The Chicago Cubs got a mixed bag of injury news Wednesday, the most disconcerting of which is that shortstop Addison Russell has suffered a setback.
Russell was supposed to start Wednesday for Class AAA Iowa at Memphis, but the team said he experienced soreness in his right foot during pregame work and had to be scratched from the lineup. He will return to Chicago to be checked out. Russell has been on the disabled list since Aug. 3 with a right-foot strain.
On the other side of the ledger, ace lefty Jon Lester threw 50 pitches in his bullpen session, and he will start Saturday against the Braves, with Mike Montgomery going Sunday. Jake Arrieta will be pushed back to Monday’s series opener at Pittsburgh.
Lester has been on the DL since Aug. 18 with tightness in his lat and fatigue in his shoulder.
Catcher Willson Contreras put on the gear and had a full session of catching and throwing during early work on the field. Contreras will have a lighter day of work Thursday. He has been on the DL since Aug. 11 with a right-hamstring strain, and the Cubs say the injury is a 4-6-week situation.
Reliever Justin Grimm (finger) had his appearance for Iowa moved from Thursday to Wednesday because of bad weather expected for the Memphis area. Grimm has been on the DL since Aug. 18.
There will be no impending personnel crunch because rosters may expand from 25 men beginning Friday.
Fall is in the air:
The Cubs took the field before batting practice for early work. Specifically, they worked on executing the safety-squeeze bunt.
It’s a sure sign that fall baseball is fast approaching, and manager Joe Maddon says he wants his team ready for it.
“We normally like to do things like this when we get to this part of the year,” Maddon said. “Actually, the weather is cooperating, too. It just feels that way.
“When you’re in pretty good position in your division and you’re playing well and then you ask guys to do this kind of thing, it’s not difficult. It’s not that difficult of a get. They’re happy to do it. They understand the importance of doing it.
“When when you go out there and Davey’s (bench coach Dave Martinez) talking to them or Hyder (first-base coach Brandon Hyde) is talking to them, you can see they’re actually listening, not just a lipservice kind of thing.
“They’re actually listening, and that’s good. It’s something I’ve always done in the past. You get to this time of the year and you want to just bring whatever’s in the back of your mind, bring it back to the front so that when the situation occurs, it’s not a surprise.”
Becoming an important guy:
Tommy La Stella did not start Wednesday after starting in four straight games and going 6-for-14 with 2 home runs. That prompted a little kidding from Joe Maddon.
“Here’s an example like today,” Maddon said. “We were doing the safety squeezes. I think Javy (Baez) was bunting, and Tommy was considerably close to the left-handed batter’s box. We chased him out of there. And I said, ‘Tommy, about a month ago, it wouldn’t have mattered. But now that you’re a starter, I don’t want you standing that close to that batter’s box, so please move.’ ”