Carlos Zambrano got into his first game action since his infamous dugout meltdown at U. S. Cellular Field on June 25th, throwing a perfect 1-2-3 second inning (12 pitches - 10 strikes) at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa tonight.
The AZL Cubs lost the game 2-1, as the AZL Royals scored two runs in the top of the 6th off RHP Luis Liria (4 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 6/4 GO/FO, 58 pitches - 37 strikes) to overcome a 1-0 deficit.
Iowa Cubs RHP Jeff Gray (groin strain) got the start for the AZL Cubs, throwing one inning (12 pitches - 9 strikes) in what was his second rehab outing in three days (he threw an inning for the AZL Cubs this past Saturday night also). Gray struck out Cameron Connor (swinging) to lead-off the game, before surrendering a one-out single to Daniel Mateo. Gray then got out of the inning when Michael Antonio grounded into a room-service 6-4-3 DP. Gray has been on the I-Cubs DL since May 31st, and looks to be about ready to return to Des Moines.
There wasn't much Cubs offense tonight, as Royals pitchers limited the Cubs to just one run on four hits, retiring 10 of the last 11 Cub hitters. The Cubs scored their lone run in the bottom of the 4th when Albert Hernandez and Ryan Cuneo singled, advanced a base a piece on a well-executed double-steal, before Hernandez scored on a WP.
Here is Zambrano's inning, pitch-by-pitch:
The first in-season roster move was annouced as Esmailin Caridad will go to the disabled list for sucking, a forearm strain with Jeff Gray getting called up. I updated the bullpen chart on the right with the green indicating Gray's appearances in the minors. Derrek Lee takes the day off with the sore right thumb, conveniently on day when Dave Bush is pitching, whom Lee is 5/31 against in his career against with a .413 OPS.
Lineups after the jump...
In my quest to fill out some pages at Wiklifield, I thought I'd take a deeper look at some lesser known guys in the organization that could make an impact.
The center piece as far as the Cubs were concerned when they moved Aaron Miles and Jake Fox to the A's in December(the Cubs also received Ronny Morla and Matt Spencer). The 28-year old right-hander was drafted in 2004 by the Oakland A's in the 32nd round and saw a brief 4-inning cup of coffee in 2008 despite struggling in the minors with a 4.32 ERA. After the season, he reworked some issues with his mechanics in the AFL and enjoyed a more successful 2009 with a 1.54 ERA in Triple A over 41 innings with 16 saves and then a solid 3.76 ERA over 26.1 IP with the A's after being called up on four occasions. His strikeout rate dropped significantly in 2009, although he still maintained a fantastic K:BB ratio(4.75 in the majors, 3.76 in the minors) and keeps the ball in the park with a remarkable 0.36 HR/9 rate over his minor league career.
He claims to throw five pitches - a four-seamer, sinker, slider, changeup and curveball - but says his sinker and slider are his bread-and-butter pitches.
He'll compete for one or two bullpen spots that will be open to competition this spring. Jim Hendry compared him to Angel Guzman when the Cubs acquired him in December. I assume that was a comparision to their pitching style and not injury histories as Gray seems to have stayed healthy so far through his career. If he doesn't make the club out of spring training, he does have one minor league option left.
After the jump, the bulk of his Wiklified entry.
a lot of ground to cover here, let's get to it...
UPDATE: Muskat previews the Winter Meetings and says up to three teams are interested in Bradley. Talks have happened with the Tigers for Granderson but not looking good at the moment. Reed Johnson is welcome back and Mark DeRosa is out of the Cubs price range.
- Mlive.com has a pretty detailed report on the negotiations between the Cubs and Tigers so far for Curtis Granderson. The Tigers wanted Carlos Marmol or Starlin Castro as the headliner in a trade and they've been deemed untouchable (that always works out well for the Cubs). They did do some previous scouting on Jake Fox last season and he could of been of interest as part of the package, but they'll have to get him from the A's now. Names like Josh Vitters, Jay Jackson, Andrew Cashner and Hak-Ju Lee are thrown around, but they don't quite bring the right mixture of major league readiness and prospectdom that the Tigers are craving.
- A very sketchy rumor of the Cubs having interest in Vicente Padilla.
- Chone Figgins to the Mariners for 4/36 according to Rosenthal. A bit pricey, but such is the cost of dabbling in free agency.