Cubs still exercising extreme caution with Jake Arrieta ahead of NLDS

Cubs still exercising extreme caution with Jake Arrieta ahead of NLDS

Jake Arrieta will not throw in a simulated game Wednesday at Wrigley Field, altering the plan that was set up over the weekend.

The Cubs starter is still getting over a hamstring injury that occurred early in September and forced him out of more than two weeks of action.

Arrieta said over the weekend he didn't need to start Sunday — the final day of the regular season — because he wanted to rest and have a more controlled environment to test out his hamstring and a sim game would provide that environment. 

Instead, the Cubs are pivoting and having Arrieta just work in the bullpen. 

"It's just an indication that we don't want to push him right now," manager Joe Maddon said. "We thought we could control it more in a sidepiece as opposed to a sim game, which we didn't think was that impactful."

However, when Arrieta spoke with reporters Friday morning, he said his arm felt fine and he didn't need any more time throwing bullpens and instead just needed to get out and face hitters. 

He will now go nearly two weeks in between facing hitters, from his last start on Sept. 26 until he throws in either Game 3 or 4 next Monday or Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.

"A sim game's not a real game, either," Maddon said. "There's no way to replicate a real game other than a real game. So we just thought a more controlled environment meaning a bullpen as opposed to a simulated game.

"The simulated game, a lot of it is more for the hitter than the guy pitching, quite frankly. Like in spring training, it's pitcher's practice where pitchers need to throw to hitters and hitters don't need to face pitchers.

"This time of the year, the hitters want to hit against the pitchers more than the pitchers need to throw to the hitters. We just wanted to make sure that we were able to monitor Jake moving forward, but he's feeling fine right now."

Maddon insists Arrieta did not aggravate his hamstring in his last start, when he gave up five runs (three earned) in three innings against the Cardinals in St. Louis.

Maddon also said Arrieta's status on the NLDS roster is not in doubt and there is no concern the veteran right-hander will be forced to miss the series.

The Cubs are worried about the weather forecast for Wednesday in Chicago, which promises a wet, dreary day. Even if the Cubs are able to get out and play a sim game, the field may be pretty wet and slick — not optimal conditions for a guy coming off a hamstring injury.

Jose Quintana was also supposed to throw with Arrieta in Wednesday's sim game, but that status is in doubt as well because of the weather.

The Cubs will announce their NLDS rotation — through at least the first two games — Wednesday afternoon.

Cubs fight back after Javy Baez ejection: 'We're not animals'

Cubs fight back after Javy Baez ejection: 'We're not animals'

If baseball wants stars that transcend the game, they need guys like Javy Baez on the field MORE, not less.

That whole debate and baseball's marketing campaign isn't the issue the Cubs took exception with, but it's still a fair point on a nationally-televised Saturday night game between the Cubs and Cardinals at Wrigley Field.

Baez was ejected from the game in the bottom of the fifth inning when he threw his bat and helmet in frustration at home plate umpire Will Little's call that the Cubs second baseman did NOT check his swing and, in fact, went around. 

Baez was initially upset that Little made the call himself instead of deferring to first base umpire Ted Barrett for a better view. But as things escalated, Baez threw his bat and helmet and was promptly thrown out of the game by Little.

"I don't think I said anything to disrespect anything or anyone," Baez said after the Cubs' 6-3 loss. "It was a pretty close call. I only asked for him to check the umpire at first and he didn't say anything.

"I threw my helmet and he just threw me out from there. I mean, no reason. I guess for my helmet, but that doesn't have anything to do with him."

Baez and the Cubs would've rather Little check with the umpire who had a better view down the line, but that wasn't even the main point of contention. It was how quickly Little escalated to ejection.

"We're all human," Baez said. "One way or the other, it was gonna be the wrong [call] for one of the teams.

"My message? We're not animals. Sometimes we ask where was a pitch or if it was a strike and it's not always offending them. I think we can talk things out. But I don't think there was anything there to be ejected."

Upon seeing his second baseman and cleanup hitter ejected in the middle of a 1-0 game against a division rival, Joe Maddon immediately got fired up and in Little's face in a hurry.

Maddon was later ejected, as well, and admitted after the game he was never going to leave the field unless he was tossed for protecting his guy.

"He had no reason to kick him out," Maddon said. "He didn't say anything to him. I mean, I watched the video. If you throw stuff, that's a fine. That's fineable. Fine him. That's what I said — fine him — but you cannot kick him out right there.

"He did nothing to be kicked out of that game. He did throw his stuff, whatever, but he did not say anything derogatory towards the umpire.

"...You don't kick Javy out. If he gets in your face and is obnoxious or belligerent or whatever, but he did not. He turned his back to him. That needs to be addressed, on both ends."

Maddon and the Cubs really want Major League Baseball to get involved in this situation. 

There are many other layers to the issue, including veteran Ben Zobrist having to come into the game as Baez's replacement. Maddon was not keen on using the 37-year-old Zobrist for 1.5 games during Saturday's doubleheader and now feels like he has to rest the veteran Sunday to lessen the wear and tear of a difficult stretch for the team.

There's also the matter of the groundball basehit in the eighth inning that tied the game — a seeing-eye single that just got past Zobrist as he dove to his left. It tied the game at 3 and the Cardinals took the lead for good the following inning.

Does Baez make that same play if he were out there instead of Zobrist? It's certainly possible.

"The dynamic of our defense was lessened by [the ejection]," Maddon said. "Again, listen, if it's deserved, I'm good. It was not. They don't need me out there, we need Javy out there.

"And it surprised me. I stand by what I'm saying. It was inappropriate. MLB needs to say something to us that it was inappropriate because it was and it could've led to the loss of that game."

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 37th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 37th homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa's 37th homer of the 1998 season was a big one, an opposite field blast off the front row of fans in right field and into the basket at Wrigley Field.

The eighth-inning 3-run shot gave the Cubs some insurance in a game they ultimately won 9-5 and the Wrigley faithful responded by throwing a bunch of trash on the field.

Earlier in the contest, Sosa tied the game with an RBI single in the fifth inning. He finished with 4 RBI, giving him 93 on the season with more than 2 months left to play.

Fun fact: Vladimir Guerrero was the Expos' No. 3 hitter for this game an dhe also hit a homer (his 20th). Now, Guerrero's son is nearing his MLB debut as a top prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays system.

Fun fact No. 2: Mark Grudzielanek - who later played for the Cubs in 2003-04 - was Montreal's No. 5 hitter for the game at Wrigley. He was traded 10 days later from the Expos to the Los Angeles Dodgers for another fellow Cub - Ted Lilly.