Justin Steele and Adrian Sampson will not join Cubs in Toronto
MILWAUKEE — The Cubs will be without a pair of pitchers for their trip to Toronto this week.
Justin Steele and Adrian Sampson are expected to go on the restricted list since they are unable to make the trip to Toronto. Canada requires travelers to be fully vaccinated to enter the country.
“It’s not something you look forward to,” Jed Hoyer said last week. “It’s not ideal, but it’s also baseball in 2022 when you go to Toronto. Every team has to go through this exact situation in some form or manner when they go up to Toronto.”
Steele started Friday’s game in Milwaukee and left early with low back tightness. Sampson is took the hill Sunday and threw 3.1 innings as the Cubs dropped the series finale 9-7 in Milwaukee.
The Cubs will get two replacement players to take Sampson and Steele’s spots in Toronto. Had Sampson thrown more than 4 innings Sunday, the Cubs would have only been able to secure one replacement player in Toronto based off MLB rules.
Triple-A pitchers Brendon Little and Jeremiah Estrada were in the Cubs clubhouse after Sunday’s game and are expected to make the trip with the team to Toronto. Replacement players do not have to currently be on the Cubs’ 40-man roster, so it opens up a variety of options for the organization.
Javier Assad is scheduled to start Monday in Toronto, taking the ball for the second time in his MLB career. Marcus Stroman will start Tuesday and the Cubs have not yet announced a starter for Wednesday’s game.
The situation is not ideal, but the Cubs knew it was coming so they’ve been able to plan ahead and think through roster decisions. The team is thankful it is not in a position like the Royals, who were without 10 players during their trip to Toronto earlier in the summer.
“I think time gives everybody a chance to form decisions,” David Ross said. “Information continues to come out about helping guys make the right decision. Only two guys. You’d like it to be no one but at the end of the day, we trusted everybody to make the best decision for them and it gives other guys opportunity as well. It is what it is.”
Sampson was not scheduled to pitch at all in Toronto after starting Sunday and he explained his vaccination decision after the game.
“It’s just unfortunate that I can’t go and be with the guys,” Sampson said. “It was a personal decision the whole time. Kinda waiting to see as more info came out and then the season comes along and it’s just the last thing you want to think of. It’s a personal decision for me.
“…I think people just choose what you want to do. Hopefully get some appreciation from one another and not looking down on someone because of the decisions they’ve made. Everyone’s been very accepting of people’s decisions here. It’s nice. You don’t feel like they’re trying to single you out or anything.”
Steele also was not expected to throw in Toronto with his back injury.
“Just for me, it’s a personal decision, as I believe it is for everybody,” Steele said of his vaccination status. “Talked about it with my friends and family and the final decision, I just felt like I didn’t need to get it. That’s kinda what we went with.”
Steele and Sampson will return to Chicago while the rest of the team heads to Toronto. The pair of starters will continue to throw bullpens at Wrigley Field to stay ready and are expected to meet the team in St. Louis for a series beginning Friday.