Cubs Extended Spring Training

A's Cry Wolff at Fitch Park

Miguel Mercedes belted a two-run home run and Vicmal de la Cruz singled, doubled, and scored two runs, as the Athletics edged the Cubs 3-2 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #4 at the Lew Wolff Training Complex at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ. 

Adonis Paula slugged a solo HR and Frandy de la Rosa singled and tripled for the Cubs in a losing cause. 

In EXST roster news, IF-OF Varonex Cuevas has been moved-up to AAA Iowa. The 22-year old switch-hitting super-sub was hitting only 204/235/327 with one HR and three doubles, four RBI, six runs scored, two walks, 14 strikeouts, and no SB (two CS), in 18 Cactus League EXST games (51 PA) this season, but he has been hot lately, putting up a 353/421/588 line over his last six Cactus League EXST games (19 PA). He has played 2B-3B-SS-LF at EXST. 

Cuevas was signed by the Cubs as an 18-year old out of the Dominican Republic in May 2011, and spent his first three seasons with the DSL Cubs (240/344/304 in 163 DSL games 2011-13) before arriving in the U. S. last season. He hit 288/416/493 in 24 Cactus League EXST games (89 PA) last season before being assigned to Boise, where he struggled (hitting just 118/211/235 in 12 NWL games). He then was moved down to the AZL Cubs, where he hit 318/368/466.  

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

Cubs Blank Angels at Diablo Park

Jhonny Pereda roped an RBI single, doubled, and walked, Roney Alcala doubled twice and drove-in a run, and LHSP Jose Paulino hurled five innings of shutout ball with an 11/0 GO/FO and combined with three relievers to toss a five-hit shutout, as the Cubs blanked the Angels 4-0 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #7 at Diablo Park in Tempe, AZ.

Chris Denorfia (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL with a strained hamstring) continued his EXST rehab today, playing left field for all nine innings and getting four AB. He drilled line-drive singles in each of his first two PA, then walked his third time up, and flied out to the warning track in left in his fourth and final AB, Denorfia was running the bases at full-tilt and he made a nice running catch in left (although he had to wait until Jose Paulino left the game to do it, because Paulino was a "ground-ball machine" today).

The plan at present is for Denorfia to remain at Extended Spring Training through Saturday, but actually he looks to be 100% right now.

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

Denorfia and Dunston Help Cubs Salvage Tie at Riverview

Chris Denorfia (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL - strained hamstring) belted an RBI double, walked, and scored a run and Shawon Dunston Jr (on Myrtle Beach Pelicans 7-day DL - right shoulder injury) doubled, stole two bases, and scored a run for the Cubs, and Jesus Lopez drilled a two-run single, doubled, and walked and Vicmal de la Cruz singled, doubled, and scored a run for the Athletics, as the Cubs and A's played to a 5-5 tie in Cactus League Extended Spring Training game action this morning on Field #6 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park. 

The game was called after eight innings of play. 

RHP Pierce Johnson (on AA Tennessee7-day DL with a lat strain) continued his EXST rehab, working three innings (37 pitches) for the Cubs and allowing two runs on four hits (two doubles and two singles) and no walks, with three strikeouts (all three swinging) and a 4/2 GO/FO. Johnson had excellent command today and threw a high percentage of strikes (71%). His fastball velocity sat consistenty at 92 MPH (max), with only an occasional drop-off to 91.  

18-year old Colombian RHP Erling Moreno (2014 TJS) made his second game appearance in a week. The 6'3 righthander allowed two hits (a single and a double) in 1.2 IP, and successfully escaped a "runner at 3rd and out out" situation. Moreno's fastball velocity sat at 89-90 (down a couple of MPH from last week), but he displayed outstanding command of all of his pitches, most noteworthy an advanced change-up (unusual for an 18-year old) 

Cubs 2014 5th round draft pick RHP Dylan Cease (2014 TJS) also made his second game appearance in a week (he faced the A's at Fitch Park last Monday), but he did not fare as well as Moreno. While he only allowed one run, he also allowed six of the ten batters he faced to reach base (three singles and three walks, plus a WP) in just 1.1 IP. Cease's fastball velocity was at 95-97 MPH in both innings, down a couple of ticks from his outing last week when he touched 99.

Prior to the Cactus League EXST game, RHP Marcelo Carreno (post-2013 shoulder surgery) and RHP Trey Masek (2014 shoulder surgery) squared-off in a two-iining "sim" game on Field #3.   

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

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):

Denorfia Continues Rehab at Riverview Park

Robert Garcia slugged a solo HR and RHSP Austyn Willis hurled four innings of shutout ball for the Cubs, and RHSP Chris Johnson tossed four innings of one-hit shutout ball for the Giants, as the Cubs & Giants played to a 1-1 tie on Field #6, and 1B Nick Jones belted an RBI double and singled twice and Byron Murray drilled an RBI double, walked twice, and scored two runs, leading the Giants to a 9-3 victory over the Cubs on Field #5, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader played this morning at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.

Frandy de la Rosa slugged a two-run HR for the Cubs in a losing cause on Field #5.

The game on Field #5 was called after eight innings of play, and the game on Field #6 was called after seven innings.

Chris Denorfia (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL - hamstring strain) played LF for four innings and batted four times for the Cubs squad on Field #6. He walked on a 3-1 pitch his first time up, struck out swinging on three pitches in his second Plate Appearance, lined a double into the LF corner on a 3-0 pitch his third time up, and flied out to right in his fourth and final AB.

Shawon Dunston Jr (on Myrtle Beach 7-day DL - right shoulder injury) saw his first game action in more than a month, serving as a DH for the Cubs on Field #6. He went 0-3, striking out twice (both times swinging) and grounding back to the pitcher 1-3.

Prior to the Cactus League EXST doubleheader, RHP Marcelo Carreno (post-2013 shoulder surgery) and RHP Jesus Castillo squared-off in a two-inning "sim" game on Field #3.

In EXST Cubs medical news, RHP Yomar Morel has been diagnosed with a torn elbow UCL, and will be undergoing Tommy John Surgery next week. The 21-year old Morel will be the third Cub minor leaguer to undergo TJS this season, the other two being catcher Will Remillard (in March) and RHP Jose Rosario (in April).  

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

 

Eloy Drives in Six at Riverview

Eloy Jimenez belted a three-run HR, a two-run double, and an RBI single, Carlos Sepulveda reached base three times (a triple, a walk, and an RBI single) and scored three runs, and Joey Martarano clubbed a two-run HR, lifting the Eugene Emeralds to a 10-4 victory over the Mesa Cubs in Extended Spring Training intrasquad action this morning on Field #6 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.  

Here is the abridged box score rrom today's intrasquad game, followed by the updated Cubs Extended Spring Training roster:: 

Cubs & Rockies Split the Difference at Talking Stick

Jairo Rosario reached base four times (single, double, walk, and an HBP) and scored a run and RHSP Javier Palacios tossed four innings of shutout ball, leading the Rockies to a 7-2 victory over the Cubs on Dust Storm Field, and Roberto Caro belted a two-run triple and Andruw Monasterio followed with an RBI single to highlight a three-run third to help the Cubs take an early 3-0 lead, but then they had to hold-on to edge the Rockies 5-4 on Red Mountain Field, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader played this morning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.   

Eloy Jimenez drilled an RBI double and a single for the Cubs in a losing cause on Dust Storm Field. 

Chris Denorfia (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL - strained hamstring) continued his EXST rehab, serving as a DH for the Cubs squad on Red Mountain Field. He batted four times (once in each of the first four innings), and went 1-4 (5-3 GO his firsr time up, a strikeout looking in his second AB. a fly out to left his third time up, and a line-drive single to left in his fourth and final Plate Apparance). Denorfia appeared to be running better today than he did yesterday, but he clearly still isn't 100%.  

In EXST roster news, OF Kevin Encarnacion has been moved up to South Bend. Encarnacion was hitting 258/329/403 in 21 Cactus League EXST games (70 PA), with one HR and three triples, twelve RBI and nine runs scored, 7/10 BB/K, and one SB (no CS).  

Encarnnacion was signed by the Cubs out of Venezuela as an 18-year old in 2010, and has hit 291/402/428 in 797 career minor league games.

He was involved in a near-fatal car crash in the Dominican Republic post-2013 while attending an off-season mini-camp at the Cubs Dominican Academy. He was a passenger in the vehicle, and was pulled-out just seconds before the vehicle exploded.

Encarnacion suffered third-degree burns on his right side (he now wears a pressure-sleeve on his right arm) and shoulder damage as well, and the Cubs had him flown from the Dominican Republic to Phoenix immediately after the accident to be treated at the Burn Unit at Maricopa County Medical Center. After several surgeries and post-surgery rehabilitation that cost him the 2014 season, Encarnacion finally returned to the field at AZ Instructs post-2014.

The 23-year old Encarnacion was forced to give up switch-hitting as the result of the injuries sustained in the crash (he now only bats left-handed), and he was left behind at Extended Spring Training this year to continue working on hitting left-handed against LHP (not an easy task when you've never done it before) and to get regular playing time. 

Here are the abriged box scores from today's games (Cubs players only): 

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