Cubs

Cubs hope Javier Baez will be returning soon

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Cubs hope Javier Baez will be returning soon

PITTSBURGH — The Cubs are hopeful Javier Baez will soon return to the game that could become a sanctuary for him.

Baez has been on an extended leave of absence from Triple-A Iowa since his younger sister, Noely, died on April 8. Baez was exceptionally close with Noely, who was born with spina bifida and lived until the age of 21.

“I was told he’s getting close to coming back,” manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday at PNC Park. “From our perspective, we want him to take as much time as he felt was necessary. So I don’t know yet. I know it’s close. I’ve heard that there’s rumblings of him coming back relatively soon. The kid was crushed by the moment, man. And we all grieve in different manners.”

The Baez question came up with Addison Russell taking over at second base and making his big-league debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

[MORE CUBS: The future is now for the Cubs and Addison Russell]

Maddon pushed for Baez to make the team out of spring training as the Opening Day second baseman, pointing to his strong arm, defensive range, game-changing speed and flashes of power.

But Baez hasn’t had a chance to make any of the adjustments the Cubs need to see at the plate. He hasn’t yet played for Iowa this season while spending time with his family.

Maddon said: “I’m not one to — in any way, shape or form — try to attempt to say: ‘Listen, it’s about time you came back. The grieving time is over.’ I don’t know his family setup, and I don’t know how he was raised with that young lady.

“From my perspective, we just respect that process. And then when he comes back, we’ll welcome him back openly.”

Kris Bryant and wife Jessica take batting practice at home, with fun twist

Kris Bryant and wife Jessica take batting practice at home, with fun twist

The baseball season is on hold due to COVID-19, but Kris Bryant is still getting his work in.

Sunday, Bryant shared clips of him and his wife, Jessica, taking batting practice in their at-home cage. We know Bryant has a nice swing, but Jessica — who played high school softball — has quite the sweet stroke herself.

Not to be outdone, Bryant wraps up the post by showing a highlight of the home run he hit at the 2016 All-Star game.

Ah, sweet nostalgia.

The Bryant's son is due in the near future, so perhaps we'll get a look at all three in the cage in a couple of years. With an at-home facility, the kid is going to be a stud, right?

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Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel's unique pitching pose stemmed from an injury

Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel's unique pitching pose stemmed from an injury

Craig Kimbrel’s debut season with the Cubs didn’t go well. The closer on a Hall of Fame trajectory went 0-4 with a 6.53 ERA (8.00 FIP) and 1.597 WHIP in 2019, converting 13 of 16 save tries.

Kimbrel had an abnormal preseason last year and didn’t make his season debut until late June. 2020 is a clean slate for the right-hander, but Major League Baseball is looking at an unorthodox season due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Whenever the season starts, Kimbrel has the chance to start fresh and put last year’s struggles behind him. Until then, here’s a few things to know about him:

1. Kimbrel was born in Huntsville, Ala., and played quarterback as a junior and senior at Lee High School. Per a Q&A on his website, the school featured a run-oriented offense, and Kimbrel said he "wasn't really good." Alas.

2. Post-grad, Kimbrel attended Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Ala. He went 8-0 with a 1.99 ERA as a freshman, leading to the Braves selecting him in the 33rd round of the 2007 draft.

Kimbrel returned to school and improved his draft stock, going 9-3 with a 2.88 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 81 innings as a sophomore. Atlanta drafted him again in 2008, this time in the third round.

3. Kimbrel’s pitching stance is notorious — he bends his torso parallel to the ground and dangles his arm at a 90-degree angle. But he doesn’t do it for kicks. It became too painful for him to hold his arm behind his back in 2010, when he suffered from biceps tendinitis.

Opposing fans have made fun of the stance, but hey, it’s unique.

4. During his time with the Red Sox (2017-18) Kimbrel and his teammates — including David Price, Chris Sale and Xander Bogaerts — became avid fans of “Fortnite,” the multiplayer-focused video game that took the world by storm two years ago.

“Let’s say we get back at 11 p.m. from a game, we’ll play until 1 a.m., 1:30 a.m., 2 a.m. depending on what time our game is the next day,” David Price told The Athletic in 2018. “But day games or off days, we can put some time in.”

Same, David. Same.

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