No Slowing Down

With the over-under of the Arizona Fall League only a week away from conclusion, the Cubs' contingent of prospects in the annual event are still balls-to-the-wall in everyday competition.

Mesa Solar Sox manager and Cubs coach Pat Listach said players are showing no signs of slowing down from all the wear and tear of a season that for many runs practically non-stop each year.

"If you're getting tired now, you're in the wrong profession," Listach said Thursday. "This is an All-Star game every day."

Such was the case in Thursday night's meeting between the Solar Sox and Phoenix Desert Dogs. Upwards of 50 to 60 different scouts and various general managers were expected to be on hand for the contest, which saw Mesa scratch a run across in the 11th inning to win, 5-4.

Others expected to be on hand included new Cubs manager Lou Piniella and Los Angeles Dodgers ringleader Grady Little.

"If you're tired now," Listach re-iterated, "then you need to go get a 9-to-5."

Fortunately, Solar Sox players, in particular those from the Cubs, don't appear to be slowing down. In fact, they might be getting stronger.

Take for instance the Sox offense, which earlier this week was putting about as many points on the scoreboard as a certain NFL team in the desert area.

The Solar Sox racked up 21 hits in a 21-4 thrashing of the Grand Canyon Rafters on Tuesday, a final tally that might indeed have been mistaken for a football score – always assuming, of course, that the aforementioned desert area football team could score 21 points in a game. (For the record, said team has done so only twice through eight games this year.)

Of those 21 hits, the three Cubs position prospects present in the Fall League contributed with eight hits – more than any of the other four organizations whose players participate with the Solar Sox.

"It was one of those days," Listach said of the game. "Everything fell in."

Second baseman Eric Patterson and catcher Jake Fox led the way with three hits apiece in the outburst, and third baseman Scott Moore chipped in with two hits. Fox went 3-for-6 and racked up six RBIS, his highest total in any game since May 14, 2004, while playing for Class-A Lansing. He went 3-for-6 that day as well, hitting two triples.

Patterson's performance marked his second three-hit showing in as many days. He followed that up with two hits in Mesa's 4-0 win over the Rafters on Wednesday at HoHoKam Park to raise his Fall League average to .361 through his first 21 games.

The 21 runs on Tuesday only followed a 10-run performance by the Sox offense on Monday. All in all, the Solar Sox have won four straight games, scoring a combined 40 runs in the victories.

With their win Thursday, the team improved to 14-12 overall and are now two games back of the first-place Desert Dogs. Mesa and Phoenix, to date, are the only Fall League clubs to post winning records.

If Mesa wins the Eastern Division of the Fall League, they'll meet the Western Division winner in a one-game championship playoff Saturday, Nov. 18 in Scottsdale, Ariz. The regular season schedule is set to end on Nov. 16.

On the Coaching Front ...

Cubs organizational meetings got underway in Arizona this week, and Listach was among the many busy bodies present for Thursday's sessions.

Listach said that barring any changes, he'd return next year for a second season as manager of the Cubs' Double-A affiliate.

The Cubs' home in the Southern League recently moved from Jackson, Tenn., to Sevierville, Tenn., on the eastern part of the state. The organization signed a two-year Player Development Contract with the Tennessee Smokies in September.

On the Pitching Front ...

Right-hander Adam Harben hasn't pitched since Oct. 21 as the result of elbow soreness. His return to Fall League competition is questionable.

"He's still here. He's around here working out," Listach said of Harben, who went 4-9 with a 3.96 ERA in 29 appearances (22 starts) with Double-A New Britain of the Eastern League this past season. Harben was eventually acquired in the trade that sent Phil Nevin to Minnesota.

Updated Fall League Statistics (through Nov. 9)

Adam Harben0-16.437.010   4   72.00
Lincoln Holdzkom2-04.0215.210   8181.34
Carmen Pignatiello0-01.426.1  3   2100.79
Clay Rapada1-13.0012.0 9  2160.92
Jake Fox.2411454513  015.268.315
Scott Moore.24122831820  311.351.470
Eric Patterson.34522872230  112.412.494

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