Cubs

Cubs putting Addison Russell on the fast track

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Cubs putting Addison Russell on the fast track

PITTSBURGH – The Cubs appear to be putting Addison Russell on the fast track.

Now that Kris Bryant is in The Show, Russell becomes the main attraction at Triple-A Iowa, where he’s moved from shortstop to second base, getting ready for his own potential call-up.

It looks like the Cubs are clearing a path for Russell, who entered this season as Baseball America’s No. 3 prospect and a challenger to All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro.

Exposing Russell to second base reminds you of the message Ryan Theriot once sent to Castro: Come and get it.

“We’re just trying to give him that opportunity to play there,” manager Joe Maddon said Monday at PNC Park. “Personally, I like guys like that playing a bunch of different spots in the minor leagues, if you can, because you never know where the need’s going to be on the major-league level.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

“It’s just being a little bit more proactive regarding prepping him for a need that may be open here. So, yeah, you could surmise that (we) might do that. But it’s not a lock. It’s just a matter of like expanding his infield horizons.”

The Cubs clearly could use an upgrade at second base. Combined, Arismendy Alcantara and Jonathan Herrera entered Monday hitting .125 (6-for-48) with zero extra-base hits. Tommy La Stella (rib cage) is on the disabled list. Javier Baez is on a leave of absence from the Iowa affiliate after the death of his sister.

Russell, 21, could become an offensive spark. He’s hitting .318 (14-for-44) with nine RBI in his first 11 games with Iowa. He also got rave reviews in spring training for his slick defense and mature clubhouse demeanor.

“He’s making the transition,” Iowa manager Marty Pevey told The Des Moines Register. “He’ll be a full-time second baseman right now, but he’s a big-league shortstop.”

The Cubs can use this season to see which young players step forward – and which ones go backward – and then reassess everything this winter.

Castro began the day leading the team with 14 hits. He’s still a three-time All-Star who just turned 25 and remains under club control through 2020. That’s the type of player you can build around.

Castro seems energized by the possibility of playing for a contender – and playing with blue-chip talents like Russell.

“Right now, Starlin’s playing a great shortstop,” Maddon said. “I think Starlin’s playing really well, offensively, defensively. Everything he’s doing is really high-caliber right now.

[ALSO: Cubs expect Lester's first good start to come soon]

“I just think you need to keep a young player coming up. (If) you think his bat may be ready to play here, you got to get him a position to play.”

Rob Manfred apologizes for tone-deaf comment about World Series trophy

Rob Manfred apologizes for tone-deaf comment about World Series trophy

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made a tone-deaf comment over the weekend, and he apologized for it on Tuesday.

In an interview with ESPN, Manfred defended his decision not to punish Astros players for their involvement in Houston’s sign stealing scandal. Although MLB suspended (now former) Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow and fined the club $5 million, players received immunity in the case. 

Some — like Cubs starter Yu Darvish — have called for Manfred to strip the Astros of their 2017 championship.

"The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act,” Manfred told ESPN’s Karl Ravech. “People will always know that something was different about the 2017 season, and whether we made that decision right or wrong, we undertook a thorough investigation, and had the intestinal fortitude to share the results of that investigation, even when those results were not very pretty."

Lol.

It’s one thing to let the Astros off with a mere slap on the wrist but degrading the value of a championship trophy — one which all players strive to secure one day — was purely ignorant by Manfred. 

RELATED: Jon Lester crushes Rob Manfred for devaluing World Series trophy 'quite significantly'

There was a more tactful way for Manfred to respond to the lack of punishment. He told Ravech the MLB Players Association likely would've filed grievances, had the league disciplined the players. That defense may not have totally sufficed, but it's far more reasonable than Manfred's piece of metal comment.

Yes, Manfred was looking to make a rhetorical point. But seemingly everyone in baseball is pissed at the lack of punishment for the Astros. Rather than put out the fire, Manfred and MLB have only doused it with kerosene. 

Jon Lester crushes Rob Manfred for devaluing World Series trophy 'quite significantly'

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USA Today

Jon Lester crushes Rob Manfred for devaluing World Series trophy 'quite significantly'

Add three-time World Series champion Jon Lester to the growing list of players who are pissed.

On Tuesday, Lester was asked about MLB commissioner Rob Manfred's comments regarding the reasoning behind MLB's lack of player punishment. Manfred recently spoke to ESPN about why he ultimately decided to not strip the organization of their 2017 title, saying that "The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act." 

Now, that didn't sit particularly well with players who won that piece of metal, mainly because, yeah, it's a stupid quote. Why not just call the Hall of Fame a house while you're at it, Rob? 

Anyways, Lester obviously took offense to the idea that the Commissioner's (lmaoo) Trophy was simply a piece of metal: 

That's somebody that's never played our game. You play for a reason. You play for that piece of metal. I'm very proud of the three that I have. I mean, if that's the way he feels, he needs to take his name of the trophy, you know? That's the first thing, when people walk into my house, if they've ever been to my house, I take them to where the trophies are. There they are. I'm proud of them. A lot of years, a lot of hard work. Then, just to bring it down like that, I mean, I'm sure it hurt a lot of guys when they saw that – especially guys that haven't won it that are striving for years to get it. I'm sure if Adam Dunn heard that – he played one playoff game – he'd probably be pretty upset. It's a very, very, special thing that he brought down quite significantly. 

Put aside the enormous flex that is Lester bringing all his house guests to the trophy case first – hell yeah, Jon – and you can tell that literally not a single player considers the trophy "a piece of metal."  Manfred will have a chance to backtrack on the like, half-dozen, dumb comments he's made when he talks with reporters in Arizona this afternoon. 

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