Today’s song stuck in the head is ‘Stand By Me,’ but I *KNOW* I haven’t actually heard it any time recently. So how did that one get in there? Did I hear it and purge that part from my brain, and thus I’m just wrong about not hearing it (despite being super confident)? Did some line in the song pop into my head for other external reasons and then I started mentally singing that line? Or was it truly just a spontaneous burst in my mind, for no traceable reason at all?
• The Cubs might be dealing with a COVID issue or they might not. No one is really saying definitively. All we know for sure is that Patrick Wisdom went on the IL yesterday without an injury designation, and his spot was taken by someone not on the 40-man roster without a corresponding 40-man roster move (which now stands at 41). The only way you can go over 40 on the 40-man this year is if someone is on the COVID IL, so, well, there you go. But questions about Wisdom’s situation – positive test? contact tracing? breakthrough case? – are currently not being answered, and no one else has yet been taken out of action. So maybe it’s an isolation situation that no one really wants to talk about.
• But as Gordon Wittenmyer writes, it was clear yesterday that something was going on, because the team was all masked up before the game, and there was generic discussion about pandemic issues. Despite never reaching the 85% vaccination threshold, the Cubs have been fortunate not to suffer any kind of serious outbreak – they had a set of coaches who were mid-vax catch the virus at the start of the season, and then David Ross and Jed Hoyer (post-vax) had breakthrough cases recently. About yesterday, Ross told NBCSC: “Today definitely felt a lot more like [when the March 2020 shutdown hit]. And the last thing that’s really been on my radar as we come to the end of the season has been any kind of off-the-field issues, for a little while.” So clearly the Cubs were concerned about something yesterday. I guess we’ll see what happens. The Red Sox outbreak earlier this year took place slowly over a series of days, and each day seemed like it was all wrapped up until there was another positive.
• Anyway, Wisdom’s season is now over, and it sounds like Nico Hoerner’s is as well. The Cubs haven’t said anything other than “general soreness,” but it’s gotta be the oblique, right? I don’t know why they wouldn’t want to say, unless he’s also still feeling something in his hamstring or his wrist (his other two injuries this year). In any case, here’s how Ross put it (Cubs.com): “The fact that it’s lingering a little bit, and that the training staff and the player have a little bit of hesitation, it makes us pull back. I think that’s kind of where we’re at with him. Let’s not get to a place where we waste a lot of time in the offseason with trying to gain a couple more at-bats, a couple more innings at shortstop. Let’s be able to make sure we are getting him to see the right people, identifying the problems moving forward, so that we can be playing for a championship and in contention next year.”
• Kyle Hendricks wrapped his disappointing 2021 season last night with a decent outing against the Pirates. No outcome was going to change the story of his season or the concerns going forward, but maybe it will at least help him set his feet a bit for the offseason. After all, there were certainly a whole lot of funky external factors this season that a lot of players had to deal with, and maybe they didn’t impact all guys equally (huge innings increase, fans back at games, pandemic still ongoing, teammates not getting vaccinated, a different baseball, sticky stuff enforcement, team not competitive for the first time in seven years, tons of teammates traded, etc.). All you can do is hope that Hendricks was one of those guys who was atypically affected, and can reset himself this offseason and come back to his usual self next year, even at age 32.
• For his part, Hendricks offered this after the game (Cubs.com): “I think I feel a lot better about it,” Hendricks said. “I accomplished the few things I set out trying to do, to take into the offseason. So yeah, I’m glad to go into the offseason with a couple positives, for sure …. I learned a lot again. Every year you learn a lot about yourself. I’m just excited to disconnect for a little bit, get away, but then get back after it in the offseason.” Yes, definitely do that. Totally disconnect from baseball for a bit. I think that could help a lot of these guys for whom 2021 was particularly tough.
• Trent Giambrone made his big league debut last night with a single on the first pitch he saw, and in the process saw the Cubs further harken back to the days of the original rebuild:
Giambrone became the 13th Cub to make his MLB debut this season, their most since 2012.
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) September 30, 2021
• Giambrone is the 65th(!) Cubs player overall this year, a team record. It is also apparently a National League record.
• Fun fact on Frank Schwindel’s year:
Frank Schwindel's 24 multihit games are the most by a Cubs player this season. He's only been here since early August.
Schwindel's 5th-inning single moved Ortega from first to third. Contreras brought him in from there with a deep sac fly to center.
Cubs up 1-0.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 30, 2021
• After another two-game slump – literally the longest stretch you could characterize as a slump for him this year – he was once again back to putting up big numbers the last two days. Schwindel just won’t stop hitting this year. We’ll see what happens early next season after teams have had an offseason to try to formulate a better plan of attack against him (though I don’t yet see what it is, because he’s now handling all pitch types and pitch locations well, and he doesn’t chase).
• The Captain returned for the Blackhawks last night:
Blackhawks Lose in the Shootout, but Who Cares Because Jonathan Toews Is Back https://t.co/Z5bAhtKzpq
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) September 30, 2021