Cubs struck by injury bug again as infield gets a shake-up
Day by day, the Cubs seem to have another hurdle come their way as they race toward the playoffs.
The latest one could impact the team as much as any.
The Cubs placed Nick Madrigal on the 10-day IL with a right hamstring strain and recalled infielder Jared Young from Triple-A Iowa. Madrigal is likely to miss the rest of the regular season, but manager David Ross didn’t rule out a return this year.
“Got some imaging and it’s worse than expected,” Ross said before Tuesday’s series opener against Pittsburgh. “I’m not ruling out hopefully postseason stuff and he’ll still be working and trying to get back, but just same hamstring. Worse than we thought. Not gonna be able to help us.”
Madrigal has started at the hot corner this season more than anyone else (61 games) and has started 30 of the team’s 45 games there since being recalled from Triple-A on July 30. The 26-year-old has been elite defensively, too, for a team that prides itself on glovework.
His 10 outs above average rank 4th in baseball among third basemen, behind only Ke’Bryan Hayes, Maikel García and Manny Machado. That success had allowed the Cubs to be creative with their lineups, using Jeimer Candelario at first base and keeping a DH spot open for Christopher Morel.
Madrigal suffered the injury in Saturday night’s extra-inning loss in Arizona. With Candelario on the IL, that meant Patrick Wisdom started at third on Sunday, only the second time he had started there since August 1.
Tuesday, with a lefty on the mound, David Ross opted to start Christopher Morel at third and Wisdom at first. It was Morel’s first time starting at the hot corner since July 5. Since July 22, Morel has started just two games in the field — on July 30 in left field and Friday in Arizona in right field.
Candelario, eligible to come off the IL on Friday, still doesn’t have a clear timetable on his return.
“It’s day-to-day, I can say that,” Ross said. “He feels better every single day there’s been no big hurdle.”
The 29-year-old was doing some pregame work at Wrigley Field Tuesday. He was a boon to the Cubs offense when he was first acquired from Washington. In his first 18 games, he slashed .349/.423/.571/170 wRC+. But he struggled after that, to the tune of a .109/.215/.309/40 wRC+ slash line in his next 18 games.
A healthy — and in sync — Candelario would be a boost to the Cubs’ lineup from both sides of the plate. With the reshuffling of the roster due to injuries, Ross has had to lean on some youth. Tuesday night it was Alexander Canario who was the team’s DH in his first major-league start. Bringing back Candelario can give Ross a more experienced option and provide length in his lineup.
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