* Josh Vitters, who was the third overall pick in the 2007 Draft, has signed with the Rockies. Vitters, 25, posted a .276/.322/.440 slash line in eight Minor League seasons with the Cubs. Last season, he batted .213 in 112 games for Triple-A Iowa. He was called up to the big leagues in 2012, and was 12-for-99 (.121) in 36 games with two home runs with the Cubs.
* The Rangers signed outfielder Nate Schierholtz to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training. He is coming off a rough 2014 season in which he posted slash line of .195/.243/.309 over 383 plate appearances with the Cubs and Nationals. Schierholtz would earn $1.75 million if he makes the Rangers.
* Also, among the non-roster invitees on the Cubs list is infielder Jonathan Herrera. He played last season with the Red Sox, compiling a .233/.307/.289 slash line. It was his first year not in a Rockies uniform. Herrera, 30, could provide some infield depth if he makes the team.
According to Baseball America, Cubs Minor League free agents include:
Alberto Cabrera, Lendy Castillo, Eduardo Figueroa, Marcus Hatley, Marcos Mateo, Carlos Pimentel, Dae-Eun Rhee
Charlie Cutler, Nathan Maldonado
Edgar Gonzalez, Jonathan Mota; Chris Valaika
Manny Ramirez, Josh Vitters
Infielder Josh Vitters, the Cubs’ first-round pick in 2007, was placed on Triple-A Iowa’s disabled list thursday. Vitters suffered a broken ring finger on his right hand while reaching for second base on an awkward slide on Wednesday. He was batting .213 with 14 doubles, 11 home runs, and 38 RBIs in 112 games with Iowa.
Fresno scored seven runs in the first three innings and posted a 10-1 win over Iowa on Wednesday. Chris Rusin took the loss, giving up seven runs over three innings, his shortest outing of the year. Zac Rosscup struck out the side in the seventh. In three appearances in his rehab, he has retired all nine batters faced and struck out six. Josh Vitters had three hits, including a RBI single.
Kris Bryant extended his hitting streak to six games in Tennessee’s 3-2 win over Mississippi. Bryant also drove in a run, and leads the Southern League with 56 RBIs. Armando Rivero converted his 10th save.
Daytona’s game against Dunedin was postponed because of rain. The two teams were scheduled to play a doubleheader Thursday.
Kane County totaled two hits in a 2-1 loss to Peoria in the first game of a doubleheader. Tyler Skulina took the loss, giving up two unearned runs over five innings. Ryan Sweeney was 0-for-3 in the second game of his rehab assignment.
In the second game, Kane County beat Peoria, 4-3. Daury Torrez gave up three runs over six innings for the win. Jordan Hankins had two hits and one RBI.
The Iowa Cubs placed Josh Vitters on the DL, effective May 24, with a broken big toe on his left foot. He suffered the injury when he fouled a ball off his toe during batting practice. Vitters was batting .208 (30-for-144) with six home runs and 20 RBIs in 43 games. Arismendy Alcantara was scheduled to start in the outfield for the Iowa Cubs Tuesday against Memphis, but that game was postponed because of rain. It would have been his first pro start in the outfield. The I-Cubs are short-handed with Vitters being injured and Ryan Kalish yet to arrive.
Josh Vitters hit a pair of two-run homers to help Iowa beat New orleans 5-4 in 11 innings Tuesday night. Logan Watkins scored the winning run on a wild pitch. Iowa is now 2-0 in extra inning games. Vitters connected on his first homer in the second inning to become the first player to homer in three straight games for the I-Cubs this year. He homered again in the fourth. Zac Rosscup picked up the win in relief. The two teams play Wednesday at 11 a.m. in New Orleans. Chris Rusin gets the start.
Josh Vitters hit a solo homer to snap an 0-for-21 skid but it wasn’t enough as Iowa lost, 5-1, to Nashville. Vitters’ homer was one of six hits by Iowa, which lost its fourth straight. Eric Jokisch gave up three earned runs on nine hits over six innings and took the loss.
Corey Black gave up five earned runs over five innings in Tennessee’s 6-1 loss to Chattanooga. Black gave up four hits and walked five. He did help himself with a RBI single in the fifth.
Jeimer Candelario hit a walkoff homer in the bottom of the 12th to lift Daytona to a 2-1 win over Lakeland. It was Candelario’s third home run. Felix Pena started, and gave up one hit and one walk over six scoreless innings.
Paul Blackburn gave up three runs over six innings in Kane County’s 13-3 win over Burlington. Jacob Hannemann hit a leadoff home run, one of seven runs in the first. Danny Lockhart had four hits and two RBIs.
Carlos Pimentel struck out 10 over six innings to help Iowa beat Nashville, 6-1, on Wednesday. Pimentel gave up a solo homer in the second, but that was the only blemish. Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters each homered, and Javier Baez doubled and scored on Chris Coghlan’s sacrifice fly.
C.J. Edwards gave up one run on five hits over 5 2/3 innings in Tennessee’s 3-1 win over Chattanooga. Rafael Lopez hit a two-run double. Armando Rivero struck out three over 1 1/3 innings for his second save.
Albert Almora was 2-for-4 with two doubles in Daytona’s 1-0 loss to Dunedin in the first game of a doubleheader. In the second game, Dan Vogelbach hit his first home run of the season, a three-run blast, but it wasn’t enough as Daytona lost, 6-4.
Jacob Rogers hit a second inning solo home run in Kane County’s 7-4 loss to Fort Wayne. Shawon Dunston Jr. had two RBI.
* 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.