Addison Russell

Addison Russell hospitalized Sunday due to allergic reaction


Addison Russell hospitalized Sunday due to allergic reaction

Addison Russell was briefly hospitalized Sunday night after suffering an allergic reaction, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Russell, 24, suffered an allergic reaction to something he ate in the Cubs' clubhouse after the team's 9-7 win over the Rockies. He stayed in Denver overnight and spent a couple of hours in a hospital for observation.

Despite the situation, Russell said he felt much better by the time he got back to the team hotel. He flew to Cleveland Monday and said that he felt normal, according to Wittenmyer.

Russell entered Sunday's game as a pinch hitter and finished the day 0-for-2 at the plate. He is hitting .219 for the season.

The Cubs open a two-game series against the Indians Tuesday. Russell said Monday that he thought he would be good to play Tuesday, but only time will tell if that is the case.

As Cubs search for rhythm, hold the declarations on this season for a while


As Cubs search for rhythm, hold the declarations on this season for a while

Jed Hoyer is right: You can't make any claims about these Cubs one way or the other.

It's too early and the weather/schedule has been far too wacky for any strong statements about who, exactly, the 2018 Cubs are. 

"I don't think you can really evaluate much so far," Hoyer said. "There's no rhythm to the season yet. The game's been played in terrible condition for the most part.

"Positively or negatively, I don't think you can draw big conclusions based on what's happened. ... There's a lot of games to be played. We'll forget this time quickly and remember what it's like to be in [Wrigley] when it's not freezing. It's been a little choppy and hard to evaluate, for sure."

You can shout "SMALL SAMPLE SIZE" from the Wrigleyville rooftops all you'd like, but that's not even why it's impossible to draw conclusions about the identity of this team.

The 8-8 Cubs have already had five postponements due to weather to start the 2018 season, including four on the recent homestand (and a makeup game on Thursday, which was originally scheduled as a travel day). The last time this franchise had five games in April called on account of weather was back in 1967 and there are still another 10 days left in the month for the weather to possibly mess with. 

This will surely go down as one of the oddest starts to a season in Cubs history, with a 17-inning game played on the second day of the year, followed by a 10-inning game the next day. The Cubs were supposed to start the campaign with six straight games, but the last contest in Cincinnati was postponed, so they got an impromptu two-day break, which was good at the time for Anthony Rizzo to rest his ailing back and the bullpen to catch their breath.

After a four-game series in Milwaukee's domed stadium in which the Cubs finally looked to be showing some rhythm, the weather reared its ugly head again.

The 11-day homestand featured four postponed games, maybe the worst weather game in Wrigley Field history (Saturday) and yet another impromptu two-day break. This week alone, the Cubs played two games in a five-day span.

All of that has led to an inconsistent product.

One day, the Cubs look like an offensive juggernaut, going 5-for-9 with runners in scoring position, chasing an opposing starter before the fifth inning and scoring in bunches, as they showed Thursday in the 8-5 win over the Cardinals.

But in half the games this year, they can't seem to buy a hit against pitchers most Cubs fans haven't even heard of.

One day, the starting rotation flashes its elite potential, only to get battered around the next night.

"We haven't pitched very well," said Jon Lester, who allowed only an unearned run across six innings Thursday. "I'm not gonna speak for hitters; I don't like to cross that line by any means. But I feel like we've had some really good offensive games and our pitching staff as a whole hasn't stepped up.

"I think things will get better if we can get some games in. You got pitchers that are going on 6, 7, 8 days rest all the time. It's hard to get in that rhythm, especially when it's cold out. It's hard to find the ball; it's hard to find that release point."

Lester isn't one for making excuses and the Cubs aren't doing that. Every team in baseball has to go through these head-scratching weather issues, but it's impossible to point to the team's starting pitching inconsistency without including the schedule caveat. 

Baseball players — and starting pitchers, in specific — are creatures of habit and yet everybody is trying to navigate this new terrain.

Kyle Hendricks is still throwing a bunch on the side during all these rain/snow-outs, but most relievers are saving their bullets. Position players are still working out and getting their time in the cages, but that doesn't help everything.

The team that set records for their defensive prowess in 2016 has been inconsistent in the field this year, though their manager has an idea why.

"When you don't play consistently, the feel, the nuance, that escapes you," Joe Maddon said. 

The same issues that plagued the Cubs during their World Series "hangover" last year still seem to be around — not coming up with the timely hit, poor situational hitting overall, too many walks from the pitching staff.

But there are also reasons for optimism.

Javy Baez, Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell are showing development offensively and the lineup has missed its anchor (Anthony Rizzo) for almost half the season (seven games). Carl Edwards Jr. is limiting his walks and the Cubs bullpen has been the team's saving grace for the first three weeks.

The starting rotation is still iffy, but with resumes like Lester's, Kyle Hendricks', Jose Quintana's and Yu Darvish's, that figures to even out over a larger sample size.

The Cubs haven't fallen too far back in the standings (3 games behind the NL Central-leading Pittsburgh Pirates) and more importantly than anything, they've been able to stay healthy, apart from minor back issues for Rizzo and Ben Zobrist.

The weather still doesn't look great in Colorado, Cleveland or back in Chicago next week, but eventually things will warm up and the sun will come out on a regular basis.

And eventually enough games will be played — and not postponed — where statements about who the 2018 Cubs are can be identified conclusively.

It's just not that time...yet.

How does baseball fix weather issues? Cubs have ideas, but there probably is no solution


How does baseball fix weather issues? Cubs have ideas, but there probably is no solution

Give Anthony Rizzo a break.

In fact, give any player a break if they say they think Major League Baseball should play fewer games.

A 162-game season is absolutely bonkers as is. Who decided baseball should play twice as many games as every other American professional sport?

But this is how it is now and that will not change. Blame revenue, blame the statistical purity of the game, blame whatever. Baseball will not reduce their schedule from 162 games.

Rizzo hopped on ESPN 1000 radio with David Kaplan earlier in the day on Tuesday and said:

"I think we play too much baseball. Yes, guys are going to take pay cuts. But are we playing this game for the money or do we love this game? I know it's both, but in the long run it will make everything better."

So Rizzo is willing to make less money to play fewer games.

Spoken like a true millennial — less money is OK if there's less time at work.

But that's OK for him to think that way. These guys just had to sit through maybe the worst weather game in Wrigley Field history Saturday. It was certainly the worst weather Joe Maddon — who's been in this game for four decades — has had to endure, he said.

Tuesday night's 5-3 loss to the Cardinals was no picnic, either. Cubs players had to keep running into the third-base dugout to sit by the industrial-sized heaters to warm up during batting practice before the series opener with the St. Louis Cardinals.

"Tonight's not gonna be ideal, but we have to play games," Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said Tuesday evening. "Backing these games up and having a bunch of doubleheaders doesn't help anybody."

Wednesday afternoon's scheduled game looks doubtful, so the teams left Wrigley Field late Tuesday night pretty much expecting another postponement and playing the short series finale on Thursday.

Addison Russell echoed his (unofficial) captain's sentiments and agreed a shorter season would be nice. Maddon prefers the 162-game schedule as is; it's all he's ever known.

Rizzo knows his comments could be blown out of proportion after everything he says on the radio, but nothing he said was wrong. 

But all this talk about a shorter season is really misguided.

A shorter season would only impact things if the year started around May 1. And is anybody really confident this wacky weather will be less wacky and more typical come May 1?

Nobody expected it to snow this much in April, let alone this deep into April.

All these postponements have absolutely nothing to do with the MLB season starting in late March, so please don't even start that argument. 

The season starting earlier is actually a part of the solution, as there are four more off-days built in. There are four more days to schedule all these make-up games without killing everybody with a bunch of doubleheaders or a 26-games-in-24-days type of situation.

This weather is so atypical, there's no plan in place right now to accomodate all these games when it's snowy or 29 degrees with windchill. Maddon acknowledged this was probably the worst he's ever seen the weather to begin a season.

"Day after day, this is unusual," Maddon said. "But more than likely, it's an anomoly. It's probably not going to be this way again next year. It provides a lot of wonderful conversation, but I think it also provides an opportunity to think things through in advance the next time it occurs.

"...It's one of those things I think you need to take advantage of in the sense that it's a negative situation weather-wise. What's the positive? The positive is that let's learn something and figure out how to work around a weather-related situation."

So what can baseball do?

Nothing, except ride it out.

"There's no solution to it," Hoyer said. "The season starting earlier has nothing to do with what the weather is on the 15th, 16th, 17th of April.

"This is the time everyone's been playing baseball. This is a bad stretch for the whole league. We'll get through it."