Maddon updates status of Montgomery and Soler as Cubs sharpen focus on playoff roster

Maddon updates status of Montgomery and Soler as Cubs sharpen focus on playoff roster

Joe Maddon maintained he hasn't yet met with the Cubs' front office to discuss the playoff roster, as of Sunday morning.

However, the Cubs manager did admit there could still be one or two spots up for grabs in the final two weeks of the regular season.

Of course, it also boils down to the Cubs' opponent in the first round - for example, they may want another left-handed pitcher in the bullpen to face lefty-heavy lineups like the Dodgers or Giants.

In that same line of thinking, Maddon also confirmed Sunday southpaw Mike Montgomery would be leaving the starting rotation and moving back to the bullpen, effective Monday.

Maddon had already suggested that move Friday, as Montgomery's chances to make the postseason roster rest solely on a spot in the bullpen barring a couple of injuries.

The Cubs initially inserted Montgomery into the rotation to help provide some extra rest for the normal five starters, but with Thursday's off-day, a bullpen day planned for next week in Pittsburgh (which Montgomery will be a part of, Maddon said) and four days off before the playoff game, the starters shouldn't be overworked.

"There's going to be plenty of time for rest for a lot of these guys," Maddon said. "So I think as it's played out to this point, we felt comfortable with getting some guys back on normal rest knowing that the off day's gonna kick it and also that the [bullpen] day in Pittsburgh will be relevant."

[SHOP CUBS: Get your NL Central champs gear right here]

Maddon and the Cubs also wanted to make sure Montgomery got back into the swing of working as a reliever instead of a starter, should he emerge as one of the final bullpen arms on the NLDS roster.

As for Jorge Soler, the Cubs are still taking it easy with the outfielder who left Friday's game with right side tightness.

An MRI showed nothing amiss with Soler and Maddon hopes to have the 24-year-old slugger back within a couple days.

"We're gonna treat it kinda like it was a day-to-day situation," Maddon said. "Hopefully he'll be back and [Monday] or the next day, be able to play.

"We have to go through the medical stuff in there and have him do his swings and stuff in the cages and then we'll know for sure."

Soler has slowed down of late (.207 AVG, .737 OPS in 12 September games), but he mashed in August (.306 AVG, .984 OPS, 5 HR, 14 RBI).

Of course, Soler was also a monster in the playoffs last season, posting a 1.705 OPS in seven games. 

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998


Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th 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.

An off-day did nothing to slow down the 1998 National League MVP as Sosa collected his second straight 2-homer game May 27 of that season.

He went deep in the eighth and ninth innings of a Cubs' 10-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field, driving in 3 runs. 

The first homer - off Darrin Winston - was an absolute blast, traveling an estimated 460 feet. The second shot was tame in comparison with only 400 feet as a recorded distance.

In a matter of two games, Sosa raised his season OPS from .930 to .988 and his slugging percentage from .521 to .577 thanks to a pair of 2-homer contests.

Fun fact: Doug Glanville - former Cubs outfielder and current NBC Sports Chicago analyst - was the Phillies leadoff hitter that day in 1998, collecting three hits and scoring a pair of runs.

Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis


Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis

Yu Darvish now has more trips to the disabled list in a Cubs uniform than wins.

The Cubs place their 31-year-old right-handed pitcher on the DL Saturday evening with right triceps tendinitis. The move is retroactive to May 23, so he may only have to miss one turn through the rotation.

In a corresponding move, Randy Rosario was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to provide Joe Maddon with another arm in the bullpen. Tyler Chatwood will start Sunday in Darvish's place.

Thanks to two off-days on the schedule last week, the Cubs should be fine with their rotation for a little while. Jon Lester could go on regular rest Monday, but the Cubs would need to make a decision for Tuesday given Kyle Hendricks just threw Friday afternoon.

That decision could mean Mike Montgomery moving from the bullpen to the rotation for a spot start, or it could be the promotion of top prospect Adbert Alzolay from Triple-A Iowa.

Either way, this is more bad news for Darvish, who has had a rough go of it since he signed a six-year, $126 million deal with the Cubs in February.

Between issues with the weather, the concern of arm cramps in his debut in Miami, leg cramps in Atlanta, a trip to the disabled list for the flu, trouble making it out of the fifth inning and now triceps tendinitis, it's been a forgettable two months for Darvish.

He is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 40 innings with the Cubs.

Over the course of 139 career starts, Darvish is 57-45 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and has averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings.