Cubs

Sappelt starring in Venezuelan Winter League

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Sappelt starring in Venezuelan Winter League

Dave Sappelt has enjoyed success this offseason in the Venezuelan Winter League.

The Cubs outfielder is currently playing for Bravos de Margarita (which sounds like a delicious drink, by the way) and is leading the team in average to date with a .336 mark. The Bravos boast several guys who have spent time in the MLB, including former first round pick Sean Burroughs, Twins infielder Brian Dozier, Rockies infielder Jonathan Herrera and good, ole Hank White (Henry Blanco), the former Cubs backup catcher.

Sappelt got the start in center and hit leadoff in the Bravos' last game Thursday, clubbing his fifth home run in the victory. He boasts a .378 OBP and .526 slugging percentage -- good for a .904 OPS -- with five doubles, 15 RBI, 23 runs and five steals in 30 games and 116 at-bats. The downside is the three errors in the outfield.

The diminutive outfielder -- he's listed as 5-foot-9, 195 pounds -- came over to the Cubs in the Sean Marshall deal last winter. He appeared in 26 games late in 2012, batting .275.351.449 with two homers and six doubles.

Sappelt, who turns 26 on Jan. 2, can play all three outfield positions and could open the season on the 25-man roster. With Nate Schierholtz signed to play right field, Sappelt could be in line for a platoon, getting the occasional start against a left-hander in place of Schierholtz or David DeJesus in center. Of course, there is still almost two months left in the offseason and the Cubs may still make a move to further bolster the outfield rotation.

Javier Báez leaves Sunday's game with right heel contusion, though he expects to play on Monday

Javier Báez leaves Sunday's game with right heel contusion, though he expects to play on Monday

Cubs shortstop Javier Báez exited Sunday's game against the Nationals in sixth inning with a right heel contusion.

Báez appeared to turn his right ankle charging a softly hit groundball by Nationals pitcher Jeremy Hellickson in the third inning. Cubs manager Joe Maddon went out to check on Báez, though the shortstop stayed in the game after a brief discussion.

Addison Russell, who was set to pinch hit for Báez in the sixth inning before Anthony Rizzo grounded into an inning-ending double play, took over at shortstop in the bottom half of the inning. Sunday was Russell's first appearance at shortstop since Sept. 19, 2018, as he recently returned from a 40-game suspension for violating MLB's domestic violence policy.

The move was likely precautionary, as the Cubs held a 6-1 lead when Báez exited the game and play again on Monday night. He expects to play on Monday against Jake Arrieta and the Phillies, according to ESPN's Jesse Rogers.

The Nationals scored three times in the sixth inning, cutting the Cubs' lead to 6-4. Russell made a throwing error on his first attempt, though it was a deflected ball off of Hendricks' glove. While the Cubs obviously want Báez healthy and on the field, they managed to pull out a 6-5 win in his absence.

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Yu Darvish vs. Jake Arrieta face off at Wrigley Field

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Yu Darvish vs. Jake Arrieta face off at Wrigley Field

Luke Stuckmeyer is joined by NBC Sports Chicago Cubs producers Eric Strobel and Nate Poppen to break down Monday night's big matchup between former Cub Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish.

The trio discuss the history and dynamics behind the matchup (2:00), the statistical comparison between the two pitchers over the past two seasons and their potential going forward (4:00), the difference in mental makeup between Jake and Yu (11:00), and Jake's massively important place in Cubs history (17:30).

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Cubs Talk Podcast

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