David Ross, Cubs prepared for enhanced inspections of pitchers
Monday is the day when Major League Baseball begins its enhanced enforcement of rules regarding pitchers and foreign substances. And Cubs manager David Ross said he’s talked to his players about the logistics of the increased inspections and what that will look like during a game.
“It will be an adjustment for everyone,” Ross said. “It’s just like any new rule or any new thing you put in play on the field during game time, it definitely will be probably a little awkward, but we’ll get through it.”
Starting pitchers will be checked at least once per game, while relievers must be inspected at the end of their first inning or when they are removed, whichever occurs first. Most checks will happen between innings or in the midst of pitching changes.
Players found in violation of the rule will be suspended for 10 games.
Back in the lineup after getting Saturday off, Willson Contreras was heavily praised by Ross. The Cubs manager said Contreras has adjusted well to the parade of pitchers he’s caught and controlled the running game while producing and providing leadership, energy and other important intangibles as the team has shifted from one backup catcher to another.
“He’s a big bat in our lineup that when I don’t write his name in the lineup it definitely feels thin without him in there,” Ross said. “He’s a big part of this team.”
While some of his teammates get more esteem from the outside, Ross keeps Contreras in the same place as other Cubs.
“I can’t overstate that enough, the value he brings is just as important as all the love that Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo get, and [Javy Baez],” Ross said. “He’s on that same level for me because of the role that he has to play and how demanding that job is on a person.”
Concerns about Duffy
Back issues are tricky, and the Cubs are seeing that with Matt Duffy (low back strain).
Not too long ago, the Cubs were hopeful that Duffy would soon go on a rehab assignment. The team got encouraging news about Duffy around the Cardinals series a week ago, thinking things were heading in the right direction.
On Sunday, Ross said the injury hasn’t progressed since. Ross didn’t say that Duffy suffered a setback, but had a good day before waking up the next day and was reminded the injury still existed.
“It’s taken a little bit longer than I think we were expecting,” Ross said.
In better news, Ross said Nico Hoerner (left hamstring strain) could be a week or 10 days from a rehab assignment.
Lefties in the ‘pen
Kyle Ryan was selected from Triple-A Iowa, while right-hander Cory Abbott was optioned to Iowa. To make room for Ryan on the 40-man roster, righty Robert Stock was designated for assignment.
This is already Ryan’s fourth stint with the Cubs this year, compiling a 3.38 ERA over three appearances. He was designated for assignment May 7 and outrighted to Iowa on May 9.
“We love Kyle here,” Ross said. “He’s done a really nice job every time he’s stepped up.”
Justin Steele (right hamstring strain) again threw off the mound before Sunday’s game.