Addison Russell had never played a professional inning anywhere other than shortstop until last Thursday (aside from in the Arizona Fall League), but he made five straight starts at second base at Triple-A Iowa and evidently looked good enough that the Cubs think he can handle the position in the big leagues.
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman first reported late Monday and it was confirmed by many others that Russell will be promoted to the majors on Tuesday. He'll be in the lineup against Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano and should play regularly at a position that's been a black hole for the Cubs to this point in the season.
After the Cubs decided to demote Javier Baez before the season (he's on bereavement and has yet to play for Iowa), Tommy La Stella strained his oblique and Arismendy Alcantara picked up just two hits in his first 26 at-bats, leading the club to give journeyman Jonathan Herrera most of the starts at second of late. Obviously, the Cubs are done messing around at the keystone and hope Russell can provide a spark.
Ranked before the season by Baseball America as the third-best prospect in the game, Russell has batted .318 with one home run, nine RBI and one stolen base in his first 11 contests at Triple-A Iowa this season. He's a career .301/.377/.520 hitter overall in the minors, displaying above-average pop for a middle infielder and also some speed.
It's unlikely that the 21-year-old will be a fantasy stud right out of the gate. After all, he's still very young and doesn't stand out in any particular area for fantasy purposes. However, the long-term upside is undeniable and some solid across-the-board production in 2015 is a reasonable expectation.
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The Brewers lost their sixth straight game Monday, but the player they lost in the middle of the contest is sure to be a much bigger blow.
Jonathan Lucroy had to be removed from the game against the Reds after a foul tip caught a toe on his left foot. Subsequent X-rays revealed that the toe was fractured, meaning the All-Star catcher is headed to the disabled list.
It’s not clear at this point how long Lucroy will be sidelined, but you can bet it will be longer than a minimum stay on the DL. Given all the squatting he must do behind the plate, it’s possible he’ll miss more time than most players. Martin Maldonado will take over as the primary catcher in Lucroy’s absence, while Juan Centeno will be called up to serve as the backup.
The bad news unfortunately doesn’t end there for the Brew Crew. They had already announced prior to Monday’s game that Scooter Gennett sliced the top of his left hand in the shower on Sunday, a laceration that required five stitches. The stitches have to remain for 12 days, and it’s possible Gennett could join Lucroy (and Carlos Gomez, who is out with a hamstring ailment) on the DL if the malady lingers.
So, to recap: The Brewers lost their sixth straight game Monday to fall to 2-11, their All-Star center fielder and All-Star catcher are on the DL and their young second baseman might join them there. On the bright side, there are others who had worse days.
Justin Verlander began the season on the disabled list in what was the veteran right-hander’s first ever trip to the DL in 10 years. The stint has already lasted longer than he was hoping and there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel at the moment.
The Tigers have had a tough time getting a handle on Verlander’s strained right triceps to the point that they finally ordered an MRI last Thursday after the righty had to cut a simulated game short (they hadn’t performed one previously because the pain was in an area to where the club ruled out structural damage). The exam confirmed the right triceps strain diagnosis, but at the moment Verlander remains in a holding pattern. He won’t resume throwing until the pain is completely gone.
"Everybody thinks it's taking a little bit longer. We've kind of never really put out there how long it was going to be," Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand told MLB.com. "We just said we're taking various steps as he progressed. When he wasn't able to make a step that we wanted, that's when we decided to do diagnostic testing at that point in time, because he gave us a little bit more concern. But it turned out everything was as we had expected."
Kyle Lobstein will continue to hold down a rotation spot in Verlander’s absence.
Also rehabbing for the Tigers is Joe Nathan, who is working his way back from a Grade 1 flexor strain in his right elbow. His timetable appears to be much clearer, but his role looks less so than perhaps it was a few days ago.
Nathan was slated to throw his second bullpen session in three days on Monday. If he feels fine Tuesday, he could be cleared for a simulated game. It’s possible that might be the last step before the veteran reliever rejoins the bullpen, although there’s a chance he could need a brief rehab assignment first.
But what role will Nathan fill once he’s activated?
Manager Brad Ausmus had said prior to Monday on a couple occasions that Nathan would regain his closer job once he was ready. But, after Joakim Soria nailed down another save, the skipper appeared to back off the stance a bit, saying he’d wait until Nathan returned to sort things out.
There’s little doubting that Soria looks like the better option at this point. He boasts a 1.35 ERA and has converted all five save chances this season, disposing of the Yankees in 13 pitches in a 1-2-3 ninth inning on Monday to preserve a one-run victory. Nathan, on the other hand, holds a 4.78 ERA since arriving in Detroit and has blown seven save chances in 43 opportunities. But, Ausmus has shown undying loyalty to him in the past and it’s certainly not out of the question that he will again.
National League Quick Hits: Corey Dickerson is dealing with mild plantar fasciitis in his left foot ... Anthony DeSclafani held the Brewers scoreless over eight innings on Monday to lower his ERA to 0.86 ... Nolan Arenado was scratched from Monday's lineup with a sore left wrist but he hopes to play Tuesday ... Jake Arrieta lowered his ERA to 1.74 with seven strikeouts over seven frames of one-run ball in a win over the Pirates Monday ... Jorge Soler finished with four hits and a pair of runs scored in Monday’s victory over the Pirates ... Ian Kennedy (hamstring) got through a successful extended spring training game Monday and is in line to rejoin the rotation Saturday ... Devin Mesoraco (hip) was not with the Reds on Monday in Milwaukee while tending to a family issue but is expected to join them Tuesday ... Travis d'Arnaud will be in a splint for the next three weeks due to a metacarpal fracture in his right hand ... Charlie Morton (hip) is expected to make another start at extended spring training before embarking on a minor league rehab assignment ... Ryan Braun hit his first home run of the season in Monday's loss to the Reds ...
American League Quick Hits: Trevor Bauer whiffed seven across seven shutout frames but settled for a no-decision after Cody Allen blew a save in Monday’s loss to the White Sox ... Jesse Chavez will make a spot start in place of Jesse Hahn (blister) on Thursday in Anaheim ... Edinson Volquez spun seven innings of one-run ball to lower his ERA to 1.99 in Monday’s win over the Twins ... Alfredo Simon limited the Yankees to one run over seven innings in a victory Monday ... CC Sabathia pitched well but took a tough-luck loss on Monday in yielded two runs over eight frames to the Tigers ... Jarrod Parker (elbow) will begin a rehab assignment with on Thursday ... Ben Zobrist (knee) will be sidelined for at least a couple more days after being given a cortisone shot on Monday ... Nick Swisher (knees) will begin a rehab assignment in the next couple days ... Greg Holland hopes to be back in two weeks after an MRI revealed a Grade 1 pectoral strain ... Alcides Escobar (knee) doubled and scored a run in his return to the lineup Monday ... Daniel Norris told reporters Sunday evening that he is fighting through a "dead arm” phase ... Jake McGee (elbow) began a rehab assignment Monday ...