Javier Baez belted a three-run home run and Yasiel Balaguert stroked an RBI triple and scored on a Jair Bogaerts RBI single, as the Cubs plated five runs in the bottom of the 4th en route to a 5-1 victory over the Angels in Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa, AZ.
The Baez HR was not without controversy.
Baez stood at home plate for a couple of seconds after absolutely walloping the gopher ball 400+ feet and off the roof of a house on the north side of 8th Street (Baez did the exact same thing on Tuesday when he launched a three-run homer over the LF fence at Indian School Park in Scottsdale), at which point one of the Angel coaches yelled, “Run the bases!”
Baez initially took the “advice” and he did run the bases (albeit a bit of a “Cadillac” trot that probably further irritated the opposition), but upon reaching home plate Baez stopped and yelled back at the Angel bench, “I can do whatever the fuck I want!”
Trey Martin and Gioskar Amaya (who were on base in front of Baez) and on-deck hitter Rock Shoulders pulled Baez back to the Cubs bench, avoiding a potential bench-clearing brawl on the field. (BTW, having a big dude like Rock Shoulders on the field might be the best deterrent to violence since Mutually Assured Destruction).
It was one of the only times I can remember something like this happening in an Extended Spring Training game. Sometimes players get upset, but this was more like what you see in the big leagues. I kind of expected Baez to get pulled out of the game and sent to the clubhouse to cool off, but he stayed in the game, and in fact he played all nine innings at shortstop.
LHP Sheldon McDonald had an outstanding outing, throwing three hitless-shutout innings (40 pitches), with six strikeouts. He now has 11 strikeouts in five innings of work over the last four days, and would seem to be on the top of the EXST Cubs list for promotion to Peoria or Daytona.
McDonald is no hotshot young prospect, however. He was a 22-year old “5th year senior” when drafted by the Cubs in the 33rd round of the 2011 draft out of the University of British Columbia (by way of Northeastern University). McDonald has considerable experience in international play, pitching for the Canadian Junior National Team as a teenager, and then for Team Canada while in college..
Now 23-years old, McDonald appears to be much too advanced to remain at Extended Spring Training. I would think he could possibly be a very useful lefty reliever for one of the Cubs full-season minor league affiliates.
20-year old switch-hitting Dominican OF Kevin Encarnacion made his U. S. debut today, coming into the game as a late-inning replacement in CF. He bounced-out to the pitcher in his only AB.
Encarnacion played in the Dominican Summer League (DSL) the past two seasons (2010-11), hitting 268/382/368 with 13 doubles, 12 triples, 71/67 BB/K, and 43 SB (21 CS), in 129 DSL games.
Mark Malave has also arrived and made his 2012 debut in today’s game, entering the contest as a late-inning replacement at 3B. Although he was signed as a catcher, the 17-year old switch-hitting Malave has been working-out exclusively at 3rd base since arriving at Fitch Park earlier this week.
This is not Malave’s first time in Arizona. The youngster attended the AZ Instructional League as a 16-year old last fall, hitting 143/250/143 for the Cubs in 10 AIL games, while playing both catcher and 3rd base. And he did show more promise (defensively) at 3rd base than at catcher at that time.
Malave received a reported $1.6M bonus (equivalent to “1st round money”) when he was signed by the Cubs at the start of the International Signing Period last July 2nd.
Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):
1a. Trey Martin, CF: 0-2 (6-3, BB, 6-3, R)
1b. Kevin Encarnacion, CF: 0-1 (1-3)
2a. Gioskar Amaya, 3B: 2-3 (1B, 1B, F-9, R)
2b. Mark Malave, 3B: DID NOT BAT
3. Javier Baez, SS: 1-3 (P-5, HR, 5-3, R, 3 RBI)
4. Rock Shoulders, 1B: 2-3 (K, 1B, 2B, R)
5a. Yasiel Balaguert, RF: 1-3 (K, 3B, 5-3-5 DP, R, RBI)
5b. Delbis Arcila, RF: DID NOT BAT
6. Trevor Gretzky, DH #1: 1-3 (1B, K, 5-3)
7. Jair Bogaerts, DH #2: 1-3 (6-4-3 DP, 1B, F-8, RBI)
8. Brian Inoa, 2B: 1-2 (F-7, BB, 1B)
9a. Neftali Rosario, C: 0-2 (K, P-6)
9b. Yaniel Cabezas, C: 0-1 (F-8)
10. Dong-Yub Kim, LF-DH: 0-3 (4-3, 6-4 FC, 6-3)
11a. SLOT WAS SKIPPED FIRST TIME THRU BATTING ORDER
11b. Wilfredo Petit, DH #3: 1-1 (1B, PO)
11c. Jeffrey Baez, LF: 0-1 (L-5)
1. James Pugliese: 2.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 GIDP, 2 PO, 38 pitches (23 strikes), 4/1 GO/FO
2. Ramon Garcia: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 40 pitches (27 strikes), 2/4 GO/FO
3. Sheldon McDonald: 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 1 HBP, 40 pitches (29 strikes), 2/1 GO/FO
4. Felix Pena: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 13 pitches (10 strikes)
CUBS ERRORS: 1
SS Javier Baez - E-6 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely)
CUBS OUTFIELD ASSISTS:
CF Trey Martin threw out runner 8-2 trying to score from 2nd base on line-drive single to CF
WEATHER: Sunny & a bit breezy with temperatures in the 70’s