Cubs: Another frustrating development for Neil Ramirez


Cubs: Another frustrating development for Neil Ramirez

This isn’t the next-level season Neil Ramirez envisioned out of the Cubs bullpen after such a dominating rookie year.

Ramirez went back on the disabled list on Wednesday with what the Cubs described as left abdominal soreness. The hard-throwing reliever had already missed more than two months while dealing with right shoulder inflammation.

“I don’t know,” Ramirez said more than once. “With everything I do to stay healthy and strong, it’s kind of baffling to me that it would be an oblique (issue). We’ll have to see.”

[MORE: Jon Lester hoping front office gives Cubs a boost at trade deadline]

The Cubs made a flurry of roster moves before a 3-2 win over the Colorado Rockies at Wrigley Field, adding Ben Rowen and Yoervis Medina to the bullpen, sending right-hander Dallas Beeler to Triple-A Iowa and designating utility guy Mike Baxter for assignment.

Ramirez — who has been handled with care — insisted his arm is essentially back to full strength. But he felt something again while warming up during Tuesday’s game.

“Honestly, I was sitting in my house the other night and I sneezed,” Ramirez said. “It was kind of one of those violent sneezes that you’re not ready for and that’s when I first felt like that sharpness.”

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans]

The Cubs have been actively looking for bullpen help, missing the presence Ramirez brought to late-game situations last season, putting up a 1.44 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 43-plus innings.

“It’s been a tough year — I’m not going to lie and say it hasn’t,” Ramirez said. “I try to do the right things to stay healthy and it’s just kind of one of those things like: Why is this going on?

“I’m not going to say it’s the end of the world, but hopefully it’s just something quick (and) I’ll be back out there soon.”

Anthony Rizzo leaves Cubs game with injury


Anthony Rizzo leaves Cubs game with injury

In the midst of a second straight tough game against the Nationals, the Cubs were dealt another dose of bad news when Anthony Rizzo was forced out of the contest due to injury.

The first baseman was pinch-hit for in the bottom of the fifth inning with what the team called mid-back tightness.

Rizzo had walked the previous inning and was stranded on third base when a full-count pitch to Ian Happ was called a ball:

Rizzo made an error in each of the first two innings of the game, throwing a ball into left field when second base wasn't being covered and then dropping a throw from Javy Baez to begin the second inning.

Rizzo has dealt with back issues throughout his career, including a stint where he missed four games in mid-May.

Jonathan Lucroy hit for Rizzo in the fifth inning and doubled home the Cubs' second run of the game. He stayed in to catch while Victor Cartaini moved from behind the plate to first base.

The Cubs were already operating with a short bench since they currently have a nine-man bullpen and they had already utilized Happ off the bench earlier in the game (he was later ejected after the controversial call).

Joe Maddon has an interesting idea on how to fix the MLB Players Weekend uniforms

Joe Maddon has an interesting idea on how to fix the MLB Players Weekend uniforms


That's the first "word" Joe Maddon used to describe his thoughts on the all-white and all-black MLB Players Weekend uniforms and the Cubs manager may as well be speaking for seemingly every baseball fan on Earth.

The color schemes have not been a popular pick this weekend, from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts saying his team feels like they're wearing "milkman uniforms" to the endless run of Stormtrooper or Backstreet Boys jokes:

One of the biggest draws of Players Weekend is the nicknames on the back of the jerseys, but in the white uniforms, you can't even see the team's logo let alone what the jersey number or nameplate says.

That's led to plenty of ideas for improvement, including letting the home teams add color to their white uniforms however they see fit:

But Maddon had maybe the best idea on how to make the uniforms better for the 2020 Players Weekend.

"They should have every team design their own Players Weekend uniform," Maddon said. "That would be cool. Like with us, you go to [Anthony] Rizzo, [Jason] Heyward, [Jon] Lester, whomever your team leaders are and in the offseason, say, 'we're gonna do this next year, you're gonna be on the road, so consider road kind of uniform - go. You style the Cubs uniforms.'

"Then it truly is Players Weekend. I think you'd get a lot more interesting and better unigrams if you went that route."

That would be awesome and would allow for plenty of creativity from the players' end.

The other issue with the all-black jerseys is how closely they resemble the umpires' uniforms. At various points when the home team is up, it looks like there are five or six players on one side of the infield with the umpires.

It's also led the defenders to blend in with the wall at Wrigley, too.

"From the dugout, looking out, the ivy is so dark, also, so when their players are running out there, it's almost like they disappear into the ivy," Maddon said. "Again, it was not good form. There's no way I can advocate that. It's just not good form. And that's not even being a traditionalist, honestly. It's another version of the dress code - the worst dressers create dress codes."

The Cubs also had to make a change in regards to their hats for Players Weekend.

Home pitchers are not allowed to wear white caps because of the possibility the baseball will blend in with the hat as it's being delivered. So on Friday, Jon Lester wore his blue Cubs hat and the rest of his teammates followed suit in a show of uniform uniformity.

However, they all took the field with the white hats Saturday (Jose Quintana wearing a black Cubs hat) after being told they have to wear the all-white version this weekend.

So this weekend is all about the players and fun and games...but also rules and stipulations that must be adhered to.