Cubs

Cubs aren’t overreacting to Hector Rondon’s performance in World Baseball Classic

Cubs aren’t overreacting to Hector Rondon’s performance in World Baseball Classic

MESA, Ariz. – This won’t be the mantra printed across Joe Maddon’s next line of T-shirts – or on any of the yoga gear sold in the pop-up shops directly outside the Cubs clubhouse here – but it summed up Hector Rondon’s performance with Team Venezuela: "F--- it, it is what it is." 

Overall, Rondon still appreciated the opportunity to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, even though he experienced a meltdown against Team USA and the Venezuelans didn’t advance to the semifinals at Dodger Stadium.

"Any time you go to represent your country and be there for those fans, it’s fun," Rondon said Sunday, returning to the Sloan Park complex with a positive attitude. "I know I had a bad outing that day. I enjoyed playing with those guys."

Rondon couldn’t protect a one-run, eighth-inning lead last week in San Diego, giving up home runs to Adam Jones and Eric Hosmer as the Americans rallied for a 4-2 win at Petco Park and eventually escaped the second round of the international showcase.

Rondon got five outs for Team Venezuela, giving up five runs on seven hits and two walks in two appearances combined.

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"Everything is working good, my arm, my velocity," Rondon said. "I just missed a couple pitches, and that’s it.

"Those hitters are really good and they know me. I don’t know that much about them, but now I know. I’m really happy. I know I didn’t have the success that I wanted there, but still in my heart and my mind, I’m really happy."
 
This will be magnified with Rondon after the Cubs traded for Aroldis Chapman and Wade Davis and Maddon bumped his ex-closer from the circle of trust during last year’s World Series run. 

The Cubs still believe Rondon is healthy and ready to contribute to what should be a lights-out bullpen.  

"He said he feels great, and that’s all I want to hear," Maddon said. "We’ll fine-tune the location of his pitches, because the other day he said he had great stuff. It was just in a bad spot, (and) he knows that, so he’s very accountable about the other night. He feels like he knows what he needs to do to fix it. I love that. I like the upbeat nature."

What Jose Quintana's injury says about precarious nature of this MLB season

What Jose Quintana's injury says about precarious nature of this MLB season

One more injury or a positive COVID-19 test within the starting rotation, and the Cubs will be in trouble.

Jose Quintana’s thumb injury, which is expected to keep him from throwing for two weeks, called to attention just how precarious the future of every team is this season.

"We had some concerns about our starting pitching depth,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Thursday. “A freak injury further challenges us in that area, and we have to respond."

 

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Starting pitching is a particularly vulnerable area in general. COVID-19 can affect anyone, even a team’s ace. More reports of positive COVID-19 tests are bound to trickle out now that teams are beginning workouts Friday. And with a three-week Summer Camp expediting the ramp-up process, risk of soft-tissue injury becomes a concern for pitchers in particular.

Add into the mix a microscopic surgery on a lacerated nerve in Quintana’s left thumb – the Cubs announced on Thursday that he suffered the injury while washing dishes – and the Cubs are beginning Summer Camp already shorthanded.

“No one’s going to feel sorry for us,” Epstein said. “This this is a bump in the road that we just have to overcome.”

The baseball season could be cancelled for any number of reasons, safety as judged by the league and government officials being the most important. But MLB also has the power to suspend or cancel the season if the competitive integrity of the season is undermined.

What that means isn’t for Epstein to decide, but he declined to give an opinion on the topic Thursday.

“My understanding of what the standards would be don’t necessarily matter,” Epstein said. “It’s a question for the league. I hope we never get in that situation.”

Injuries always have the power to alter a season. But that’s even more so the case during a 60-game season. At best, Quintana’s injury could delay him a several weeks. At worst, even just a three-month recovery time would wipe out his entire season.

For now, the plan is to replace Quintana with someone like Alec Mills. Assuming Mills does win the starting job, that takes him out of his role as a middle reliever, a bullpen spot Cubs manager David Ross emphasized earlier in the week.

“It’ll be really unrealistic to expect guys to get to maybe 100 or so pitches right out of the shoot,” Ross said on Monday. “That may be a bit of a challenge. … The real important areas for me right now is that swingman, your Alec Mills-types that can give you two or three innings ang get to the back end of the bullpen. Those middle innings if guys aren’t stretched out enough are going to be vitally important.”

The ripple effects from Quintana’s injury aren’t nearly enough to undermine the competitive integrity of the season. But what if several teams have their starting pitching depth dramatically affected by COVID-19? What if those teams include the Dodgers and the Yankees?

Now that MLB has started ramping up for the 2020 season, it’s incentivized to keep the season running. But as the Cubs learned this week, just one dish-washing accident can alter a team’s 2020 outlook.

 

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2020 MLB season: All-Star game canceled, Dodgers awarded 2022 game

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USA TODAY

2020 MLB season: All-Star game canceled, Dodgers awarded 2022 game

Major League Baseball announced Friday they've canceled the 2020 All Star Game, which was scheduled for July 14 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

The Braves are scheduled to host the 2021 Midsummer Classic, so MLB awarded the Dodgers the 2022 game.

"Based on the health circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic that are beyond MLB’s control along with governmental directives prohibiting large gatherings, the league determined it is unable to conduct the All-Star Game and its week of surrounding fan activities this year," MLB said in a statement.

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“Once it became clear we were unable to hold this year’s All-Star festivities, we wanted to award the Dodgers with the next available All-Star Game, which is 2022,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.  “I want to thank the Dodgers organization and the City of Los Angeles for being collaborative partners in the early stages of All-Star preparation and for being patient and understanding in navigating the uncertainty created by the pandemic.  

"The 2022 All-Star celebration promises to be a memorable one with events throughout the city and at picturesque Dodger Stadium.”

California has seen a 92 percent increase in COVID-19 cases this week compared to two weeks ago.

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