Cubs

Feeling good again, Colvin will keep his maple bats

Feeling good again, Colvin will keep his maple bats

Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010
9:45 PM

By Patrick MooneyCSNChicago.com

HOUSTON There are still restrictions on Tyler Colvin, who couldnt fly to Houston to visit his teammates this weekend. The Cubs outfielder wont lift weights for another six weeks, but hes been cleared to begin running, and he has no trouble breathing.

Colvins outlook could have been much different if the shattered piece of a maple bat pierced his heart or neck instead of his chest. That freak accident on Sept. 19 in Miami opened a national debate. But he isnt about to make it his cause.

I cant say much about it because I use maple bats, Colvin said Saturday on a teleconference from his fiances home in West Virginia. It happens and Major League Baseball is doing a good job of reducing the number of broken bats. I think theyll keep working on it and get it better.

It drew the attention of commissioner Bud Selig, who contacted Colvin as he recovered from a collapsed lung at a Miami hospital. Colvin, the teams assistant union representative, hasnt seriously considered not using maple bats anymore.

If somebody really made me, I guess Id have to, Colvin said. But (bats are) going to break and Ive seen ash bats break like that before. As long as they keep trying to improve them and make them better, I dont see whats wrong with them.

Two weeks ago, the 25-year-old turned his head and moved down the third-base line as Welington Castillos double soared toward the left-field wall at Sun Life Stadium. At first it didnt register that the sharp edge of Castillos bat stabbed him.

Colvin thought he was out of breath as he walked back to the dugout until Jeff Samardzija told him he was bleeding. Colvin would have a tube in his chest for a few days, ending a promising rookie season in which he lived up to the potential the Cubs saw when they made him the 13th overall pick in the 2006 draft.

Its been kind of tough just (because) the season wasnt over and Im sitting at home right now with all my teammates playing the season out, Colvin said. Were playing so well right now and I wish I could be a part of that. But I know I need to get better and be ready for next year.

Colvin will presumably handle this like he has everything else this year without getting caught up in all they hype. No one expected him to make the team out of spring training, but he absolutely crushed the pitching in Arizona and eventually became more of an every-day player.

In 358 at-bats, Colvin hit .254 with 20 homers, 56 RBI and a .316 on-base percentage. He finished with 100 strikeouts and 30 walks. There are no immediate plans to have him start working again at first base.

Theres nothing to (be concerned) about playing at this level defensively, manager Mike Quade said. He can fool around at first. Thats always in the back of your mind somewhere if need be. But hes a solid corner guy in the outfield. (Hes) just got to continue to get better identifying pitches and being a good, disciplined power-type guy.

Colvin has already spoken with Castillo, who was also his teammate coming up through the minor-league system. The message to Castillo was simple: Dont worry about it. Theres nothing you could have done about it. Keep playing. That will be Colvins mindset as well.

I'm still going (to) play the same way I always did, he said. It's not going to scare me to go out there on the field again, if that's what you're implying.

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

Feeding off their defense, Cubs starting to feel those 2016 vibes

Feeding off their defense, Cubs starting to feel those 2016 vibes

A year ago, the Cubs were struggling to float above .500, sitting 1.5 games behind the first-place Brewers.

Two years ago, the Cubs were10.5 games up on the second-place Cardinals in the division and already in cruise control to the postseason.

As they entered a weekend series in Cincinnati at 42-29 and in a tie for first place, the Cubs are feeling quite a bit more like 2016 than 2017.

The major reason? Energy, as Joe Maddon pointed out over the weekend.

That energy shows up most often on defense.

The 2016 Cubs put up maybe the best defensive season in baseball history while last year they truly looked hungover.

After a big of a slow start to 2018, the Cubs are feelin' more of that '16 swag.

If you watched either of the wins against the Los Angeles Dodgers this week at Wrigley Field, it's clear to see why: the defense.

"I like the defense," Maddon said of his team last week. "I'm into the defense. There's a tightness about the group. There's a closeness about the group. Not saying last year wasn't like that, but this group is definitely trending more in the '16 direction regarding interacting.

"If anything — and the one thing that makes me extremely pleased — would be the continuation of the defense. We've fed so much off our defense in '16. We've been doing that more recently again. We do so much good out there, then we come in and it gets kinda electric in the dugout. I'd like to see that trend continue on defense."

The Cubs scored only 2 runs in 10 innings in the second game against the Dodgers Tuesday night and managed just 4 runs in the finale Wednesday. Yet their gloves helped hold the Dodgers to only 1 run combined between the two games.

Wednesday's game was a defensive clinic, with Jason Heyward throwing out Chris Taylor at home plate with an incredible tag by Willson Contreras while Javy Baez, Albert Almora Jr., Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber all hit the ground to make sprawling/diving plays.

"[Almora] comes in and dives for one and I'm just like, 'OK, I'm done clapping for you guys,'" Jon Lester, Wednesday's winning pitcher, joked. "It's expected now that these guys make these plays. It's fun on our end. It's the, 'Here, hit it. Our guys are really good out there and they're gonna run it down.'"

The Heyward throw, in particular, jacked the team up. 

Maddon compared it to a grand slam with how much energy it provided the Cubs. Almora said he momentarily lost his voice because he was screaming so much at the play.

There was also Baez making plays in the hole at shortstop, then switching over to second base and turning a ridiculous unassisted double play on a liner in the 8th inning.

"That's what we're capable of doing," Maddon said. "In the past, when we've won on a high level, we've played outstanding defense. It never gets old to watch that kind of baseball."

The Cubs are back to forcing opposing hitters to jog off the field, shaking their head in frustration and disbelief.

"It could be so dispiriting to the other side when you make plays like that," Maddon said. "And also it's buoyant to your pitchers. So there's all kinds of good stuff goin' on there."

A lot of that is the play of the outfield, with Almora back to himself after a down 2017 season and Schwarber turning into a plus-rated defensive outfield.

After finishing 19th in baseball in outfield assists last season, the Cubs are currently tied for 6th with 14 outfield assists this year.

Schwarber has 7 alone, which is already as many as he tallied in the entire 2017 season.

"I feel like they'll learn quickly on Schwarber, if they haven't yet," Heyward said. "You gotta earn that respect. You gotta earn that sense of caution from the third base coach.

"But please keep running on me in those situations. I want it to happen."

Brandon Morrow has a healthy sense of humor about his pants-related injury

Brandon Morrow has a healthy sense of humor about his pants-related injury

Brandon Morrow's body may not be healthy, but his sense of humor sure isn't on the disabled list.

The Cubs closer had to go on the DL Wednesday after he injured his back changing out of his pants early Monday morning when the Cubs returned home to Chicago after a Sunday night game in St. Louis.

The story made national rounds, not only in the baseball world, but resonating with non-sports fans, as well. After all, it's not every day a guy who gets paid millions for his athletic endeavors injures himself on a mundane every day activity.

But it's all good, because even Morrow can find the humor in the situation, Tweeting this out Thursday afternoon:

Morrow's back tightened up on him and didn't loosen up enough the next two days, making him unavailable for the Cubs doubleheader Tuesday at Wrigley Field.

The team decided to put him on the shelf Wednesday morning so an already-gassed bullpen wouldn't have more pressure during this stretch of 14 games in 13 days.

The Cubs are in Cincinnati this weekend for a four-game series with the Reds. Morrow is eligible to return from the DL next Wednesday in Los Angeles as the Cubs once again take on the Dodgers — Morrow's old team.

The 33-year-old pitcher is 16-for-17 in save chances this year while posting a 1.59 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 25 strikeouts in 22.2 innings. He's only given up a run in 2 of his 26 outings as a Cub.