Cubs

What's going on with Ben Zobrist?

What's going on with Ben Zobrist?

The Cubs will be without their former World Series MVP for a little while.

Ben Zobrist was granted a leave of absence for a personal matter, hitting the restricted list Wednesday afternoon. There is no timetable for his return and the Cubs won't divulge details about the off-field issue.

Zobrist was originally penciled into the Cubs' lineup Tuesday night, hitting eighth and playing left field. But he was scratched about an hour before the game for a "personal matter" and has not been around the team since. He also reported a few days late to spring training for a personal matter in February.

"The only thing appropriate for me to communicate is he's requested a leave of absence from the team for personal/family reasons," Theo Epstein said Wednesday afternoon. "That leave was granted and he'll be away from the team for a period of time. If and when it's appropriate for him to provide further detail or clarification, he will."

Zobrist turns 38 later this month and is in the last year of his deal with the Cubs. He spent the last couple weeks of April marred in a slump, but was showing signs of coming out of it lately, going 5-for-14 (.357) with 5 RBI, 5 walks and 5 runs in his last 5 games.

He was also playing really solid defense in the outfield, including some spectacular plays against the Cardinals over the weekend.

Still, he hasn't looked quite like vintage Zobrist yet this year (only 1 extra-base hit) and Joe Maddon believes the off-field issues may have played a role.

"It could have, yeah," Maddon said. "He would be the first to admit that maybe he wasn't quite himself. We're just wanting this to work out well for him, obviously, and just be patient with the whole thing."

Zobrist's absence and Daniel Descalso's ankle injury prompted the Cubs to call up Addison Russell a week earlier than they originally planned. Russell started at second base and batted eight in Wednesday's game.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Cubs easily on your device.

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.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs easily on your device.

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.