The Cubs’ young lineup could look better by the start of the last homestand Monday. Jorge Soler is expected to back from his three-day leave for the birth of his child and the Cubs appear to be targeting Monday for Anthony Rizzo to return to the lineup.
The team said Friday that Rizzo would not play this weekend in Pittsburgh. Rizzo ran the bases for the first time prior to the opener at PNC Park and took batting practice for the second day in a row. Rick Renteria said the Cubs are being very cautious with him and pointed out Rizzo has not played in three weeks so he needs time to get his legs underneath him.
Anthony Rizzo has not played since the eighth inning of the first game of the series in Cincinnati on Aug. 26.
According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Starlin Castro thinks he will be able to return before the end of the season, plus he has gone from hoping to play two games to mentioning the possibility of playing three games before year’s end.
Starlin Castro was out of his walking boot prior to Friday’s game in Pittsburgh. Castro talked about the importance of him being healthy going into the off-season. Castro wants to make sure he can focus on next season in the winter and not rehabbing the left ankle injury that’s kept him out of the line-up.
If Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo return to the lineup this season, a Cubs lineup with Castro, Rizzo, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Arismendy Alcantara for the last three games, or so, would be a good way for the team to end the year.
Jed Hoyer spoke with Patrick Mooney about the importance of position redundancy and having enough depth to overcome injuries to key players, especially late in a season.
“Even before Starlin’s injury, we always talk about it. You got to have redundancies at different positions. It Starlin goes down, then Javy can move over. If someone at third goes down, who replaces him? You can’t have any excuses in a pennant race if a guy gets hurt. You have to be able to move forward.”
The report from Comcast SportsNet mentioned the importance to have a player like Mike Olt on a team’s bench that could step in at first base if Anthony Rizzo was to miss significant time or at third base while supplying a power threat on the bench.
The Cubs are placing an emphasis on “guys being able to play multiple spots” and players like Mike Olt, Logan Watkins and Matt Szczur could help fill out the roster next year while giving Rick Renteria flexibility in the field.
News and Notes
Even though the Cubs lost their seventh straight game, Rick Renteria thought his team played a better game Friday night and he saw better approaches at the plate against Gerrit Cole according to a report from the Sun-Times.
ESPN Chicago asked if Welington Castillo is part of the Cubs’ core. And Jerry Crasnick looked at Russell Martin, the popular option among the fan base to replace Castillo as the Cubs starting backstop.
This Day In Cubstory
1998 – Sammy Sosa hit home runs No. 61 and 62 in the Cubs 11-10 victory over the Brewers in 10 innings. Sosa tied Mark McGwire for the MLB lead in home runs. Sosa passed Ted Kluszewski (Reds, Crosley Field in 1954) for the most home runs in a season in a single park. Sosa hit numbers 34 and 35 at Wrigley Field. Sosa also tied Ralph Kiner’s NL single-season record with his 10th multi-homer game of the season.
1976 – Wade Miller, born
1972 – Roberto Clemente hit the last regular season homer of his career off Ferguson Jenkins at Wrigley Field.
1960 – Eighteen-year old OF Danny Murphy became the youngest player in Cubs history to hit a home run. Murphy smacked a three-run homer off Bob Purkey. The Cubs lost 8-6 to the Reds in Cincinnati.
1942 – Shortstop Lennie Merullo made four errors in the second inning in the second game of a doubleheader against Boston. His son is born later in the day and was named “Boots”.
1931 – The Cubs beat the Braves 11-7 at Wrigley Field when player-manager Rogers Hornsby cracked a pinch-hit grand slam in the 11th inning, the first pinch-hit extra inning grand slam in Major League history
1906 – Mordecai ‘Three-Finger’ Brown won his 11th straight games in a 6-2 victory over the Cardinals.
1902 – Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance lined up at short, second and first base for the first time. Germany Schafer played third and the Cubs beat the Cardinals 12-0.