This is not the news the Chicago Cubs needed as they battle for a postseason berth.
All-Star shortstop Javier Baez has been diagnosed with a hairline fracture of his left thumb, the team announced Saturday.
It’s not yet known how long Baez will be sidelined. He’s scheduled to visit a hand specialist on Monday, which should give the team a better idea of his timeline.
Hairline fracture in left thumb for Javy Baez, MRI revealed. He will see Cubs hand specialist Monday to determine timeline.
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) September 7, 2019
Baez suffered the injury during Sunday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. He was injured on a head-first slide into second base on a successful stolen-base attempt. Baez collided with Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia on the play. He was also reportedly dealing with neck soreness, but it’s the thumb injury that has proven problematic.
Cubs’ injury woes
It’s been a rough week for the Cubs on the injury front.
In addition to Baez’s injury, the Cubs also placed closer Craig Kimbrel on the 10-day injured list with a sore elbow. He’ll be out until at least the middle of September and potentially longer.
Yu Darvish was also scratched from his scheduled start last weekend with forearm tightness. The good news is that Darvish will return to start against the Brewers on Saturday, but the Cubs will be monitoring his workload closely.
Next man up
Baez, 26, has hit .281/.316/.532 with 29 home runs this season. Of course, his contributions go well beyond simply hitting the baseball. He's a menace for opposing teams on the basepaths and is among the game's best defensive players whether the Cubs put him at shortstop, second base or third base. His absence will leave a tough void to fill.
The struggling Addison Russell figures to slot in as Chicago’s primary shortstop until Baez returns. The return of Ben Zobrist comes at a good time for the Cubs. He can take over regularly at second base, which will give Joe Maddon’s infield some needed stability.
Cubs postseason outlook
It takes a definite hit with Baez sidelined. But as Maddon points out, the lineup is still dangerous as long as Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras.
Maddon on not having Baez: “We definitely have a lot of other good names. It’s not like we’re just a one man band. Other guys have to take care of their component of the game.
“You look for other people to rise to the occasion.”
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) September 7, 2019
It’s worth mentioning here that each of Rizzo, Bryant and Contreras have also missed time recently with nagging injuries.
If nothing else, the Cubs’ margin for error will be much thinner.
The Cubs enter play on Saturday trailing the St. Louis Cardinals by 2.5 games for first place in the NL Central. Chicago currently has possession of the NL’s second wild card spot. The hard-charging Arizona Diamondbacks are 2.5 games back, while the Brewers, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies are all four games back.
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