Dusty Bergman, who pitched one inning for the Angels in 2004, was the last player from the University of Hawaii to reach the majors. Vinnie Catricala, a 2009 10th-round pick of Seattle, is bidding to be the next.
Catricala popped his second homer of the spring Monday against the Rangers. A corner infielder and outfielder, he’s 6-for-19 in seven appearances to date.
Catricala was one of the best hitters in the minors last season, coming in at .349/.421/.601 with 25 homers and 106 RBI between Single-A High Desert and Double-A Jackson. High Desert is well known as one of the top three or five offensive environments in the minors, but Catricala actually improved in Double-A, finishing with a 1.052 OPS in his 62 games for Jackson.
Still something of a man without a position, Catricala played 54 games at third base, 34 at first base and 32 in left field last year. The Mariners have given him time at both third base and left field this spring. He’s not viewed as a realistic candidate to make the team now, but given the uncertainty that the team faces at both positions, it’s not unrealistic to think he could be starting somewhere come July.
Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.
Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.
With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.