Cubs' Jason Heyward feels responsibility to speak up for racial equality

Cubs' Jason Heyward feels responsibility to speak up for racial equality

On the first day of Cubs Summer Camp, Jason Heyward told his teammates if they had any questions about the police reform and racial justice movement they could ask him.

“I’m not doing this for attention,” he said in a video conference with media Saturday. “I’m not doing this because I’m out here and anything’s changed. I never bring up race like that to them at all because I think it’s pretty well understood and explained for the most part with who I am.

“I come in understanding everyone’s different. Just now like Venezuela’s gone through things, Puerto Rico’s gone through things, other countries have, we’re going through things in our community, and we’ve got to take care of that.”

In the light of nationwide protests sparked by George Floyd’s death at the hands of law enforcement, but fueled by a long list of police killings of Black Americans, Heyward feels responsible for helping start and guide the conversation within the baseball community.

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“Then we get rallied around by teammates, by organizations and so on,” he said.

Police brutality has long been the subject of protests. Even just five years ago, a wave of protests against the killing of unarmed Black men and women was still rippling across the country. And still Black Americas are disproportionately affected by police violence, according to analysis by the Washington Post. Heyward said he’d like to think the most recent protests have brought the country to an inflection point.

“This stuff’s been happening for years, for centuries,” he said. “So, at the end of the day I think it’s a huge step in the right direction, but I think TBD. To be determined on how long this is going to last. Is it going to be sustainable?”

Or will the country find something else to catch its attention? Maybe sports’ return or the upcoming presidential election.

“Other things going on make it very much easier to turn the page,” Heyward said, “when right now I think the blessing and the curse with (COVID-19) is there’s not too much going on to drown it out. So, people are saying, ‘Hey, let’s go speak up on it, let’s get some information, let’s pass some information.’”

In that climate, Heyward is willing to be a source of information.

"We can’t just sit here and sit on our hands any longer," he said, "knowing our families, our friends and our communities are struggling."


Cubs' Colin Rea to start on Saturday, Tyler Chatwood possibly Monday

Cubs' Colin Rea to start on Saturday, Tyler Chatwood possibly Monday

The Cubs plan to start swingman Colin Rea on Saturday against the Brewers, manager David Ross said after Friday's game.

Alec Mills was originally slated to pitch Saturday but was bumped up to Friday because Tyler Chatwood was scratched with mid-back tightness. The Cubs will evaluate Chatwood to see if he's an option to pitch on Monday, when they're scheduled to play a doubleheader against the Cardinals.

Rea, 30, has made two appearances this season, allowing no runs and one hit while striking out three in three innings. He was named the 2019 Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year, sporting a 3.95 ERA in 26 starts.

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Rea's last big league start was July 30, 2016 with the Marlins. He allowed one hit in 3 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out four with no walks.


Quick takes: Pitching duel implodes in Cubs' loss to Brewers

Quick takes: Pitching duel implodes in Cubs' loss to Brewers

The Cubs just barely fell short in a 4-3 loss to the Brewers Friday at Wrigley Field.

In the ninth inning, Cubs relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel stepped into the highest-pressure situation he’s been in, perhaps all season. And he delivered. Kimbrel struck out Avisail Garcia and Manny Piña for the first and third outs of a scoreless frame. He also walked Justin Smoak and got Ben Gamel to line out to second.

But the Cubs offense didn’t overcome the late one-run deficit.

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Here are takeaways from the game:

Patience is a virtue

Jason Kipnis fouled off seven pitches before driving in the Cubs’ first run of the night.

It was the bottom of the fifth inning, and Jason Heyward and David Bote had just recorded the Cubs’ first and second hits of the game. Runners stood on first and third with one out.

Kipnis fouled off the first two pitches he saw, a changeup and a fastball. Just like that, he was behind in the count and his margin for error had shrunk. But he battled off fastballs and changeups that peppered the strike zone, and even strayed out of it. He watched a curveball in the dirt.

And then finally, Kipnis got a solid piece of an inside pitch. 

After Kipnis hit the tying run home, the Cubs’ offense kept flowing. Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ drew back-to-back walks for Bote to score. Anthony Rizzo poked a changeup out to right-center field to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead and force a Brewers pitching change.

Freddy Peralta replaced starter Brandon Woodruff on the mound. Peralta struck out the next two batters to end the inning.

Not quite pitch perfect

Alec Mills wasn’t even supposed to be pitching Friday. But when the Cubs scratched Tyler Chatwood from the lineup with mid-back tightness, Mills’ start moved up a day.

Mills was perfect through four innings, striking out six.

Mills finally put a batter on base in the fifth inning, when he walked Garcia. Then, Smoak got the Brewers’ first hit of the night off Mills. He pulled a ground ball to the right side. The Cubs defense was in the shift, so Bote, the third baseman, was playing in between first and second. Smoak’s hit snuck through the hole between Bote and second baseman Nico Hoerner.

Mills allowed two more hits but got out of the inning after giving up just one run.

The Brewers did most of their damage in the sixth. Eric Sogard singled to center field. Then, Mills hit Milwaukee’s Keston Hiura with a pitch. Christian Yelich drove them both home with a three-run homer to right field, erasing the Cubs’ lead with one swing.

Pitching duel implodes

Woodruff’s night mirrored Mills’ in many ways. The score remained locked in a scoreless tie through four innings.

The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo was the first player from either team to reach base. He did so on a fielding error by Smoak, the Brewers first baseman, in the fourth.

The first hit from either side was a single by Smoak the next inning. Woodruff didn’t give up a hit until the fifth inning. But through 4 1/3 innings, he allowed three runs on four hits.

Where they stand

Despite the loss, the Cubs still have the best winning percentage in baseball. They are 13-4 (.765).

On Deck

The Cubs play two more games against the Brewers to finish the four-game series. What was once a 10-game homestand for the Cubs is now scheduled to be a 12-game homestand.

On Friday, Major League Baseball announced that the Cubs would play doubleheaders against the Cardinals on Monday and Tuesday, to begin making up the three-game series that was postponed due to more positive COVID-19 tests within the Cardinals organization.