Cubs

Who’s next? Cubs think Javier Baez is in a good place at Iowa

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Who’s next? Cubs think Javier Baez is in a good place at Iowa

The Cubs think Javier Baez is in a good place right now.

Of course, Baez would rather be in The Show than Triple-A Iowa. The guy has the Major League Baseball logo tattooed onto the back of his neck.

But Baez is a very important piece of the puzzle, either as a potential trade chip, so Theo Epstein’s front office can get a frontline pitcher, or a midseason shot of adrenaline for this team.

That’s why Baez still moves the needle at Wrigley Field, even on a Tuesday night where the Cubs beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 after Addison Russell’s walk-off double.

Baez is responding to the adversity after failing to make the team out of spring training, and taking an extended leave of absence to mourn the death of his younger sister.

“He’s having a really good run right now,” said Jason McLeod, the head of scouting and player development. “The mindset is there. He had to deal with a lot in the offseason from a professional level – and certainly personally with what took place with his family.

“(Farm director) Jaron Madison’s down there with him right now. And just talking with Jaron every day, you can see that sparkle there. He’s happy with how things are going.”

[RELATED: Rookies come through in the clutch for Cubs in win over Nats]

Baez is hitting .311 with five homers, 17 RBI and a .911 OPS through 24 games at Iowa. He’s struck out 25 times and worked nine walks, trying to evolve as a hitter, make more contact and smooth out those extreme swing-and-miss issues.

Baez has also committed 11 errors. But manager Joe Maddon has repeatedly called Baez one of the finest young middle infielders he’s ever seen.

To stabilize a shaky defense, one scenario kicked around would have Kris Bryant shifting to left field and Baez taking over at third base. But McLeod said the Cubs aren’t looking to move Baez anywhere except shortstop and second base.

“No immediate plans for it right now,” McLeod said. “He does kid around sometimes and go take flyballs in the outfield. We might start having him do some of those types of things, but it wouldn’t be predicated on anything that’s happening up here, necessarily.”

The Cubs already have an All-Star shortstop (Starlin Castro) and an emerging second baseman (Russell). If Baez has such a great feel for the game, why not see what he can do in the outfield?

“Who knows?” McLeod said. “It wouldn’t be surprising if we did see him out there. No plans are in the works to do that. I want to make that clear.

“But because he does have the athleticism and the ability – like I said, he’s a baseball player – I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go out there and be pretty darn good if that’s the way we go.”

[MLB DRAFT: Will Cubs use first-round pick on a pitcher?]

Baez is also 22 years old and looked lost at times during last year’s 52-game audition (95 strikeouts). The Cubs don’t want to mess up his rhythm. He’s still only one phone call away.

“All we’re concerned about right now is him maintaining this,” McLeod said. “Certainly, he’s someone who wants to come up here and help the team win. And Joe, Theo, we’re all looking at that every single day. Those are conversations that take place internally every day.”

The Wrigley Field press box was on actual fire Thursday

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USA TODAY

The Wrigley Field press box was on actual fire Thursday

As the Cubs enjoyed their first day off in over a month and their final day of rest for the remainder of the regular season, Wrigley Field was still buzzing with activity.

Not for a good reason, however.

Apparently, there was a fire at the "Friendly Confines" Thursday afternoon...in the press box:

Wow. There are so, so many jokes to be made here.

But before we could even make any remarks about hot takes, The Score's Bruce Levine explained there wasn't actually a fire IN the press box, but just outside it:

A malfunctioning ice cream machine was also stated be the cause of the fire:

Thankfully, spokesperson Julian Green of the Cubs stated that they were no injuries in the fire.

The Chicago Fire Department may not have even needed to utilize any trucks given the fire station is right across the street from the left field foul pole.

All immediate threats appear to be put out for now, but no word yet on how this will affect Wrigley Field moving forward or how much damage the fire caused.

The Cubs will play in Chicago this weekend, but at Guaranteed Rate Field on the South Side. They return home Monday evening for a 7-game homestand against the Pirates and Cardinals to close out the regular season.

The Cubs are hoping to play host to Game 1 of the NLDS two weeks from Thursday, if they can stave off the Brewers and clinch the division.

Pedro Strop says he's pain-free, plans on returning before the end of the season

Pedro Strop says he's pain-free, plans on returning before the end of the season

It was all doom and gloom when Pedro Strop suffered a hamstring injury back on September 13th, and things got even worse when Brandon Morrow was officially shut down for the season, but Strop told Carrie Muskat of MLB.com he's confident he'll be back before season's end. 

"Everything is pain-free. We're not trying to do too much," Strop said. "We're letting that thing heal. We're going to do whatever is possible to do."

A pain-free Pedro Strop is just the cherry on top of the Cubs first day off in 30 days, as the Cubs get set to finish the rest of the season sleeping in their own beds. But if the Cubs are able to add Strop before the postseason that would be a massive lift to a bullpen that is currently working without a designated closer. Maddon did admit Wednesday he is leaning towards Justin Wilson at the moment. 

"I still believe it's Justin," Maddon said. "But look at the acquisitions, [Jesse] Chavez and [Jorge] De La Rosa, look what they've done for us down there."

While Wilson has been solid this season with the Cubs, his 2017 postseason was something many Cubs fans would like to forget as he ended up being left off the roster entirely for the NLDS against the Dodgers. Clearly, Wilson has bounced back well in 2018, but the entire bullpen has plenty of firepower to still be considered a strength. And the Cubs starters have been excellent as of late, allowing the bullpen to rest some after heavy usage earlier in the season. 

The Cubs should have enough to win without Strop, but Cubs wouldn't be upset if the excitable righty found his way onto the postseason roster.