Szczur Triples Smokies to Victory

Matt Szczur tripled twice, scored twice and drove-in a run, Justin Bour had two hits and three RBI, and Matt Cerda reached base four times on a double, two singles, and a walk, leading the Tennessee Smokies to a 6-4 victory over the Midland RockHounds (Oakland A’s AA affiliate) on Field #2, but the Sacramento River Cats (A’s AAA affiliate) took advantage of seven walks and bested the Iowa Cubs 9-6 on Field #3, in Cactus League Minor League game action this afternoon at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.

In addition to reaching base four times (in four plate appearances), Tennessee 3B Matt Cerda also committed three errors. So he had a full day.

Just moved up to the Tennessee squad from Daytona after two strong outings, LHP (ex-OF) Kyler Burke got the start for the Smokies, and allowed two runs on three hits (two singles and a double) and a walk in 2.1 IP.

After starring as a two-way player (LHP-RF) at Ooltewah HS and signing a National Letter of Intent to attend Vanderbilt University, Burke was signed by the San Diego Padres ($950K bonus) after they drafted him (as an outfielder) in the Supplemental 1st round of the June 2006 Rule 4 Draft (2006 35th overall pick). At the time, coaches and scouts who had seen Burke play were split as to whether he was a better pitcher or outfielder. (The University of Tennessee recruited him as a pitcher, Vanderbilt was going to let him do both).

After spending the last part of the 2006 season and the first part of the next season in "A" ball with San Diego, Burke was acquired by the Cubs in the Michael Barrett trade in July 2007. He struggled to establish himself as a prospect with the Cubs, until he had a breakout year in 2009 when he was named the Cubs Minor League Player of the Year after hitting 303/405/505 with 15 HR, 43 doubles, 14 stolen bases, and 14 outfield assists for Peoria. He could not sustain the success at Hi-A Daytona in 2010, however, hitting just .212. After he was unable to win a job at AA Tennessee in Minor League Camp last year, the Cubs approached him about trying pitching, and he agreed.

Burke spent two months at Extended Spring Training getting re-acclimated to the mound, and then was assigned to Boise the last two months pf the season. He attended the AZ Instructional League post-2011, and was the most-impressive pitcher on the Cub squad, showing a 94 MPH fastball, a plus-curve, and a solid change-up. (i had rated him as one of my in my Cubs Top 15 Prospects this past off-season).

The thing to keep in mind about Kyler Burke is that he will be an MLB Rule 55 Minor League free-agent (6YFA) after this season if the Cubs do not add him to their MLB 40-man roster by 5 PM (EDT) on the 5th day following the conclusion of the 2012 World Series.

So when the Cubs think about whether they should add Burke to their MLB 40-man roster post-2012, it's not a question of whether he is a candidate to be selected in the December 2012 Rule 5 Draft (and that they might get him back if he were to get selected), but rather it's that he could walk away as a minor league free-agent three weeks before concerns about the Rule 5 Draft are normally addressed.

The Cubs Boise/Mesa squad (which will morph into the Cubs Extended Spring Training team next month) played a contest against the Langley Blaze (a Canadian junior amateur team, and baseball alma mater of Cub minor league INF Wes Darvill) on Fitch Park Field #1 while the other games were being played on the other two fields.

Here are the abridged box scores from the two Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games played at Fitch Park (Cubs players only)


1. Zeke DeVoss, DH #1: 0-2 (HBP, 3-U, K, BB, 2 R, 2 SB)
2. Logan Watkins, 2B: 0-3 (F-7, F-7, F-7, BB)
3a. Matt Szczur, CF: 2-3 (3B, 5-3, 3B, 2 R, RBI)
3b. Eliecer Bonne, CF: 0-1 (K)
4. Justin Bour, 1B: 2-4 (5-3, 6-3, 1B, 1B, 3 RBI)
5. Nelson Perez, RF: 0-4 (K, K, K, K)
6. Junior Lake, SS: 0-4 (K, 6-3, K, P-4)
7a. Rafael Lopez, C: 1-3 (HR, K, K, R, RBI)
7b. Chad Noble, C: 0-1 (6-3)
8. Matt Cerda, 3B: 3-3 (BB, 1B, 2B, 1B, R)
9. John Andreoli, LF: 1-2 (3B, K, BB, BB, RBI)
10. Taiwan Easterling, DH #2: 0-4 (L-6, F-9, K, 1-4-3 DP)

1. Kyler Burke: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 42 pitches (26 strikes), 2/4 GO/FO
2. Ty’Relle Harris: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 37 pitches (19 strikes), 3/1 GO/FO
3. Larry Suarez: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 PO, 35 pitches (16 strikes), 1/3 GO/FO
4. Frank Batista: 2.0, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 1 GIDP, 30 pitches (21 strikes), 3/0 GO/FO
5. Tony Zych: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 19 pitches (13 strikes), 0/1 GO/FO

1. 3B Matt Cerda - E5 (two base throwing-error allowed batter reach 2nd base)
2. 3B Matt Cerda - E5 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base)
3. 3B Matt Cerda - E5 (errant throw to 1st base on infield single allowed batter to reach 2nd base)

Rafael Lopez: 0-1 CS


1a. Leugem Barroso, SS: 0-2 (6-3, K)
1b. Nate Samson, SS: 1-2 (E-3, 1B, R)
2. Jonathon Mota, 2B: 2-4 (E-4, 1B, 1B, P-6, R, RBI, CS)
3a. Jae-Hoon Ha, CF: 0-2 (F-7, K, HBP, R, SB)
3b. Abner Abreu, CF: 1-1 (1B, RBI, SB)
4a. Josh Vitters, 3B: 1-3 (2B, K, P-4, R, RBI)
4b. Marquez Smith, 3B: 0-0 (BB)
5. Ty Wright, LF: 1-4 (1B, K, 6-3, 6-4-3 DP, 2 RBI)
6. Michael Burgess, RF: 1-4 (6-3, 1B, K, K)
7a. Jason Jaramillo, C: 0-2 (F-7, 4-3)
7b. Mario Mercedes, C: 0-2 (F-8, 6-3)
8. Jake Opitz, 1B: 1-4 (3-U, 1B, P-6, K, R, SB)
9. Greg Rohan, DH #1: 1-3 (1B, K, 5-3, PO)
10a. Micah Gibbs, DH #2: 0-2 (4-3, K)
10b. Rebel Ridling, PH: 1-1 (1B, R)

1. Brian Schlitter: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1 PO, 25 pitches (15 strikes)
2. Jeff Beliveau: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 1 BALK, 32 pitches (20 strikes), 1/1 GO/FO
3. Alberto Cabrera: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 35 pitches (24 strikes), 3/1 GO/FO
4. Casey Weathers: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 31 pitches (14 strikes)
5. Oswaldo Martinez: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 26 pitches (15 strikes), 2/2 GO/FO
6. James Pugliese: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 18 pitches (8 strikes), 1/0 GO/FO

1B Jake Opitz - E-3 (errant throw attempting to complete 3-1 putout allowed batter to reach base safely)

Mario Mercedes: 2-2 CS


WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 70’s


MLB to start it's own Dominican League for unsigned players...for some f'n weird unnecessary reason...

By the looks of it, 1 game per week. Amazingly realistic.

from the milton bradley school of learning lessons... "Matt Bush was arrested for DUI and fleeing the scene of a crime Thursday night in Florida." yes, that matt bush...who, btw, has turned into a hell of an interesting pitching "prospect" for TB after being really bad at hitting...except hitting highschool kids and the bottle. "Bush, who hit a 72-year-old motorcyclist with his SUV and then drove off, has also been charged with property damage and suffered what are being described as "serious injuries." " umm...ow. not good... ""Literally the tire on the SUV ran over the driver's head. Without the helmet, the gentleman would have been dead instantly," said witness Scott Sugden. " ...he's f'n screwed. g'bye career. no way something like this (especially with his history) gets you anything but cut by the team.

My immediate reaction when I see stuff like that is, "well, he was drunk. People do stupid things when they're drunk." Then I think, yeah, but I've been drunk on more than a few occasions and I don't act like a prick. Then I think, but he may have blacked out, and didn't know he ran over some old dude's head. Then I think, wait, I'm an old dude (not 70ish tho), and I'd be pissed if some drunk failed pro ball player ran over my head with his SUV, black out or no. Then I think, wait, if I was 72, I wouldn't be riding a fucking motorcycle.

matt bush is really good at doing stupid things while drunk a few weeks after he signed he was arrested for jumping a bouncer at a bar when the guy wouldn't let him in...matt bush was drunk and 18 years old at the time. he's got multiple DUI...including a famous one where he had to be hands/legs cuffed and dragged crying to a cop car live on TV. he's also got his incident where he beat up some highschool kids in a drunken rage, saying the epic line "I'm Matt F'n Bush!" and speeding out of the highschool game parking lot he was at. really fun guy.

I always did love the "I'm Matt F'n Bush!" line. Sort of the "I am Sparticus!" for the horridly rude, spoiled and selfish crowd.

anyone hear of plans for the Cubs to build underground clubhouses under the outfield? Feasibility study stage stuff.

that would be fascinating. would they have to play a year elsewhere if such a plan is approved?

For what it is worth, I have heard that the grandstand needs to be completely rebuilt, which means one way or another they will need to play somewhere else for a season.

They were talking about it last winter. Not only the possibility of underground clubhouse, but an underground parking facility (for the players and staff) and offices as well. This would allow them to develop the Triangle property without the players, etc parking on the street. At the time, they indicated that if they could get the approvals and financing by the end of a season, they could have the entire thing finished before the beginning of the next season. At the very least, they could have the underground structure completed and the field playable, while they finished the interior. The rebuilding of the Grandstand was also said to be possible to be built during one off season, although I would have to see it to believe it.

Here is the architect of the underground clubhouse discussing the plan

That was out there a while ago.

That clubhouse location under left field is good. Soriano can escape down a trap door and resurface two blocks away.

Rizzo and Cardenas optioned to AAA.

@CarrieMuskat: #Cubs make roster moves. Rizzo, B-Jackson, Cardenas, J-Jackson, Adduci sent down

Well, not like it wasn't expected. ROB G: Are we going to have a "Pick the Cubs Win Total" contest?

I certainly can set up something, just don't ever count on me to revisit it or grade them. If somebody else wants to volunteer in calculating the results, I'd be more willing to put the effort in setting it up.

I can calculate anything if it comes to me in spreadsheet form. Anything!

Plus the traditional hits, homeruns, wins, K's leaders, etc?

For AZ Phil, With DeWitt, Mather, R. Lopez, and (possibly) Miller being added to the Opening Day Roster, which 3 get bumped off the current 40 man?

Mateo looks like a 60-day DL candidate, DeLaCruz seems obvious if he doesn't make the team and then L. Castillo if he doesn't make the team.

Probably some trades being discussed I imagine, too.

Fri, 03/23/2012 - 1:51pm — George Altman For AZ Phil, With DeWitt, Mather, R. Lopez, and (possibly) Miller being added to the Opening Day Roster, which 3 get bumped off the current 40 man? =========================== GEORGE A: With Andy Sonnanstine having been outrighted to the minors yesterday, the Cubs have one slot open on their MLB 40-man roster. And i can't see Lendy Castillo, Marcos Mateo, and Frankie de la Cruz all making the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster. So, if more than one slot on the 40 is needed... 1. Rule 5 Draft pick Lendy Castillo is off the 40-man roster if he doesn't make the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster. Either he gets claimed off Outright Assignment Waivers and the claiming club assumes the Rule 5 obligations, or he is returned to the Phillies (in which case he MUST be outrighted to AAA Lehigh Valley), or he is not claimed off waivers and the Phillies decline to re-claim Castillo and then the Cubs outright him to the minors (probably to AA Tennessee), or he is not claimed off waivers and the Phils & Cubs work out a trade so that the Cubs can keep Castillo and then he is outrighted to the minors (again, probably to AA Tennessee). 2. Marcos Mateo is out of minor league options, so if he doesn't make the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster, he has to be either traded, released, or outrighted to the minors (if he isn't claimed off waivers). However, Mateo left Thursday's game with an apparent right forearm injury, and an injured player CANNOT be placed on waivers this time of the year. So if he is not healthy enough to pitch, he WILL start the season on the Cubs 15-day DL, or the 60-day DL if the Cubs need his slot on the 40-man roster. BTW, a player cannot be placed on the 60-day DL or transferred from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL unless his club's 40-man roster is full and another player takes his slot on the 40. Also, Monday (3/26) is the first day a player can be placed on the 15-day DL, and a 15-day DL assignment cannot be backdated any further back than that date (nine days prior to MLB Opening Day). Also, while a player cannot be placed on the 15-day DL any earlier than nine days prior to MLB Opening Day, a player can be placed on the 60-day DL anytime during Spring Training (which would be no earlier than 45 days prior to MLB Opening Day), but again, another player would have to take his spot on the 40. 3. Like Marcos Mateo, RHP Frankie de la Cruz (claimed off waivers last week) is out of minor league options, so if he doesn't make the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster, he has to be either traded, released, or outrighted to the minors (if he isn't claimed off waivers). It looks like he will be getting essentially a two-week trial in Cactus League games, so if he doesn't win a spot on the Opening Day 25-man roster (and I would say he is a long-shot), he'll get outrighted to AAA Iowa (if he isn't claimed off waivers). One thing about de la Cruz's roster situation that is different from Mateo's is that de la Cruz has been outrighted previously in his career, so he has the right to be an Article XX-D minor league free-agent if he is outrighted to the minors. (He can either be a free-agent immediately and receive no termination pay, or he can defer free-ageny until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season--unless he is added back to an MLB 40-man roster prior to the conclusion of the MLB regular season). ONE OTHER THING TO KEEP IN MIND: A player who is optioned to the minors during Spring Training must remain on Optional Assignment for the first 10 days of the MLB regular season, unless he is recalled to replace a player who is placed on a Disabled List, Bereavement List, Paternity Leave List, Restricted List, et al. So (for instance), if the Cubs were to trade Blake DeWitt sometime before Opening Day and then they want to recall Adrian Cardenas to take DeWitt's place, the Cubs would have to wait to recall Cardenas until the 11th day of the MLB regular season (April 14th), UNLESS Cardenas is recalled at the same time another player is placed on the DL or other inactive list.

tony rizzo, come on down...hope all the good baseball days in these parts weren't used up in jan, feb & march...

see above that nellie perez had himself a helluva day...if he'd been bowling it woulda been a perfect game!

named Opening Day Loser, uh Starter, I mean Starter.

I believe that's 43 at camp now, but I lost track of who's left. We still have bullpen decisions, possibly rotation decision, 5th OF and 5th INF decision and backup C. (Most Likely) C: Soto, Clevenger INF: LaHair, Barney, Castro, Stewart, Baker, DeWitt OF: Soriano, Byrd, DeJesus, Johnson, Mather SP: Dempster, Garza, Maholm, Volstad, Samardzija RP: Marmol, Wood, Russell, Dolis, R. Wells, T. Miller, R. Lopez

The "Near-disasterous" Strassberg-"Near-perfect" Maddux comparison article is fascinating. Except that the Maddux diagrams show some guy wearing a Braves uniform, for some reason...

Thanks for the link. Interesting info.

Yes, an interesting look at the application of biomechanics to pitching. I think such an approach will only work if it's done top to bottom. The major league coaches are correct that you can't mess with a pitcher's delivery during the season. If it started in rookie league and was used consistently throughout the organization, I think it has some real promise to improve performance and prevent injuries.

If only there was a team that was trying to determine the best way to do things across all levels of the organization. Maybe it there was some sort of manual they were working on. :)

Hey gang! Hope everyone is doing well and getting excited for another 75 win season. I think we will start seeing the fruits of Theo's labor in 2014. I should TM the phrase "There is always two years from now". But I think Theo is doing OK as he is starting to clean house. I can't believe we had to pay so much to to get rid of Z though. He just needs to keep focus on building a team and players to be ready for 2014. That being said, I did re-up my Chicago Cubs season tickets. I did not sell them this year, so I have tickets for basically every game. I have two seats to every game and they are located in Section 233, Row 10, Seats 101-102 (Aisle Seats). They are considered Terrace Reserved Infield. As you know the Cubs have a tiered pricing system, so price will vary based on the game, but let me know if you are interested in any games and we can work something out. Contact me at and just let me know your handle here and which game you are interested in. Fire Hendry! (oh wait they already did) GO CUBS!

greetings, stranger. not sure "fire soriano" will catch fire, so to speak...since he still gets to cash the checks.

In Dusty We Trusty!!!! like deja vu all over again glad your still lurking.

Its funny he only comes on to sell tickets. FIRE Sandusky! Oh wait...

E-Man, FREE Sandusky!! HA HA Hey, I got almost $6,000 invested in the Cubs this year and they are going to suck. Hell yeah I am coming on here to unload some of these tickets. If it wasn't for Theo coming on board I wasn't even going to renew. Fire Soriano!

Why do you even invest the $$ now when.the team sucks, and you live a couple thousand miles away? You'd come out WAY ahead even when.the Cubs make the Series if you buy in Stub Hub to see the games.

giving them up means you go to the back of the line to get them again...the line is pretty long even with recent purging of long-time ticket holders.

Vying for the Chad Fox award: Joakim Soria, Royals closer out for year with Tommy John surgery (his 2nd TJ procedure) Joba Chamberlain out for year after surgery for an open ankle dislocation sustained while on a trampoline with his son.

Anyone know if the Yankees still have to pay Joba since he will be missing time for a completely non-baseball related injury?

Don't know for sure, but I'm guessing "trampoline at kid's birthday party" isn't forbidden in his contract like other potentially dangerous situations.

Should be. In the insurance biz they substitute "widow maker" for trampoline. True story.

I stand corrected, read something that said using a trampoline is banned.

he didn't bounce, so the check will.

DeJesus, Stewart, Castro, LaHair, Soto, Byrd, Johnson, Barney, Samardzija vs Rockies Chatwood

Dale Sveum's high school yearbook photo: Dumb & Dumber meets Wooderson

Lock on the Rotation? Samardzija wearing poopy pants today 5 runs 7 hits, 2 IP

Yeah - how about THAT?!

On the positive side, he still hasn't walked anyone this spring.

"FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP)—Authorities say Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Bobby Jenks has been arrested on charges of driving under the influence. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office says a deputy saw Jenks’ SUV driving erratically early Friday in Fort Myers. Jenks has been released on bail. An arrest report says Jenks told the deputy he had taken “too many muscle relaxers.” The deputy said Jenks was shaking uncontrollably and had a difficult time speaking. The report says Jenks also told the deputy he hit another car at a strip club."

"Ryan Madson (elbow) was sent back to Cincinnati to be evaluated by Dr. Tim Kremchek." looks like s.marshall will begin his closing career a year early.

Before opening day or after?

Probably there any value we can get for him? I doubt any GM is fooled by a hot spring for someone not good enough to be a Cubs starter and who is not shown any standout traits.

What about Jeff Baker? If they put DeWitt & Joe Mather on the 25 man roster, is Baker needed?

Fri, 03/23/2012 - 7:18pm — QuietMan What about Jeff Baker? If they put DeWitt & Joe Mather on the 25 man roster, is Baker needed? ============================= Q-MAN: I would say Jeff Baker is a definite candidate to get traded prior to Opening Day. He's making $1.375M in 2012, he's a free-agent after the season, the Cubs probably won't try and re-sign him, and (under the new CBA) they won't be getting any compensation for him. And a minimum-salary guy (Joe Mather) is ready & able to replace him.

The next great super star from our minors Bryan LaHair has not looked good this spring. I don't know maybe putting an ill-equipped career minor league in the clean up spot, is a really bad idea. But if he isn't hitting now against B and C teams he wont be hitting against the A squads when the season starts. Thank god we have Rizzo, and we know this season is toast. But i do like the idea of at least seeing if he can make it or not. It's a new departure for how the Cubs use their prospects of jerking them back and forth with sporadic playing time and never really finding out if they are good or not. One way or another this will either be the start of something good for LaHair or we can finally move on. At least we will know for sure which is more than we can say from previous years.

Agreed. I mean with ths collection of 2012 players, does it really matter if they give LaHair a chance?

he's no wes timmons.

Cards Chris Carpenter out for over 2 months at best (June?) per Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch
Mozeliak declined to offer any timetable. However, need to strengthen shoulder and begin program anew likely means Carp' 2+ months away.

Love these preseason reports from AZ. Can't get this good info anywhere else.

As you say, it gives us information that we can not get elsewhere. We appreciate it, Phil.

Could that mystery righty Latin slugger a few weeks ago have been Abner Abreu? He's a big one. AZ Phil wouldn't have seen him around Mesa last spring. Whether Abreu was there in the fall, I don't know.

Per Muskat Tweet:
Mateo will be shutdown for at least 10 days, then re-examined. Had MRI on right elbow. Says soreness is same as last year!/CarrieMuskat/status/183... rotoworld says Manny Corpas will take Mateo's place "in the bullpen", but I'm not sure if that's a game-by-game reference or a roster spot consideration.

per mlbtr...Dr. Kremchek says Madson's UCL is torn off the bone. (Sean Marshall just got upgraded)
Ryan Madson Out For Season By Zach Links [March 24 at 1:15pm CST] The elbow injury to Reds closer Ryan Madson will require Tommy John surgery, ending the right-hander's season, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter). The Reds do not have insurance on Madson's one-year, $8.5MM contract, Fay tweets. Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall are both candidates to close now, tweets Jon Heyman of

also Jayson Stark of ESPN says Giants "aggressively" shopping both Theriot AND Fontenot. so much for cajun food in SF.

Much like I'm aggressively shopping the crap in my garage.

DeJesus, Byrd, DeWitt, Soriano, Baker, Barney, Mather, Castillo, TWood vs Padres starting Bass game on WGN TV and Radio

3.2ip 5h 3er 0bb 1k for t.wood (boxscore line keeps changing)...all good until the 4th ...also, t.miller gave up a chunk of those runs for t.wood giving up a long double + byrd "error." dejesus needs to pay more attention in the OF. he's probably not used to it in OAK, but he just had a ball bounce off his chest on a flip from byrd for dejesus to make the relay throw back to the IF...byrd was on the run near the wall and dejesus looked like a little leaguer as the whole thing went down in front of him in plain view. it's not a hugely common play, but unless you're soriano or a.dunn you should be aware of it happening in a situation like that. byrd didn't look pleased. dejesus didn't look happy with himself. now's the time to get crap like that noticed and corrected going forward, at least.