Cubs set 2022 Opening Day roster with 3 players hitting the IL
The Cubs have set their Opening Day roster for the 2022 season.
Due to the shortened nature of Spring Training, Major League Baseball teams will have 28-man rosters for April and go back to the standard 26-man roster on May 1.
The Cubs placed 3 players on the IL Thursday: Alec Mills (back), Andrelton Simmons (shoulder) and Wade Miley (elbow). All IL moves are retroactive to April 4.
Mills threw 2 games in Cactus League play but experienced tightness in his low back after a bullpen last week that flared up more during his session Tuesday.
“Really a lot of precaution here,” David Ross said. “Had some low back tightness a couple of days after he threw a bullpen. Felt it loosen up a little bit to kind of make his outing and just got done and wasn’t very good.”
Of the 28, the Cubs have 9 players who are making their first Opening Day roster:
“It’s special for everybody,” Ross said. “We have  Opening Day guys here for the first time today. I’m gonna actually announce that when I talk to the team and congratulate those guys. It’s a really big deal. Something I think guys will never forget.”
In Ross’ seat, he often has to deliver bad news to a player that is being sent down to the minors or cut from the team. So when he gets the opportunity to share some nice moments with players like informing them they will be on the Opening Day roster, he relishes the moment.
“I wish everybody could see — when I call some of those guys in my office and the relief, the joy,” Ross said. “Then for the next 30 minutes, they’re on their phone walking around the clubhouse texting family and calling friends. Really cool moments.”
Here’s how the rest of the roster shakes out:
No surprise here. Gomes provides a legitimate backup to Contreras after a revolving door at the position last season. Gomes’ presence also allows the Cubs to get Contreras some added rest by DHing the All-Star backstop and keeping his bat in the lineup.
The Cubs opted for 14 hitters on the 28-man expanded roster and Rivas makes the squad as a result. He adds another left-handed option for Ross, which is especially helpful as the Brewers are rolling out three straight right-handed pitchers to begin the year.
With Simmons’ balky shoulder, his Cubs debut will be delayed a bit. That leaves Hoerner as the primary shortstop with Villar as the backup across most of the infield positions. Villar’s switch-hitting ability is an added bonus as it allows Ross to play the matchups and provide rest for Hoerner and Madrigal up the middle.
Given the structure of the roster, it has long been assumed that the Cubs were going to take all six outfielders.
Ortega and Hermosillo are both out of minor-league options and the Cubs don’t want to lose either player. Frazier has an option remaining but had a very good spring and is a popular pick to break out in 2022.
Heyward moves to center field full time with the arrival of Suzuki, the Japanese right fielder who has big power and a big personality. Happ will play left field, though he was slowed early in camp by offseason elbow surgery.
Hendricks gets the ball for Opening Day and wants to set a clear tone for the pitching staff. Steele will throw Game 2 and match up against Brandon Woodruff. Stroman makes his Cubs — and Wrigley — debut Saturday.
Smyly takes the mound for Game 4. The Cubs are off on Monday so depending on how the first few games go, they can either utilize Keegan Thompson out of the bullpen until next Saturday or slot everybody back a day and insert him into the rotation next week.
This unit is packed with newcomers. Martin and Chavez were part of the Braves’ World Series-winning bullpen last fall and Robertson is a former closer with plenty of late-inning experience. Roberts is a rookie who turned in the most wholesome moment of the spring when he found out he made the Opening Day roster.
Ross didn’t want to set roles in spring so expect the Cubs to play matchups with the 9th inning. Wick, Robertson and Givens could all be in the mix to pick up saves.
Givens was the main question mark in the bullpen after appearing in only 1 Cactus League game. He arrived in Cubs camp two weeks before Opening Day but was held back with some general soreness as he built up for the season.
Rucker and Effross debuted late last season and both righties can provide length out of the bullpen.