Cubs

Javier Báez leaves Sunday's game with right heel contusion, though he expects to play on Monday

Javier Báez leaves Sunday's game with right heel contusion, though he expects to play on Monday

Cubs shortstop Javier Báez exited Sunday's game against the Nationals in sixth inning with a right heel contusion.

Báez appeared to turn his right ankle charging a softly hit groundball by Nationals pitcher Jeremy Hellickson in the third inning. Cubs manager Joe Maddon went out to check on Báez, though the shortstop stayed in the game after a brief discussion.

Addison Russell, who was set to pinch hit for Báez in the sixth inning before Anthony Rizzo grounded into an inning-ending double play, took over at shortstop in the bottom half of the inning. Sunday was Russell's first appearance at shortstop since Sept. 19, 2018, as he recently returned from a 40-game suspension for violating MLB's domestic violence policy.

The move was likely precautionary, as the Cubs held a 6-1 lead when Báez exited the game and play again on Monday night. He expects to play on Monday against Jake Arrieta and the Phillies, according to ESPN's Jesse Rogers.

The Nationals scored three times in the sixth inning, cutting the Cubs' lead to 6-4. Russell made a throwing error on his first attempt, though it was a deflected ball off of Hendricks' glove. While the Cubs obviously want Báez healthy and on the field, they managed to pull out a 6-5 win in his absence.

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Why Jose Quintana’s thumb injury is a gut punch to Cubs’ bullpen

Why Jose Quintana’s thumb injury is a gut punch to Cubs’ bullpen

When Cubs manager David Ross met via Zoom earlier this week in his first chat with beat writers since March, he raved about how ready his five-man starting rotation appeared to be and — more important, he said — how much he liked sixth man Alec Mills as a swingman who could provide important length in the bullpen.

All of a sudden, with the news of starter Jose Quintana’s thumb injury to his pitching hand, Mills is the presumptive fill-in for the rotation. And just like that a bullpen full of new faces and uncertainty is a man down before summer training camp even starts.

The Cubs don’t even have all their COVID-19 intake test results back, and an old-fashioned, off-field, dish-washing injury is the first threat to the sweet part of what looked like potentially a short but sweet 2020 season.

With only 60 games on the schedule, bullpens around baseball already figured to be disproportionate difference makers for success in a season too short to take the traditional month to figure out roles or to reconfigure through trades and other acquisitions.

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It looked like an especially big challenge to a first-year manager such as Ross.

Rookie Adbert Alzolay, who had mixed results in a brief debut last summer, could be in play to move up a notch and play a contributing role as a long man, with a handful of 2020 newcomers also in the mix to stretch out for possible long roles.

Quintana, who required five stitches to close a cut suffered while washing dishes Saturday at home in Miami, underwent “microscopic surgery” on the left hand Monday to further determine the extent of the injury, at which point a cut to a “digital sensory nerve” was discovered and repaired.

The Cubs said the plan is for him to remain shut down for two weeks before resuming any throwing and then be re-evaluated. That likely pushes his debut in a best-case scenario into at least mid-August. 

But the uncertainty at the outset and the sensitive nature of the area of injury suggests his already short season could be in jeopardy with any setback or adjustment to the timeline.

The Cubs open training camp Friday at Wrigley Field with the season scheduled to start July 23 or 24.

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Cubs' José Quintana undergoes thumb surgery, likely to miss start of season

Cubs' José Quintana undergoes thumb surgery, likely to miss start of season

Cubs starter José Quintana will likely start the season on the injured list and his status is in doubt after suffering a thumb injury at home.

The Cubs announced Thursday Quintana suffered a laceration on his left thumb last Saturday while washing dishes at home in Miami. It required five stitches, and the 31-year-old underwent microscopic surgery on Thursday morning in Chicago.

The procedure identified a lacerated digital sensory nerve, which was surgically repaired.

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Quintana is expected to resume his throwing program in about two weeks, the Cubs said, and a further determination will be made for his expected time on the shelf. 

Based on Opening Day being July 23 or 24, Quintana will likely miss at least the early stages of the abbreviated 60-game 2020 season. 

More to come on NBCSportsChicago.com

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