Cubs

Cubs add reliever who could create some bullpen competition

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USA TODAY

Cubs add reliever who could create some bullpen competition

MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs' bullpen figured to look pretty set, but the team announced an addition Friday that could create some competition in the relief corps.

Shae Simmons, who pitched in nine games with the Seattle Mariners last season, agreed to a 2018 major league split contract with the Cubs and could be in the mix for a spot in the bullpen.

Simmons has pitched in 42 big league games, the bulk of those coming in 2014 with the Atlanta Braves, when he posted a 2.91 ERA in 21.2 innings. He missed the entirety of the 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery. He was traded to the Mariners after the 2016 season and again battled injuries last season, pitching only 7.2 innings.

Simmons could potentially provide some competition in the bullpen as guys like Justin Grimm and Justin Wilson try to bounce back from what they did in 2017. Roster spots would figure to be locked in for the likes of Steve Cishek, Brian Duensing, Carl Edwards Jr., Mike Montgomery, Brandon Morrow and Pedro Strop.

Wilson would also seem a safe bet to be in the bullpen considering how good he was before coming over to the Cubs in last summer's midseason trade with the Detroit Tigers. He had a 2.68 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 40.1 innings with the Tigers, and then posted a 5.09 ERA in his 17.2 innings with the Cubs. He's in need of a bounce-back season, for sure, but you'd have to imagine he'll get the opportunity to do just that.

That leaves Grimm, who while the favorite for that final bullpen spot admittedly had a bad season in 2017. He had a 5.53 ERA in 50 big league appearances and was shuttled back and forth between the North Side and Triple-A Iowa.

Offseason additions have already shaped the look of this 2018 bullpen, and perhaps Simmons makes one more newcomer that could make an impact in relief this season.

Yadier Molina is sad and Cubs fans have a new favorite GIF

Yadier Molina is sad and Cubs fans have a new favorite GIF

ST. LOUIS — The game was over and Yadier Molina knew it.

As Ian Happ turned on Sam Tuivailala's two-strike pitch in the 7th inning, Molina crumbled to the ground in defeat.

Happ's two-out double gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead they did not relinquish in a 6-3 victory Saturday night at Busch Stadium.

The Cubs had to claw back all night against the Cardinals, fighting to tie the game at two separate spots before Happ's breakthrough off Tuivailala.

Molina couldn't contain his disappointment:

Molina is a common target of ire from Cubs fans in the heated rivalry with the Cardinals, so you can bet his #SadFace led to some glee in the Chicago fanbase (just look at the comments on that Tweet):

The 35-year-old catcher just returned recently from a nearly month-long stint on the disabled list when he took a foul tip off a Kris Bryant swing to the groin on Jordan Hicks' 102 mph pitch the last time the Cubs were in town.

Molina has drawn 3 walks and has a single in this weekend's series with the Cubs, but he also committed a miscue in Friday's game, when he threw wild to first base on Jon Lester's squeeze bunt.

The Cubs are now 24-12 since they were swept in St. Louis on the first weekend of May.

Summer of Sammy: Relive Sosa's 25th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Relive Sosa's 25th homer 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.

After victimizing poor Cal Eldred for three solo shots in the first game of the series, Sosa wouldn't let the Milwaukee Brewers leave town in June 1998 without one more dinger.

He connected in the 4th inning of the series finale on June 17, 1998, a solo shot off a pitcher named Bronswell Patrick (yes, that's his real name) that went 430 feet down the left field line.

The Cubs wound up losing the game 6-5, though Jose Hernandez did make it close with a 2-run shot in the bottom of the 9th inning.

Through this game, Sosa sported a .300/.348/.917 slash line (1.265 OPS) with 12 homers and 25 RBI in 15 June contests that season. (Yes, that's a .917 slugging percentage.)

But believe it not, those June numbers are about to get even better...

Fun fact: The Cubs lineup on June 17, 1998 featured 4 hitters with a batting average of .320 or higher — Sosa (.333), Mark Grace (.347), Mickey Morandini (.320) and Matt Mieske (.323), though Mieske was a part-time player. 

The 2018 Cubs currently feature only 1 player (part-time or full-time) hitting at least .320: Albert Almora Jr. who entered play Saturday at .321.