games now and this was a lesser opponent, but it appears he's getting back in shape after the tendonitis. About how much longer do you think he'll need to rehab before the rust is gone and he can head back to the MWL?

Submitted by Raisin101 on Mon, 06/02/2008 - 4:58pm.

Thanks, AZ Phil.

Do you think there's any chance Huseby regains his control and mechanics this season? What happened between last season when he posted respectable numbers at Boise and this season?

Also, Vitters has only been swinging the bat a few games now and this was a lesser opponent, but it appears he's getting back in shape after the tendonitis. About how much longer do you think he'll need to rehab before the rust is gone and he can head back to the MWL?

====================

RAISIN: I don't think anybody knows what happened to Chris Huseby during the off-season that might have caused the extreme loss of control in 2008. He can't even play catch without throwing the ball away. It's just weird. But apparently it's all in his head. He doesn't have any arm problems (at least he says he doesn't).

I don't know what the Cubs plan to do with Josh Vitters, but I think it's fairly certain that he will either go back to Peoria or he will be assigned to Boise. He won't remain at Fitch Park past next week. If I had to guess, I would think Vitters will probably go to Boise initially, and then maybe back to Peoria later in the season (TBD).

He appears to be swinging the bat much better the last couple or three days. He also is wearing batting gloves, which I don't remember him wearing earlier this season.

But far more troubling than the bout with a finger blister at Minor League Camp and tendinitis in his hand at Peoria is the fact that Vitters has a MAJOR problem with making accurate throws to 1st base. If it persists, it will require a position change, probably to 1B, or perhaps to a corner OF spot.

"He also is wearing batting gloves, which I don't remember him wearing earlier this season." hopefully his early problems (including throwing) are attributed to raw hands from the lack of batting gloves. he's probably seeing a workload like he's never seen and taking a ton of BP. if his hands aren't used to all the work you can get them raw which definitely effects the bat feel and therefore the swing. still, its just speculation.

Dear Confucius: maybe Vitters is in the wrong sport...is he setting his sights on going to the HOF in Canton?

AZ Phil, it's difficult to really get a feel for how the guys are doing out in AZ since there's no official stats or game summaries published on MILB.com. Thanks for your hard work keeping everyone informed! With that said, do you think Burke will remain in AZ, report to Boise, or head back to Peoria in the next few weeks?

"I don't think anybody knows what happened to Chris Huseby during the off-season that might have caused the extreme loss of control in 2008." Damn the Cubs for sending Huseby to the Steve Blass Pitching Adventure Camp last fall.

Submitted by chattbaseball on Mon, 06/02/2008 - 6:56pm.

AZ Phil, it's difficult to really get a feel for how the guys are doing out in AZ since there's no official stats or game summaries published on MILB.com. Thanks for your hard work keeping everyone informed!

With that said, do you think Burke will remain in AZ, report to Boise, or head back to Peoria in the next few weeks?

=========================

CHATT B: I believe Kyler Burke will be assigned to Boise on 6/12 (that's when the Boise Hawks leave Arizona), but he could get back up to Peoria before too long, depending on how he is hitting and whether there is a spot open for him there. 

At the time Burke was demoted from Peoria to EXST, he was in the midst of a hitting slump, but he also got sent down because the Peoria Chiefs had four left-handed hitting outfielders and they needed to drop one to make room on the roster for right-handed hitting LF Brandon Guyer (who had just completed his rehab at Fitch Park).

Leon Johnson was also slumping at the time, but Johnson and Cliff Andersen were the only players on the Peoria roster who could play CF, so given a choice between sending Burke or Johnson to EXST, the Cubs chose Burke.

I think another possible reason the Cubs chose to demote Burke when they did was because they want him to start thinking about a possible move to the mound at some point in the near future (he was highly rated LHP in HS). The Cubs would not make such a move unless Burke agreed to do it.

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