Cubs

Lingering heel issue knocks Javy Baez out of Cubs lineup

Lingering heel issue knocks Javy Baez out of Cubs lineup

ST. LOUIS - The Cubs will be without Javy Baez for at least the start of Saturday's game as he continues to be plagued by a right heel issue suffered nearly two weeks ago during a game in Washington D.C.

Baez was initially in the Cubs lineup for Saturday's tilt against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, but was scratched roughly 90 minutes before first pitch.

"For him to say something, it had to be pretty sore," manager Joe Maddon said. "I don't know [how long he'll be out]. I was just ready to come out on the field and he came and talked to me. Definitely a day-by-day situation."

The concern with the heel issue is not only that it hasn't gone away in two weeks, but that it is acting up just one game after the Cubs had an off-day and spent the entire week working to get Baez back to 100 percent health.

During the series in Houston, Baez served as the Cubs' designated hitter in the first two games, which helped keep him off his feet while still maintaining his offensive presence in the lineup. Then he played third base for the series finale Wednesday in an effort to limit his movement in the field, as the hot corner is not as physically demanding as shortstop.

The Cubs then had a day off Thursday before Friday night's game, when Baez played all 10 innings at shortstop.

The lingering injury comes at a bad time for Baez and the Cubs, as they have just one day off between Friday and July 5, playing 34 games in 35 days in that span. So there won't be much opportunity for rest unless he continues to miss game action.

"It has [lingered]," Maddon said. "When he's feeling good again, we might have to figure out a way also again to put him in a spot he doesn't have to move as much and see how that plays out. You know him - if he's gonna say something, it's bothering him decently right now."

The injury flares up for Baez mostly when he's on defense, moving laterally at shortstop and working around the second base bag on double plays and force plays. That's why third base was a better option for him and with Addison Russell on the active roster now to play shortstop, Maddon was alluding to the possibility of Baez eventually returning to the lineup, but maybe not at shortstop.

Russell was initially given the day off Saturday, but inserted into the lineup to play shortstop with Baez's departure. David Bote remains as third in line on the shortstop depth chart.

"[Movement] is cut down [at third base], plus he doesn't have to hit the bag as much like working through the bag and turning double plays," Maddon said. "Maybe that's where he kinda tweaked it after it was starting to feel better. After a double play ball, he kinda kicked the bag funny and that kinda reaggravated it.

"Just see what happens - talk to the trainers, talk to him and then create a gameplan coming out of it."

The Cubs have dropped six of their last eight games and absolutely don't want to go any extended length of time without one of their best players. But Baez has also been scuffling since he suffered the injury - hitting only .222 with a .717 OPS and striking out in half his at-bats (18-of-36) - though Maddon insisted the heel issue hasn't had much of an impact on the offensive part of Baez’s game.

Before Saturday's game, it was unknown whether Baez would be available to pinch-hit, like he did a couple days after suffering the initial injury - delivering the walk-off blow to the Phillies on May 21 at Wrigley Field.

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Baseball America names Cubs’ Miguel Amaya as breakthrough catching prospect

Baseball America names Cubs’ Miguel Amaya as breakthrough catching prospect

If and when the 2020 baseball season commences, Cubs prospect Miguel Amaya could be in store for a big performance.

Baseball America named Amaya, one of the Cubs top minor leaguers, as its breakthrough catching prospect for 2020.

The Cubs added Amaya to their 40-man roster last November to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. The 21-year-old is known as a strong defensive catcher who's only getting better at the plate. Last season, he hit .235/.351/.402 with 11 homers and 57 RBIs in 99 games at advanced-A Myrtle Beach.

Amaya was in big league camp this spring before being optioned to Double-A Tennessee on March 10. The Cubs have one of the best catching duos in baseball in Willson Contreras and Victor Caratini, so we won’t see Amaya in the big leagues until 2021 at the earliest.

That doesn’t mean Amaya can't play in the show right now. Cubs manager David Ross had a strong parting message for Amaya upon his way out of camp.

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Two Cubs employees test positive for COVID-19

Two Cubs employees test positive for COVID-19

Two Cubs employees who attended the same March 8 training session have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, the team confirmed Sunday.

One is recovering at home; the other hospitalized receiving treatment, the team said.

The seasonal game-day workers informed the team of their conditions in recent days.

“There’s nothing definitive to suggest [the] training may have contributed,” team spokesman Julian Green said, noting nearly three weeks have passed since the annual season staff training session.

But the team has responded “out of an abundance of caution, transparency and responsibility” during this uncertain time, Green added.

The U.S. surgeon general on Friday identified Chicago as a coronavirus “hot spot,” anticipating a wave of new cases.

The Sun-Times first reported the March 23 and 24 positive tests.