Cubs

Cubs hope World Baseball Classic will be a boost for Hector Rondon

Cubs hope World Baseball Classic will be a boost for Hector Rondon

MESA, Ariz. – After being frozen out of the biggest moments in the World Series, maybe Hector Rondon will rediscover something during the World Baseball Classic.    

The Cubs gave Rondon the green light to leave camp after Tuesday's workout and join Team Venezuela in San Diego for the second round of the international showcase, another sign that the right-handed reliever has recovered from the triceps injury that left him at less than full strength last October. 

"It's going to be intense," Rondon said. "I'm excited, because I've never pitched for my country, and I feel like it's almost going to be the same adrenaline as the playoffs or the World Series."

Rondon never quite got back into rhythm after that second-half injury, which put him outside manager Joe Maddon's circle of trust and contributed to Aroldis Chapman throwing 97 pitches combined in Games 5, 6 and 7 against the Cleveland Indians. 

If Rondon can become the elite setup guy the Cubs envisioned when they made that blockbuster Chapman trade with the New York Yankees – and Pedro Strop, Koji Uehara and new closer Wade Davis stay healthy – then this could become a lights-out bullpen. 

"It's good for him," Maddon said. "Talking to him, he's really excited about representing his country, which I think is cool. Watching him throw, he's ready to go. He's in good shape.

"I actually think him getting into that competition right now is going to be a good thing for him. It's one of those win-win situations."

Rondon – who saved 77 games across the last three seasons as the Cubs blossomed from a last-place team into World Series champions – again said "I don't care" when asked about his role once he returns from the World Baseball Classic.   

"When Aroldis walked in the door last year, all of a sudden he was pushed into a different situation," Maddon said. "He was wonderful about it, a great team guy about it. But internally you got to feel something, and I thought he dealt with it really well. 

"Now you got Wade Davis walking in the door. Before we actually culminated that deal, I got a chance to talk with Ronnie on the phone. And, again, he was magnanimous.

"Everything was great. I'm sure there might be just a part of him that might have been injured by that a little bit. However, I anticipate he's going to be fine."

MLB announces league-wide COVID-19 intake testing results

MLB announces league-wide COVID-19 intake testing results

On the same day the Cubs and White Sox hit the field for their first Summer Camp workouts, Major League Baseball announced the results of its league-wide COVID-19 intake testing.

Of the 3,185 samples received, 38 tests came back positive (1.2 percent). Players account for 31 of those positives with staff making up the other seven. Nineteen teams had at least one individual test positive, and 11 teams did not have any individuals test positive.

No positive tests is the goal but the initial results are encouraging. For comparison, the NBA announced last week 16 of the 302 tests administered (5.3) for the 22 teams in the league's Orlando restart came back positive.

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MLB teams can't announce if a player tests positive for the coronavirus without consent, hence the league releasing broad results. This week, the Phillies abruptly placed four players on the 10-day injured list; Angels manager Joe Maddon said Friday 9-10 players would not be participating in workouts. He didn't disclose why, which may suggest that at least several players tested positive.

David Ross indicated Friday the Cubs are one of 11 teams with no positive results.

Testing will continue every other day in spring training and the regular season. Players will also take antibody tests once a month.

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David Ross indicates no Cubs players have tested positive for COVID-19

David Ross indicates no Cubs players have tested positive for COVID-19

The Cubs appear to be in better position than some teams as they start Summer Camp.

When asked Friday if he feels any anxiety being back at Wrigley Field, Cubs manager David Ross indicated the club has had no players test positive for COVID-19 during intake testing this week. 

Ross told reporters in Friday's Zoom session he didn't see any additional anxiety in the players initially either when it comes to the strangeness of the new protocols.

“And I think it's comforting to know that everybody's clear and, you know, has tested negative.”

Most Cubs players took their tests on Wednesday, but the club is following MLB guidelines and has not confirmed or denied any results. Because it’s not considered a work-related injury, teams cannot announce if a player tests positive for the coronavirus without consent.

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Later in the press conference, Ross was asked if he expects any players not to be at camp Friday, outside of the injured José Quintana.

“We’re not supposed to comment I guess — I think you guys have heard all that — on testing positive or negative or any of that stuff, and so I don't wanna lead into that,” he said. “But I definitely expect everybody to be here. I haven't heard anybody's not going to be here.”

Ross was then asked to clarify if every player is cleared.

“Report times are spread out, so not everybody is actually here,” he said. “But I haven’t heard of anybody from [Cubs head athletic trainer PJ Mainville] that is not gonna be showing up today.”

MLB intends to release broad league-wide testing results as early as Friday — the number of tests conducted and how many came back positive. We've already seen several COVID-related announcements from other teams this week.

Wednesday, the Phillies quietly placed four players on the 10-day injured list. Friday, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti announced outfielder Delino DeShields has tested positive for the coronavirus and is experiencing minor symptoms.

Former Cubs and current Angels manager Joe Maddon said Friday 9-10 players would not be participating in workouts and did not disclose why, suggesting that at least several of them have tested positive.

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