Why the Cubs optioned Frank Schwindel and what it means for Cubs roster
The Cubs still have plenty of faith in Frank Schwindel — that’s why they felt it necessary to option him down to Triple-A Sunday.
“Somebody that we believe him, but need him to get going a little bit,” manager David Ross said Sunday afternoon before the series finale against the Dodgers. “Get down there, work on some things, take a little bit of the pressure off and let him continue to get back to what we expect him to be and what he expects himself to be.”
Schwindel’s option to Iowa was one of a handful of roster moves the Cubs made. The team scratched Marcus Stroman from his scheduled start and placed him on the injured list without a designation and they selected the contract of righty Adrian Sampson.
The Cubs turned to Justin Steele, who was scheduled to start Monday’s opener in San Diego to open the game against the Dodgers. Kyle Hendricks will take the ball in the opener against the Padres.
But the shocker came in the form of Schwindel. The 29-year-old hit .342 last season with a 1.002 OPS, 13 home runs and 40 RBI. He posted an OPS+ of 164, 64 points above league average. He broke camp with the team and was scheduled to be their everyday first baseman.
Schwindel has struggled to recapture his 2021 form, hitting just .209 with 2 home runs and 21 strikeouts in 96 plate appearances. He had just 36 strikeouts last season in 239 plate appearances with the Cubs.
“I think it feels like a little bit like not connected,” Ross said. “He’s hit some balls hard at times and then a couple early pitch rollovers.
“Looks like he’s searching for that hit and kinda [try to] swing your way out of it sometimes, right, rather than being a little bit more patient and finding out where the strike zone is and how you’re connected.”
Schwindel’s option clears the way for Alfonso Rivas to get more looks at first. The 25-year-old lefty was hitting .333 with a .936 OPS entering Sunday’s game.
“I think that’s part of having a little bit of depth there and [Rivas] off to a nice calm approach in the box and a really good defensive player,” Ross said. “Allows him to get a little runway here and see what he can prove to establish himself as a regular big leaguer.”
Stroman’s injury designation likely means that it’s COVID-19 related, but the team doesn’t confirm those. He can be activated at any time off the injured list.
In the interim, Sampson’s addition to the active roster provides length to a pitching staff that covered 18 innings Saturday and is carrying just 3 starters — Hendricks, Steele and Drew Smyly. Keegan Thompson has pitched in a long relief role all season, but he threw 54 pitches Saturday in 2.2 innings of work.
Other Injury updates
Patrick Wisdom, who exited Saturday’s nightcap with an ankle contusion, recovered and was available to play in Sunday’s game, Ross said.
Meanwhile, Wade Miley threw a bullpen Sunday at Wrigley Field as he continues his return from an elbow injury. Ethan Roberts (right shoulder) and Clint Frazier (appendectomy) will head to Arizona soon to begin their rehab assignment.
Alec Mills (right quad, lower back) is continuing his throwing program and Andrelton Simmons (right shoulder soreness) went 1-for-4 at Triple-A Iowa in the second game of his rehab assignment.