News and Notes: Cubs inching closer to full health, Joc loving being back in California, red-hot Giants
The Cubs took a step in the right direction Saturday in their bid to get healthy.
Prior to their game against the Giants, the Cubs activated Jason Heyward off the injured list and recalled pitcher Cory Abbott from Triple-A Iowa. To make room on the roster, they optioned lefty Brad Wieck to Iowa and designated outfielder Nick Martini for assignment. The team claimed pitcher Dakota Chalmers off waivers from the Twins and optioned him to Double-A Tennessee.
While the team inches closer to full strength, David Ross is keeping his focus on the present and not what the team could look like in a few days or a couple of weeks.
“I think there’s a sense of they’re getting better and optimism like yeah, we should be back to full strength,” Ross said. “The guys that have been here and have been contributing have been doing a really nice job, so we just try to stay focused on that.”
Abbott’s promotion gives the Cubs more length with their pitching. Since their last off day on May 24, the Cubs have had just 3 quality starts in 11 games and Kyle Hendricks is the only starter in that span to make it 7 innings.
“You hate to send anybody out that’s throwing well, Brad Wieck is throwing really good for us, but with the situation we’ve been through, some short outings from the starters, we need some length down there and some protection on the back side,” Ross said. “I think Cory gives us that. If it’s starting, someone that’s stretched out can give us some length.”
Jake Marisnick, who played in a pair of rehab games in Iowa this week, isn’t quite yet ready to join the roster, but is with the team in San Francisco.
“Still some soreness from playing,” Ross said. “We’ll test him and run him pretty diligently today and maybe give him one more day off tomorrow. The recovery process didn’t go quite as smooth as Jason’s so we’re gonna give him one more day and then reassess tomorrow.
“Wanna make sure these guys are 100% before we get em back.”
That’s as much the case with Alec Mills, who has made a pair of rehab starts with Iowa but has not rejoined the big-league team yet. Ross said Mills has been throwing well but didn’t provide a timetable on when he might rejoin the team.
Ross also didn’t have an update on the status of Jake Arrieta, who pitched just 2 innings Friday night after revealing he was dealing with a stomach bug.
Joc loving San Francisco
Joc Pederson has been loving his return to California.
After spending his entire major league career with the Dodgers, Pederson is making his first trip back to the Golden State as a member of the Cubs and the return has been outstanding for him. He’s homered in each of the first two games of the series and dating back to his last game at Oracle Park last season, has homered in his last three games in San Francisco.
To Ross, that’s a blend of coziness in his surroundings and at the plate. Since he’s returned from the injured list in early May, Pederson has an .830 OPS with 5 home runs and 17 RBI.
“I would err on the side of the mix, but I definitely think he feels real comfy competing in this environment,” Ross said. “I just like the vibe he brings to us and he definitely feels comfortable here. I think he’s been swinging the bat pretty darn good.”
All offseason and during spring training, the talk of the NL West was the impending dogfight between the Padres and Dodgers for the division crown. But just over a third of the way through the season, it’s the Giants who sit atop the division standings, a game ahead of the Padres and 2 games ahead of the Dodgers.
The Cubs have seen firsthand just how good the team is.
“I think they don’t beat themselves,” Ross said. “They play really good defense which always helps. I think all their veteran guys are swinging it really well. They’re getting good play from their younger guys, the guys they picked up. And their bullpen’s been good.
“I think they’ve done a nice job. All around, just a solid team that is bought in to whatever their philosophies are, you can see it.”