NBA free agency opens up today, and it figures to be a very busy day for the Chicago Bulls. If you’re into basketball, make sure you’re following the coverage today (and give us a follow on Twitter or Facebook, please and thanks!).
- Christopher Morel got bumped down to the bottom of the order last night to take off some of the pressure as he goes through his first big slump:
- Morel responded with a rocket single and a monster homer, and his only strikeout came in the 8th inning after he’d taken one off the grapes and was down for minutes. He insisted on finishing the at bat, but I tend to think he was probably not in the best position to make contact. Honestly I do hope he’s OK today. It’s impossible not to find balls to the balls a little funny, but it can yield a serious injury. It can take a long time to recover from an injury down there. (Believe me I know!)
- Morel talked about his incredible outfield assist after the game at Cubs.com, so my hope is that means the boys are all right.
- Scott Effross is just so good. He pulled another Houdini last night after entering with two on and nobody out, and he’s pushed his strikeout rate up to 31.1%, while the walk rate is just 6.1%. His is a unique story, for sure because of the complete delivery change, but his is also a more general story about how the Cubs want to be able to pump out MLB-caliber relievers by the dozens. Some of them will be capable up-down guys, some of them will be solid multi-year middle-relievers, and some of them – if you keep generating enough – will be studs. It’s a little hard to know who the studs are going to be before they actually get time in the big leagues, which, again, is why you need to keep taking these shots and giving these guys looks.
- Seiya Suzuki heads to Iowa today to begin his rehab assignment, and the shape of that assignment could change based on how he feels and how it goes (Marquee): “We’ve got a plan laid out,” David Ross said. “Just get him back in playing shape is what’s important. Trying to get his legs underneath him, run the bases, be able to react in the outfield just like everybody else, get some real feedback from some game experience …. I think we’ll take it and listen to him. Being on your feet, getting back in playing shape is different for everybody so we’ve got a plan. Sometimes we have to extend those plans, sometimes we can shorten them.”
- Notably, letting your rehab plan be adjusted can lead to drama as we just saw with the Cardinals, but that feels a little different since you’re talking about a pitcher’s shoulder. I tend to think there’s a lot less risk in being flexible with the plan for Suzuki, whose finger is – I THINK! I HOPE! – healed, and this is about just getting him back up to game speed.
- It’s always easier to enjoy the lighter stuff when the Cubs are winning, so the Fabian The Ballboy appearances on last night’s broadcast were pretty dang awesome. The Cubs, it turns out, have the best ballboy in the game:
- Fabian De Hoyos was the star of the night, and it was a pretty special moment for him. “It’s surreal because you don’t expect yourself to be on TV,” Fabian said after the game. “It’s pretty cool that they put the exact stats …. We actually try to give as much hustle as the players do. We try to work just as hard and try to keep the game flowing. Whenever we get a ball or something like that, it’s all about the kids. Then once we do that, the job’s done. It’s all good.” I love this guy.
- Fabian made a few great plays in the game, though he was mad at himself for not fielding his final chance cleanly (still made the stop and easily made the play, though):
- The Eero wi-fi systems are still on a huge sale at Amazon today, so check it out if you’re in the market. It’s what I use at my house, and I’ve never had an issue. #ad
- Jackson Frazier is looking for a fresh start, in his baseball life if not necessarily in his organization:
- On asking to be referred to by his middle name going forward, Frazier told the Des Moines Register that he’d asked the Yankees about it but no one wanted to turn it into another bit of drama. And it’s not THAT serious of a thing: “I’m not going to legally change my name by any means. And personally, I don’t care what anybody calls me because I know it’s weird for people to look at me and call me a different name than they have been for however long they have been.”
- But hey. He wants to be Jackson Frazier in his baseball life? Fine by me. Jackson Frazier it is. I hope the bat turns around, though. Since accepting his assignment to Iowa, Frazier is hitting just .216/.293/.297/62 wRC+ with a 41.5% K rate. That outfield at Iowa is actually pretty darn competitive for getting starts, and it’s going to get more crowded soon as Seiya Suzuki takes some starts, and then possibly Nelson Velazquez (could be sent back down when Suzuki’s rehab is over).
- Speaking of very nice things to enjoy, Mark Appel finally made his big league debut at nearly 31 years old. It went very well:
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