Cubs take chance on Rondon in Rule 5 draft


Cubs take chance on Rondon in Rule 5 draft

NASHVILLE, Tenn. The Cubs continued to collect pitchers and take chances on guys with health issues by taking Hector Rondon with the second pick in Thursdays Rule 5 draft.

The Cleveland Indians named Rondon their minor league pitcher of the year in 2009, but elbow problems wiped out most of his past three seasons. He underwent right elbow UCL reconstruction surgery in August 2010 and had a second procedure in December 2011 to repair an elbow fracture.

Rondon, 24, has been used almost exclusively as a starter in the minors. Hes 36-36 with a 3.88 ERA in 120 games, with 526 strikeouts against 121 walks.

Weve been watching him a lot in Venezuela this winter, general manager Jed Hoyer said. Hes got a great arm and we feel like we can capitalize on the fact that hes healthy now and throwing the ball really, really well. Hopefully, he can recapture what made him the Indians top pitching prospect at one point.

As the winter meetings ended at the Opryland Hotel, the Cubs lost right-hander Starling Peralta to the Arizona Diamondbacks. They also lost outfielder Michael Burgess (Houston Astros), infielder Matt Cerda (St. Louis Cardinals) and right-hander Alvido Jimenez (Toronto Blue Jays) in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft.

More bad news for Cubs: Kris Bryant leaves game with injury


More bad news for Cubs: Kris Bryant leaves game with injury

WASHINGTON – On a surreal day that already saw the Cubs dump veteran catcher Miguel Montero and visit Donald Trump’s White House, Kris Bryant hobbled off the field with his arms wrapped around the shoulders of two athletic trainers.

At a time when the season already felt like it could be teetering on the brink of a collapse, the Cubs watched the National League’s reigning MVP twist his right ankle on Wednesday night at Nationals Park, exiting the game in the fifth inning. Bryant tracked a Matt Wieters pop-up and awkwardly stepped on third base as he caught the ball.

Bryant is an All-Star third baseman with 16 home runs this year but he fills so many holes – all over the outfield and as a backup first baseman and an excellent baserunner – for a team that already has World Series MVP Ben Zobrist, Gold Glove outfielder Jason Heyward and Cy Young Award finalist Kyle Hendricks on the disabled list.

No, Albert Almora Jr. didn’t subtly give the middle finger to President Donald Trump during Cubs’ White House visit

No, Albert Almora Jr. didn’t subtly give the middle finger to President Donald Trump during Cubs’ White House visit

WASHINGTON – Albert Almora Jr. didn’t use Wednesday’s Oval Office photo op as a subtle form of political protest, but it did sort of look like the Cubs outfielder gave President Donald Trump the middle finger, at least from that angle in an image that went viral on Twitter.    

“There was two fingers! Look closely, there was two fingers!” a veteran player yelled across the room as reporters gathered around Almora’s locker inside the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park. 

“Guys were giving me a hard time about it,” Almora said, “but I pointed out the second finger. We’re all good.”

In another White House visit that didn’t look nearly as unofficial or informal as the Cubs said it would be, one snapshot became Almora with part of his left hand in his pocket. Almora stood near Kris Bryant – who held a 45 Wrigley Field scoreboard panel – and Trump at his desk with the World Series trophy.

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“Obviously, it’s unfortunate,” Almora said with a laugh. “I’m getting ready to take a picture and I’m posing there. But you guys know that I would never do that to the president of the United States. 

“I respect everybody. It is what it is. We laugh about it now, but there’s definitely two fingers out there.”

Almora is 23 years old, confident and focused, rarely straying off message during his interactions with reporters. He grew up in a Cuban-American family in South Florida and traveled with the team in January for the final official event in the Obama White House.   

“Hey, man, it’s not every day you get to meet the president of the United States,” Almora said. “To meet two in one calendar year, for me, is a special feeling.”