Jacob Turner

Turner Uses Hidden Ball Trick to His Advantage

Eloy Jimenez drilled an RBI double and an RBI single, Erick Castillo collected four singles, scored a run, and drove-in another, and RHP Jacob Turner hurled three innings of one-hit shutout ball for the Cubs, and Fernando Pujadas ripped two doubles and knocked-in two runs for the Giants, as the two teams played to a 4-4 tie in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Indian School Park Field #2 in Scottsdale, AZ.     

Jacob Turner got the start for the Cubs and was masterful, working three shutout innings (37 pitches - 29 strikes) and easily retiring the first eight men he faced (3-U, 4-3, 6-3, K, F-8, F-8, K, 3-1) on just 32 pitches, before surrendering a two-out bouncing double down the LF line (just out of the reach of a diving Adonis Paula) in the bottom of the 3rd inning. He then got the final out on a 3-1 GO to complete his outing.

Turner is on the Cubs MLB 60-day DL (retro to 3/27) with a right elbow flexor strain, and today was his first game action since being shut-down on March 10th during MLB Spring Training.  

As is the practice when a major league pitcher throws in a minor league game, Turner was allowed to use the official "Major League": baseball (which has a different feel than the official "Minor League" ball), and his club (in this case the Cubs) is responsible for supplying the Major League balls to the home plate umpire each half-inning. Then when the big leaguer finishes his inning, the Major League baseballs are sent back to the bench, and the Minor League balls are returned to the home plate umpire.

The Minor League ball that was in play when the last out of the top of the 2nd was recorded was inadvertently left on top of the mound after the conclusion of the half-inning, and when Turner got out to the mound and saw it, he picked it up, looked at it for second, and then disdainfully tossed it out of play (usually the umpires job) while a Major League baseball suddenly appeared in his glove at the exact same time (a variation on what I believe magicians call the "vanishing elephant illusion"). It was absolutely amazing (or I was in a drooling stupor, not sure which). Then Turner made the Giants disappear.

Chris Denorfia (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL - hamstring strain) continued his rehab in the game, playing LF for five innings and batting four times. He grounded out sharply 5-3 on a 1-2 pitch in the top of the 1st, hammered an opposite-field double off the RF fence on the first pitch he saw his second time up, roped a line-drive single over the second-baseman's head into right-field on a 2-1 pitch in his 3rd AB, and struck out (swinging) on a 1-2 pitch in his final Plate Appearance of the day.

Denorfia has five hits (three singles and two doubles), two walks, and four strikeouts in four games (16 PA) this week, and appears to be pretty close to completing the Extended Spring Training portion of his rehab. I suppose he could go directly back to Chicago, but I suspect he will probably spend at least a day or two at AA Tennessee or AAA Iowa to face more-advanced pitching before he is reinstated from the DL.

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

Cease Fires 99, but Not Enough Gas to Stop Giants from Pummeling Cubs

Nicol Parra reached base four times (a two-run HR, two singles, and a walk), Chase Compton belted a triple and two doubles, drove-in a run, and scored another, Byron Murray slugged a three-run home run and a triple, Richard Amion Jr drilled an RBI triple, singled, walked, and scored a run, Fernando Pujadas smashed a two-run triple, and LHSP Nik Turley hurled six innings of shutout ball, as the Giants swept a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split squad doubleheader from the Cubs this morning at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.

The Giants shutout the Cubs 6-0 in the game played on Field #6, and drubbed the Cubs 10-4 in the game played on Field #5. 

Roberto Caro singled twice, tripled, and drove-in two runs for the Cubs.

RHP Dylan Cease (2014 TJS) got the start for the Cubs on Field #6, and worked a third of an inning, walking the bases loaded around a strikeout. Cease's fastball was riding high (topping out at 99 MPH), but he had difficulty commanding it (22 pitches - only ten strikes). Otherwise, he was unhittable.

Cease was the Cubs 6th round draft pick out of Milton HS - Milton, Ga in 2014, and the Cubs selected him despite knowing that he would need a UCL elbow ligament transplant ("Tommy John surgery"). Considered one of the top high school arms in the 2014 draft class and a likely 1st round pick prior to his elbow issues, he received a $1.5M signing bonus (equivalent to "first round money") and then had the TJS last July 22nd. He has made a rapid recovery, and barring a setback, he will likely be a rotation starter for the AZL Cubs when the Arizona League season begins play next month.

In his first EXST Cactus League start start last Tuesday (16 pitches, two outs recorded, one HBP), Cease's fastball was topping out at 97 MPH, so his velocity has increased a bit over the past week. 

Prior to the Cactus League games, RHPs Jacob Turner (on Cubs MLB 60-day DL with a right flexor strain), Erling Moreno (2014 TJS), and Trey Masek (2014 shoulder surgery) threw in a three-ining "sim" game on Field #3. Turner threw one inning (15 pitches), and Moreno and Masek threw two innings a piece (30 pitches each).

OF Chris Denorfia (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL with a hamstring strain) was one of the hitters in the "sim" game. 

In EXST Cubs roster news, LHRP Daniel Schlereth and RHSP Felipe Paulino have been moved-up to AAA Iowa.

The 6'3 260+ 31-year old Paulino was orginally signed by the Houston Astros as an International free-agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2001, and he 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.

Paulino was signed to a minor league contract by the Cubs on May 3rd, after being released by the Boston Red Sox at the end of Spring Training. His fastball velocity has ranged from 94-96 MPH in his two Cactus League Extended Spring Training outings and one EXST intrasquad game.  

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).

Schlereth was signed to a minor league contract by the Cubs on April 26th, after he was released by the Detroit Tigers,

FELIPE PAULINO - CACTUS LEAGUE EXTENDED SPRING TRAINING GAMES
1. 5/6: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GO/FO, 22 pitches (12 strikes)  
2. 5/9: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 1/1 GO/FO, 29 pitches (20 strikes)
TOTAL: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 1/2 GO/FO, 64% strikes,  0.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, .182 OppBA

Paulino also pitched in one EXST intrasquad game:
5/14: 3.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 2/0 GO/FO, 64 pitches (43 strikes) 
 
DANIEL SCHLERETH - CACTUS LEAGUE EXTENDED SPRING TRAINING GAMES
1. 5/6: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GO/FO, 15 pitches (7 strikes)
2. 5/9 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 2 K, 2 WP, 0/1 GO/FO, 26 pitches (11 strikes)
3. 5/12: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GO/FO, 11 pitches (8 strikes)_
4. 5/15: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GO/FO, 22 pitvhes (15 strikes)
TOTAL: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 4 K, 2 WP, 4/3 GO/FO, 55% strikes, 6.25 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, .313 OppBA

Here are the box scores from the two Cactus League EXST games (Cubs players only):

And Let the Injury News Begin...

The annual rites of spring injuries has begun with Yu Darvish and Cliff Lee's barking elbows the first major casualties. Then news echoed throughout twitter this morning hat Blue Jays up 'n comer Marcus Stroman would most likely miss the entire season after tearing his ACL doing fielding drills. Once again, bunting proves costly. And now Jacob Turner is making the Cubs 5th starter decision a bit easier: