Results tagged ‘ Arodys Vizcaino ’

3/18 Roster moves

The Cubs optioned outfielders Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters, pitchers Arodys Vizcaino and Zac Rosscup, and infielder Christian Villanueva, to Triple-A Iowa, and assigned catcher Rafael Lopez, outfielder Mitch Maier and pitcher Armando Rivero to Minor League camp on Tuesday.

Vizcaino, who has not pitched in a big league game since 2011 because of Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, had been a nice surprise this spring, throwing 98 mph fastballs. In three Cactus League games, he gave up two hits and struck out two over three innings.

“We’re still following the plan and want to make sure he gets his innings in a controlled environment and kind of ease him back in,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “He needs to get in more game situations and things of that nature and make sure he can handle it all and see where it’s at.”

If Vizcaino continues to progress, he’ll likely be one of the first relievers promoted to the big leagues.

“He’s got a great arm and needs to continue to command his fastball and do all the other things that the game asks him to do,” Renteria said. “If there’s a need, he’s a nice guy to have. The depth he gives us is real nice.”

Jackson, the Cubs’ first-round pick in 2009 who led the Pacific Coast League in 2012 in strikeouts, was 4-for-20 this spring with 10 Ks.

“I don’t worry too much about his strikeouts because I think there’s a lot of damage comes with his stick,” Renteria said. “If his approaches are good and he gets pitches he can handle, it’s going to be good. He does have the ability to recognize the zone pretty well and I think I saw that this spring. He plays nice center field, and he’ll work in the corners, too. He’s a pretty good looking player.”

Vitters, another Cubs’ first-round pick who is switching from infield to outfield, was 2-for-17 with 11 strikeouts, but Renteria saw lots of positives.

“He had some really good at-bats, missed a couple balls,” Renteria said. “That’s the thing about these guys having to get their at-bats now so they can get their work. He’s been working diligently in the outfield.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/9 Extra bases

* Arodys Vizcaino is all smiles after his two Cactus League outings. The Cubs right-hander, who has not pitched since 2011 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, was clocked at 98 mph on Friday in his relief outing against the Indians.

“I’m so happy right now,” Vizcaino said.

“His story is a great story because he’s trying to come back,” manager Rick Renteria said Sunday of the right-hander, acquired from the Braves in July 2012 in the Paul Maholm deal. “He’s worked very hard to get back to where he is right now and it’s still a progression. There are still some things that he’ll have to work through. We’ll be extremely patient with how we move forward with him.”

* Renteria said Sunday he had yet to speak with pitcher Edwin Jackson about the right-hander’s last outing in which he only threw fastballs. Jackson said he wanted to work on his fastball command, but didn’t tell Renteria or pitching coach Chris Bosio what his game plan was.

* Blake Parker knows it doesn’t matter what he did last year, or the year before. The right-hander is fighting for a spot in the Cubs’ bullpen and he’s not alone.

“There’s tons of guys here,” the reliever said, glancing around the Cubs’ clubhouse on Sunday. “You look around and you start putting yourself in places, and there’s a lot of competition in this locker room. There’s some unbelievable pitchers. Vizcaino is coming back from an injury, and I saw him the other day and he’s unbelievable to watch. It’s good for the team that you have a lot of competition. It only makes you better.”

But Parker has been a little inconsistent. In his first outing, he cruised through one inning of work. In his next two, he’s given up five hits and walked four over 1 1/3 innings. The problem, the right-hander said, are mechanical and mental issues.

“I felt like my last outing, I had a strong start,” he said of his relief appearance Friday. “I got a strikeout, and got 0-2 and threw a bad pitch and gave up a hit, and another hit, and kind of got away from attacking guys and got a little timid out there, which is what I meant by the [mental issues]. From that, [I tried] to make the perfect pitch, and my mechanics started to get out of whack, and then it spiraled downhill.

“It’s time for me to get it going and really focus on the things I need to focus on and get after it and work on the things I need to work on so I’m ready when the season starts.”

Parker is competing for a spot in the bullpen with right-handers Vizcaino, Hector Rondon, Justin Grimm, Neil Ramirez, Alberto Cabrera, Pedro Strop, and Carlos Villanueva.

* Anthony Rizzo did not hit a single home run last spring, then belted 23 during the regular season. Does Cubs manager Rick Renteria need to see the first baseman connect to know if Rizzo is ready for the season?

“No, I know he’s got power,” Renteria said Sunday. “Once you start to get into the flow of the game and you’re swinging the bat well, a gentlemen like ‘Riz’ who has pop, those come.”

Last spring, Rizzo batted .229, and so far this year, he’s 7-for-16 with two doubles and a triple.

“I actually don’t use the [Spring Training] stats as much as you might think,” Renteria said. “I’m more concerned with the approaches they’re having at the plate. One thing we want him to do is focus on his strength, which is the left center field gap. His approach has been working, and I think it’s a conscious effort.”

– Carrie Muskat

2/22 Extra bases

* When Arodys Vizcaino finished throwing his live batting practice session, one of the first people to shake his hand to congratulate him was Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. The Cubs have waited a long time for Vizcaino, 23, to show what he did on Saturday. The right-hander, acquired from the Braves in the Paul Maholm trade in 2012, was rehabbing at that time from Tommy John surgery on his elbow. He had a setback last season, but on Saturday, looked healthy.

“I would’ve never known [he was hurt] just from the way he looked today,” said catcher Eli Whiteside, who caught Vizcaino. “He looked really good.”

It’s early to say who will be the surprise of Spring Training but Vizcaino may be the leader so far.

“He looked very, very good,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said of Vizcaino, who is projected to pitch out of the bullpen. “We’re very pleased with his session. Very sharp, live fastball, breaking ball, he was burying his pitches when he needed to. He’s progressing well. We’re happy to say there are no setbacks and we hope it continues that way.”

The last time the right-hander appeared in a game was 2011 with the Braves. The radar gun was hitting 97, 98 mph on Saturday.

“Everything felt good — my elbow, shoulder, everything,” Vizcaino said.

* Jake Arrieta, slowed by tightness in his right shoulder, threw off flat ground from about 90 feet on Saturday. The key will be how Arrieta feels on Sunday, manager Rick Renteria said, before they determine the next step. So far, Arrieta is making progress but whether he’ll be ready by Opening Day has not been determined. He has yet to throw off a mound.

* Renteria, 52, threw batting practice on Saturday and plans to continue to do so as long as the players let him. The problem, besides a few aches and pains, is location.

“I just have to throw strikes,” Renteria said, sounding like a pitcher.

He can tell if he’s doing well because there aren’t many balls in the cage after the batting practice session.

“I had a lot of balls back there,” Renteria said. “Usually I have one or two and today I had 10 or 11. That’s not good.”

* The Cubs have more than 50 Minor League players taking part in a mini-camp at the team’s new complex. One player who fans most likely won’t recognize is Daniel Vogelbach, who lost 30 pounds this offseason. Vogelbach is ranked No. 10 on MLB.com’s top 20 Cubs prospects.

* The best investment by Cubs players this spring? It’s goggles for the new hydrotherapy pool in the complex. Carlos Villanueva, who likes to incorporate swimming into his routine, spent $20 on a pair, and is encouraging others to do so.

– Carrie Muskat

2/15 Extra bases

* One of the pitchers the Cubs are eager to see this spring is Arodys Vizcaino, who has been slow in coming back from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. On Saturday, Vizcaino threw his first side session, and manager Rick Renteria was impressed.

“The ball came out of his hand pretty easy,” Renteria said of Vizcaino, acquired from the Braves in July 2012 in the Paul Maholm deal. “He stayed down in the zone pretty consistently in his pen today. He looked comfortable, very fit. I think he looked as good as we would want him to look at this point.”

The Cubs don’t want to put a timetable on his return, but Vizcaino is projected for the bullpen when ready.

“Obviously, it’s been a long road back,” Renteria said of the right-hander, who pitched in the big leagues in 2011 but had a setback last season.

* The Cubs will be careful with Welington Castillo, too. So far, he’s had no problems with his right knee, which needed arthroscopic surgery and forced him to end the 2013 season early.

“We’re going to monitor the innings he’s catching, just like anybody who comes off something, especially a catcher,” Renteria said Saturday. “He’s working hard. We were out there this morning, and he was moving fine. We’re aware of it and we’ll do what we can to make sure he stays healthy.”

Castillo admitted the knee bothered him well before he had the surgery.

“There was a time when it felt a little sore but what can I do?” Castillo said. “I’m here to play and will try to do all I can to win a game. I don’t worry about it. Sometimes you have to play with pain. You’re human. You need to prepare yourself before a game and do all you can do to win the game.”

– Carrie Muskat

2/13 Extra bases

* The Cubs are eager to see right-hander Arodys Vizcaino, 23, this spring. He’s been slow in rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, which he had in March 2012.

“I think his stuff is as good as anyone in this camp when he’s healthy and he’s healthy right now,” GM Jed Hoyer said. “As far as setting expectations for the beginning of the year or whether he breaks with the team or not or what his role will be, it’s too early for that. We’ll see him on the mound and see him in games and then make a decision later this spring.”

Vizcaino will be used in the bullpen.

* Another pitcher who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, Kyuji Fujikawa, also is making progress. He underwent surgery on his right elbow last June, and is now throwing off flat ground. In his last session, he threw 25 pitches, 20 for strikes.

“I don’t want to put any specific date timetables on him but he should be [throwing] off a mound here pretty soon,” Hoyer said. “Any time you have a Tommy John guy, you have concerns about setbacks. It’s been a really good process so far. He’s really excited about how good he does feel and how well the ball is coming out of his hand.”

Among the other pitchers to watch this spring are Justin Grimm, 25, who has the potential to be a closer, and Cuban right-hander Armando Rivero, 26, who pitched at Class A Kane County, high A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee last season as well as the Arizona Fall League. Rivero posted a 4.15 ERA in 20 Minor League games in relief combined, striking out 45 and walking 12 over 30 1/3 innings.

* Theo Epstein said they still have money in their budget to add players if needed this season.

“In the two previous offseasons, we’ve spent every dollar available to us and this is the first winter where we ended up keeping some in reserve to be used on players [that are] hopefully prime age, impact-type players down the road,” Epstein said. “It gives us a bit of a leg-up as we look toward next winter or an in-season move that might make the present and the future better.

“Rather than just spend the money to spend it, if we can book that and have it available to us to sign that international free agent who comes along in the summer or to acquire a player in a trade who carries a significant salary but fits for the long term, or to just start out next offseason knowing we can be a little more aggressive on the guys we really want early because the money will be availble to us, that made more sense than spending the money now just to spend it.”

* One thing the Cubs are focusing on is adding more pitching. Epstein said they will do so in the First-Year Player Draft, although not necessarily by picking a pitcher with their first-round selection. The Cubs have the fourth selection overall.

* Pitchers and catchers have their first workout on Friday.

– Carrie Muskat

12/5 Extra bases

* One of the first players new Cubs manager Rick Renteria called after he got the job Nov. 7 was to Starlin Castro.

“People ask me about Starlin, and I watched him from the other side and I think, what a tremendously gifted athlete,” Renteria said. “I have to get to know him as a person. I have to figure out what moves him.”

Castro is coming off a season in which he batted a career-low .245, struck out a career-high 129 times, and finished with a sub .400 slugging percentage for the first time (.347).

“He’s willing to do anything we ask him to do,” Renteria said. “I know people talk about him losing focus and having bad at-bats, and I think we have to address those things. Sometimes you don’t have conversations thinking we don’t want to have confrontations or maybe we don’t like the answer we’re going to get, but the reality is you have to have dialogue.”

The emphasis on Renteria’s coaching staff was to find people who could be “teachers” and who can communicate.

“I think it takes a special personality as well as experience and having the technical knowledge,” Theo Epstein said about the coaches. “It takes a certain personality to be able to actually reach the modern player and to dig deep and engage and relate to them and not relate to a player on a perfunctory level but find out what makes him tick and impact him on and off the field in a positive way. That’s what we were looking for.”

(Note: For more on Renteria’s day at Wrigley Field, please see the story on Cubs.com)

* Renteria was formally introduced on Thursday at Wrigley Field. He’ll wear No. 16, which he says was his number in high school.

* Renteria is known for his even-keel demeanor. He was asked if he had a temper.

“I can get hot,” Renteria said Thursday. “I think any competitor can get hot. I think you’ve got to pick your spots. I don’t think players appreciate people just losing it for the sake of losing it.

“Will I do it for the sake of people watching me do it? No,” he said. “You probably won’t see me doing it at all, but I can’t guarantee that. When it happens, it’s got to be the right time, and I think those things have to take care of themselves.

“If you’re a guy who is even-keeled and you end up losing it, I think [the players] understand you mean business and it means a little bit more. For the most part, I think conversations need to be had behind closed doors.”

* The Cubs got encouraging reports about right-hander Arodys Vizcaino, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery in March 2012. Vizcaino made about six appearances in the Dominican instructional league, his fastball hit 98 mph and he showed good command. The pitcher, acquired from the Braves in July 2012, could be in the Cubs’ bullpen mix in 2014.

* Cubs pitchers and catchers will report Feb. 13 to Mesa, Ariz., for the start of Spring Training.

– Carrie Muskat

7/18 Where are they now?

Last year, the Cubs front office was busy dealing at the Trade Deadline. They made three moves on July 31, 2012. Where are those players now? Here’s an update:

* The Cubs traded RHP Ryan Dempster to the Rangers for RHP Kyle Hendricks and 3B Christian Villanueva. Dempster went 7-3 with a 5.09 ERA for the Rangers, then signed a two-year, $26.5 million deal with the Red Sox. He’s 5-8 with a 4.24 ERA in 19 starts for Boston. Hendricks is 9-3 with a 2.03 ERA in 18 starts at Double-A Tennessee and was the starting pitcher in the Double-A All-Star game for the North team. He also was the Cubs’ Minor League pitcher of the month in May. Villanueva was in the Cubs’ Major League spring camp, and batted .167, hitting three home runs. In 89 games with Tennessee, he’s batting .257 with 12 home runs, 23 doubles, two triples, and 47 RBIs.

* The Cubs traded LHP Paul Maholm and OF Reed Johnson to the Braves for RHP Arodys Vizcaino and RHP Jaye Chapman. Maholm went 4-5 with 3.54 ERA in 11 starts for the Braves last season, and this year, he’s 9-8 with a 3.98 ERA in 19 starts with Atlanta. Johnson hit .270 in 43 games with the Braves last season, and this year, he’s batting 258 in 58 games with Atlanta. Vizcaino was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, and the Cubs thought he might be able to pitch this season but he needed a debridement procedure on his right elbow in late May. He’s still rehabbing. Chapman appeared in 14 games for the Cubs last season, and opened this year at Triple-A Iowa but was shut down after four games and giving up 12 runs over 6 1/3 innings because of a left hip injury.

* The Cubs traded C Geovany Soto to the Rangers for RHP Jacob Brigham. Soto batted .196 in 47 games with the Rangers last year. This year, he’s batting .185 in 30 games with four home runs and nine RBI, and has taken a back seat to A.J. Pierzynski on the Rangers. Brigham was traded back to the Rangers on Nov. 20, 2012, for RHP Barret Loux, who is 4-4 with a 4.52 ERA in 16 games (13 starts) at Triple-A Iowa. He has 65 strikeouts over 63 2/3 innings. Brigham, by the way, pitched in seven games at Double-A Frisco this year and did not give up a run, and was 3-1 with a 3.98 ERA in 17 games with Triple-A Round Rock.

– Carrie Muskat

5/28 Extra bases

* Kyuji Fujikawa underwent an MRI on his right arm Tuesday but the team did not expect results until Wednesday because their orthopedic specialist, Dr. Stephen Gryzlo, was busy with surgeries. Fujikawa was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday for the second time this season with a strained right forearm. The right-hander, who was on the DL from April 13 to May 10 with the same problem, had to leave Sunday’s game in the ninth inning after feeling some discomfort. The right-hander has a 5.25 ERA in 12 games this season, giving up seven runs over 12 innings.

* On Tuesday, the Cubs erected mock-ups of the proposed advertising signage in right field and used tarps to represent the 6,000-square foot video screen they want to install in left field. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts watched from a rooftop on Sheffield Avenue. The Cubs are waiting for final approval from the city planning commission on their $300 million renovation plan for Wrigley Field, which they hope to start this offseason. The proposal includes installing the scoreboard in left and more advertising in right.

* Several of the Cubs plan on attending Wednesday’s Game 7 NHL playoff game between the Blackhawks and Red Wings in Chicago.

“There aren’t too many times a Game 7 comes around, especially being in town at the same time playing a day game,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “You have to do everything you can to go to that game.”

* Cubs wives and girlfriends will do their part to help raise funds for victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes at Wednesday’s game at Wrigley Field. Outfielder David DeJesus and his wife, Kim, are involved in a “mystery ball” event. Tickets are $40 per ball, and all proceeds will go to the families affected by the deadly storm.

Cubs players also will serve as celebrity bartenders on Friday at “American Junkie” in Chicago as part of the “Pour for Moore” fundraiser to support disaster relief. All proceeds will go to the American Red Cross. Tickets are $15 per person for the event, which will run from 6-8 p.m. CT.

* Albert Almora was named Midwest League Player of the Week for May 20-26. The Cubs’ first-round pick in last year’s Draft, Almora batted .538 in his first week with the team. He had to leave Monday’s game with a strained left hamstring, injured while trying to track down a ball in the outfield. His status was day to day. After Monday’s game, Almora tweeted: “No worries! I’ll be back in a day or 2!! Good win boys!!! #slaphands”

* Alex Burnett certainly had an easy first day on the job with the Cubs on Monday. The right-handed reliever, claimed off waivers from the Orioles, arrived at U.S. Cellular Field about half an hour before the first pitch of the Cubs’ Interleague game against the White Sox. He could relax as Jeff Samardzija threw a complete game, two-hit shutout. Burnett, 25, was happy to get a chance to pitch. He appeared in two games with the Orioles this season after spending three years with the Twins.

“I was excited,” he said about his reaction at the news he had been claimed by the Cubs. “It’s a new opportunity and I’m in a great organization and a fresh start and they told me I was coming straight to the big leagues, and nothing better than that.”

Burnett, who knows a couple of the Cubs from the Arizona Fall League, was asked for a scouting report on himself.

“I just go right after guys and let the defense do the work and that’s what I live and die by,” he said.

* Arodys Vizcaino, on the 60-day disabled list rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, underwent an arthroscopic debridement on his right elbow. Vizcaino was feeling some discomfort after his throwing sessions and not recovering well, so he was examined by Dr. James Andrews, who found a calcium buildup and did the procedure. The problem is not related to the Tommy John surgery Vizcaino had, and the Cubs say Andrews found the ligaments were in good shape. The right-hander, who the Cubs acquired at the Trade Deadline last July from the Braves in the Paul Maholm deal, will not pick up a baseball for six weeks.

– Carrie Muskat

5/14 Extra bases

* Third baseman Luis Valbuena was expected back in the Cubs lineup on Wednesday, four days after spraining the little finger on his right hand when he slid into third base. Valbuena, who injured his hand Saturday in Washington, has been able to take batting practice and work out at third Monday and Tuesday. He spent part of Tuesday with his little finger in a cup of ice to get the swelling down. Valbuena was batting .272 in 31 games with five home runs, five doubles and 13 RBIs.

* The Cubs have finally climbed above the Mendoza line when batting with runners in scoring position. Chicago entered Tuesday’s game batting .204 with RISP, still lowest in the Major Leagues. The team leads the National League with 87 doubles and 131 extra-base hits. But they rank 10th in runs scored.

* Arodys Vizcaino, coming back from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, will continue his rehab with the Cubs rather than in Mesa, Ariz. Vizcaino joined the team on Monday. Cubs manager Dale Sveum said the right-hander, acquired from the Braves last July in the Paul Maholm deal, was a couple weeks away from appearing in a game.

Scott Baker, who also is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery one year ago, remained in Mesa at the Cubs’ facility.

– Carrie Muskat

2/26 Pitching updates

Scott Baker and Arodys Vizcaino both had good throwing sessions on Tuesday. Baker, coming back from Tommy John surgery, threw 25 pitches in a live BP session, while Vizcaino threw 25 in a bullpen session. If Baker stays on track, he could be ready by mid to late April. Vizcaino, also coming back from Tommy John, was not expected to be ready for big league action until later in the regular season.

– Carrie Muskat

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