After roster additions, Cubs lay out new plan for infield rotation
ST. LOUIS — In the space of a few days, the Cubs infield has gone through somewhat of a facelift.
Since Sunday, the Cubs have added Zach McKinstry (trade) and Nick Madrigal (return from injury) to the active roster and optioned Alfonso Rivas and David Bote to Iowa. With the new faces, the Cubs want to give some of those guys regular plate appearances.
“We’ve got some new guys that our priority is to get at-bats and you just have conversations [with] some of the guys that might not get as much and just talk to them about, ‘Here’s kinda the role moving forward,’” Ross said before the doubleheader on Thursday. “All that stuff will work itself out real soon.”
In the immediacy, the Cubs hope to use Patrick Wisdom at both third base and first base. Against a righty, they’ll lean towards using Wisdom at first and McKinstry, a lefty, at third — like they did in Game 1 of Thursday’s doubleheader against the Cardinals.
“I’ve talked to [Wisdom] about that a couple of days ago, moving him around a little bit with Rivas going down,” Ross said.
Madrigal’s return means he’ll slot into second base, but they’ll do that slowly. As he eases back into rhythm, McKinstry can play some second when needed.
“It’s important to get Nick through the season healthy and continue to get him at-bats, consistently, so we can keep continuing through this year coming back from a major injury,” Ross said.
Nico Hoerner has solidified the shortstop position and done so by playing at an elite level. He’s tied for fourth in baseball in Outs Above Average (11) and is second among shortstops in the metric.
Frank Schwindel will garner the reps at first against lefties — he started the nightcap of the doubleheader against southpaw José Quintana. P.J. Higgins will continue to serve as third-string catcher and can play first and third in a pinch.
The X-factor comes in the form of Christopher Morel. He’s already shown his flexibility, playing center field, second base, third base and shortstop. Morel can rove around the infield, but Ross has an idea of where he’ll fit in the last two months of the season.
“I think you’ll probably see a little bit more Morel on the left side of the infield at times,” Ross said. “Trying just the versatility and seeing everybody.”
The Cubs have a myriad of options in the infield and that’s what led to Bote being sent down between games of the doubleheader.
“I mean there’s only so much playing time to go around, that’s for everybody, right?” Ross said. “So I mean you’re kinda seeing who’s gonna get the bulk of the playing time.”