According to a report from the Tribune, Chris Denorfia is dealing with a left hamstring injury that might keep him from beginning the season on the active roster.
Chris Denorfia has appeared in only one game since March 17, the B-Game against the Angels last Thursday (March 19) at Sloan Park. Mark Gonzales’ report is the first to indicate Denorfia’s absence was due to an injury.
Mark Gonzales reported that Denorfia might not appear in another Spring Training game. And the Cubs might have to wait until the morning of April 5 before finalizing the Opening Day roster due to Denorfia’s injury.
Denorfia was expected to be Chris Coghlan’s platoon partner in left field when the season started and provide Joe Maddon with a veteran on the bench that can play all three spots in the outfield.
The Cubs signed Chris Denorfia to a one-year, $2.6 million contract in the off-season that includes a $400,000 incentives package. Denorfia dealt with a neck injury last season that caused him to miss time with the Padres and Mariners.
With Denorfia’s status for Opening Night in doubt, the spot on the roster earmarked for him could go to either Ryan Sweeney or Matt Szczur according to the Tribune.
According to Mark Gonzales, Sweeney “is thought to have the edge” over Szczur based on his contract and the fact he hits left-handed. Sweeney is owed $1.5 million for this season and has a club option for 2016 worth $2.5 million that includes a $500,000 buyout.
Sweeney has not hit this spring and is only 5-for-26 in 10 games with two doubles, a walk and five strikeouts (.192/.222/.269) for a .491 OPS.
Matt Szczur has “made a favorable impression” on Maddon according to the Tribune. Szczur not only hits from the right side, but he can play all three outfield spots plus provide speed off the bench. If the Cubs were planning a platoon of Chris Coghlan and Chris Denorfia, it would only make sense for Szczur to slide into that role.
In 14 games this spring, Matt Szczur is 10-for-27 with a double, two triples, three home runs, three walks and seven strikeouts (.370/.433/.889) for a 1.322 OPS. Szczur has one minor league option left.