Minor League Report: Micah Hoffpauir
Cubs first baseman has appeared in every spring game
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Micah Hoffpauir is the Cubs' Ironman this spring.
The first baseman has appeared in every game, including Wednesday, when he started at first base and homered in the Cubs' game against the Texas Rangers. A year ago, Hoffpauir was a last-minute add to the big league camp, getting the call because there was some concern about injuries to other players. This spring, he was in camp from Day 1.
"It's definitely a great feeling to come in and actually get some at-bats, and be successful in those at-bats," Hoffpauir said. "I'm just going to try to take advantage of every opportunity I'm given."
He was batting .429 heading into Wednesday's game, which shows that regular at-bats definitely help.
"It's not as easy as it looks from a management standpoint to see what you're capable of or not capable of in two or three at-bats," Hoffpauir said. "I think the more at-bats you get, the more they get to see, and the better off you are. So far, I've been fortunate to get quite a few. I hope they're noticing."
Hoffpauir would've been called up last summer, but he injured his right knee and was done for the season. He is entering his sixth year in the Cubs' Minor League system. If he's not on the team's roster at the end of the year, he will become a six-year free agent. Hoffpauir isn't looking that far ahead.
"I don't have any idea of what's going on or what anybody's thinking, but I'm hoping for good things and hoping to get a shot," said the left-handed-hitting first baseman, who batted .319 in 82 games last season at Triple-A Iowa before he was hurt. "All you can do is play hard and hope for the best."
Good guy: Jake Fox may have been reassigned to the Cubs' Minor League camp on Tuesday, but that doesn't mean he's done working on a school project which will help him complete his degree.
Fox, who is four credits shy, created an educational program for coaches on how to deal with athletes who have diabetes. He gathered background information on diabetes, put together a Power Point presentation that includes 30-35 slides showing the instruments people use to deal with the disease, and interviewed teammate Sam Fuld, who is diabetic, for help.
"Sam came over and started to talk to us about the psychology of it -- how a player feels when they're diabetic, and things you should make the team aware of in case the coach isn't around," Fox said. "Sam made me aware. I turned the presentation in Sunday, sent it to my professor, and hope to get the rest of it finished before Spring Training ends."
The rest of it includes interviewing former Cub and current WGN Radio broadcaster Ron Santo, who also has diabetes. Fox was inspired by his wife, Allison, a former collegiate cross country runner who was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age 18.
In the offseason, Fox hosts a camp in Indiana and invites kids with diabetes to participate. Fifty percent of their entry fees go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He also holds a silent auction, and 100 percent of the proceeds from that goes to JDRF. Last year, they raised more than $2,200 in one day.
Now, Fox wants to take his program to the next level.
"I'd love to start doing an after-school program for kids with diabetes," said Fox, who has expanded his one-day clinic to include a coaches session as well.
"Right now, my goal is that we've created this [limited liability partnership] and the proceeds are going to JDRF, and the message is that kids can still participate in things even if they have diabetes," Fox said.
And the name of his LLP? The acronym is FEWSIC, which stands for "For everyone who said I couldn't."
No-no: On June 21 against Huntington, Mark Holliman threw a no-hitter in the first game of a doubleheader for Double-A Tennessee. It was only seven innings, but it still counts as a no-no. Casey McGehee was behind the plate.
"Warming up, he didn't have good stuff," McGehee said. "As soon as the game started, he was dialed in."
Funny thing, McGehee and Holliman weren't in sync at the start of the game either. McGehee hadn't caught the right-hander much and was still trying to get a feel for him.
"By the second inning, I deferred to him," McGehee said. "He was just throwing a lot of strikes."
Holliman didn't seem nervous as the game progressed. He walked one, struck out three. McGehee said the pitcher is very even keeled.
"He can have a bad game, a good game, and his expression never changes," McGehee said.
So, how hard was it to catch a no-hitter?
"I didn't have to do anything," McGehee said. "My sister could've gone back there and caught him. I was the least important person on the field at that point. He could've thrown 13 innings and he wasn't giving anything up."
Go Irish: Jeff Samardzija was optioned to Double-A Tennessee on Tuesday, and what should help the right-hander is getting regular work. He arrived in spring camp with long locks, but as camp progressed, he got a trim, then got it cut much shorter.
"I told him by August, he'll be in a crew cut," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.
Aches and pains: Angel Guzman, rehabbing from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery last August on his right elbow, began throwing every other day this week. Guzman has yet to throw off a mound but is building up arm strength by increasing the distance of his throws. This week, he's throwing from 90 feet.
They said it: "I was just going to go up and hit until they told me to stop." -- McGehee, who was inserted as a pinch-hitter Tuesday for pitcher Carlos Zambrano, then got one more at-bat as the designated hitter against Oakland. The Athletics started the game using the DH. The Cubs wanted Zambrano to get his at-bats.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.