Cubs

Cubs not anticipating any carryover from fireworks with Pirates

Cubs not anticipating any carryover from fireworks with Pirates

Joe Maddon is not exepecting to bust out his spin move this weekend at Wrigley Field.

The Pirates are in town eight days after Maddon had to be held back by Kris Bryant and umpire Joe West in Pittsburgh as the irate Cubs manager was fed up with pitches high and inside on his players, including David Bote taking one off the helmet.

However, it appears neither side has hard feelings over the matter and are more focused on playing the game in an all-important weekend series for both teams.

"I don't think there's gonna be a huge carryover," Maddon said Friday morning. "I really don't. We made our point. Inside's inside. I'm totally into [pitching] inside. I totally believe in that. It was just the fact that eventually a guy got hit in the head. That's where my focus was with that."

Maddon stressed the priority for his team is to get off to a good start after the All-Star Break and reiterated he didn't feel the Pirates were intentionally throwing at the Cubs last week in Pittsburgh.

Kris Bryant has been hit by a pitch 11 times this year and knows what it feels like to take a 95 mph fastball to the head (last April in Colorado). He understands the Pirates like to pitch inside and knows hit-by-pitches are just a part of the game, but also admitted it can get frustrating when the balls are up near the shoulders, neck and head.

For their part, the Pirates insist they don't have any sort of organizational edict to live up-and-in.

"We don't encourage anybody throwing at anyone's head," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Friday. "Never have, never will. That part of it — the game is played on the field, players want to do well when they get out there. They want to represent themselves well in that competitive spirit, without causing any type of harm to anybody. 

"Moving people off the plate has been around a long time. Probably there's more exception taken to it today than before. That's not one of our teaching techniques — to move the ball up and in toward anyone's head by any means."

Anthony Rizzo — who gets hit as often as anybody else around the game the last few years — understands why opposing teams go up-and-in, but also wants to make sure it's within reason.

"It's a great theory — throw at Javy [Baez's] head three times and then throw a slider down and away. You're gonna get him out," Rizzo said. "It's scary. Until Major League Baseball steps in and does something, it's a good formula to get guys out — throw at 'em and get them scared off the plate and then go down and away.

"At some point, you have to stand up and Joe did that. It's the ebb and flow of the game. You get hit by a slider — it's not intentional. It's the fastballs up and in that give every hitter across the league the right to get angry when it's at the hands or the letters or toward the neck. It's part of it. That's how the Pirates pitch and they have success."

Even though they may not like the fastballs high and tight, the Cubs have more a more important mission than settling a score or potentially risking injury or suspension if last week's fireworks spill over to Wrigley Field.

The Pirates began the second half in fourth place in the NL Central, but only 2.5 games behind the first-place Cubs. 

"It's pretty easy [to put the hit-by-pitch issues away and keep their focus]," Bryant said. "We've been through situations like this before. We've had a break to move on. 

"We have games to win. We can't worry about that when we have plenty of other stuff to worry about as a team."

Brandon Morrow sidelined with upper chest strain, no timetable for return

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USA TODAY

Brandon Morrow sidelined with upper chest strain, no timetable for return

Brandon Morrow’s comeback attempt has hit a bump in the road.

Morrow, the Cubs reliever and former closer, has what the club is calling a “mild right upper chest strain,” according to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. Bastian added Morrow felt the strain in his last bullpen session and there is no clear timeline for his return.

The strain is the latest ailment to sideline the oft-injured Morrow, who hasn't pitched since July 2018 due to a series of arm troubles. The 35-year-old has undergone two elbow surgeries since then (November 2018, September 2019) before becoming a free agent this winter. He rejoined the Cubs on a minor-league deal.

Morrow entered camp optimistic the latest procedure did the trick to get his elbow healthy. The Cubs have been easing him into action — the right-hander is throwing one bullpen every four days. Morrow said earlier this month he’s experienced some aches and pains but attributed those to being part of the rehab process.

Morrow is listed as day-to-day, according to Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune. But considering his injury history — and the fact he was already unlikely to crack the Opening Day roster —  the Cubs will proceed with extreme caution. There's no need to expedite his return, mild strain or not.

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David Ross has flu, won't manage Saturday's spring training opener

David Ross has flu, won't manage Saturday's spring training opener

David Ross' spring training managerial debut will have to wait until Sunday, at least.

The Cubs' first-year skipper has the flu and will miss Saturday's game against the Oakland A's. Bench coach Andy Green will be the acting manager in his place.

Saturday isn't going as planned for the North Siders. Besides Ross' absence, inclement weather in Arizona forced the club to push back first pitch from 2:10 p.m. CT to 7:10 p.m.

Weather permitting, here's the lineup the Cubs are rolling out tonight against Oakland:

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