Cubs could shake things up with Javier Baez and Kris Bryant


Cubs could shake things up with Javier Baez and Kris Bryant

SAN DIEGO — The talking heads on MLB Network ran through a segment on the Cubs that spelled it out with a “SHAKE IT UP” on-screen graphic: Call up Javier Baez, make him your third baseman and shift Kris Bryant to left field.

Starlin Castro didn’t look up from his phone on Wednesday afternoon, relaxing in a leather chair with his feet up on a table in the middle of Petco Park’s visiting clubhouse. Addison Russell didn’t seem to be paying attention to the TVs either, standing by his locker and getting ready for batting practice.

The Cubs are approaching potential franchise-altering decisions that will involve their All-Star shortstop and converted second baseman. Promoting Baez from Triple-A Iowa could shore up their infield defense, while moving Bryant to the outfield could generate more production out of an important corner spot.

“Those are possibilities,” manager Joe Maddon admitted before downplaying those scenarios.

[MORE CUBS: Cubs should be in position to make much bigger moves]

The night before, Bryant, Castro and Russell combined for three errors that led to three unearned runs in a 4-3 loss to the San Diego Padres. Baez has a take-charge personality on the field that makes it hard to imagine him not yelling for that pop-up in shallow center that bounced out of Russell’s glove.

In a game the Cubs felt they should have won, left fielder Chris Coghlan absolutely crushed two balls off James Shields and Craig Kimbrel, showing signs that maybe he’s about to get hot after those two home runs.

“I know his batting average (.205) isn’t high, but who’s hit the ball harder with worse luck than he has this year?” Maddon said. “You got to look through that surface stuff. I think Coghlan’s had a pretty nice year so far. He’s been unlucky, man. That guy’s hit line drives that have been caught and even if, say, four of them had fallen ... he’s probably hitting about .240 or .250 and everybody’s happy.

“I like depth in a long season. I don’t like pushing or pressing people to get here before it’s their time or before it’s really absolutely the necessary time to do it.

“Right now, Javy’s taking care of business. It’s great. I like him a lot. He’s going to be a really good major-league player. But I also like what’s going on here a lot, too.”

[MORE CUBS: Javier Baez will be an X-factor if Cubs stay in contention]

Coghlan has pretty much seen it all after becoming the 2009 National League Rookie of the Year with the Florida Marlins. He got injured, got released, signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs and put up an .804 OPS during last year’s bounce-back season.

“I’ve played enough years that the average only matters at the end,” said Coghlan, who does have six homers and a .705 OPS. “The numbers are up there, and it looks bad. Trust me, I know that it’s not good. But that’s why they call it an average at the end of the year.

“I don’t care what I’m hitting. I could be hitting .400 right now — and I finish the year at .190. I mean, .190’s the only one that matters, not .400 the first two months.

“So every day you just look to grind out some at-bats, man, and hit the ball hard. Obviously, the harder you hit it, the better chance you have for it to fall. I feel like my numbers definitely don’t show or reflect the way that I’ve hit the ball. And in the long run, it will.”

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

Maddon tried but couldn’t convince Theo Epstein’s front office to put Baez on the Opening Night roster. The Cubs have Baez focusing on shortstop and second base at Iowa — where he’s hitting .308 with an .823 OPS this month — after he took an extended leave of absence in April to deal with the death of his younger sister.

“Javy can make any defense better,” Maddon said. “I talked about that in camp: I thought he was one of the finest young infielders I’ve seen. But I’m not displeased with anybody out there right now, either. Sometimes, you just got to wait for your opportunity.

“I hear that he is doing well. That’s good when you get thick and you have that kind of depth coming, because something’s going to happen. It always does. I hate to say it, but it does. And I’ve talked about how baseball has a cruel way of answering its own questions.

“Right now, from Javy’s perspective, the biggest thing he has to do is to stay ready.”

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 26th + 27th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 26th + 27th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Another day in June 1998, another multi-homer game for Sammy Sosa.

Slammin' Sammy connected twice off Carlton Loewer in the same game, a solo shot in the first inning and a 2-run shot int he fifth inning. Both were measured at 380 feet.

Still, the Cubs wound up losing the game 9-8 to the Phillies despite Sosa's effort and a total of 3 runs in the bottom of the eighth and ninth innings combined.

Fun fact: A big part of why the Cubs lost this game was Jose Hernandez's defense. He committed 3 errors at third base and shortstop that led to a pair of unearned runs.

A messy night at Wrigley Field ends without a pitch being thrown

A messy night at Wrigley Field ends without a pitch being thrown

The NLCS rematch will have to wait another day.

Mother Nature and the power at Wrigley Field care not for your excitement about a "big series" between the Cubs and Dodgers.

Thunderstorms rolled over the North Side of Chicago, where the Dodgers ended the Cubs' postseason run 8 months ago. 

On top of that, the power at Wrigley Field was not cooperating with the lights down the right field line going out for hours during the rain delay. 

The lights came back on at one point before again going out again roughly a half hour before Monday night's game was officially called. After a delay stretching almost three hours, word finally filtered out just before 10 p.m. the game would be postponed a day.

The Cubs and Dodgers will make the game up as part of a day-night doubleheader Tuesday at Wrigley Field with the first game starting at 12:05 p.m. and the second at the regularly scheduled time of 7:05 p.m. Tyler Chatwood will start the first game for the Cubs with Mike Montgomery slated to go Game 2.

As of 10 p.m. Monday night, the Cubs were unsure what caused the power issue at Wrigley Field but were working on fixing the problem ahead of Tuesday's scheduled doubleheader.

The evening started with the tarp being rolled onto the field by the Cubs grounds crew roughly an hour before scheduled first pitch with a forecast calling for a 100 percent chance of rain.

Only a light rain fell until a downpour began around 8:15 p.m.:

That lasted only about a half hour before the grounds crew came back out around 8:45 p.m. to partially remove the tarp and attempt to get the field ready to play.

The only issue at that point was the light and a sinister forecast.

"It takes 45 minutes to get the field ready to play," said Julian Green, Cubs director of communications. "So once you take that tarp off, you saw them putting the chalk lines down, getting ready.

"We wanted to be ready — even in the face of rain — if the lights came back on, we wanted to make sure we could play baseball, even if it was a limited window of opportunity."

As of 11 p.m., that second bout of rain had yet to materialize, but the lights issue also wasn't corrected and play on the field would've been impossible.

Fans lingered throughout the stadium for nearly three hours before an official conclusion came down. The Cubs kept the same announcement on the right field video board about the weather delay while the left field video board displayed the Brewers-Pirates and other MLB games.

This is the only trip to Chicago the Dodgers make throughout the 2018 season so the two teams and Major League Baseball did all they could to try to get a game in and avoid any issue where these two teams would have to play on a mutual off-day later in the year. 

The Cubs were in the midst of a stretch of 17 games in 17 days without a day off. They're still on that same schedule, though now with an unexpected day off Monday and a doubleheader Tuesday.

The Cubs are no stranger to postponements this season as wacky weather has continued to hamper this MLB season.

"Not only for the Chicago Cubs, but Chicago in general, this has been a really interesting spring and summer season," Green said. "We're taking our licks just like everybody else is.

"Our plan is to play baseball tomorrow and make sure we can accomodate fans as best as possible. So fans who have tickets to tonight's game will be able to use them for tomorrow."