Milwaukee Brewers

Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain elects not to play rest of season

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USA TODAY

Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain elects not to play rest of season

Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain has elected not to play the rest of the 2020 MLB season, the club announced Saturday.

"Lorenzo Cain has informed us that he will not participate for the remainder of the 2020 season," Brewers president David Stearns said in a statement. "We fully support Lorenzo's decision, and we will miss his talents on the field and leadership in the clubhouse."

The announcement follows the postponement of the Friday's and Saturday's Brewers-Cardinals games due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests among St. Louis' team and staff. On Friday, the Cardinals announced two players tested positive.

MLB said in a statement Saturday the Cardinals tested the entire team on Friday using rapid COVID-19 tests and saliva samples. The rapid tests indicated a third Cardinals player may have tested positive, as well as multiple staff members. Results from the saliva tests won't be available until later Saturday.

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Cubs pitcher Jon Lester said Saturday Cain is a "big part of the MLB fraternity" and him opting out is a "huge blow" for the Brewers and fans of Cain. He offered support for Cain's decision, knowing it couldn't have been easy for him and his family. 

"And I will never question a guy — like Lorenzo, I’ll never question his thought process to that," Lester said. "And that’s a decision him and his family probably sat down and thought long and hard about, and I'm sure he talked to his teammates about it.

"And I support anything that any of these guys do, whether they show up and play or they opt to be at home. It’s a crazy time that we’re in, and you can’t  second-guess anybody that wants to make a decision like that."

If Cain, 34, is not deemed a high-risk individual for the coronavirus, he will not receive salary or service time this season. The season is at a critical juncture, as MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, according to reports, recently told the MLBPA the season could be shut down if the players don't do a better job managing the virus

MORE: Cubs better prepared than MLB to finish COVID-19 season — which is the problem

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Cardinals-Brewers game called off as COVID-19 postponements come to Central

Cardinals-Brewers game called off as COVID-19 postponements come to Central

Prior to Friday, postponed games due to positive COVID-19 tests were limited to the East. Not anymore.

Major League Baseball postponed the series-opener between the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals set for Friday night at Miller Park in Milwaukee after multiple positive tests on the Cardinals, according to various reports.


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Prior to Friday, the postponements stemmed solely from the outbreak of positive COVID-19 tests affecting the Miami Marlins. The Marlins saw games postponed through at least Sunday as their number of positive tests keeps growing, now at 19, with 17 players and two coaches reported to have tested positive. Considering those positive tests came while the team was playing the Philadelphia Phillies in Pennsylvania, the Phillies saw their upcoming games postponed, as well. Those moves obviously impacted the schedules of the teams those teams were supposed to play, and four other teams — the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals — have had at least three of their games postponed.

Those are sweeping consequences with just one team experiencing an outbreak. And now those consequences could come to the Central divisions, as well, as the league conducts contact tracing on the Cardinals who tested positive.

The Cardinals are coming from taking on the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis, where they finished a two-game series Wednesday. The news of the positive tests didn't come down until Friday, meaning the Cleveland Indians used the same visitors' locker room the Cardinals did in Thursday's game at Target Field.

Just as several teams in the East were impacted by the Marlins' outbreak in Philadelphia, Chicago's teams could be impacted by the Cardinals' multiple positive tests over the next couple of weeks.

— The White Sox are scheduled to play two games in Milwaukee on Monday and Tuesday before returning to the South Side for two more with the Brewers on Wednesday and Thursday.

— The Cubs are scheduled to play the Cardinals in a three-game series in St. Louis beginning Aug. 7.

— The White Sox are scheduled to start a three-game series with the Indians on the South Side starting Aug. 7.

— The Cubs are scheduled to travel to Cleveland to play the Indians on Aug. 11 and 12.

— The White Sox are scheduled to play the Cardinals in the Field of Dreams game in Iowa on Aug. 13 before returning to Chicago for two more games against the Redbirds on Aug. 15 and 16.

In other words, the baseball schedule is a tangled web. And the Marlins have shown how quickly it can all come to a halt for multiple teams at a time. In a situation where the Cardinals, Indians, Twins and Brewers are all impacted, postponements could come to the Central in a flurry, just as they have in the East.

There's no indication yet that the Cardinals are experiencing a Marlins-style outbreak. There are reportedly two positive tests among Cardinals players, and a number of positive tests of a certain size would reportedly allow the league to begin the Cardinals-Brewers series Saturday.

But as the Marlins have shown, things can change in a hurry, not just for one team but for all of baseball.


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Why Cubs' Tyler Chatwood thinks he's the 'best version' of himself this season

Why Cubs' Tyler Chatwood thinks he's the 'best version' of himself this season

Against the fourth batter Tyler Chatwood faced on Sunday, he tried something that he doesn’t think he’s ever done before.

Early in what would become a 9-1 Cubs victory over the Brewers, Chatwood was behind in the count against switch hitter Justin Smoak. With a 2-0 count, Chatwood threw a curveball.

“It just catches guys in between,” Chatwood said, “rather than just sitting in one gear, sitting hard.”

The Cubs’ research and development staff had given him the idea. But it wouldn’t have been effective with the control issues that defined the early part of Chatwood’s Cubs tenure. On Sunday, the curve brushed the bottom of the strike zone. Then, Chatwood threw two fastballs to strike out Smoak.

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“I think Chatty has changed the narrative around here for all of us,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “He is a guy we’re going to rely on. He’s going to get big innings. I have extreme confidence in him.”

Chatwood went from battling for the last spot in the Cubs’ rotation in Spring Training to, about four months later, being named the third starter. José Quintana cut his thumb in a dishwashing accident, and Jon Lester took a cautious approach to his quarantine throwing program.

Suddenly, the pitcher who led Major League Baseball in walks (95) two years ago was a prominent part of the Cubs’ rotation. The team kept insisting Chatwood wasn’t the same guy anymore. At least on Sunday, he certainly wasn’t.

Chatwood allowed just one run on three hits. In 93-degree heat, he was sharp through six innings. But the most telling stat for Chatwood was his two walks.

“His journey here as a Cub has had some ups and downs,” Ross said last week, “and I think he has a ton of confidence from all he’s been through and come out in a really good place. Mechanically, emotionally, mentally, all those things seem to be lining up for him.”

Chatwood agreed. He signed with the Cubs as a free agent in December 2017 with the role of starting pitcher in mind. But by August of 2018, his first season with the Cubs, he’d been relegated to the bullpen. The following year, he made just five spot starts.

“I think just all the work I put in, especially that offseason, I knew that I was back to what I could be,” Chatwood said. “So, I think now it’s just the best version of me.”

By Ross’ evaluation, Chatwood entered Spring Training as strong as any Cub. Then, when the Cactus League shut down in response to the pandemic, Chatwood remained in Arizona.

Cubs second baseman Nico Hoerner was one of the hitters who stayed behind and eventually took live batting practice off Chatwood during the break.

“You want to say the first start is like any other start and try to treat it normal,” Hoerner said Sunday. “But I’m sure that felt extra good for him today. I’m not surprised.”

Not after facing him this spring.

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras suspects that when Chatwood joined the team in 2018, he was trying to prove himself. But Contreras’ message to Chatwood is, “less is more.”

Contreras saw Chatwood follow that mantra on Sunday.

“Now, I’m just able to execute a game plan,” Chatwood said, “worry about executing pitches, rather than anything else.”

 

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