Cubs

Cubs get good news on health scares for Kris Bryant, Addison Russell

Cubs get good news on health scares for Kris Bryant, Addison Russell

CLEVELAND — The last time the Cubs were playing a game in Cleveland, their starting lineup was made public a good 5 hours before World Series Game 7 began.

Eighteen months later, that wasn't the case, as the lineup didn't come out until about 2 hours and 45 mins prior to first pitch.

The hold up? Kris Bryant.

The Cubs have received positive reports on their superstar third baseman after he took a 96 mph fastball to the helmet in the first inning of Sunday's game in Colorado.

Bryant was immediately taken out of that game and eventually deemed unable to go Tuesday, though the Cubs admit they are just playing it safe. Doctors — including the Indians team doctor — gave Bryant the all-clear, but the Cubs aren't going to rush him back.

"I said, 'Hey, listen, you need to evaluate this yourself. You need to do what you think the right thing is to do,'" Joe Maddon said. "'I'm not here to tell you that. You know how you feel. Go talk to the doctor, we're not going to start you right now. If you feel better during the game, let me know, we might be able to utilize you during the game.'

"Let's see how this plays out for tomorrow. I think he's fine, he just has to work through some things."

When it comes to matters of the head, professional teams are letting players call the shots now, given how much we've learned about concussions just in the last half-decade.

San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt hit the disabled list late last season on a 79 mph curveball that hit him square on the head. Belt lost months of his life to the black hole of depression caused by the concussion.

Bryant has been cleared of a concussion and luckily for him and the Cubs, the ball caught him on more of a glancing blow than flush, like Belt took.

Still, it's not something that just goes away overnight.

"Getting hit in the head is kind of a traumatic experience, man," Maddon said. "Especially 96 [mph]. Probably the first time that's ever happened to him."

Bryant's partner in crime on the left side of the infield, Addison Russell, was also cleared for a return to duty after a scary allergic reaction Sunday night in Colorado.

Russell started Tuesday's game and doubled in the first inning, just 48 hours after being strapped to a gurney and rushed to the hospital.

The Cubs shortstop is allergic to shellfish and mistakenly ate the postgame spread in the Colorado vistitor's clubhouse labeled as chicken, not realizing it was actually shrimp.

"To my understanding, I thought it was just lemon chicken and it just turned out to be shrimp," Russell said. "Definitely something that I always take into consideration looking at the spread after the game and completely just didn't see it.

"Had an allergic reaction, went to the hospital, had an IV put in and in a couple hours, everything was fine."

Russell said the shrimp was kind of breaded and just looked like orange chicken or something.

He hasn't had an allergic reaction like that since he was a kid and normally is extremely careful so paramedics don't have to be called, as they were Sunday.

Russell rejoined the team in Cleveland the next day and doesn't anticipate any lingering effects.

Maddon gets funky with bullpen, calls catcher Chris Gimenez to mound

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USA TODAY

Maddon gets funky with bullpen, calls catcher Chris Gimenez to mound

The Cubs continued their recent struggles, suffering their third straight loss to the Cincinnati Reds. 

But the game was not without it's fair share of drama. The matchup was a back-and-forth affair, up until the Reds blew the game wide-open in the bottom of the third inning. This included a grand slam by Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani, the first home run of his career.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon turned to the bullpen following Cincinnati's third inning explosion, and things did not get much better from there.

With the Cubs down six runs in the bottom of the eight inning, Maddon brought in catcher Chris Gimenez to pitch. 

This was not new territory for Gimenez, who despite being a catcher, now has 10 MLB pitching appearances to his name. 

Down six runs, Gimenez didn't have a lot to lose. But he got careless with a four-seam fastball in the zone that Reds first basemen Joey Votto homered for his eighth of the year.

Gimenez had a career ERA of 8.00 before Saturday's appearance, and he certainly didn't do much to help lower that figure.

According to ESPN's Jesse Rogers: "Including one today, Cubs relievers have allowed 41.1 percent of inherited runners to score in June, sixth most in the NL." 

A tired bullpen is certainly cause for concern for the Cubs, who are locked into a battle in the NL Central with the Brewers and Cardinals. Maddon was surely hoping to keep his bullpen arms fresh with the move, seeing as the game was already out of reach. 

So yes, the game did end in a 11-2 win for the Reds. But with a grand-slam by a pitcher—on his first career HR no less—and four-seam fastballs from a catcher, Cubs baseball always keep things interesting. 

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 31st homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 31st 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.

Sosa's 18th homer of June and 31st of the season came off the Tigers in the Cubs' brief 2-game Interleague series in Detroit. 

Sosa connected in the first inning off Tigers starter Seth Greisinger, going back-to-back with Mickey Morandini. 

The Cubs wound up getting out to a 5-0 start in the game but still lost 7-6 on a Gabe Alvarez single in the bottom of the 11th.

The aforementioned Morandini homer was only the 3rd of the season for the Cubs second baseman. He finished with 8 homers on the year and 224 total bases on 172 hits in what was a very good offensive season. Yet it paled in comparison to Sosa, who had nearly 200 more total bases (416) and a slugging percentage nearly 200 points above Morandini's (.647 to .471), a testament to how truly incredible Sosa's season was.

Fun fact: Tony Clark was the Tigers' cleanup hitter that day. Clark is now the head of the MLB Players Union.

Fun fact No. 2: Paul Bako was the Detroit catcher in the game. He later became the Cubs backup catcher in 2003 and 2004, when he posted a .611 OPS in 119 games over the two years.