Cubs

Cubs: Initial diagnosis says Mike Olt didn’t break wrist

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Cubs: Initial diagnosis says Mike Olt didn’t break wrist

DENVER – Mike Olt sort of laughed when one of the reporters surrounding his locker mentioned the social-media reactions about Kris Bryant.

“Yeah, I don’t really check Twitter anymore,” said Olt, who had his right wrist wrapped up late Saturday night in Coors Field’s visiting clubhouse.

Bryant won’t be walking through that door Sunday morning after Olt survived a scary moment in the ninth inning of a 9-5 win over the Colorado Rockies. Adam Ottavino’s 96-mph fastball drilled Olt, but the initial X-rays revealed he didn’t break his right wrist.

“I wasn’t in a good state,” Olt said. “I couldn’t feel anything. I think it was just from the shock of getting hit. But once I was walking away, I was moving it around, so I wasn’t as nervous.”

Olt is trying to make a lasting impression while Bryant serves his time at Triple-A Iowa. The third baseman of the moment absolutely crushed a Kyle Kendrick pitch in the third inning, launching it into the back of the bullpen in right-center field for his first home run this season.

Olt had once been a big-time prospect with the Texas Rangers, but getting hit by a pitch while playing winter ball led to vision/concussion issues that almost derailed his career.

“It happens,” Olt said. “It was 0-2. The last thing (Ottavino) wants to do is hit me. I’m in a much better state of mind (since that) freak accident. I learned a lot from it. So it’s not going to affect me at all. I got lucky nothing worse happened.”

Manager Joe Maddon made it sound like the Cubs wouldn’t necessarily have to make a roster move.

“We’re going to approach it as though he’s going to be sore tomorrow,” Maddon said. “I don’t know if he can play tomorrow, but it does not appear to be, initially, a break.”

Olt seemed upbeat and said “I’ll be ready to go” for Sunday’s series finale against the Rockies (4-1). “We’ll just play it by ear, though, see how (I feel) when I wake up in the morning.”

Why Cubs might not lose again and other musings in strange, short season

Why Cubs might not lose again and other musings in strange, short season

As if things weren’t already going well enough for the Cubs during this strange, short season of baseball in a pandemic, now the baseball gods are dropping gifts into their laps.

The Cardinals’ lengthy shutdown because of a coronavirus outbreak has the Cubs’ arch rivals restarting their season Saturday in Chicago with a patched-up roster and eight games over the next five days, including five games against the Cubs.

And although that means the relative hardship of two doubleheaders for the Cubs in three days, all five of those games Monday through Wednesday are against a decimated Cards roster that won’t have the front end of its rotation for any of the games.

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They catch the Cardinals at their weakest point of the early season a week after catching an otherwise formidable Cleveland team at a moment of clubhouse crisis involving protocol perps Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger.

That one resulted in a two-game sweep by a combined score of 14-3.

This one already has resulted in all 10 games against the Cardinals now being scheduled for Wrigley Field.

Combine that with the three road games against the White Sox next month, and it means that the team with baseball’s best record on the field, the perfect record in player COVID-19 testing and no significant injuries to key players so far will play 60 percent of its games within its Chicago bubble if the Cubs and MLB pull off the full 60-game season.

If the Cubs were positioned any better to make the playoffs, they’d already be there.

“You can look at it that way if you want,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “We’re just doing our thing.”

No other way to look at it from here. Have you seen the rest of the schedule?

The Cubs have 43 games left, including 29 within a National League Central Division that doesn’t include another .500 team three weeks into a nine-week season. Nine more games are against the Tigers and White Sox.

The best team on the schedule is the Twins, and all three of those games are at home and not until the second-to-last weekend of the season.

With all due respect to Ross and his fear of “bad juju,” the Cubs can’t lose.

“It’s still early on,” the manager said.

Nothing’s early in a 60-game season. And the Cubs already have matched the hot starts of their 2016 and 1908 World Series champions.

“We’ve still got a long ways to go in the season,” Ross said.

The Cubs did have to scratch Tyler Chatwood from his scheduled start Friday night because of back tightness. And Kris Bryant has missed the last two games because of a sore finger after rolling his wrist trying to make a diving catch in left field in Cleveland Wednesday.

But Alec Mills looked good in short-notice replacement duty Friday until a rough four-pitch (and three-run) sequence in the sixth. And Chatwood might be ready for one of Monday’s games — or possibly one of Wednesday’s.

“Things falling in our favor?” Ross said. “We’re playing good baseball, and that should be the focus for me and not the other stuff.”

Granted, they still have to play the games. Granted, Bryant wasn’t available off the bench with the bases loaded in the eighth Friday, and Josh Phegley struck out instead.

And, yes, they actually lost a game to the Brewers Friday night.

But if you still don’t believe the baseball gods are stirring the Cubs’ pot so far this season, you weren’t paying attention in the ninth inning when Craig Kimbrel struck out Avisail Garcia swinging at a 98-mph fastball to start the scoreless inning and Manny Piña swinging at a 96-mph fastball to end it.

What closer problem? Bring on the Cardinals, right?

These guys might not lose another game.

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Cubs' Colin Rea to start on Saturday, Tyler Chatwood possibly Monday

Cubs' Colin Rea to start on Saturday, Tyler Chatwood possibly Monday

The Cubs plan to start swingman Colin Rea on Saturday against the Brewers, manager David Ross said after Friday's game.

Alec Mills was originally slated to pitch Saturday but was bumped up to Friday because Tyler Chatwood was scratched with mid-back tightness. The Cubs will evaluate Chatwood to see if he's an option to pitch on Monday, when they're scheduled to play a doubleheader against the Cardinals.

Rea, 30, has made two appearances this season, allowing no runs and one hit while striking out three in three innings. He was named the 2019 Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year, sporting a 3.95 ERA in 26 starts.

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Rea's last big league start was July 30, 2016 with the Marlins. He allowed one hit in 3 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out four with no walks.

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