Cubs activate Matt Duffy, complete other roster moves prior to series opening win over D’Backs
There was a sense of controlled excitement Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field for David Ross.
The Cubs activated Matt Duffy off the 60-day IL and had him starting at third base in the Cubs’ series opener against the Diamondbacks.
“He was a big part of our success when we were winning, the good month we had,” Ross said.
But the Cubs also wanted to be careful with Duffy and try to have him play the role he played before his injury.
“We just want him to be him,” Ross said. “Play good defense, have his caliber at-bats and hopefully the lineup can start to get back to the version that was when we were hitting really good.”
Duffy was 0-for-3 with a walk and a run in his return. He made a pair of nice plays in the field in the 8th inning as he made his return to the hot corner. The Cubs beat the Diamondbacks 8-3.
Activating Duffy came at the expense of Eric Sogard, who was designated for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster. Sogard slashed .249/.283/.314 with a home run and 12 RBI in 78 games with the Cubs.
“I think when you put some guys on the IL and have to put some guys on the 60-day and you don’t kinda perform the way we need you to perform, sometimes the veteran gets the wrong end of the deal,” Ross said. “I think he’s done everything for us that we’ve asked. He’s been one of the probably pro-est guys that I’ve been around in the locker room.”
It was all part of an eventful Friday in terms of roster moves. The Cubs moved lefty reliever Brad Wieck to the 60-day IL. Wieck was placed on the IL on July 9 with an irregular heartbeat and the Cubs announced he would undergo a cardiac ablation to address it. The procedure is like the one Wieck had done during spring training in 2020.
“I think he was gonna try and avoid it and went through another episode and talked to the doctors and I think he finally made the decision of what’s best for him and his family,” Ross said.
With the open 40-man spot, the Cubs claimed outfielder Johneshwy Fargas from the New York Mets and optioned him to Triple-A Iowa. Fargas, 26, made his major league debut this season, going 6-for-21 with 3 RBI in May.
In 604 career minor league games, Fargas has hit .254 with 27 home runs, 182 RBI and 246 stolen bases.
Davies, Chirinos Shine
It was a memorable afternoon for Robinson Chirinos.
The backup catcher, who started in place of Willson Contreras who had the day off, was 3-for-4 with a pair of home runs and 2 runs. His first home run came in the bottom of the 4th, a 408-foot blast to left center. He hit his third home run of the season to left field in the 6th inning.
“It was awesome,” Chirinos said after the game with a smile.
It was the seventh career multi-home run game for Chirinos. His last one came on Sept. 9, 2019.
Zach Davies turned in a strong performance for the Cubs. He struck out a season-high 8 batters as he pitched 5.1 innings of 2-run ball. It was the most strikeouts he has had in a game since Sept. 9, 2020. That stemmed from him getting Arizona hitters to chase.
As a contact-oriented pitcher, Davies was focused on trying to induce weak contact that would get his defense in the game. But he was recording many first-pitch strikes that allowed him to go after hitters. That put him on the attack and the hitters a bit more cautious.
“Most of the time, got to 2 strikes and you’re still trying to get a double play, but at the same time, you don’t wanna give them a gift,” Davies said. “You don’t wanna be in the zone where they can handle it and they can shoot a ball into the outfield and start a rally.”
So, he pitched and lived just outside the zone and was able to tally up strikeouts.
“With 2 strikes, there are times where you do need a strikeout, you do want to try and get him to swing and miss sometimes with a guy on third base, whatever,” Davies said. “Today, it just so happened.”
The baseball world woke up to the news Friday morning that Cleveland’s MLB team would be dropping the name Indians and will be called the Guardians starting at the end of this season.
The team shared the news on Twitter with a video narrated by Tom Hanks.
“First thing I thought of was my son loves Guardians of the Galaxy,” Ross said with a laugh.
Jokes aside, Ross knows there’ll be an adjustment period to the new name but was all in favor of dropping the former name.
“I understand all of the reasons why, I 100% support that,” Ross said.
Jake Arrieta threw a bullpen session Thursday in St. Louis, throwing around 60 pitches. His next step will be throwing against live hitters. Arrieta was placed on the 10-day IL prior to the All-Star break with right hamstring tightness.