Cubs

Cubs add Pierce Johnson to bullpen and send Jeimer Candelario back to Triple-A Iowa

Cubs add Pierce Johnson to bullpen and send Jeimer Candelario back to Triple-A Iowa

Roughly an hour before first pitch on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, the Cubs optioned infielder Jeimer Candelario to Triple-A Iowa and added Pierce Johnson to their bullpen.

Johnson — the first pitcher the Theo Epstein regime drafted for the Cubs — will be available to make his big-league debut against the Cincinnati Reds.

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Johnson — the 43rd overall pick out of Missouri State University in 2012 and the compensation for losing free agent Aramis Ramirez — struggled with command issues and health problems as a starter and pivoted toward a bullpen role last summer.

Johnson went 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA in 12 appearances for Iowa this season, putting up 21 strikeouts against 11 walks and 15 hits through 14 innings.

Cubs Talk Podcast: This will be the toughest championship for any team to win

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: This will be the toughest championship for any team to win

In the most unprecedented season in MLB history, teams must go through a tough shortened season in possibly the most difficult run in baseball history.

David Kaplan and Gordon Wittenmyer discuss the level of difficulty for teams to win a championship this year, plus the anniversary of the Ryan Dempster trade and the details that surrounded it. Later, Kaplan interviews Joan Ryan, author of the book "Intangiblesm" about the importance of team chemistry in difficult times.

(1:51) - Is coronavirus testing for the Cubs improving?

(7:10) - Yu Darvish speaks on the playing in the pandemic

(11:30) - Ryan Dempster trade anniversary

(19:15) - Joan Ryan interview

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(20:40) - Importance of team chemistry in winning

(26:00) - Analytics vs. chemistry

Listen here or below.

Cubs Talk Podcast

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How Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks strengthened his case to start Opening Day

How Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks strengthened his case to start Opening Day

The Cubs haven’t yet announced their Opening Day starter, but Kyle Hendricks made a strong case for himself Tuesday night.

Tuesday’s intrasquad scrimmage was the closest the Cubs have had come to a real game all Summer Camp. An MLB umpiring crew joined the team on the field. The Cubs played eight innings, two more than they’d reached before. And Hendricks was dominant.

The right-hander threw over six scoreless innings. With the flexibility of an intrasquad setting, Kyle Schwarber’s fly out to right was the third, but not the final, out of the sixth.  News rippled through the field that they were staying out for one more batter.

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Hendricks had thrown 66 pitches – a number the Cubs could work with on opening day – but even an extra batter didn’t mar his outing. Jason Heyward grounded out to first base.

Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy has put extra emphasis on in-game recovery during this three-week Summer camp.

“Obviously we want to get the pitch count ramped up,” Hottovy said this week, “but getting those up and downs too is equally important to see how your body recovers in between innings and how you feel.”

In that area, Hendricks has progressed further than any other Cubs pitcher.

Yu Darvish started for the opposite team Tuesday and is the other obvious candidate to start on Opening Day. But Darvish threw less than four innings and gave up a home run to Willson Contreras—it was the catcher’s third homer of Summer Camp. Darvish also walked two batters, including leadoff hitter Kris Bryant in the first inning.

Still, nothing is decided.

“We might have a pending test in two days and have to shuffle our entire schedule and rotation,” Hottovy said Monday. “A lot of this is going to be how we get through this next week healthy, with the testing protocols in place. And then we can start really lining up what we want to do when it starts.”

The Cubs open the season against the Brewers at Wrigley Field on July 24.

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