It wasn't a Cactus League Extended Spring Training game, but the Cubs did play an intrasquad game this morning on Field #6 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.
Some of you may notice that when there is an EXST intrasquad game or a Cactus League EXST split squad doubleheader, that (with the exception of the pitchers and catchers, who move back & forth between the squads) one squad (Squad "A") is essentially the proto-Euguene Emeralds, and the other one (Squad "B") is essentially the proto-AZL Cubs. The squad rosters change slightly every now & then, but what you see now is probably pretty close to what will likely be the case next month when the two teams are officially separated.
Three position players assigned to Squad "B" -- 3B-1B Wladimir Galindo (left wrist injury), IF-OF Carlos Jimenez (left elbow injury from HBP yesterday), and 1B-C Miguel Rico (left knee injury) -- are out indefinitely, so the AZL Cubs may have to "run short" for a while at the start of the AZL season. (Rico is being converted to catcher, but also plays 1st base).
RHP Barret Loux (on Iowa Cubs 7-day DL with a right triceps strain) made his first game appearance in a month, getting the start for Squad "B" in the intrasquad game. While he did throw 3.2 IP (44 pitches) and allowed no runs, he also surrendered five hits (and a walk), struck out only one, and his fastball velocity topped out at 86 MPH.
The 26-year old Loux was the 1st round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010, but then was declared a free-agent by MLB after the D'backs reduced their original bonus offer after a post-draft physical showed a pre-existing shoulder problem. (The Loux Case was one of the factors that led to draft slotting in the 2012 CBA).
So Loux signed with the Texas Rangers in November 2010 after being declared a free-agent, and then was traded to the Cubs as the PTBNL in the Geovany Soto deal post-2012. He made it through the 2011-13 seasons OK, but then he had shoulder surgery post-2013 and TJS at the start of last season, so he has been through the sports medicine wars over the past couple of years. He made a fairly rapid recovery from the 2014 TJS, however, and actually was a member of the Iowa Cubs starting rotation at the begining of the 2015 season, before being shut-down last month.
18-year old RHP Austyn Willis (Cubs 2014 18th round draft pick - Barstow HS - Barstow, CA) started the intraquad game for Squad "A", and had a lot of difficulty throwing strikes in his three innings of work (61 pitches - only 28 strikes). For a guy who is 6'6, Willis does not throw especially hard (his fastball tops out at 89 MPH), but he usually is able to spot his fastball effectively and throw all of his pitches (including his curve and change-up) for strikes, with the stamina to throw multiple innings. At 6'6 205, Willis has the size & frame scouts call "projectable," because it is presumed that he will add velocity as he matures and fills-out. Along with Carson Sands, Justin Steele, Jose Paulino, and Oscar de la Cruz, Willis is being primed to be one of the rotation starters at Eugene when the Northwest League season commences next month.
6'7 RHRP Scott Frazier (Cubs 2013 6th round draft pick - Pepperdine) threw an inning in the game (12 pitches - 7 strikes) and retired the side uneventfully (4-3, BB, 4-6 FC, K), although the Squad "A" lineup was adjusted so that he only had to face left-handed hitters (something the Cubs can't do in a Cactus League EXST game). His fastball velocity usually sits at 95-97 MPH and has touched 98-99 previously this Spring, but he apparently has dialed it down a bit, because he threw only 96 (max) today, working mostly at 94-95.
Boise State's Joey Martarano saw his first game action of 2015, serving as a DH for Squad "B." He was hitless in four plate appearances, but he did reach base on an HBP and scored a run his first time up. He ran through a "stop sign" as he rounded third and headed home, but when you've got a 6'4 235 D-1 college linebacker coming through, you just have to get out of the way and let him roll. I half-expected him to tackle the catcher at home plate, but he did not. Martarano projects to be the first-baseman and sometimes DH for the AZL Cubs once the AZL season starts next month.
Here is the abridged box score from today's intrasquad game:
Bryant Flete singled, doubled, walked twice, stole a base, and scored a run, Ricardo Marcano singled, tripled, and scored two runs, Adonis Paula ripped an RBI double and a single and drove-in another run with an RBI GO, and Ho-Young Son singled, doubled, stole a base, and scored a run, in Cubs Extended Spring Training Intrasquad game action this morning on Field #5 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.
The game was called after 7-1/2 innings with the scored tied 3-3.
Myrtle Beach RHSP Tyler Skulina and Iowa RHSP Barret Loux were the two starting pitchers in the game. Both were left behind in Mesa because they will not get their first scheduled start for another five or six days, and they needed to elevate their pitch counts to 80+ before their first start.
Loux was hit hard, allowing eight hits (five singles, two doubles, and a triple) in his 5.1 IP of work. Acquired from the Texas Rangers as a PTBNL in the 2012 Geovany Soto trade, Loux is attempting to come back after undergoing shoulder surgery post-2013 and UCL elbow ligament transplant surgery (TJS) last season.
On the other hand, Skulina was really dealing, allowing just one run on three hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in five innings.
Prior to the Intrasquad game, Frank Batista and Dylan Cease squared-off in a two-inning "sim" game on Field #4.
Here is the box score from the intrasquad game, followed by the current Cubs Extended Spring Training Roster.
Matt Loosen retired the first ten men he faced and combined with three relievers to throw a four hitter and Jae-Hoon Ha reached base five times on two walks and three singles (including the game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the 9th), as the Tennessee Smokies edged the Midland RockHounds (Oakland Athletics AA affiliate) 4-3 on Field #2, and Barret Loux threw five shutout innings and Scott Hairston singled twice, walked, and smacked a solo HR, helping the Iowa Cubs defeat the Sacramento River Cats (A's AAA affiliate) 3-1 on Field #3, in Cactus League Minor League Camp action this afternoon at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.
Paul Konerko drilled two solo home runs, and Adam Dunn slugged a two-run home run off the White Sox team bus parked next to the Budweiser Party Pavillion beyond the RF fence, as the White Sox defeated the Cubs 8-3 this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park, in what is the Cactus League version of the Crosstown Classic.