Russell and Zobrist Should Be Healthy Before Opening Day and Other Bullets

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Russell and Zobrist Should Be Healthy Before Opening Day and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Were you watching the NCAA Tournament this weekend? Did you catch the UNC/Kentucky ending? If not, the reactions in this Kentucky bar will tell you everything about the last 10 seconds of the game (which looks a lot like I imagine Cleveland Indians fans looking like during the final few innings of Game Seven, if you could condense it into the Rajai Davis homer and then the Ben Zobrist/Miguel Montero hits):

Sorry Kentucky fans. And Indians fans.

Elsewhere …

  • They haven’t played in a while, but Joe Maddon suggested he expects Ben Zobrist (neck) and Addison Russell (back) to play early this week, with Opening Day not seriously in question (CSN). The mini-injuries remind me to mention two things: (1) the disabled list is down to a minimum of just 10 days this year, so when there are bumps and bruises, I would expect (hope?) the Cubs will be more liberal with their DL stints, because the team-related pain associated with losing a guy for a stretch is now reduced significantly; and (2) when formulating a roster, you have to remember that there will be stretches where a player will miss a game or two, but not need a DL stint. That means you’ve got to have the ability to cover positions not just in a mid-game-substitution pinch, and not just after a DL/roster move, but also for those one or two day stretches where you want the best possible player at a position, as the starter there is resting up. Too often, when fans are constructing benches in their head, they think about injuries only as in-game things, or long-term things.
  • To that end, I am compelled to once again point out why Tommy La Stella is probably the better fit for this roster than Matt Szczur. If Russell and Zobrist did have to miss a couple days (just as an example), a roster that had Szczur on it, and not La Stella, is going to SOL to cover those middle infield spots. That means a two-day injury for those guys would lead to a tough DL decision or an even tougher roster move decision. Having La Stella around, by contrast, would allow Javy Baez to start at shortstop, and La Stella to start at second base. (Again, I’m not saying I’m worried about *THIS* specific scenario. I’m just saying that this is an example of how little coverage the Cubs have in the field for shorter-term injuries, as opposed to the outfield.)
  • As for Wade Davis’s horrible spring, Joe Maddon emphasizes that he’s not concerned (CSN). Davis feels fine, the velocity is fine, etc. His command isn’t there right now, and Maddon reminds folks that some guys just need the adrenaline of the real moment.
  • Fun interviews over at The Athletic with Cubs broadcasters David DeJesus (newly an analyst at CSN) and Len Kasper. DeJesus shared this tidbit about Joe Maddon from his time with the Rays: “One weird thing was Joe brought in a Native American rainmaker to get our bats going. We ended up not hitting, but it poured for three days in a row. I guess it worked. If you wanted your grass to grow, you were happy that Joe did that. It didn’t do anything for offense, though.”
  • An interesting way to examine “depth” over at FanGraphs, with an analysis of the teams with the best projected top five players (Cubs come in second, behind the Nationals), and the best projected 6-25 players (Cubs come in second, behind the Dodgers).
  • Mike Oz’s fantastic “Opening Baseball Cards” series continued with Kyle Hendricks, who naturally started analyzing pitcher deliveries upon seeing the cards in his pack. Bonus: lots of smiles and laughter from Hendricks, on video.
  • If you missed anything this weekend, catch yourself up here.
  • Luis has your Bears Bullets here.

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.