Cubs

Cubs leaving door open for possible Ben Zobrist return this year

Cubs leaving door open for possible Ben Zobrist return this year

The Cubs are leaving the door open for Ben Zobrist to possibly return to action at some point this season.

Ahead of Thursday’s game against the Dodgers, Cubs president Theo Epstein told reporters in Los Angeles, including ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, that he’s been in touch with Zobrist. Epstein said that a return from the 38-year-old Zobrist is possible later this season.

"There's been a little definition added to how he hopes this thing might go," Epstein said before Thursday's game. "I've been in constant touch with Zobrist. He knows the door is open. I think he's got an idea in mind on how he would like this to go, but his priorities are clear — that's family first."

Zobrist last played on May 6 against the Marlins and was placed on the restricted list for personal reasons on May 8. It was later revealed via court records that he and his wife, Julianna, are going through a divorce.

In 26 games this season, Zobrist is slashing .241/.343/.253 with no home runs, 10 RBI and 14 walks compared to 12 strikeouts. Since joining the Cubs in 2016, though, he's posted a .269/.362/.412 slashline, providing a young Cubs core with a veteran, contact-oriented bat to stabilize the lineup.

Without Zobrist, the Cubs have used a rotation of David Bote (25 games), Daniel Descalso (35 games) and Addison Russell (20 games) at second base while also signing Carlos González to add outfield depth. Descalso has struggled over the last month or so, though, slashing .103/.221/.138 in 58 at-bats his last 30 games.

The initial results from González — who struggled in 30 games with the Indians — have been positive, though, as he has hit well (.261/.379/.478) in his first seven games with the Cubs while providing solid outfield defense.

Nonetheless, the team certainly misses Zobrist, a clubhouse leader, versatile defender and consistent presence in the batters' box. If he can return this season, he'd be more than a welcomed addition to the Cubs' lineup.

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Report: Giants interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for manager opening

Report: Giants interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for manager opening

The Giants' search for a successor to now-retired manager Bruce Bochy has led them to the North Side.

According to NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic, the Giants are interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for their own managerial opening. San Francisco's interest is intriguing, as Venable went to high school just outside San Francisco in nearby San Rafael. His father — Max Venable — played for the Giants from 1979-83. 

Venable also interviewed for the Cubs' manager job earlier this month, telling the Chicago Sun-Times that his interest is in the "organization in general." He is one of several internal candidates for the Cubs' job, along with bench coach Mark Loretta and front office assistant David Ross.

The Cubs also interviewed Joe Girardi and are set to meet with Astros bench coach Joe Espada and former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.

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Former Cub Mark Prior likely to take over as Dodgers pitching coach in 2020

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USA TODAY

Former Cub Mark Prior likely to take over as Dodgers pitching coach in 2020

Mark Prior's big-league playing career unfortunately fizzled out due to recurring injury woes, but he's making a name for himself in the coaching realm.

With Dodgers current pitching coach Rick Honeycutt transitioning into a new role, Prior is expected to takeover the position starting next season.

Cubs fans know the story of Prior's playing career all too well. The Cubs drafted him second overall in the 2001, with Prior making his MLB debut just a season later. He went on to dominate in 2003, posting an 18-6 record, 2.43 ERA and 245 strikeouts in 30 starts, a season in which he made the All-Star Game and finished third in the NL Cy Young Award voting.

However, Prior's season ended on a sour note, as he was on the mound during the Steve Bartman incident in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. Prior exited the game with a 3-1 lead, but the Cubs surrendered seven more runs that inning, eventually falling to the Marlins 8-3 before losing Game 7 the next day. 

Prior struggled to stay healthy after 2003, eventually retiring in 2013 after multiple comeback attempts. While many blame his injury-riddled career on former Cubs manager Dusty Baker, Prior does not. 

While we can only wonder what could've been with Prior to the pitcher, it's good to see him still making an impact in baseball in some fashion.

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