Yesterday was a bit of a butt kick in the Chicago Cubs’ outfield, with the revelation that Jason Heyward’s been dealing with a sore right wrist since the start of the season, and the removal of Matt Szczur from last night’s game after he felt something in his hamstring.
Fortunately, neither player seems to believe he’s suffering from a serious injury, but we could find out more soon.
Heyward told the training staff about his wrist on Sunday (CSN), and the team decided to give him last night off. He’ll likely sit tonight, too, with an eye toward playing in the day game on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Szczur figured to pick up some more playing time in Heyward’s absence – Jorge Soler’s usage seems to be waning every day – but he left last night’s game after a dash to the plate and feeling something in his hamstring.
After the game, Szczur said that he didn’t think it was something severe, but the Cubs are still sending him for an MRI (ESPN). The unfortunate thing about hamstrings is that even the most mild strains can keep a guy out for weeks at a time.
For now, I’d tentatively expect Szczur to miss some time. Hopefully we’ll get a good news update later today.
In the interim, the Cubs will have to figure out a plan for tonight’s game, in case Szczur and/or Heyward can’t go, and in case Szczur does wind up needing a disabled list stint.
As Luke wrote earlier this morning, the Cubs’ roster is still well-situated to cover the outfield internally for a short time if need be, as all of Dexter Fowler, Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, Ben Zobrist, and Javy Baez can play out there if need be. In that case, it’s possible the Cubs could bring up someone like Munenori Kawasaki to provide additional bench depth.
If the team was willing to add to the 40-man roster – it certainly seems like there are several easy-enough ways to clear up some space – there are guys like Ryan Kalish (playing very well), Matt Murton, Juan Perez, and John Andreoli down at AAA and theoretically available.
This could have been Shane Victorino’s chance, but he remains in Arizona, rehabbing his calf injury, and doesn’t look like an option right now.
I doubt the Cubs would bring up Albert Almora at this time (much like their decision not to bring up Willson Contreras when there was a short-term need for a back-up catcher). He’s performing exceedingly well at AAA, and I’d think the Cubs will want him to continue starting every day, crystalizing the approach changes at the plate that seem to be taking hold.
Best guess here? If Szczur goes on the DL, the Cubs will bring Kawasaki back, or will add Kalish to the 40-man and bring him up.
We’ll see what shakes out today, and how the Cubs respond. The depth was already being tested by injuries to Kyle Schwarber and Miguel Montero, and the Cubs will simply have to keep adjusting. They’ve got the right guys to do it.