Javier Baez is getting close to returning to the Iowa Cubs. Baez is playing in extended Spring Training games to get back into baseball shape after taking a leave of absence to be with his family following the death of his sister.
Theo Epstein talked with the beat writers Monday and one of the topics he addressed was Javier Baez’s status. Epstein said he only needed a few more days in Arizona before he reported to the Iowa Cubs. Baez will mainly play second base in Triple-A, he will see some time at shortstop but will not be played in the outfield.
Epstein was asked again how the players would fit together on the field once Baez is ready to be called back up. Epstein pointed to the fact the Cubs “have a lot of guys with a lot of versatility.” Epstein explained, “There is ability for all our core guys to fit on the field at the same time, if we get to the point where they’re all up here together. That’s thinking really far into the future.”
During an interview Sunday on MLB Network Radio, Jason McLeod told Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden that Javier Baez was expected to be back with the Iowa Cubs by the end of this week.
Javier Baez has a lot to work, but mainly slowing the game down at the plate is where he has to focus as works his way back to the big leagues. And that could take time.
Edwards and Almora
RHP C.J. Edwards is the latest Cubs’ prospect to ask to be called by his given name.
According to Justin Rocke, the Tennessee Smokies’ Senior Broadcast and Media Assistant, Edwards asked to be called by his legal name, Carl Edwards Jr.
Albert Almora Jr. and Duane Underwood Jr. have also asked to be called by their full given name this season.
RHP Carl Edwards Jr. has appeared in four games for the Smokies this season and is 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA and 1.70 WHIP. Edwards Jr. is pitching out of the bullpen right now and has allowed seven runs, three earned, on five hits with eight walks and 10 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings.
Albert Almora Jr. is day-to-day after leaving Monday’s game in the fifth inning. Mick Gillispie reported Almora Jr. left the game after being shaken up diving for a ball in the field during the fourth inning.
In 16 games this season, Albert Almora Jr. is 19-for-64 with three doubles, five walks and six strikeouts (.297/.333/.344) for a .677 OPS. And the front office is very happy with the progress Almora is making at the plate.
Addison Russell felt bad for the fan that was hit in the face by a bat that slipped out of his hands in the seventh inning of Monday’s game. Russell told the beat writers he didn’t know the words to describe how bad he felt. Russell saw the bat hit the fan and couldn’t do anything about it.
The fan was carried out of Wrigley on a stretcher and was taken to a local hospital.
The Cubs issued a statement following the game: “During the 7th inning of tonight’s ballgame at Wrigley Field, a fan was struck by a bat that inadvertently flew into the stands during play. Paramedics and a first aid physician were dispatched to the scene to assist. The patient was transported to first aid, then transferred to an ambulance and taken to a nearby hospital. The patient was conscious and communicating with staff while being transported from the stands. We will remain in communication with his family to keep updated on his progress.”
Joe Maddon wasn’t concerned about Jorge Soler’s 0-for-15 skid entering play Monday night. And Soler showed why Monday. Soler went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
Before the game, Maddon explained that Soler doesn’t need to make any mechanical adjustments. Soler needs to take what the pitchers are willing to give him. Maddon said to lookout when he starts taking walks.
Maddon didn’t rule out possibly giving Soler a day off Wednesday prior to Thursday’s scheduled off day. That would give Soler an extended break. And with Junior Lake up with the team, the Cubs have an extra outfielder to spell Soler for a day.
ESPN Chicago provided two key stats in regards to Soler’s struggles at the plate. Prior to Monday night, Soler was hitting .313 in games where the temperature was above 51 degrees … and below 50 degrees, just .136. Jesse Rogers added that Joe Maddon agreed that Soler does not like playing in cold weather.
The Cubs made two roster moves prior to Monday’s game. The team recalled OF/INF Junior Lake from Triple-A Iowa and optioned RHP Brian Schlitter to Iowa to make room for Lake on the roster.
The Cubs plan on using Lake mostly in the outfield, but Lake could see time in the infield. Lake will get groundballs at third base during pre-game warmups and practice. Lake was a shortstop in the system before he was passed by Starlin Castro on the organizational depth chart.
News, Notes and Rumors
• LHP Tsuyoshi Wada made his third rehab start Monday night. And it didn’t go very well for the lefty in Colorado Springs. Wada gave up seven runs, six earned, on 12 hits with a walk and a strikeout in five innings.
• According to Randy Wehofer, RHP Armando Rivero had his best outing for the season Monday night in Colorado Springs. Rivero struck out two of the three batters he faced in a perfect sixth inning. The third out was an infield pop-up.
• RHP Justin Grimm and RHP Neil Ramirez are progressing in Arizona in their rehabs. But the Cubs do not have a timeframe for when either reliever could return. Grimm is believed to be ahead of Ramirez in the process.
• Welington Castillo took grounders at third base again prior to Monday’s game against the Pirates.
• According to the Des Moines Register, LHP Jeffry Antigua was re-assigned to Double-A Tennessee to make room on I-Cubs’ roster for RHP Brian Schlitter.
• Starlin Castro has hit safely in all but five of the last 44 games he’s played in dating back to last Aug. 1 according to Carrie Muskat.
• The Marlins likely changed the Welington Castillo market Monday when they activated C Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the paternity list then designated him for assignment. ‘Salty’ is an offense-only catcher and he isn’t hitting. The Marlins decided to cut ties with him despite owing him the remainder of his $7 million for this season and $8 million in 2016. Saltalamacchia is expected to clear waivers. But according to Nick Cafardo, GM Dan Jennings had already talked to five teams about Salty by Monday night. The Red Sox, Indians, Mariners and Diamondbacks are believed to be among the teams that could be interested in him. Jon Paul Morosi reported the Red Sox are not interested in a reunion with Salty. And according to Nick Piecoro, the D-Backs “are having internal discussions about Saltalamacchia.”
• The Dodgers lost RHP Brandon McCarthy for the year and the Cardinals are expected to now have company in their pursuit of LHP Cole Hamels. According to Jim Bowden, the Dodgers and Cardinals will scout and pursue Scott Kazmir if the A’s do not start playing better.
• Cole Hamels beat the Cardinals on Monday night. When asked if St. Louis was a place he would like to go if he is traded, Hamels said he thought it was best if he didn’t answer that question.
• Cubs are contenders as rookies thrive amid standout class according to Jeff Passan.
And last, but not least, Major League Baseball set another attendance record. 4,414,182 fans have attended games this season through the first three weekends of the year and that tops the previous high of 4,335,099 set in 2008.
This Day In Cubstory
2005 – Cubs signed free agent Shane Halter
2005 – Cubs released Eddie Oropesa
1985 – John Gaub, born
1984 – Cubs released Mike Proly
1975 – Cubs traded Matt Alexander to the A’s for Buddy Copeland
1974 – Cubs released Mike Paul
1966 – Cubs traded Bobby Cox and cash to the Braves for Billy Cowan
1962 – Luis Quinones, born
1906 – The only time in the history of the game that two player-managers stole home on the same day, but not in the same game. Frank Chance swiped home in the ninth inning of a 1-0 victory over the Reds and Fred Clarke stole home in the Pirates 10-1 win over the Cardinals.
1906 – Cubs traded Hub Knolls to the Brooklyn Superbas for Doc Gessler
1875 – Walt Woods, born