Roster moves coming for Cubs after injury, bullpen leakage?

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ST. LOUIS — The turnstile on the Cubs’ roster is about to start clicking again this week, perhaps in quick succession.

Outfielder Chris Denorfia is expected to be placed on the 15-day disabled list for the second time this season for the same injury after aggravating his left hamstring going first to third on a hit in the third inning of Monday’s series opener against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

But the most roster intrigue and potential activity involves the bullpen, where DL’d right-hander Justin Grimm (forearm) is nearing a return and where left-hander James Russell looms as a strong candidate for a reunion with his old mates.

Even before Grimm pitched a scoreless inning for AAA Iowa in his first rehab appearance Monday, manager Joe Maddon said, “He’s very close.”

But Russell, one of the Cubs more reliable relievers in recent years before a deadline trade to Atlanta last July, could be even closer if the Cubs decide to make a move after another late-inning breakdown Monday night.

Setup ace Pedro Strop – who leads the majors with 15 appearances – allowed all three batters he faced to reach leading off the seventh, and previously lights-out lefty Zac Rosscup allowed them all to score (plus another) in the four-run inning.

Russell, who signed on a minor-league deal after the Braves released him last month, earned the save in Iowa’s victory over Nashville Monday. In seven games, he has 12 strikeouts without a walk or run allowed in 9 2/3 innings.

“I’m not familiar with him as much,” Maddon said of Russell. “But I’m very aware of him.”

Team president Theo Epstein was non-committal about a possible bullpen shakeup, which could involve struggling lefty Phil Coke and/or struggling right-hander Gonzalez Germen.

“It’s great to have depth. We’re going to need it,” Epstein said. “We’ll just see… I think getting Grimm back’s a priority. And it’s great to see Russell throwing well.

“I’m sure at some point he’ll be an attractive option for us. But you know how it is with bullpens: You need 20 guys over the course of a season.”

Meanwhile, look for at least one new face in the clubhouse Tuesday after Denorfia’s hard-luck night.

Denorfia, who was 9-for-21 (.429) in just 12 games this season, including two hits Monday, was replaced in the game by Junior Lake after sliding painfully into third base.

Outfielder Matt Szczur, who opened on the Cubs’ roster as Denorfia opened on the DL, is expected to take Denorfia’s spot on the roster again. Szczur was removed from AAA Iowa’s game in the eighth inning Monday night.

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