Cubs

Cubs appoint Vijay Tekchandani as health and safety protocol compliance officer

Cubs appoint Vijay Tekchandani as health and safety protocol compliance officer

The Cubs have named Vijay Tekchandani, director of team travel and clubhouse operation, their compliance officer for the season.

“He’ll have to make sure everyone’s complying (with health and safetly protocols),” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Saturday, “and he’s the perfect demeaner and perfect person for that.”

Hoyer confirmed that this week Major League Baseball asked every team to appoint a compliance officer to oversee the team’s implementation of health and safety protocols. The measure came after a COVID-19 outbreak spread through the Marlins organization. At least 21 Marlins players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week, including 18 players.

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Now, the Cardinals have had three games postponed this weekend. Three players and multiple staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 in the span of days.

“We’ve continued to get memos from the commissioner’s office about these things,” Hoyer said of health and safety protocols. “And a lot of them are based on travel. I think travel has clearly been a struggle so far when you look at the Marlins outbreak and now whatever’s happening in St. Louis.”

According to Hoyer, many of the compliance officers’ responsibilities are related to travel. That aspect of the job also made Tekchandani a natural choice.

 

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Why Cubs’ Alec Mills became first pitcher to hit since MLB added universal DH

Why Cubs’ Alec Mills became first pitcher to hit since MLB added universal DH

Thursday’s Cubs-Royals game was one-sided, with Kansas City taking an early lead and never looking back in a 13-2 victory. Despite the loss, the Cubs made some history in the ninth inning.

Cubs pitcher Alec Mills became the first hurler to have a plate appearance since Major League Baseball implemented a universal DH. 

“I told him to look intimidating and I think he did,” Cubs manager David Ross said with a smile after the game.

The Cubs forfeited the DH in their lineup in the seventh inning, when they moved Victor Caratini (Thursday’s starting DH) to first base and Ian Happ from first to right field among several innings worth of moves that emptied their bench.

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With the DH gone, reliever Dan Winkler entered the lineup in the seventh in place of Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward, a move Ross said postgame was to get Heyward off his feet. When that spot came up in the ninth, Ross sent Mills to the plate. He struck out looking, as Ross asked him not to swing.

“Alec was fine with going up there. I asked him not to swing,” Ross said. “Every part of my being knows that’s probably the wrong thing to do, is take the competitiveness out of a player. He’s been pitching so well for us; I don’t want anything dumb to happen in that type of game.”

Reds two-way player Michael Lorenzen is the only pitcher credited with entering a game on offense this season. He pinch ran on July 26.

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Cubs quick takes: Tyler Chatwood rocked, Cubs rolled by Royals

Cubs quick takes: Tyler Chatwood rocked, Cubs rolled by Royals

Tyler Chatwood for closer? Um, hold that thought.

The bigger issue for the Cubs’ right-hander on Thursday night in Kansas City was that after two impressive starts to open the season, he took less than three innings to look like the rotation’s weak link.

That might sound harsh in a long season, but it’s not a long season. And the rotation was far and away the Cubs’ strength during a 10-2 start — including a six-game winning streak that went up in the smoke of Thursday’s blowout loss.

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Quick takes from that 13-2 loss:

Chat-worst

How bad was the worst start of the season so far for the rotation?

The eight runs Chatwood (2-1) allowed not only exceeded the number of outs he recorded (seven) on this night, but also were twice as many as the rotation allowed total during the six-game winning streak — which included 39 2/3 innings by the starters.

"The stuff looks fine from the side," manager David Ross said. "Just one of those nights."

Chatwood didn’t walk a batter, but he was rocked for 11 hits worth of hard contact, including two-run homers by Whit Merrifield in the second and Maikel Franco in the third, and four doubles.

"I made good pitches; they hit them. I made bad pitches; they hit them," Chatwood said. "I think my stuff was all still there, maybe not as sharp as I wanted to be with the sinker. But I still feel good. I feel like I was attacking, trying to execute a game plan and gave up hits on good pitches and bad pitches."

Q and A?

A few hours before Chatwood took the mound, Jose Quintana took a big step closer to returning from his thumb injury to rejoin the rotation — using all his pitches in a 35-pitch, two-inning game simulation in South Bend.

Barring a setback, he’ll extend during another sim game Tuesday and could be scheduled for his return soon after that.

That’s where starts like Chatwood’s on Thursday start coming into play when the Cubs start looking for the right arm to move to the bullpen when Quintana is back.

"Coming into this game this guy was one of our best pitchers," Ross said of Chatwood. "This guy was dealing. You're gonna have some nights that things just don't go your way. They took advantage of the mistakes he made. That's just baseball."

Speaking of the bullpen…

The Cubs couldn’t have picked a worse day for a short-start clunker in the early part of the season.

Thursday was roster cut-down day, when the Cubs sent relievers Rex Brothers and Justin Steele to the alternate site in South Bend to reduce the overall roster to 28, which now includes nine relievers.

Four were used to cover nearly six innings of work Thursday, although only Duane Underwood Jr. (13 batters, 51 pitches) is certain to be unavailable when the Cubs open a three-game series in St. Louis on Friday. In fact, Ryan Tepera needed only 15 pitches in a four-up, four-down performance.

Perhaps most noteworthy was the mopup eighth that struggling closer Craig Kimbrel pitched, opening the inning by allowing a triple, walk and single before retiring the final three he faced.

Bats out of hell?

Even if Chatwood had kept it close, the Cubs’ winning streak might have been in jeopardy because of the way Royals starter Brad Keller looked in his return to the rotation after having tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

Last year’s Opening Day starter for the Royals made quick work of the Cubs in five innings pitched — striking out seven and limiting the Cubs to three singles and two walks.

By the fifth, the Cubs started pulling the regulars from the lineup with the score 9-0.

By the end of the two-run ninth, Cubs pitcher Alec Mills took a turn as a pinch-hitter.

Where they stand 

With the loss, the Cubs' record drops to 10-3. But the Twins, who shared the best record in the league with the Cubs, also lost on Thursday. (The Marlins are 6-1).

On deck

The Cubs head to St. Louis for a three-game series. The Cardinals are set to return to the field after 13 players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the postponement of their four-game series against Detroit this week.

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