Cubs

Done for season, Colvin remains in stable condition

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Done for season, Colvin remains in stable condition

Sunday, Sept. 19, 2010
Updated 5:41 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MIAMI -- This was a drowsy Sunday afternoon, 88 degrees at first pitch and a sea of empty orange seats at a football stadium just off the Florida Turnpike.

And then the jagged edge of a broken maple bat impaled Tyler Colvin just above his heart, a freak accident that left the Cubs outfielder in stable condition, and could have been much worse if not for a matter of inches.

Colvin was transported to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where he will remain for the next few days to undergo a battery of tests for pneumothorax. He was hooked up to a chest tube to help keep his lung from collapsing.

The 25-year-old will not leave the hospital until he receives a normal chest X-ray. His rookie season is now over. There was minimal external bleeding, and the depth of the wound was not immediately clear, according to a Cubs spokesman.

"It was scary," Marlins catcher Mike Rivera said. "It looked like when a person gets stabbed."

Colvin was running down the third-base line during the second inning of a 13-3 victory over the Florida Marlins as Welington Castillo's double sailed toward Sun Life Stadium's left-field wall.

The bat splintered and punctured Colvin's chest cavity, which allowed air into his chest wall and potentially into his lungs. He didn't labor to breathe -- it just looked that way to at least one teammate who immediately knew something was wrong.

Jeff Samardzija saw a dazed Colvin sort of smile on his way back to the dugout.

"It was wild," Samardzija said. "I thought he was fine. I thought we were just kind of joking around, but I just saw a little something on his shirt. I said, 'Hey, you should probably get inside.'"

Castillo, who played with Colvin in the minors, didn't know what happened and only saw him grab his chest.

"I feel really bad about it and I hope he's getting better," Castillo said. "It wasn't my fault. I didn't hit him on purpose. That's baseball."

Increasingly maple bats are a part of baseball and there's strong anecdotal evidence to suggest how easily they break apart, and how dangerous they can be. Two years ago with the Colorado Rockies, Jeff Baker watched one slice home-plate umpire Brian O'Nora and vowed to only use ash bats.

"That's the danger of a maple bat and thank goodness that (Colvin's) ok," Baker said. "I saw an umpire get slashed on the neck in Kansas City and it's just not worth it to me. I don't want that on my conscience if something happens."

It came as a shock on a getaway day that began with the Cubs in a very good mood. Mike Quade (16-7) was informed that he was off to the best start by a Cubs manager through 23 games since Charlie Grimm (18-5) in 1932.

The veterans knew they were getting the day off and were able to enjoy South Florida's nightlife and sleep in the next morning. Sunday's lineup featured seven players who spent most of this season at Triple-A Iowa with Ryne Sandberg, one of several candidates trying to angle for Quade's job.

"The hell with the 'B' team every one of these guys has earned the right," Quade said before the game. "These are opportunities to be part of the 'A' team next year or whatever the hell you want to call it."

Auditioning for the 2011 rotation, Samardzija threw six innings to earn the win. Castillo hit the first home run of his big-league career. Brad Snyder notched his first hit in the majors, a two-run single up the middle. The Cubs (68-81) got the three-game sweep they were looking for -- and completed the first 8-1 road trip in club history -- but it came at a price.

"It really puts things in perspective -- things are flying around 90-plus mph," Samardzija said. "It's just the nature of the beast. (You) get used to it after awhile and things like this kind of open your eyes back up."

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Cubs have new hitting coach in Anthony Iapoce

Cubs have new hitting coach in Anthony Iapoce

The Cubs are heading into a new season with a different hitting coach for the second straight winter, but the most recent choice is a familiar face.

Anthony Iapoce is set to join Joe Maddon's coaching staff this week after serving in the same capacity with the Texas Rangers for the last three seasons. The Cubs confirmed the move Monday afternoon shortly after the news broke out of the Rangers camp.

The Cubs fired Chili Davis last week after just one season as the team's hitting coach.

Entering the final week of the season, the Rangers fired manager Jeff Banister, leaving Iapoce and the rest of the Texas coaching staff in limbo.

As such, Iapoce is rejoining the Cubs, where he served as a special assistant to the General Manager from 2013-15 focusing on player development, particularly in the hitting department throughout the minor leagues.

Iapoce has familiarity with a bunch of the current star offensive players on the Cubs, from Willson Contreras to Kris Bryant. 

Both Bryant and Contreras endured tough 2018 seasons at the plate, which was a huge reason for the Cubs' underperforming lineup. Bryant's issue was more related to a left shoulder injured suffered in mid-May while Contreras' offensive woes remain a major question mark after the young catcher looked to be emerging as a legitimate superstar entering the campaign.

Getting Contreras back to the hitter that put up 21 homers and 74 RBI in only 117 games in 2017 will be one of the main goals for Iapoce, so the history between the two could be a key.

With the Rangers, Iapoce oversaw an offense that ranked 7th, 9th and 14th in MLB in runs scored over the last three seasons. The decline in offensive production is obviously not a great sign, but the Rangers as a team have fallen off greatly since notching the top seed in the AL playoffs in 2016 with 95 wins only to lose 95 games in 2018, resulting in the change at manager.

Iapoce has worked with an offense backed by Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo the last few seasons.

Under Iapoce's tutelage, former top prospect Jurickson Profar shed any notion of a "bust" label and emerged as a budding star at age 25, collecting 61 extra-base hits with a .793 OPS in 2018.

When the Cubs let Davis go last week, they provided no update on assistant hitting coach Andy Haines, who just finished his first season in that role and is expected to remain with the team for 2019. The same offseason Iapoce left for the Rangers, Haines took over as the Cubs' minor league hitting instructor.

What should Brandon Morrow's role be in Cubs 2019 bullpen?

What should Brandon Morrow's role be in Cubs 2019 bullpen?

Since the Cubs' early exit from the postseason, many have turned their attention to the 2019 roster and wonder if Brandon Morrow will be the team's closer next year.

However, the question isn't WILL Morrow be the closer, but rather — SHOULD he be counted on as the main ninth-inning option?

Morrow didn't throw a single pitch for the Cubs after the All-Star Game, nursing a bone bruise in his forearm that did not heal in time to allow him to make a return down the stretch.

Of course, an injury isn't surprising given Morrow's lengthy history of arm issues. 

Consider: Even with a half-season spent on the DL, Morrow's 35 appearances in 2018 was his second-highest total since 2008 (though he also spent a ton of time as a starting pitcher from 2009-15).

Morrow is 34 now and has managed to throw just 211 innings in 126 games since the start of the 2013 season. 

Because of that, Theo Epstein isn't ready to anoint Morrow the Cubs' 2019 closer despite success in the role in his first year in Chicago (22-for-24 in save chances).

"[We're] very comfortable with Morrow as part of a deep and talented 'pen," Epstein said. "We have to recommit to him in a very structured role and stick with it to do our best to keep him healthy. Set some rules and adhere to them and build a 'pen around that. I'm comfortable."

Epstein is referencing the overuse the Cubs have pointed to for the origin of Morrow's bone bruise when he worked three straight games from May 31-June 2 during a stretch of four appearances in five days.

Joe Maddon and the Cubs were very cautious with Morrow early in the year, unleashing him for only three outings — and 2 innings — in the first two-plus weeks of the season, rarely using him even on back-to-back days.

During that late-May/early-June stretch, Morrow also three just 2 pitches in one outing (May 31) and was only called upon for the 14th inning June 2 when Maddon had already emptied the rest of the Cubs bullpen in a 7-1 extra-inning victory in New York.

The blame or origin of Morrow's bone bruise hardly matters now. All the Cubs can do at this moment is try to learn from it and carry those lessons into 2019. It sounds like they have, heading into Year 2 of a two-year, $21 million deal that also includes a team option for 2020.

"It's the type of injury you can fully recover from with rest," Epstein said. "that said, he has an injury history and we knew that going in. That was part of the calculation when we signed him and that's why it was the length it was and the amount of money it was, given his talent and everything else.

"We were riding pretty high with him for a few months and then we didn't have him for the second half of the season. And again, that's on me. We took an educated gamble on him there and on the 'pen overall, thinking that even if he did get hurt, we had enough talent to cover for it. And look, it was a really good year in the 'pen and he contributed to that greatly in the first half.

"They key is to keep him healthy as much as possible and especially target it for down the stretch and into what we hope will be a full month of October next year."

It's clear the Cubs will be even more cautious with Morrow in 2019, though he also should head into the new campaign with significantly more rest than he received last fall when he appeared in all seven games of the World Series out of the Dodgers bullpen.

Morrow has more than proven his value in this Cubs bullpen as a low-maintenance option when he's on the field who goes right after hitters and permits very few walks or home runs. 

But if the Cubs are going to keep him healthy for the most important time of the season in September and October, they'll need to once again pack the bullpen with at least 7 other arms besides Morrow, affording Maddon plenty of options.

When he is healthy, Morrow will probably get a ton of the closing opportunities, but the world has also seen what Pedro Strop can do in that role and the Cubs will likely add another arm or two this winter for high-leverage situations.