Welcome back, if you headed out for the holiday weekend. Catch yourself up on everything here, because there’s plenty you may have missed.
- Jason Heyward hit sixth yesterday for the first time this season, after spending his year struggling in the two-hole (.231/.321/.320 coming into the game). Of the move, Joe Maddon described something like a pre-All-Star-break “test drive”, to see how it shakes out (Cubs.com). Heyward doubled, singled, and walked yesterday.
- Of that move, it turns out it was Heyward who told Maddon that he could move the veteran down the lineup if it meant breaking up some of the rookies/youngsters in the lineup to give them a better chance to succeed (Cubs.com). Heyward wanted Maddon to know that he shouldn’t be afraid of making the move. That’s a thoughtful, team-focused veteran right there. I already hoped he would break out offensively, because obviously, but now I hope it even more for his own sake.
- Meanwhile, there’s still no set timeline for the return of Heyward’s outfield-mate, as Dexter Fowler is running without discomfort (The Athletic), and there’s a chance he could do a one or two-game rehab assignment at the end of this week (perhaps returning for the Pirates series? and/or for the All-Star Game?).
- Albert Almora was profusely apologetic after the game yesterday, in which he collided with left fielder Kris Bryant on a ball that normally should have been a routine catch by the left fielder (CSN). Almora couldn’t hear Bryant calling for it, and he wants to cover as much ground as he can, just in case. It’s tough to take a peek without losing the ball, but that might be what Almora has to do in those situations precisely because he does cover so much ground. Otherwise, Joe Maddon discussed how it’ll be worked on, and how much louder the outfielders might need to be when calling for the ball.
- I was going to write about this, but ESPN’s Mark Simon beat me to the punch: the early book on Willson Contreras is that you can try and beat him inside, which is why he’s been getting plunked.
- The Pirates’ rotation was already in trouble, and now they’re going to be without youngster Jameson Taillon for a while, as he’s been shut down with a shoulder issue. The team is calling it shoulder “fatigue,” but with Taillon now on the DL, the Pirates are without both he and Gerrit Cole. That should make the Pirates all the less intimidating when the Cubs face them this weekend to close out the first half.
- Amazon now has a bunch of deals special to Prime members, so you’re going to want to check these out. Then they have their big “Prime Day” in one week.
- It’s really happening, and it’s pretttttay pretttttay awesome:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 4, 2016
- Checking in on the Blogathon fundraiser:
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) July 5, 2016