Adbert Alzolay

Theo Epstein: Adbert Alzolay’s tweet ‘inaccurate,' wants players' opinions heard

Theo Epstein: Adbert Alzolay’s tweet ‘inaccurate,' wants players' opinions heard

Cubs president Theo Epstein said Friday some of Adbert Alzolay’s comments in since-deleted tweets were “inaccurate” stemming from a misunderstanding but added he supports players voicing their opinions.

Thursday, Alzolay tweeted about the conditions at the Cubs’ alternate training site in South Bend, stating the players only receive two packaged meals and $18 a day in meal money. He said after paying clubhouse dues, it’s really $10 a day. 

Epstein clarified to reporters Friday players do not owe clubhouse dues and receive more meal money than Alzolay indicated. Those in South Bend also received apartments across the street from the facility free of cost through Summer Camp and will receive their salaries beginning July 23.

Players on the 40-man roster also received advanced salaries during the shutdown, per MLB's agreement with the players union in March. Alzolay received $30,000.

“The fact still remains that minor league players are underpaid and it's not an ideal situation for them,” Epstein said.

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The Cubs have been at the forefront of improving conditions for minor leaguers. They increased their minor leaguers’ salaries starting this year (the circumstances of which change due to COVID-19). They lobbied the league with several other organizations to increase meal money at alternate sites this year to $50 a day, which will go into effect when the season starts (July 23).

Epstein added there’s a staff in South Bend working to meet the 11 players’ needs. They’ve created surveys for the players to express any concerns and in Alzolay’s case, “perhaps a different choice might have been to answer the survey or to seek out a staff member with that type of feedback.”

"But you know, social media is a big part of the way millennials communicate and that's a reality," Epstein said. "I'm not going to hold it against somebody. I'd rather I'd rather they communicate and feel comfortable in sharing their opinion even if it's not the forum that I would prefer.

“I'm confident that given all the things we're doing to take care of our players at the alternate sites that they’re well positioned, especially relative to the rest of the industry. That said, we can always do more."

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Cubs' Adbert Alzolay complains about South Bend conditions but comments misleading

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USA TODAY

Cubs' Adbert Alzolay complains about South Bend conditions but comments misleading

Cubs right-hander Adbert Alzolay made waves on Thursday tweeting (now deleted) about the conditions for players at the club’s alternate training site, hosted at the South Bend Cubs facility.

Alzolay and the 10 other players in South Bend are eligible for this season but will remain inactive unless need arises on the big league roster. He tweeted the players make $18 a day — or $10, when accounting for “dues” the players owe, while possibly tipping clubhouse attendants.

Whether it was a miscommunication by someone with Alzolay, the actual amount the players get is $25 and no dues are deducted from that. The option to tip clubhouse attendants is up to players individually. Through Summer Camp, the 11 Cubs in South Bend will also receive two packaged meals a day at the complex.

Once the regular season starts (July 23, per MLB’s arrangement for the 60-game campaign), the alternate site Cubs will receive $50 a day in meal money, instead of what was originally proposed because the Cubs proposed higher daily meal money.

Players will receive full salaries beginning July 23, per MLB’s agreement, and minor leaguers are being paid in the meantime. Six of the 11 Cubs in South Bend are not on the 40-man roster, and they will continue receiving $400 a week. Those on the 40-man (including Alzolay) received advanced salaries, per MLB’s agreement with the MLBPA in March.

Alzolay received $30,000 from that agreement.

Additional important context is the South Bend facility is one of the best in minor league baseball — with housing for the players nearby. The players are residing at new apartments that opened in December right outside the ballpark. They aren’t being charged for those apartments through Summer Camp, and the Cubs will subsidize many of the players in South Bend once the regular season starts. 

MORE: Where Cubs could find position of strength in 2020: South Bend

Alzolay later tweeted an update on the matter.

In wake of José Quintana’s thumb injury, general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday the Cubs haven’t decided if Alzolay will join the Wrigley Field training group.

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Cubs 2020 roster outlook: How Adbert Alzolay can build off 2019 debut

Cubs 2020 roster outlook: How Adbert Alzolay can build off 2019 debut

Each day in March, NBC Sports Chicago is previewing one player from the Cubs’ expected 2020 Opening Day roster. With four bullpen roles still up for grabs, let's pivot to pitcher Adbert Alzolay, who will join the club at some point this season.

2019 recap

Alzolay made his MLB debut last summer as one of the more high-profile pitching prospects during Theo Epstein’s tenure in Chicago. The 25-year-old made four appearances (two starts), delivering an up-and-down performance.

In 12 1/3 innings, Alzolay allowed 10 earned runs on 13 hits and nine walks. A bulk of that damage came in a start on July 1 against the Pittsburgh Pirates when he surrendered seven earned runs on 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings.

Expectations for this season’s role

The Cubs reassigned Alzolay to minor league camp on March 10. He was in the mix for the final rotation spot, but that competition is now down to Tyler Chatwood and Alec Mills.

Alzolay will start the year in Triple-A Iowa’s rotation, which allows him to stretch out and build up arm strength. He missed most of 2018 with a lat strain and the first month of 2019 with another. His career-high for innings is 120 1/3 (2016 in Single-A), so there will be innings limitations for him this season. 

We’ll see Alzolay on the North Side at some point in 2020, likely in a relief role where he can eat up innings and matchup versus righties and lefties. He could make a few spot starts as well.

2020 outlook 

Improvement for Alzolay lies in better results from his four-seam fastball. MLB opponents hit .385/.515/.808 against it last season compared to .154/.313/.385 against his curveball and .091/.091/.091 against his changeup. 

Alzolay told the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales that he sometimes loses feel for his changeup and has been working on it this offseason. His curveball is his go-to out pitch (30.8 putaway percentage last season), but opponents can sit fastball if he isn’t fooling them with the change.

Throwing an effective changeup more frequently will make Alzolay more deceptive and keep hitters off balance. If he finds success with all three of his pitches, David Ross can use him in a variety of roles out of the bullpen, building towards a full-time rotation role in 2021.

The complete roster outlook series:

1. Cubs hoping Kris Bryant stabilizes leadoff spot in 2020
2. Kyle Hendricks is a steady force in the Cubs' rotation
3. Kyle Schwarber is primed for a breakout 2020 season
4. Tyler Chatwood has chance to rewrite the script in 2020
5. David Bote searching for more offensive consistency in 2020
6. One pitch could hold key to Jose Quintana's 2020 success
7. Albert Almora Jr. looking to rebound behind new swing, refreshed mental state
8. Cubs counting on bounce back season from Craig Kimbrel
9. Javier Báez is indispensable, and the best is yet to come
10. New pitch key to Rowan Wick staving off regression
11. New MLB rule gives Victor Caratini chance for bigger role
12. Daniel Descalso can only improve from last season
13. Ian Happ poised to claim starting center field job
14. Jeremy Jeffress can bounce back in Chicago
15. Lineup adjustment could be key to Jason Heyward's success
16. Anthony Rizzo remains an all-around rock for Chicago
17. Kyle Ryan's versatility key in uncertain bullpen
18. Now is not the time to write off Jon Lester 
19. Willson Contreras' health is critical to team's success
20. How Alec Mills fits on Opening Day roster
21. Steven Souza Jr. could provide needed boost vs. lefties
22. How COVID-19 hiatus could impact Nico Hoerner's trajectory

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