Cubs juggle roster, activate Jason Heyward from disabled list

Cubs juggle roster, activate Jason Heyward from disabled list

The roster moves the Cubs anticipated making Saturday had to wait a day.

But the organization stuck with the same plan Sunday morning, activating Jason Heyward off the disabled list and calling up right-handed pitcher Dylan Floro.

In return, Tommy La Stella and Pierce Johnson were sent down to Triple-A Iowa.

Heyward hit the DL earlier this month with a finger injury and played one game of rehab Thursday night with Class-A South Bend, collecting an RBI single in three at-bats.

Heyward entered play Sunday hitting .253 with a .697 OPS and was immediately in the lineup for the series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers, hitting sixth and playing right field.

Johnson made his MLB debut Friday before - and after - the two-hour rain delay. He allowed two unearned runs on two hits and a walk, striking out a pair of batters in his one inning.

Floro, 26, made one appearance for the Cubs earlier in the month, throwing 4.1 innings and allowing just one run. 

La Stella, meanwhile, is the victim of a numbers game, getting sent down to the minor leagues for the second time this season.

The 28-year-old infielder is hitting .304 with a 1.006 OPS at the big league level including an 8:2 walk to strikeout ratio, but the Cubs opted to keep top prospect Ian Happ in the big leagues for at least a little while longer, making La Stella expendable.

Brewers throw major shade at Cubs after Saturday's rainout decision

cubsrain.png
USA TODAY

Brewers throw major shade at Cubs after Saturday's rainout decision

Fans in search of a Bryzzo bobblehead weren't the only ones disappointed by the Cubs-Brewers game getting postponed Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

The two teams played through some nasty weather on Friday afternoon, including a two-hour rain delay. A main motivation behind that was the forecast for Saturday did not look to be any more promising and the teams did not want to have to make up two games later in the year.

However, after an incredibly-rainy morning, the Cubs postponed Saturday's game before 11:30 a.m. Shortly after, the precipitation stopped for good.

The Brewers woke up Sunday morning throwing major shade at the Cubs with GM David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell leading the way:

"Clearly the Cubs were looking at a weather forecast that made them think it was going to rain," Stearns said. "I think we were a little surprised that the game was called as early as it was. I'm sure they had their reasons to do it. Obviously it didn't rain. From our standpoint, we would have preferred to play yesterday.

"I talked to some guys over at the Cubs. They know how we felt. They told us that their weather forecast indicated our game was not going to be able to be played. Our weather forecast did not indicate that. There was some other weather forecasts that did not indicate that. Ultimately, it was the Cubs' call.

"From my understanding of the rules, prior to the All-Star Break, the home team has discretion prior to first pitch, then it's on the umpire's hands. So the Cubs had discretion there and did what they thought was best."

Stearns did not have a comment on whether the Cubs gained a competitive advantage on the first-place Brewers by not playing the game.

"I don't know," Stearns said. "All they told us was that their weather forecast indicated we were not going to be able to get the game on, so that's all I really have to go by.

"You'd have to ask them. I'm not privy to their forecasting methods or what service they use. All I know was that they told us at the time they canceled the game. They certainly knew that we would have preferred to play. Ultimately, it's their call.

"That game on Friday was tough for both sides. Those aren't fun conditions for players to play through. Seemed like we had better conditions yesterday, but the Cubs decided it wasn't the right time to play baseball."

Cubs manager Joe Maddon addressed the rainout in his pregame session Sunday morning, saying he enjoyed his afternoon off and took a couple naps.

As for the lack of rain from about noon on, Maddon shrugged it off.

"Everything indicated it was going to be exactly like the day before," he said, "so that's the beauty of weather forecasting and around here, it's very difficult."

The Cubs are currently in a stretch of 16 straight days with a scheduled game before Saturday's rainout.

The Brewers were in a stretch of 24 games in 25 days before Saturday, but they also have an off-day coming up Monday after the series finale at Wrigley.

As far as a possible competitive advantage the Cubs could've gained from postponing Saturday's game, the main thought is letting a worn out bullpen rest. 

But even with the rain delay Friday, the Cubs still never turned to Wade Davis, Carl Edwards Jr., Hector Rondon or Koji Uehara, so all four pitchers would've been available on Saturday with at least one day's rest under their belts.

The Cubs also made a move to send down Pierce Johnson after his MLB debut before - and after - Friday's delay and call up Dylan Floro, who would represent another fresh arm in the bullpen.

Joe Maddon explains decision to move Kyle Schwarber out of leadoff spot for Cubs

Joe Maddon explains decision to move Kyle Schwarber out of leadoff spot for Cubs

Kyle Schwarber wasn't in his usual leadoff spot for Saturday's scheduled Cubs-Brewers game, which was postponed due to rain.

Manager Joe Maddon released a new lineup with Ben Zobrist hitting first, followed by Schwarber — and the usual Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.

It's no secret the Cubs slugger has struggled in the leadoff spot this season. Hitting .182/.305./.351 in 38 games, Schwarber has been looking to find consistency at the plate.

Maddon even came to his defense earlier this week when asked whether the slumping Schwarber would continue to hit first in a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field.

So Maddon's shakeup in the lineup doesn't exactly indicate his lack of confidence in Schwarber, but the Cubs manager does think it could help him get his bat going again.

"What I was looking at there was a couple things," Maddon said. "Zo’s been really good lately. We gave him that couple days off and he’s come out real nicely. And (Ian) Happ’s the new Zobrist. In other words he could protect Rizzo.

"The other component I thought we’ve talked a lot about Kyle hitting a lot of balls into the shift. If in fact Zo could get on a little more often, it might move that second baseman out of that spot. I don’t know, it might. So you look at Schwarber’s batting average, even Anthony’s, a lot is impacted by these shifts.

"Happ being here pretty much permits me to thinking that way and the fact that he’s done so well. Cause I was always concerned about Zo leaving that spot, but just imagine that today if I put Zo up there and Happ wasn’t there behind Rizzo, what that would look like. I wouldn’t feel as good about it. A lot of different parts. I was thinking about it last night coming into today and I thought it made sense."

In 36 games, Zobrist has three homers and 14 RBIs with a .246/.348/.385 slash line this year.

Maddon said that Schwarber's move out of the leadoff spot isn't necessarily permanent. 

"It just depends," Maddon said. "The biggest thing is just to get him untracked a little bit confidence-wise. Started the shift several years ago and a lot of your own guys hate you now. That’s just the fact that they’re hitting into this positioning a lot. So we’ll see. We’ll see how it all plays out."

Maddon's lineup had another new/old look.

After missing two weeks with a finger injury, Jason Heyward's return to the lineup was put on hold on Saturday. The 27-year-old outfielder was set to bat sixth and play right field.

On Thursday, Heyward had a rehab assignment with the South Bend Cubs, where he went 1-for-3 with an RBI single. After the game, Heyward said he felt no pain and was ready to return to the big club.

Though it's not official, Tommy La Stella is expected to be optioned to Triple-A Iowa as a corresponding move.