Cubs

Cubs dealt tough blow as Jorge Soler, Jason Motte end up on DL

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Cubs dealt tough blow as Jorge Soler, Jason Motte end up on DL

The Cubs will be without two important players as they enter the stretch run toward the postseason.

Reliever Jason Motte and outfielder Jorge Soler both landed on the disabled list Monday morning.

Motte is dealing with a right shoulder strain and will not throw for seven-to-10 days. The Cubs hope he can be back in three or four weeks.

[MORE CUBS: Justin Grimm finding a new level in Cubs bullpen]

Soler has a left oblique strain. He will be out approximately a month, but Cubs have already seen how tricky oblique injuries are this season as Opening Day second baseman Tommy La Stella spent two different stints on the DL with an oblique strain.

"Just one of those things that happens," manager Joe Maddon said. "Everyone faces the different dilemmas this time of year. You just gotta play through them.

"It's called depth. You have to have depth. The player that is 'depth' when it all starts out doesn't like being 'depth,' but he is and all of a sudden, he gets his opportunity and then good things can happen."

La Stella - who was the Cubs' Opening Day second baseman - is getting his opportunity right now as he was recalled to take Soler's spot on the roster. He was in the lineup at second base Monday with Starlin Castro returning to shortstop while Addison Russell deals with a minor groin injury and attends to his fiancée, who was giving birth to the couple's child Monday.

It's possible Russell will be available off the bench Monday or Tuesday.

"I've been looking to give him a break anyway," Maddon said. "Maybe this little sign indicates 'back off.'

"Let's just be very careful. He's a very important part of what we're doing right now. So this little rest might be very beneficial to him and to us."

The Cubs don't know what play Soler hurt himself on and the injury comes at a time when the 23-year-old rookie was hitting .296/.378/.394 (.772 OPS) over his last 20 games with 14 RBI and nine walks.

With Soler out, it does open up options for Maddon, who said Chris Coghlan would go back to the outfield on a regular basis against right-handed pitchers while La Stella and Castro can work in at second base. The Cubs also have Javier Baez waiting in the wings at Triple-A Iowa as an option for the infield.

The Cubs called up lefty Zac Rosscup to take Motte's spot in the bullpen.

Motte said he felt his shoulder flare up during his appearance Sunday, experiencing some "bumpiness" before finishing the inning and getting an MRI Sunday night.

Motte has gone through Tommy John recovery before, so he put things in perspective with what the Cubs hope is a minor shoulder strain.

"It is what it is," he said. "Stuff like this is part of the game. Things like this happen. All you can do is take your time, rest it when you need to rest it and do what you need to do to get back out there and get ready to go.

"Hopefully it will only be a couple weeks and I'll be back in the first couple weeks of September and be ready to go. There's still a lot of season left after that."

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

This is a tough blow for the Cubs, who hold the second National League wild card spot, six games up on the San Francisco Giants entering play Monday.

The injury bug strikes the Cubs at a rough time as they embark on a crucial stretch beginning with a showdown with those Giants on the West Coast Tuesday.

This continues a week in which the Cubs offense - which responded well to limited time at the field during Maddon's "American Legion Week" - has to face Corey Kluber, Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw.

"I guess we move from American Legion Week to Cy Young Week," Maddon joked.

The Cubs also signed Quintin Berry as depth, assigning the 30-year-old outfielder to Triple-A Iowa.

Forget 2015, the Brewers are more like 2016 Cubs

Forget 2015, the Brewers are more like 2016 Cubs

With the Milwaukee Brewers about to kick off the NLCS, many Cubs fans and pundits have taken to comparing them to the 2015 Cubs.

At first glance, it's easy to see why — they're in the playoffs for the first time as something of an underdog and "surprise" team — but that's not the recent Cubs squad we should be comparing the 2018 Brewers to.

This Milwaukee team is a lot more like the 2016 Cubs.

Here's why:

1. They're not a surprise.

Nobody expected the 2015 Cubs to win 97 games and wind up in the NLCS. They were expected to compete very soon, but everything went right in a red-hot August, they rode Jake Arrieta's right arm to the NLDS and then toppled the Cardinals to get to the LCS, where they ran into the brick wall that was Matt Harvey and and the Mets pitching staff.

The 2018 Brewers are not — and should not be — a surprise. Anybody who was caught off guard by this team being so good hasn't been paying much attention. The Brewers were leading the NL Central in 2017 for much of the year before a late-season fade that coincided with the Cubs' late-season surge.

This Milwaukee squad was always supposed to be one of the top teams in the NL in 2018 and they really hit their groove in September to chase down the Cubs. Still, it took a Game 163 to force a changing of the guard atop the division.

2. They greatly improved expectations with a big free-agent OF signing over the winter.

The Cubs had Jason Heyward in between 2015 and '16. The Brewers had Lorenzo Cain.

Cain has provided quite a bit more offense in the first season of his 5-year, $80 million contract but both Cain and Heyward provided leadership in the clubhouse and elite defense in the outfield in the first years with their new teams.

3. The Brewers have the NL MVP.

This one's an easy comparison to make, though Cubs fans will hate it.

Christian Yelich is this season's NL MVP. Sorry, Javy Baez fans. "El Mago" had a great season, but it's impossible to give the award to anybody but Yelich.

Yelich winning the league's most coveted accolade would be another perfect tie-in to the 2016 Cubs, who had Kris Bryant take home NL MVP.

4. They have a dominant LHP out of the bullpen.

Josh Hader has been doing his best Aroldis Chapman impression in 2018 as an absolutely dominant southpaw out of the bullpen. Unlike Chapman, Hader's spent all season with the Brewers, but like Chapman in '16, Hader will be leaned on heavily for multiple innings throughout the rest of the playoffs.

5. They picked up some valuable in-season assets.

The 2016 Cubs dealt for Chapman, but they also traded for reliever Joe Smith and called up Willson Contreras in the middle of the year, who provided a spark for the offense.

The 2018 Brewers have acquired plenty of valuable assets along the way this season from Mike Moustakas to Jonathan Schoop to Erik Kratz (more on him later) to Gio Gonzalez. But one of their most important additions (especially in October) was the promotion of top prospect Corbin Burnes, a flame-throwing right-hander who posted a 2.61 ERA in 30 regular-season games and allowed only 1 hit in 4 shutout innings in the DS.

6. They're on a mission with a chip on their shoulder.

The 2015 Cubs had a little bit of a chip on their shoulder as they attempted to take down the divisional powerhouse that was the St. Louis Cardinals. But again, they were a surprise contender - even within that clubhouse (especially early in 2015). But after falling short in the NLCS, the Cubs retooled over the winter and came back with one goal in mind - to win the World Series.

It was a goal they accomplished. We'll see if the Brewers will be able to do the same, but they certainly came to play in 2018 with a chip on their shoulder and the ultimate goal of winning the final MLB game of the year.

The Brewers didn't lead the division from Day 1 and weren't able to coast into October, but they still wound up with homefield advantage throughout the NL playoffs.

7. They have journeyman catcher who is winning over fans' hearts.

This is a fun one.

The 2016 Cubs had David "Grandpa" Rossy who still elicts deafening cheers whenever he's shown on the giant video board at Wrigley Field. The 2018 Brewers have Kratz, who has become a fan favorite recently and was mic'd up for the final out of the NLDS.

Ross was 39 when he helped lead the Cubs to the 2016 World Series and Chicago was his eighth stop (seventh different team) along his MLB journey. Kratz is 38 and on his ninth stop (seventh different team) along his MLB journey.

In fact, Ross and Kratz are so intertwined, they've already been compared to each other by MLB.com.

But the major difference is Kratz has zero postseason playing experience until a week ago. Will he be able to ride off into the sunset with a championship ring on his finger the way Ross did?

We'll have an answer to that over the next few weeks in the final chapter of the Brewers' 2018 season, though Cubs fans surely wouldn't be too happy to see their division rivals celebrating with a World Series parade just 90 minutes north of Wrigley Field.

Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde interviewed for Rangers' manager opening

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USA TODAY

Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde interviewed for Rangers' manager opening

The Cubs just lost one coach with hitting coach Chili Davis getting fired. Another opening on Joe Maddon's coaching staff could also open up.

According to report from MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, bench coach Brandon Hyde interviewed with the Rangers on Thursday.

Rangers farm director Jayce Tingler was the first candidate the club interviewed, but Hyde and Astros bench coach Joe Espada were also interviewed.

The 45-year-old Hyde has been with the Cubs since 2014. He was a bench coach in 2014 under Rick Renteria before moving to first base coach from 2015-17. This past season he moved back to his original role as bench coach.

He played four seasons in the minors for the White Sox.

The Rangers job opened up when Jeff Banister was fired on Sept. 21. Banister won AL Manager of the Year in 2015 and guided the Rangers to back-to-back playoff appearances in 2015 and 2016, but couldn't get out of the ALDS either year. A 78-84 season in 2017 was followed by an even worse 2018, which led to his firing late this season.