Lieber and Eyre Rehabbin' at Fitch
Jon Lieber and Scott Eyre threw in rehab outings with the AZL Cubs at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning, as Larry Rothschild, Lester Strode, and Carlos Zambrano (who was visiting buddy Angel Guzman) watched from the bench, and a gaggle of Cubs brass watched from the observation tower.
And the AZL Cubs took advantage of having a couple of big leaguers throw shutout ball for the first four innings of the game, as they whitewashed the AZL Mariners 7-0.
Lieber got the start and threw three innings, and it was typical Lieber (33 pitches - 24 strikes, no runs on four hits, no walks, one strikeout, one GIDP, 5/2 GO/FO).
Then Eyre threw one inning (14 pitches - 8 strikes, no runs, no hits, one walk, no strikeouts, and one GIDP), although he did throw an additional 10 or 15 pitches in the bullpen after his one inning of work, possibly to tinker with his slider (otherwise he just could have thrown a second inning).
Neither Lieber (on the DL with a sore foot) nor Eyre (on the DL with a strained groin) showed any outward physical indication of injury, and both appear about ready to return to full-activity and game action.
Lieber looked like Lieber ("pitching to contact" on every hitter), but Eyre was a bit spotty with his control and had trouble commanding his slider, although he did throw with decent velocity. I would think Eyre would benefit from one or two outings at AAA, perhaps with the Iowa Cubs while they are in Tucson (they'll be there starting tonight through Friday night).
There was no sign of Alfonso Soriano at Fitch Park today, meaning he'll either go on a one or two game rehab with the Iowa Cubs in Tucson starting tonight, or I guess it's possible that he could be reactivated for tonight's Cubs-Diamondbacks game at Chase Field (or probably more-likely tomorrow night's game, when lefty Doug Davis gets the start for the D'backs)..
Soriano put on quite a power display in pre-game BP before last night's Cubs-D'backs at Chase Field, attacking the ball with relish, hitting line-drive ropes and towering long flies all over the yard. But his timing looked to be slightly off when he was the DH for the AZL Cubs at Peoria yesterday morning, so he might benefit from a few more minor league ABs at AAA game-speed before he faces an MLB pitcher throwing in anger.
Today's game marked the professional debut of the Cubs 2008 21st round draft pick, 17-year old SS Logan Watkins (Goddard HS - Goddard, KS), and their 37th round pick, 21-year old RHP Erik Hamren.
The left-handed hitting Watkins PH in the bottom of the 8th inning, and proceeded to slam a single into RF. The kid was a star baseball and football player in HS, and and had already accepted a full-ride scholarship to Wichita State when the Cubs drafted him last month. But he somewhat unexpectedly gave up his chance to attend WSU when the Cubs threw "3rd round money" at him (a reported $500K plus another $100K in college tuition).
As for Hamren, he had transferred to Saddleback CC for his sophormore year, after attending the University of the Pacific as a freshman. He was going to enroll at UC - Irvine for his junior year (2008-09 school year), before deciding to sign with the Cubs.
Hamren hasn't pitched much over the last couple of years, so the Cubs did not make an offer until they had a chance to follow his progress with Mankato in the Northwoods League (a summer "wood bat" college league), where he was the MoonDogs closer. I guess the Cubs liked what they saw. And he looked pretty good today at Fitch Park, too, throwing a shutout inning (with one hit allowed and one K) in his pro debut.
The Cubs have now signed 32 of their first 38 picks from this year's Rule 4 Draft, including 26 of their first 27. The "Big Fish" unsigned pick still out there is 10th rounder RHP Alex Wilson (Texas A&M). Wilson had Tommy Johnn surgery after injuring his elbow while pitching in the Cape Cod League (the premiere "wood bat" collegiate summer league) in the Summer of 2007, and he missed the entire 2008 college baseball season. But he is currently back pitching with Falmouth (the same place he was last year when he got hurt), and it's possible that the Cubs will offer him 1st or 2nd round money (that's what it will probably take to sign him) if they feel he's back 100% from the TJS.
Although the Cubs drafted him out of Texas A&M, Wilson last pitched at Winthrop, where he was (pre-TJS) a very highly-regarded prospect, projected as a possible 1st or 2nd round pick.
What the Cubs did with Erik Hamren and are now presently doing with Alex Wilson (and a few other draft picks from the lower rounds) is the new version of "Drafdt & Follow." It used to be that clubs could draft a player in June (especially JC players, or HS players who were going to go to a JC) , and then be able to sign him all the way up until a week before the next year's draft. Such players signed just before the deadline the following year were known as "DNFs" (or Draft & Follows"). Now the "DNF" period lasts only two months, until the new August 15th signing deadline. So following unsigned draft picks while they play in summer collegiate leagues or with post-HS traveling all-star teams has become very important.
BTW, Carlos Zambrano drove one of the Fitch Park golf carts around the place like it was a go-cart. It's lucky he didn't kill somebody (like maybe himself).
And RHP Dae-Eun Rhee has arrived at Fitch Park to begin his long rehab from Tommy John Surgery. So far he's wearing one of those custom TJS splints on his elbow, and a khaki-colored "We're Broke" t-shirt (with the picture of a bear with it's leg in a sling on the back) that the rehab guys receive when they arrive. (I'd like to get me one of those).
He was a big key to the crazy start, a big key to the end of last year, a big key in not beating the Mets (although lots of help from a tired inexperienced team there), so although the team as a whole can get through a series with a good Jake it will be tough with a bad Jake. I don't think it's realistic to have the insanely great Jake again, but maybe it is. Seeing today's box score it appears maybe it is - but I haven't been able to tune in yet.
IMO Jake is really the key to winning the World Series, but maybe I'm putting too much emphasis on one player.
The reports that they offered EITHER Jimenez or Torres for Chapman are a little disconcerting. I hope 1) Those reports are wrong, and 2) if they are not wrong, that they will hold on to him, as the team could use the outfield depth. I have only seen him in the futures game, but he looks like a keeper.
Very nice. I saw him in Lansing in May. I'm still stunned that he hit a 400-foot foul ball onto Larch Street ... which is going the other way for a right-handed batter. It was perhaps the most amazing swing I've ever seen a minor league player take. I should also mention that it was about 40 degrees out at the time. Not that it's evidence of anything per se, but I feel his plate approach is way more advanced than Soler was at this stage in his development and that the comparisons aren't really fair to Jimenez. 50/50 chance I'll go to Midland tonight for the low-A debut of Oscar de la Cruz.
Eloy Jimenez grand slam tonight. Hoping Soler power returns and gets hot but future looks bright in the outfield regardless.
Finished the night 4-5, with two doubles - 32(!) on the season - along with the grand slam. Sick
Meanwhile, out West:
SF is 2-11 since the break, lead over LA is down to one game, and they are running out Cain and Peavy this weekend against the Nats. Challenging times by the Bay.
Thanks for the updates Phil. Too bad about Frazier.
The Cubs have released RHRP Scott Frazier (2013 7th round dfraft pick - Pepperdine).
A Cubs pitching coach told me in Spring Training 2014 that he thought Frazier had the best pure stuff in the organization. Absolutely electric fastball & breaking ball combo. Other pitchers would gather behind the screen just to watch him throw "live" BP. That's how amazing he was.
Got a chance to see Diamondbacks RHSP Zack Greinke (15-day DL - strained oblique) throw a rehab start at Sloan Park Friday night. Four of the first seven AZL Cubs hitters singled and the Cubs did score an unearned run in the bottom of the 1st inning, but then Greinke got serious and struck out five in a row.
ZACK GREINKE: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 5 K, 4/0 GO/AO, 49 pitches (34 strikes)
Have fun - It may be good for Arrieta to be facing a team that doesn't know him as well as the NL teams. A nice shutout would do wonders for his confidence. He is confident in public but baseball is hard and he could use a boost, I'm sure.
Me too. I'll be at the game tomorrow and would love to see Good Arrieta.
Last few games have been the April version of the Cubs that disappeared completely the past two months.
Hope they can sustain it.
Don't sell yourself short, Judge.
I love this team.
Looks like Mother Nature is trying to call this fight.
Hey! I remember this team!
The key for Heyward's offense: get early leads. Heard a stat on Mike & Mike on the way to work that his avg/power much better this year when the Cubs have the lead. And true to form he gets the two run dinger with Cubs winning 3-0 ...