Cubs sorting out the roster puzzle as injured players return
With David Bote and Matt Duffy activated off the IL this weekend, the Cubs are inching toward full strength with regards to the roster.
Well, for now at least.
The uncertainty of the trade deadline still looms over this team but for Sunday’s series finale against the Diamondbacks, David Ross had a variety of options for the lineup.
Bote was back in a starting role at third base with Patrick Wisdom shifted to left field and Kris Bryant moving over to right. Duffy was not in the starting lineup but he was subbed into the game in the 6th inning Saturday and drew the start Friday afternoon.
It affords Ross the ability to roll out seven right-handed hitters against Arizona southpaw Caleb Smith and then mix-and-match later in the game. The depth also allows Ross to give guys days off while easing Duffy and Bote in after missing so much time.
Duffy, Bote and Wisdom are also different styles of hitters. Wisdom has more power but also some swing-and-miss tendencies. Duffy is a high-contact bat who uses the whole field. And all three can play a multitude of positions, just like Bryant.
“That’s really nice – the characteristics of their swing and what they hit well,” Ross said. “Bote still being able to play some second base would factor in Nico [Hoerner] some [days off]. And then it just strengthens our bench.
“We’ve got some real threats — those things that were clicking for us in May where you were able to bring a guy off the bench that was fresh that was getting a lot of at-bats, that hadn’t sat around for a long time and you still get a competitive at-bat in the middle of pinch-hits as well.”
Bote was named the team’s starting second baseman out of spring training and hit .201 with a .620 OPS in 49 games before separating his shoulder on May 29. He had a solid few games prior to the injury, going 4-for-11 with 2 homers.
He was on the shelf for nearly two months and spent the last week with Triple-A Iowa on a rehab assignment.
When Bote was first injured, the Cubs had their sights firmly set on a division title and were primed to be buyers at the trade deadline. A lot has happened since then, including the 11-game losing streak in June and July.
Bote watched it all transpire as he went through his own recovery process.
“It’s hard when you’re not able to help physically on the field,” Bote said. “You’re doing whatever you can to be there to watch the game, see something. If someone has a question, being ready to say, ‘hey, this is what I saw.’
“The coolest thing that I saw is the group grinded. They were always staying together, always grinding. It was really encouraging to see a group that when we were struggling there for a couple weeks, everything in the clubhouse was, ‘hey, let’s find a way to win today.’ … Even when things weren’t going well, giving what they had and going out there, doing it and staying together was huge.”
The Cubs might have another reinforcement on his way to the roster soon in reliever Rowan Wick. The 28-year-old right-hander was in Chicago Sunday and will throw a live bullpen Monday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
Wick will then head to Triple-A Iowa to continue his rehab. He has been out since Sept. 16 of last season with an intercostal injury but made 3 appearances with Class-A South Bend over the last week.
He would represent a big addition to the Cubs bullpen if he’s able to return later this summer.
“It’d be nice to see him for sure,” Ross said. “It’s nice to see him even in the weight room. He’s a big human being that was probably one of the better guys in our bullpen for a while now. To have him on his way back, it’s just refreshing to see him for sure.”