Ben Zobrist has started hitting and getting on-base again. And if Zobrist is able to stay on track that will give the Cubs inconsistent offense a much-needed boost.
Zobrist is 8-for-24 over his last seven games with four walks (.333/.429/.542). Zobrist has four multi-hit games in his last 10. Zobrist had his first three-hit game since July 31 and the second since June 20 on Saturday night that included his first longball in six weeks (July 9 at PNC Park).
Over his last 17 games, Ben Zobrist is batting .271/.371/.424 with six doubles and a home run for a .795 OPS. And he has more walks (10) than strikeouts (8).
While no one expects Ben Zobrist to put up the numbers he did in May (.406/.483/.653/1.137), the Cubs must have Zobrist producing the way he has over the last two weeks for the rest of the season and into October in order for the team to reach its goals.
Jason Heyward will return to the lineup Monday for the first of three with the Padres in San Diego. Heyward received the weekend off and sat for four games in a row as the Cubs search for a way to get him on track offensively over the last six weeks of the regular season.
The Cubs missed Heyward’s defense in Colorado. And the Cubs are hoping the break will help him clear his head. Heyward took the first two days off and supported his teammates. Heyward prepared to play Saturday and Sunday in case Joe Maddon needed him.
Maddon using Travis Wood in left field for the final two innings Sunday showed how much he did not want to play Heyward at all during the series at Coors Field.
“It’s all about trying to hit the reset button for me going forward,” Heyward said. “Nobody knows what’s going to happen after this. But that was the goal … to relax, watch the baseball game and just not overthink it. I was just watching and understanding I can help this team in different ways. And right now, coming back from it, I feel good.”
Heyward admitted the Cubs are thinking about October. The team also realizes they have not won anything and there is still a lot of work to be done. Heyward wants to do everything he can from this point on to help the Cubs win games.
“I’m going to relax, have some fun and play it as a team game,” Heyward said.
Jason Heyward stated his “numbers aren’t going to mean anything” to him as an individual. For Heyward, it is all about helping the Cubs win games for the rest of the year.
Albert Almora Jr.
The Des Moines Register reported Sunday that Albert Almora Jr. “visited a hand specialist” and Marty Pevey did not have a “timetable as to when the injured outfielder could return to the lineup this season.”
Almora Jr. was placed on the DL last week, retroactive to Aug. 11, with a sore left thumb. Almora Jr. bruised his thumb on Aug. 10 making a play in left field.
Pevey told the Des Moines Register that the Cubs will “be a little more cautious” with Almora Jr. The Cubs had him see a hand specialist “to make sure there wasn’t anything more than just a bruise.” According to the Des Moines Register, Almora Jr. went to see the hand specialist while the team was on the road. Pevey had not received an update on Almora Jr.’s status when he spoke with Tommy Birch.
Tommy La Stella
Tommy La Stella has been assigned to Triple-A Iowa.
La Stella did not play Sunday for Double-A Tennessee after he was ‘promoted’ to Triple-A Iowa. La Stella is expected to report to Iowa on Monday and be in the starting lineup against the Memphis Redbirds at Principal Park
La Stella played in only two of four possible games with the Smokies after being hit in the foot in his second plate appearance last Wednesday. La Stella went 2-for-4 with two walks and a hit by pitch.
Chris Coghlan will report to Triple-A Iowa on Monday to continue his rehab. According to multiple reports, Coghlan will not be placed on Iowa’s roster. Coghlan will continue his workouts with the I-Cubs before he officially begins a rehab assignment later this week.
Candelario has hit safely in nine straight games and he’s reached base in 28 straight games, the second longest active streak in the Pacific Coast League. Candelario is 16-for-44 in his last 10 games with a pair of walks.
Over his last 20 games, Candelario is batting .346/.407/.526 with three doubles, a triple and three home runs for a .933 OPS. And in 63 games for the I-Cubs this season, Candelario has hit .316/.407/.521 with 14 doubles, three triples and eight home runs for a .928 OPS.
The Des Moines Register asked Marty Pevey about the Cubs calling up Candelario in September. Pevey believes Candelario has put himself in a spot of a September call up. Pevey thinks Candelario is the best player on the I-Cubs roster right now.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Jorge Soler was scratched from Sunday’s lineup with a sore leg. Soler fouled a ball off his knee Saturday night and stayed in the game before Joe Maddon eventually lifted him for precautionary reasons. Soler was not expected to miss any time and he didn’t. Soler pinch-hit in the ninth inning and actually picked up an RBI on a foul out to first base.
• Rob Zastryzny earned Joe Maddon’s trust during the series with the Rockies according to the Sun-Times. Zastryzny made his Major League debut in extra innings on Friday night and pitched out of a tough jam that wasn’t entirely his fault. Rob Z completed 2 2/3 scoreless innings Sunday in relief of Jason Hammel and did a good job pitching out of the bullpen. Maddon said, “Very good. Five punchouts, great composure. He definitely looks like the kind of guy you can trust. Let’s keep running him out there and see how it plays out.”
• According to The Tribune, Rob Zastryzny to get more chances after earning Joe Maddon’s faith.
• Joe Smith is hoping to throw off a mound in San Diego according to The Tribune.
• Jim Bowden posted a list of players he thinks could be traded by Aug. 31.
• The Red Sox believe a Jonathan Papelbon reunion is becoming less likely according to a report from The Score.
And last, but not least, Kris Bryant has hit 57 home runs in his first two seasons in the big leagues … tied for the 12th most home runs in the history of the game for a player in his first two season.
This Day in Cubstory
2010 – Lou Piniella stepped down as the manager of the Chicago Cubs and retired from baseball
2002 – Cubs traded Tom Gordon to the Astros for two PTBNL and Russ Rohlicek. Cubs received Travis Anderson and Mike Nannini from Houston on Sept. 11, 2002 to complete the trade
2001 – Sammy Sosa hit three home runs in the same game for the second time in a week. Sosa was removed from the game after his third home run in the sixth inning. The Cubs beat the Brewers 16-3.
1983 – Dallas Green replaced Lee Elia with Charlie Fox as the manager of the Cubs
1982 – Cubs retired Ernie Banks No. 14. Banks played his entire 19-year career in the majors with the Cubs and was the first player to have his uniform number retired by the organization.
1970 – Ken Holtzman allowed only one hit, a single by Hal Lanier with one out in the eighth inning as the Cubs beat the Giants 15-0 in San Francisco. Gaylord Perry took the loss for the Giants. Billy Williams and Joe Pepitone doubled, homered and scored three runs.
1968 – Gary Scott, born
1963 – Darrin Jackson, born
1960 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Lou Brock
1954 – Hank Sauer Day at Wrigley Field … The Mayor of Wrigley Field was showered with packets of tobacco and other gifts when 30,093 filled up Wrigley Field for Hank Sauer. Sauer went 1-for-5 at the plate in the Cubs 12-6 loss to the Braves. Rookie Ernie Banks hit two home runs.
1950 – Ray Burris, born
1942 – Catcher Clyde McCullough, shortstop Lennie Merullo and first baseman Phil Cavarretta turned a triple play in the top of the 11th inning. Bill Nicholson hit a home run in the bottom of the 11th as the Cubs walked off with a 5-4 victory over the Reds at Wrigley Field.
1930 – Cubs traded Chick Tolson and Mal Moss to Minneapolis (American Association) for High Pockets Kelly.