[See the final UPDATE below for the full run-down of moves.]
As expected, Chris Denorfia will hit the disabled list again with an injury to the same hamstring that took him out of action to begin the season. He was playing well, so it’s definitely a bummer.
Who is replacing Denorfia on the roster tonight is something of a mystery. Matt Szczur was pulled from last night’s Iowa Cubs game, so the assumption was that he’d be the guy. But no announcement has come quite yet, and the plan for Szczur is a bit up in the air, apparently.
If and when Szczur returns from AAA Iowa, he’ll bring a good glove in the outfield and good speed off of the bench. Szczur wasn’t bad as a bench player for the Cubs to begin the season, but he got caught in a bit of a roster crunch as the Cubs needed extra pitching and were limited on the bench by having two catchers there. In 15 early-season PAs, Szczur hit .200/.357/.300 (he was at .262/.298/.452 in 47 PAs at Iowa with a couple homers as of yesterday).
On the pitching side, newly-claimed reliever Anthony Varvaro joins the bullpen, according to multiple reports, with Gonzalez Germen heading back to AAA Iowa. Varvaro is the more accomplished big league reliever, and, as I wrote when the Cubs claimed him on waivers this weekend, he’s out of options. Thus, the Cubs either had to put him in the pen, or immediately waive him. My guess is that he’s here as a fresh arm for a little while, and then there’s more bullpen shuffling. Keep in mind: Justin Grimm had a successful outing at Iowa yesterday and could be back soon, and James Russell is pitching very well at Iowa and could be up soon.
I’ll let you know when the official roster moves for tonight are announced by the Cubs. We’ll see what’s up with the mystery …
UPDATE: It looks like the Cubs will go with 13 pitchers, at least for tonight:
Hoyer says Russell to join pen tonight. Gassed pen goes to 8 for at least a couple says. Szczur on "taxi squad," Hoyer says.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) May 5, 2015
In other words, Szczur will stay in town for a potential call-up tomorrow, depending on how tonight’s game goes. The Cubs could drop back down to 12 pitchers and add Szczur. A complicating factor is the Cubs’ pending decision on Grimm.
In any case, James Russell is now back with the big league team – after dominating at AAA Iowa, and after being underappreciated in his time here – and the Cubs will have to clear a 40-man spot to add him. John Arguello at Cubs Den was the first to report that Russell would be coming up. Good scoop, John.
UPDATE 2: Now it’s all official. Here’s the rundown:
Chris Denorfia (hamstring) to the disabled list.
Gonzalez Germen optioned to AAA Iowa.
Anthony Varvaro added to the active roster (25-man) after being claimed on waivers this weekend.
James Russell called up from AAA Iowa (i.e., added to 25-man roster) and added to 40-man roster.
Blake Parker designated for assignment (i.e., removed from 40-man roster). The Cubs will have 10 days to trade, waive, or release Parker, who had been on the disabled list with an elbow issue.