So far, Nico Hoerner’s entire professional career has been defined by injuries, his and others.
The year he was drafted (2018), Hoerner strained a ligament in his left elbow and didn’t play after July 18. The following season (2019), he missed time after being hit on the wrist with a pitch. Later that season, he became the first player of his draft class to make it to the Majors – in part – because of substantial injuries to Javy Báez and Addison Russell. In 2020, he played 48 out of 60 games for the Cubs, but in 2021, he was slowed by oblique injuries throughout the season. This year, Hoerner was able to grab the starting shortstop job right out of the gate – and run away with it – because the Cubs free agent shortstop, Andrelton Simmons, was hurt.
So you can imagine everyone’s frustration when second base umpire Dan Lassogna got tangled up with Hoerner on a fly ball to … deep center field causing him to sprain his ankle.
It won’t make you feel any better about even more time missed for one of the Cubs brightest spots of the year (especially because it was extremely not Hoerner’s fault), but here’s that umpire explaining what happened.
Iassogna said this was the first time he collided with a player in the outfield. He talked to Ross to see how Hoerner was doing and planned to check on Hoerner after the game.
"I didn't know who it was or what happened until I looked down and saw it was him."
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) May 12, 2022
Naturally, Hoerner is being a true professional about it: “I was on the ground before I really realized what happened …. We were both just doing our jobs, and weird things happen sometimes.” Hoerner said via the Chicago Sun Times.
And David Ross echoed the sentiment: “I know Dan feels terrible. He was checking on him here after the game …. It’s just one of those fluke things.”
Fluke or not, it’s tough not to be extremely disappointed. Hoerner’s defensive chops at shortstop have exceeded all expectations, particular his arm strength (which was our primary concern about his ability to stick at shortstop):
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 11, 2022
His hustle has been off the charts (remember when he stole a run using only his legs?). And even his offensive productivity – while not beaming with results – has looked VERY strong. In short, he’s hitting the ball harder and elevating it more often than he ever has before. So, yes, this is a significant bummer.
And with injuries to Simmons and Nick Madrigal, the Cubs middle infield depth has taken a huge hit at a pretty awful time. After stealing two of three from the Padres in San Diego, the Cubs have their easiest stretch in the schedule coming up: Diamondbacks (3), Pirates (3), Diamondbacks (4), Reds (4). That’s 14 games against very beatable teams, and is – frankly – the Cubs last chance to turn the season around. Losing Hoerner at shortstop is going to hurt the Cubs on both sides of the ball and in their depth/ability to play the matchups.
Hoerner’s X-Rays were all negative, but anyone who’s ever sprained an ankle knows how tender it can be for a while. We don’t know the extent of his absence just yet, but it’s pretty safe to say he’s going to miss time. What a bummer.