Cubs

Cole Hamels finishes rehab outing strong, could return to Cubs this week

Cole Hamels finishes rehab outing strong, could return to Cubs this week

MILWAUKEE — Regardless of what the Cubs do ahead of the trade deadline this week, their roster should get a big boost in the near future.

Cole Hamels threw another rehab outing with Triple-A Iowa Sunday afternoon, tossing two scoreless innings after allowing 3 runs in the first inning. He threw 59 pitches overall and could be in line to come off the injured list and start for the Cubs sometime over the next week. 

The Cubs are currently rolling with a four-man rotation thanks to a flurry of off-days injected into their recent schedule and the current plan for St. Louis this week is as follows:

Tuesday — Yu Darvish
Wednesday — Kyle Hendricks
Thursday — Jon Lester

Thanks to another day off Monday, Jose Quintana (Sunday's starter) should be able to throw Friday on full rest as the Cubs welcome the Milwaukee Brewers to Wrigley Field to kick off the first homestand of August.

That means Hamels could get the call on Saturday, the next time the Cubs need a fifth starter. Or, he could also slot into Friday's game if the Cubs wanted to hold Quintana back an extra day for whatever reason.

Hamels, 35, is coming off his second oblique injury in the last few seasons. He last pitched June 28 in Cincinnati, going only an inning before needing to come out of the game with the side issue.

Prior to the month-long stint on the shelf, Hamels was arguably the Cubs' best starter, going 6-3 with a 2.98 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 97 strikeouts in 99.2 innings.

Cubs Sweet 16 bracket challenge: Ranking top position players since 2000

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USA TODAY

Cubs Sweet 16 bracket challenge: Ranking top position players since 2000

In the spirit of the NCAA tournament — canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic — NBC Sports Chicago hosted a March Madness themed tournament on the latest Cubs Talk Podcast.

Jeff Nelson, Nate Poppen and Tim Stebbins rank the top 16 Cubs position players of the 2000s, running through a four-round bracket to determine who’s No. 1. Here’s how the players lined up:

(1) Anthony Rizzo vs. (16) Kosuke Fukudome

(8) Willson Contreras vs. (9) Dexter Fowler 

(5) Alfonso Soriano vs. (12) Sammy Sosa

(4) Aramis Ramirez vs. (13) Mark DeRosa

(6) Derrek Lee vs. (11) Moises Alou

(3) Kris Bryant vs. (14) Jason Heyward

(7) Starlin Castro vs. (10) Ben Zobrist

(2) Javier Báez vs. (15) Geovany Soto

A look at the round-by-round results, with voting scores.

Sweet 16

-Rizzo over Fukudome, 3-0

-Contreras over Fowler, 2-1

-Sosa over Soriano, 3-0

-Ramirez over DeRosa, 3-0

-Bryant over Heyward, 3-0

-Lee over Alou, 3-0

-Zobrist over Castro, 2-1

-Báez over Soto, 3-0

Elite Eight

-Rizzo over Contreras, 3-0

-Sosa over Ramirez, 3-0

-Bryant over Lee, 3-0

-Báez over Zobrist, 3-0

Final Four

Rizzo over Sosa, 3-0

Bryant over Báez, 3-0

Championship

Rizzo over Bryant, 3-0

What do you think? Listen here or below for rationale and added context behind our selections.

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Jason Kipnis airs concerns over challenges players will face when MLB returns

Jason Kipnis airs concerns over challenges players will face when MLB returns

We don’t know when the 2020 MLB season will begin, only that the schedule could be tightened and shortened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Baseball obviously takes a backseat to the coronavirus and flattening the curve. Whenever MLB deems it safe to return to action, the safety of fans, players and team staff members will be the upmost priority.

From purely a baseball standpoint, players will need time to ramp their training back up after a long hiatus. But even with a second quasi-spring training, players may have a hard time playing catch up, according to Cubs second baseman Jason Kipnis.

In a Tuesday Instagram post, Kipnis aired some of his grievances over the challenges players will have getting back into game shape post-hiatus. 

Baseball post: First, quarantining in a cold weather city like Chicago right now ain’t exactly ideal. Every time I see anyone outside I automatically think I’m falling behind (even tho no one is doing much baseball activity right now).

I’m fortunate to have my own batting cages, if for no other reason then it gets me out of the house and keeps my body from becoming stiff as a board. My worries are that players who don’t have warm weather or access to a place to workout, are stuck without any way to 'keep up'.

Let’s say things go well and we can restart spring training. These players are expected to go from the couch to a 3 week spring and strap it on? That just screams injuries and sh**** baseball to me to be honest. Not to mention if we start back up, and someone (asymptomatic or not) tests positive. Shut it down again?

I don’t know how we’re suppose to have that many tests provided! I really do hope things get better for everyone and there’s baseball this year but these are just some of the worries creeping into my head that make me think otherwise.

Kipnis ended the post by making it clear he understands there are bigger issues to worry about right now.

View this post on Instagram

Baseball post: First, quarantining in a cold weather city like Chicago right now ain’t exactly ideal. Every time I see anyone outside I automatically think I’m falling behind (even tho no one is doing much baseball activity right now). I’m fortunate to have my own batting cages, if for no other reason then it gets me out of the house and keeps my body from becoming stiff as a board. My worries are that players who don’t have warm weather or access to a place to workout, are stuck without any way to “keep up”. Let’s say things go well and we can restart spring training. These players are expected to go from the couch to a 3 week spring and strap it on? That just screams injuries and shitty baseball to me to be honest. Not to mention if we start back up, and someone (asymptomatic or not) tests positive. Shut it down again? I don’t know how we’re suppose to have that many tests provided! I really do hope things get better for everyone and there’s baseball this year but these are just some of the worries creeping into my head that make me think otherwise. Wouldn’t mind a little Q & A in the comment section or other good points if you got them! - keep in mind, this is a baseball post! I’m completely aware there are more important things going on and health of other humans takes priority over the season! Hopefully we can still talk about other things! Just wanted to create some dialogue to kill time!

A post shared by Jason Kipnis (@jasonkipnis22) on

Those are some sound points from the Northbrook native. The issues Kipnis highlighted will be at the forefront as MLB figures out the best way for the 2020 schedule to play out, whenever that may be.

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