Cubs

Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina back in play for Cubs-Cardinals

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Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina back in play for Cubs-Cardinals

ST. LOUIS – Adam Wainwright made only four starts and the St. Louis Cardinals still won 100 games – and baseball’s toughest division – with their organizational pitching depth and next-man-up attitude.

Yadier Molina – the heart-and-soul catcher and seven-time Gold Glove winner – might be the one player St. Louis couldn’t replace.

Now that Wainwright and Molina have been cleared for what should be an epic National League division series, the Cardinals will have even more championship experience to draw upon during their first-ever playoff matchup against the Cubs.

[MORE: Bring it on: Cubs-Cardinals rivalry will escalate to another level]

Wainwright was supposed to be done for the year when he tore an Achilles tendon in late April, but St. Louis manager Mike Matheny confirmed his Opening Day starter will be on the best-of-five roster and available out of the bullpen for Game 1 on Friday at Busch Stadium.

Molina sprained his left thumb on Sept. 20 at Wrigley Field and hasn’t played in a game since making that tag at the plate. It’s been a down year for the seven-time All-Star (.660 OPS), but his presence means so much to the St. Louis pitching staff and clubhouse.  

“I think he feels pain,” Matheny said after Thursday’s workout. “He just doesn’t recognize it, or know how to define it.

“Yadi has an ability (to) put some of those things behind (and) not just play the game, but play it well. And be able to put the distraction away – whatever it is that’s bothering him – and bring something good to the field.

“He’s a smart guy, too. He doesn’t want to go out there if he’s not able to contribute. If he’s not able to compete and do what he needs to do, he knows that would hurt our club. And right now, that’s not the situation that we’re in. We’re very fortunate.”

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Wainwright made three one-inning relief appearances during the final week of the regular season. That’s how the Cardinals probably envision using their 6-foot-7 right-hander as a playoff weapon.   

Wainwright famously froze Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded to eliminate the New York Mets in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, setting the stage for another World Series title. 

“(It’s) an incredible story when a lot of people said he wouldn’t make it back this year,” Matheny said. “But he’s also a very sharp pitcher right now. He looks good. And we’re going to give him opportunities, too, in big situations.” 

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist won't win the Comeback Player of the Year award this winter, but maybe he can take home a Grammy for Best New Artist?

The Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder posted a hilarious video on his Instagram Wednesday night showcasing how he's been spending October after the Cubs were unceremoniously ousted from the playoffs after on the third day of the month.

It's a fantastic music video of Zobrist lip-syncing to Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait" while he nearly knocks the TV off the wall of his home by swinging the bat indoors pretending to hit off Clayton Kershaw and frolicking around a field that looks shockingly similar to Hershel's farm from the second season of "The Walking Dead":

View this post on Instagram

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year.... I will wait for you....

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

Zobrist also posted a lengthy caption on his perspective on the Cubs' disappointing end to the season:

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) 
Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not
Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. 
I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. 
What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. 
To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year....
I will wait for you....

Come for the Zobrist lip sync, but stay for the 37-year-old using a bat as a guitar while wearing a sleeveless shirt and rocking an old-timey top hat.

A year ago, Zobrist completely reshaped his offseason workout plan after three straight years of playing deep into October. It appears he's added another new trick to his winter workout — hopping over fences even though there is a clear opening just a foot away.

Hey, whatever works...

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

Did Manny Machado’s value take a hit at all after he openly admitted hustling isn’t his “cup of tea”? Our Cubs team (David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Tony Andracki, Jeff Nelson) debate that, plus the potential fit of Machado or Bryce Harper for the 2019 Cubs and beyond.

[MORE: The most underrated storyline of the Cubs offseason]

The crew also runs down the top items on the Cubs’ offseason wish list – ranging from bullpen help to infield depth to a set leadoff hitter – in what may be the most impactful winter in Theo Epstein’s tenure in Chicago.

Listen to the podcast here or via the embedded player below: