The Cubs Have the Luxury of, and Wisdom to, Rest Young Players and Other Bullets

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The Cubs Have the Luxury of, and Wisdom to, Rest Young Players and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

addison russell batting cubsAs an unabashed lover of all things baseball, and with the 2016 season on the horizon, I make no apologies for urging you to check out our sister site, Baseball is Fun. It’s a side project with an emphasis on the fun stuff in baseball (naturally) – we definitely have fun with our Cubs fandom, too, but there’s a different feeling associated with breaking down the Cubs’ projected 25-man roster. Sometimes you just want to watch an incredible defensive play that has nothing to do with the Cubs.

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  • The Cubs are playing it very safe with Addison Russell’s hamstrings, each of which he’s injured in the past couple years (a serious tear in the right hamstring before he was traded to the Cubs, and then a less severe left hamstring injury in the NLDS last year, which ended his season). Russell worked during the offseason to strengthen his hamstrings and improve his running mechanics (CSN), and it’ll be monitored throughout the year. Hamstring injuries wind up costing players just about a minimum of a month, even if they’re not severe, so avoiding them in the first place is of paramount importance.
  • To that end, I was thrilled to see this quote from Joe Maddon in that CSN piece: “People will say, ‘Oh he’s only 22, he doesn’t need a rest.’ I’m so over that discussion. It’s not true. It’s 162 games, there’s very little rest, you’re on planes all the time, you’re playing at different hours …. These guys, they need rest, too, if you want them to play well at the end of the season.” I can’t count how many times I’d heard in the last decade – from fans, from players, from coaches – that young players don’t need rest, they’ll be fine, they can manage, etc. It never struck me as accurate (I understand streaks and all that, but I was routinely frustrated to see Starlin Castro starting every single game without a tiny little break for rest), and it’s good to hear Maddon taking the issue on. With such a deep and versatile roster, there will be no reason for the Cubs not to be able to rest guys regularly to ensure not only health later in the year (i.e., the guy can be on the field), but also better performance later in the year (i.e., the guy isn’t dealing with nagging stuff that doesn’t keep him off the field, but does drag down performance).
  • There’s still no timetable for game action for Matt Szczur (oblique), who is able to run and throw (Tribune). The timing is bad for Szczur, who is out of minor league options and trying to win a spot on the bench. Tommy La Stella might be his primary competition (together with non-roster invitee Shane Victorino), but now he, too, is dealing with an injury, having left yesterday’s game with a sore calf.
  • A great read at CSN on Jason Hammel’s projected effectiveness for this season, and how much of it rides on him being able to repeat a clean, consistent delivery. It’s times like that when I wish I knew more about pitching mechanics so I could visually track various delivery checkpoints in Hammel’s starts in the early part of the year to see if he’s staying on track. Maybe that’s something we can all think about this season as a kind of collective skill to develop, as I know Kyle Hendricks has emphasized the same thing with his mechanics.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.