Cubs

Joe Maddon defends Jorge Soler’s hustle as Cubs try to get back to normal in World Series

Joe Maddon defends Jorge Soler’s hustle as Cubs try to get back to normal in World Series

Instead of simply crediting the Cleveland Indians for another high-wire victory in October, the blame game can also go in so many different directions after a 1-0 playoff loss: What if Jorge Soler sprinted out of the batter’s box?

That’s not a hypothetical question Cubs manager Joe Maddon spent a lot of time thinking about after Cleveland’s Lonnie Chisenhall jumped and misjudged the flyball Soler drove into right field on Friday night at Wrigley Field. Soler – a player with a history of leg injuries throughout his career – didn’t wind up with a fluky inside-the-park home run but still ran hard enough to get a triple.

“Honestly, I heard about that – I was kind of surprised by it,” Maddon said Saturday. “What happens sometimes – and I think this is what I saw – is you’ll see a guy hit a ball and their head’s down. They don’t even know where it is.

“I think when he saw it from our perspective, it was in the stands, and it kind of blew back. So I’m not trying to make excuses for him. I’m just saying the best he could have done was get to third base, anyway.

“Nothing else was going to happen beyond that. I’m glad he got to third. If he had gotten to second, that would have been a problem.”

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These issues are much bigger than just Soler, the Cubs going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position in Game 3, getting shut out for the fourth time in eight playoff games and maybe feeling anxious during the franchise’s first World Series event in Wrigleyville in 71 years.

Soler accounted for two of the team’s five hits against a dynamic Cleveland pitching staff that already eliminated the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays, two teams built around explosive offense. 

With John Lackey going up against Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber in Game 4, Maddon went with a defense-first lineup, putting Soler on the bench, starting Gold Glover Jason Heyward in right field and hoping the Cubs will slow down mentally and play their game again.  

“I thought that once we got here there would be no issues regarding how we would approach the day,” Maddon said. “(But) I’m not 24. So when a guy walks into the ballpark or drives to the ballpark and sees this increased whatever – just the magnitude of everything – it could have been a little bit unsettling. I didn’t read that among our guys. But I’m not naïve enough to say that it’s not possible.” 

Brandon Morrow sidelined with upper chest strain, no timetable for return

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USA TODAY

Brandon Morrow sidelined with upper chest strain, no timetable for return

Brandon Morrow’s comeback attempt has hit a bump in the road.

Morrow, the Cubs reliever and former closer, has what the club is calling a “mild right upper chest strain,” according to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. Bastian added Morrow felt the strain in his last bullpen session and there is no clear timeline for his return.

The strain is the latest ailment to sideline the oft-injured Morrow, who hasn't pitched since July 2018 due to a series of arm troubles. The 35-year-old has undergone two elbow surgeries since then (November 2018, September 2019) before becoming a free agent this winter. He rejoined the Cubs on a minor-league deal.

Morrow entered camp optimistic the latest procedure did the trick to get his elbow healthy. The Cubs have been easing him into action — the right-hander is throwing one bullpen every four days. Morrow said earlier this month he’s experienced some aches and pains but attributed those to being part of the rehab process.

Morrow is listed as day-to-day, according to Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune. But considering his injury history — and the fact he was already unlikely to crack the Opening Day roster —  the Cubs will proceed with extreme caution. There's no need to expedite his return, mild strain or not.

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David Ross has flu, won't manage Saturday's spring training opener

David Ross has flu, won't manage Saturday's spring training opener

David Ross' spring training managerial debut will have to wait until Sunday, at least.

The Cubs' first-year skipper has the flu and will miss Saturday's game against the Oakland A's. Bench coach Andy Green will be the acting manager in his place.

Saturday isn't going as planned for the North Siders. Besides Ross' absence, inclement weather in Arizona forced the club to push back first pitch from 2:10 p.m. CT to 7:10 p.m.

Weather permitting, here's the lineup the Cubs are rolling out tonight against Oakland:

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