Cubs place Ben Zobrist on DL, will undergo MRI

Cubs place Ben Zobrist on DL, will undergo MRI

Cubs manager Joe Maddon hinted at the possibility of the Cubs shutting down Ben Zobrist earlier this week.

The Cubs did just that on Friday as they placed Zobrist on the 10-day disabled list with left wrist inflammation and recalled Tommy La Stella from Triple-A Iowa.

In addition to going on the DL, Zobrist will get an MRI as he's been dealing with a sore wrist over the last few weeks.

“It’s just not getting better,” Zobrist said on Wednesday. “It’s effecting my ability to prepare, and then my ability to feel comfortable at the plate. I don’t want to put the team in that situation."

Zobrist, a three-time All-Star, is slashing .223/.321/.394 with seven home runs and 21 RBI in 54 games this season.

La Stella, who was with the Cubs for 16 games before being sent down for rookie Ian Happ last month, was hitting .213 with one home run at Triple-A.

The Cubs begin a three-game series in Pittsburgh against the Pirates on Friday night.

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.

Who's the odd man out in Cubs roster crunch once Jason Heyward returns?

Who's the odd man out in Cubs roster crunch once Jason Heyward returns?

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Jason Heyward will rejoin the Cubs Saturday afternoon at Wrigley.

But whose spot will he take on the Cubs' 40-man roster?

The apparent choice is Tommy La Stella, who has already been sent down to Triple-A this season as part of the ongoing roster crunch at the big league level. La Stella intially refused a demotion to the minors late last season but has taken a different stance this year, playing in 12 games during his last stint with Iowa.

A week ago, Ian Happ would've been the easy call to go back down to Triple-A once Heyward returned. But the rookie — one of the game's top prospects — has been turned heads in his first week in The Show.

Happ has started six straight games since being recalled, hitting second twice before moving to the cleanup spot and providing protection to Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in the lineup.

But would it be best to send the 22-year-old switch-hitter back down to the minors to play every day?

"Not if he's playing regularly in the majors...," Joe Maddon said Friday, smirking. 

Maddon conceded Happ is definitely not the kind of player the Cubs want to sit around with only 26 Triple-A games under his belt. But when the guy entered Friday's game with a .353/.500/.824 slash line, it's not hard for Maddon to find playing time for Happ.

[RELATED - Keeping Ian Happ looks and sounds like an 'easy' decision for Joe Maddon]

"Of course, [the roster decision] is very tough," Maddon said. "That's what happens when you're good — you have tough decisions. You have a lot of different options.

"The fact that Ian's come up and done so well makes it even more difficult. We'll try to figure it out and make our best guess."

However, it's not like La Stella is struggling, either. In a part-time role, the left-handed hitting infielder boasts a .318 batting average and 1.028 OPS, both the best numbers on the Cubs after Happ.

Heyward has been out since May 6 with an injured finger, but made a brief rehab stop in Class-A South Bend Thursday night and felt fine — "[the finger is] good enough."

Heyward went through pregame warm-ups and batting practice Thursday before singling home a run. It was also the first time he didn't wear a splint on his finger since first suffering the injury.

On the season, Heyward is hitting .253 with a .697 OPS, three homers and 17 RBI while continuing his run of stellar outfield defense.