Cubs

Willson Contreras' return from IL met by Kris Bryant's latest bout with knee soreness

Willson Contreras' return from IL met by Kris Bryant's latest bout with knee soreness

The Cubs lineup took an encouraging step towards full-strength on Tuesday, though it also hit a minor bump in the road along the way.

Ahead of their game against the Mariners, the Cubs activated catcher Willson Contreras (right hamstring strain) off of the 10-day injured list. However, this news was met by Kris Bryant (right knee soreness) getting scratched from the lineup pregame.

“A little hitch in the giddy up. We just got to watch it,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said pregame regarding Bryant. “I don’t think it’s anything awful.”

Bryant has been dealing with soreness in his right knee for an extended period now. He exited a game against the Giants on July 24 due to the ailment, though he didn’t hit the injured list.

With the Cubs having a rare Wednesday off this week, Bryant has two days to rest ahead of this weekend’s four-game series against the Brewers. And while Maddon didn’t sound too concerned Tuesday, he didn’t give a definitive timeline for his third baseman.

“Today off, tomorrow off and then we’ll see where we’re at by Thursday,” he said. “I have no real conjecture one way or the other at this point. I just talked to him; he didn’t sound like he’s in dire straits by any means. It’s just bothering him.”

On the other hand, Contreras, who strained his hamstring Aug. 3 against the Brewers, said he feels “120 percent.” He suffered a similar injury in 2017, missing a month.

“The first one was a little bit longer than this one,” Contreras said. “I worked out really hard with the training staff and we put up a tough plan, which we did, and we went to it, and now we’re here.”

Contreras admitted it wasn't easy sitting out for a month, though.

"It was tough especially when you know that you are able to do something for the team," he said. "Obviously, I wasn’t able to do something for my team because I was hurt.

"It was tough for me and the coaching staff, the players. But I’ve got to thank them because they had my back and [Victor Caratini and Jonathan Lucroy ] did a pretty good job when I wasn’t here."

Contreras, who hit just .143/.333/.286 in three games (seven at-bats) on his Triple-A rehab assignment, was able to do something for his team on Tuesday: the 27-year-old hit a home run in his first plate appearance.

While he’s back healthy, Contreras mentioned how his baserunning isn’t quite there yet.

“It’s been one month since I got hurt,” he said. “Obviously I’m running 80, 90 percent. Behind the plate I feel 100 percent, hitting I feel 100 percent.

“I want to be smart running the bases.”

The Cubs are in a good place with their catching depth. Between Victor Caratini, Jonathan Lucroy and the recently recalled Taylor Davis, the team has more than enough help behind the plate to allow Contreras to play elsewhere, or even sit from time-to-time, while he gets back into the groove of things.

Contreras said he’s ready to catch every day, though, and with the Cubs’ upcoming schedule, there’s a good chance for that to happen.

“When we get to the weekend, you got three nights and then the day game,” Maddon said. “The night games help, give him more recovery. [He] probably won’t play a night [game] before a day [game].

“Either choose the night game or the day game to play him over the weekend. Plays [Tuesday], day off [Wednesday]. I don’t see anything wrong with two-in-a-row and then deciding what happens after that.”

Other injury updates

Cubs starter Yu Darvish, who was scratched from his start on Sunday, threw before Tuesday’s game. Maddon said until he hears otherwise, the plan is for Darvish to pitch Saturday.

“We’re still planning on being able to pitch him on Saturday. That’s the game plan, so until I hear differently, that’s the way it’s going to play.”

Javier Baez missed a second-straight game Tuesday due to a jammed thumb, though he could play in Thursday’s series opener against the Brewers.

“He came in feeling a little bit better,” Maddon said. “He’s doing a little bit better, but again, I don’t know exactly. I’d like to believe he’ll be ready for Thursday, but I can’t tell you that for sure yet.”

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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.