Results tagged ‘ Josh Vitters ’
* The Cubs head into the 2014 season without a closer but Theo Epstein feels the team may have that pitcher on the roster now. Kevin Gregg, whom the Cubs signed to a Minor League deal in mid April after he was released by the Dodgers, has stepped in and posted his third career 30-save season. The Cubs began the season with Carlos Marmol as the closer, and he was replaced by Kyuji Fujikawa, until he needed Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
“I’m a believer that closers come from a lot of different places,” said Epstein, president of baseball operations. “You find a guy with some swing and miss stuff and some courage and effectiveness earlier in the game, you should try him in the ninth inning because he has enough balls and enough stuff that he can handle the ninth inning.”
Gregg will be a free agent, and could return next year. The other options include Pedro Strop, acquired from the Orioles in the Scott Feldman deal, and possibly Justin Grimm.
“The bigger story for me is that we started out the year with a bullpen that didn’t perform well and that’s our fault,” Epstein said, pointing the finger at the front office. “I think over the course of the year, it really steadily improved. The pitchers deserve a lot of credit.”
* Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson were on the Cubs’ big league roster last season at this time but this year was a difficult season for the first-round picks. Epstein said Vitters, who was the No. 1 pick in 2007, will be converted to an outfielder this offseason.
“We’re converting him to left field,” Epstein said. “He’s going to come to Spring Training ready to re-establish himself and force himself into the mix as one of our right-handed hitting outfielders.”
Jackson, the Cubs’ first-round pick in 2009, battled injuries this season and ended on Double-A Tennessee’s roster. Epstein said Jackson may follow the same program as Vitters this offseason.
* Javier Baez, the Cubs’ No. 1 pick in 2011, was named the Minor League Player of the Year after an impressive season. Fans want to know when Baez will be in the big leagues.
“He’s got all the ability that he needs to play Major League shortstop, not that he’s not still developing,” Epstein said. “We have a shortstop now [in Starlin Castro]. If we’re fortunate to get to that point in time where Baez is pounding on that door and Castro is healthy, then we will look to move Baez around so he can perform at other positions. I think he has a lot going for him, that he can do that. For a young kid, he has tremendous baseball instincts.”
Epstein also said Albert Almora, the Cubs’ 2012 first-round pick who was sidelined with a groin injury, is healthy and preparing for the Arizona Fall League. Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler, bothered by a stress fracture of his tibia, was doing baseball activities as well, and preparing for the AFL.
– Carrie Muskat
Josh Vitters and Mike Olt each homered to help Iowa beat Sacramento, 2-1. Justin Grimm picked up the win, giving up one run over 5 1/3 innings. It was Vitters’ first game back from being on the disabled list. Edgar Gonzalez had two hits, including a double.
Javier Baez hit a game-tying solo home run in the sixth and Taylor Davis smacked a go-ahead RBI double in the seventh to lift Tennessee to a 3-2 win over Montgomery in the first game of a doubleheader. Christian Villanueva hit a three-run homer and Jonathan Mota added a two-run shot in the second game, a 9-4 Smokies win to complete the sweep. Jeff Antigua picked up the win in relief in the nightcap.
Ivan Pineyro gave up one run over six innings in Daytona’s 5-4 win over Tampa. Anthony Giansanti had two hits, including a double.
Dan Vogelbach had two hits to help Kane County snap a three-game losing streak and beat Cedar Rapids, 4-3. Reggie Golden and Rock Shoulders each drove in a run. Vogelbach was promoted to Daytona after the game.
Boise had Monday off, and will resume play Tuesday against Eugene. Third baseman Kris Bryant was promoted to Daytona on Monday, but prior to that, he was named the Northwest League Player of the Week. The Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick was 9-for-17 with three doubles, a triple, a home run and five RBIs in five games.
Erick Leal threw five shutout innings in Mesa’s 7-0 win over the Mariners. Brian Bogusevic had one hit, a double, and one RBI in his fourth rehab game. Jeffrey Baez had three hits, including a double and a triple, and one RBIs. Jesse Hodges had two hits and one RBI.
Josh Vitters was 2-for-4, hitting a home run and driving in two, in his first game back from the DL in Iowa’s 10-4 loss to Round Rock. Brooks Raley took the loss, giving up five runs over 4 2/3 innings.
Arismendy Alcantara hit a walkoff RBI double in the 10th to lift Tennessee to a 3-2 win over Jacksonville. Matt Szczur scored from first base on the hit. Javier Baez hit his fourth home run. Zach Rosscup picked up the win in relief.
Ivan Pineyro, whom the Cubs acquired from the Nationals in the Scott Hairston deal, gave up four hits and struck out three over six scoreless innings for Daytona in a game halted by rain. The two teams will resume play in the top of the seventh on Saturday.
Scott Baker gave up six runs over 2 2/3 innings in Kane County’s 8-6 loss to Great Lakes. Baker admittedly scuffled during his second rehab start. After 60 pitches, six runs, six hits, three walks and one strikeout, all Baker knew was his mechanics were off.
“I’ve been doing this for awhile, so I know to sit here and dwell over this outing or try to read into it too much just really is not going to do myself any good,” Baker told reporters. “Just try to make the adjustments, focus on the things that I need to work on, and really that’s all that matters right now.”
Gioskar Amaya and Jeimer Candelario each homered, and Dan Vogelbach had two hits and scored a run.
Dillon Maples gave up one run on three hits over three innings in Boise’s 9-2 win over Everett. David Bote hit two home runs, and finished with three RBIs. Lance Rymel had three hits, including a double, and one RBI. Cael Brockmeyer had three hits and three RBIs.
Mesa had Friday off, and returns to action Saturday against the Angels.
Chris Rusin struck out eight and gave up one run over eight innings in Iowa’s 6-2 win over Nashville on Tuesday. Edwin Maysonet and Brent Lillibridge each homered. Donnie Murphy had two hits and scored a run. It was Rusin’s longest outing of the season.
Note: Josh Vitters was placed on the disabled list Tuesday, retroactive to May 26, with a strained muscle in his rib cage. It’s the second trip to the DL for Vitters, 23. He also missed time April 9-30 because of a lower back strain. In 19 games with Iowa, Vitters was batting .270 with two doubles, three homers and eight RBIs.
Arismendy Alcantara hit his eighth home run to help Tennessee beat Birmingham, 3-2. Kyle Hendricks picked up the win, giving up two runs over 6 2/3 innings. Christian Villanueva hit a double and triple and scored a run.
Javier Baez hit a walkoff home run, a two-run shot, in the 11th inning to help Daytona beat Tampa, 6-4. Baez is batting .268 for the season; it was his seventh home run. Austin Kirk started and gave up three runs over five innings.
Dan Vogelbach hit his seventh home run and drove in three runs in Kane County’s 7-5 loss to Quad Cities in a rain-shortened six-inning game. Dillon Maples took the loss, giving up seven runs over three innings.
Josh Vitters hit a solo home run and Nick Struck gave up three runs over 5 1/3 innings in Iowa’s 5-4 win over Oklahoma City. J.C. Boscan drove in two runs. Zach Putnam picked up his third save.
Rubi Silva hit his eighth home run but it wasn’t enough as Tennessee lost, 6-2, to Huntsville. Yeiper Castillo struck out seven over six innings in his Smokies debut.
Ben Wells gave up one earned run over five innings in Daytona’s 7-3 loss to Lakeland. John Andreoli had his third straight three-hit game, and Jorge Soler extended his hitting streak to five games and stole a base. Soler is batting .333 during his streak, and .301 overall. Javier Baez had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.
Pierce Johnson gave up one run on six hits over 6 2/3 innings in Kane County’s 8-1 win over Peoria. Alberto Almora got a hit and walked twice. David Bote drove in two runs.
Ian Stewart was projected as the Cubs regular third baseman this season before he was injured in Spring Training and now he is playing for Triple-A Iowa. However, Stewart is not high on the organization’s depth chart at third base. Stewart said Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, told him that Josh Vitters, the team’s No. 1 Draft pick in 2007, would be getting most of the at-bats.
“[Vitters] is the priority, put it that way,” Dale Sveum said Tuesday. “Who knows about third baseman of the future, but he’s a priority to develop as that guy. The guy was a first-round pick and the guy can swing the bat. We still have to develop him with the thought of him being our third baseman some day. He’s got power, he can swing, he can hit a fastball. But there’s a lot of development left in him.”
Where does that leave Luis Valbuena, who is getting the majority of at-bats at third with the big league team? Vitters is 23 years old, Valbuena is 27, and Stewart is 28.
“If Valbuena keeps playing the way he is, he’s our third baseman,” Sveum said. “He’s doing a very nice job. That’s just what you do in the Minor Leagues, you develop people to be in that spot. Whether it happens [with Vitters], who knows? That’s usually up to the individual who you’re trying to develop. They’ll force your hand, one way or the other.”
Vitters, who has been battling a sore quad, was batting .259 for Iowa with two home runs and seven RBIs.
– Carrie Muskat
On Monday, Josh Vitters and Edwin Maysonet both homered to lead Iowa to a 6-1 victory over Oklahoma City. Maysonet finished with three RBIs, while Vitters hit a two-run homer in the seventh. Chris Rusin picked up the win in relief, giving up three hits over five scoreless innings. Matt Garza started in a rehab outing and gave up four hits over 3 1/3 innings, striking out three.
* Anthony Rizzo was in the Cubs’ lineup for Friday’s game against Team Japan, but now he was not expected back in Arizona in time. He’ll play Saturday when the Cubs face the Royals at HoHoKam Park. Rizzo was playing for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic in Miami, and they were eliminated with a 4-3 loss to Puerto Rico on Wednesday. Cubs manager Dale Sveum told Rizzo to enjoy Thursday with his family in Miami and then get back to Arizona.
* The Cubs made one roster move, and assigned pitcher Barret Loux to Minor League camp.
* Ian Stewart played in a Minor League game Thursday at the Cubs complex at Fitch Park. Josh Vitters subbed at third on Thursday and was slated to start Friday against Team Japan at HoHoKam Stadium. Neither had played since an intrasquad game Feb. 21, and both have been sidelined with sore left quads.
* You won’t see shortstop Starlin Castro and second baseman Darwin Barney very far from each other. The two hit in the same group in batting practice, they do their fielding drills at the same time, and they even have the same model glove, which Barney designed.
“They always have to be in the same group,” Sveum said of his middle infielders. “They have a routine that they got into last year that was good and obviously, the way they played, you don’t want to take them out of it.”
* The Cubs players are already talking about the prospect of having a fishing hole at their new Spring Training complex in east Mesa.
“We might have to have a fishing tournament,” Sveum said.
The facility will feature a 9,000 square foot weight room, which Sveum said some players may want to take advantage of year round. He couldn’t remember the Brewers having a weight room at all when he played for them.
“I never lifted weights,” Sveum said, “so I wouldn’t have known where the weight room was.”
– Carrie Muskat
* Hisanori Takahashi has pitched for the Mets, Angels and Pirates, coming to the U.S. Major Leagues in 2010. Has the Japanese left-hander given new Cubs pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa any tips on adjusting?
“I feel he’s an accomplished pitcher in Japan and since we’re from the same country, I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do over here,” Takahashi said Wednesday. “Some of the system, pitching-wise, might be a little different compared to what he’s used to in Japan. We’re kind of joking about stuff, and just having fun.”
Takahashi, 37, who is competing for a spot in the Cubs bullpen, made his first spring start and gave up three runs on five hits over three innings against the Rangers. He’s a non-roster invitee in Cubs camp, and didn’t know Fujikawa well.
“Him being an accomplished closer, I felt a closer has to be in his own world to do his job, and there was some mystery about him,” Takahashi said through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa. “Once I got to know him, he’s really friendly and a nice guy.”
Japanese ballplayers do train a little differently, but in exchange for longer days, they get an off day every fourth day. Takahashi did talk to Fujikawa about adjusting to the lifestyle in the U.S. Food isn’t a problem.
“There’s a lot of Japanese [restaurants] around, and I’m sure you guys all go for sushi,” Takahashi said.
The Phoenix area is well known for Mexican food.
“I love it,” Takahashi said.
* Fujikawa, Carlos Marmol, Shawn Camp and James Russell are locks for the bullpen. The Cubs will have to make a decision on Hector Rondon, the Rule 5 Draft pick, who threw one inning in relief Wednesday, giving up one hit and striking out one. He’s given up two hits over four innings in four games this spring. That leaves at least six players competing for two spots, including Takahashi, Blake Parker, Michael Bowden, Zach Putnam, Jensen Lewis, and Cory Wade. Parker missed most of last season because of an elbow injury.
“At this time last year, he opened your eyes a little bit with the life on his fastball,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Parker. “He has an above average slider that he can get swings and misses on. He’s interesting as well.”
* Brent Lillibridge is sidelined with a groin strain, injured one week ago. Lillibridge, a non-roster invitee who is competing for a spot on the bench, could return early next week. Being sidelined now doesn’t necessarily hurt his chances.
“He got to play,” Sveum said of Lillibridge who appeared in five games before he was injured. “It was nice before he got hurt that at least I got to see him at first, second, third and short. Toward the end he’ll play a little outfield.”
* Third basemen Ian Stewart and Josh Vitters, both sidelined with left quad strains, are making progress, and could get back in Cactus League games next week.
* Pitcher Matt Garza, still out with a strained left lat injured Feb. 17, apparently was feeling better.
“[Tuesday] was the most upbeat he’s been and the best he’s felt,” Sveum said, adding that the right-hander might try to play catch this weekend.
Garza was expected to miss the first month of the season.
– Carrie Muskat
* Josh Vitters also had an MRI on Friday, and it revealed that he has a mild to moderate quad strain, and could be sidelined 10 to 14 days. Vitters was injured before he got into a game — he was hurt doing a base running drill. What happens now at third with both Ian Stewart and Vitters sidelined? Expect to see a lot of Luis Valbuena, Junior Lake, Christian Villanueva and even Brent Lillibridge.
“We really don’t have a whole lot of other third basemen,” Dale Sveum said. “They both just went down.”
Lake played at Double-A Tennessee last season. He’s still a little rough at third.
“In the intrasquad games, he’s done fine,” Sveum said. “He hasn’t been tested. There’s some mechanical things. He’s very tall and playing tall. He’s got to play the position smaller. What I mean by that, he wants to stand straight up after he fields a ground ball, so there’s some things we have to tweak. He’s such a good athlete. He’s going to be one of those third basemen who’s not going to look like Scott Rolen but the athleticism will allow him to do a lot of things at that position.”
The Cubs will not move top prospect Javier Baez to third base. If he does play third, it will be more because of need numbers-wise.
* If you’re looking ahead to Sunday’s HoHoKam opener, here’s the lineup:
The game will be broadcast on Cubs.com, with Len Kasper doing the play by play.
* Cubs pitcher Shawn Camp was showing pictures of a bobcat he saw on the golf course on Friday. Camp said he let the ‘cat play through.
* Blake Parker’s intrasquad outing didn’t go well — he gave up three hits, including a three-run homer to Edwin Maysonet — but it felt good to get back on a mound. Parker missed most of last season because of problems with his right elbow.
“I’m still getting back into baseball mode, just thinking out there on the mound and knowing what pitches to throw and reading hitters,” Parker said. “As far as physically, my arm felt good.”
– Carrie Muskat