Cubs

Jason Heyward pushing for return in Cubs-Cardinals series

Jason Heyward pushing for return in Cubs-Cardinals series

ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Cardinals fans could get the chance to boo Jason Heyward when he steps into the batter’s box during this three-game rivalry series. But for now, the $184 million Cubs outfielder simply brought the lineup card out to home plate before Monday night’s game at Busch Stadium.

Heyward is pushing to return as soon as possible, taking swings in the cage and going through batting practice, meaning the Cubs might have accurately projected his three-to-five-days timeline to recover from that scary-looking crash into AT&T Park’s right-center field wall. 

“If it was up to me, I’d be playing right now,” Heyward said. “But obviously you got to go through stuff and test it out and things like that just to make sure.

“So we’ll see what (the training staff says). And we’ll see how I feel at the end of the day.”

Heyward said he’s only feeling a dull pain on his right side – and no headaches – after Friday’s highlight-reel catch stole an extra-base hit away from San Francisco Giants leadoff guy Denard Span. The momentum carried Heyward headfirst into the wall, somehow escaping a head injury or serious wrist damage.

“I feel like we dodged a bullet,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “We brought in Dexter (Fowler so) we have some depth, and then we lost (Kyle) Schwarber. But at some point, you lose two corner outfielders and it starts to eat into that a little bit.

“All of our guys play hard out there. And because of that, we’re going to have some moments like that.”

Heyward won his third Gold Glove last year, putting up a 6.5 WAR for a 100-win Cardinals team and offending the St. Louis fan base by choosing to sign with the Cubs as a free agent and citing their young core as a primary reason.

Even with his offensive struggles (.611 OPS), it would have been difficult for the Cubs to replace Heyward’s all-around contributions on a long-term basis.

The Cubs didn’t see Shane Victorino as an answer and – without an available spot on the big-league roster – released the Triple-A Iowa outfielder. A calf injury prevented Victorino from getting a chance to make the Opening Day roster, but the two-time All-Star/World Series champion is said to be ready for another opportunity in a different organization. 

Cubs honor sweet swingin’ Billy Williams on 80th birthday

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AP

Cubs honor sweet swingin’ Billy Williams on 80th birthday

After Mother Nature washed out the Cubs and Dodgers Monday at Wrigley Field, the Cubs recognized one of their Hall of Famers.

In honor of outfielder Billy Williams’ 80th birthday on June 15, the Cubs painted Williams’ No. 26 behind home plate. Cubs players are also wearing shirts with his number featured on the front.

On the Cubs Twitter page, there is also a glass case of pictures and Williams’ old jersey with other memorabilia. 

In his illustrious 16-year career with the Cubs, Williams, known as sweet swingin’ Billy from Whistler, hit .290 with 392 home runs, 1353 RBIs, 2510 hits and 911 walks.

His best offensive season came in 1970 when he hit 42 home runs and 129 RBIs, both career bests.

Williams also played with the Oakland Athletics for two seasons after he was traded by the Cubs after the 1974 season.

Williams was a guy you’d see on the field a lot during his day, starting all 162 games four times. In 1970 he eclipsed 161 games.

He was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1987. Williams appeared in six All-Star Games, he was the 1961 Rookie of the Year and the 1972 NL MVP. He also won the NL batting title that year.

 

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 26th + 27th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 26th + 27th homers 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.

Another day in June 1998, another multi-homer game for Sammy Sosa.

Slammin' Sammy connected twice off Carlton Loewer in the same game, a solo shot in the first inning and a 2-run shot int he fifth inning. Both were measured at 380 feet.

Still, the Cubs wound up losing the game 9-8 to the Phillies despite Sosa's effort and a total of 3 runs in the bottom of the eighth and ninth innings combined.

Fun fact: A big part of why the Cubs lost this game was Jose Hernandez's defense. He committed 3 errors at third base and shortstop that led to a pair of unearned runs.