Ben Zobrist DL move, Ian Happ’s struggles don’t change Cubs’ leadoff plans

SHARE Ben Zobrist DL move, Ian Happ’s struggles don’t change Cubs’ leadoff plans
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Baez (left) and Almora greet each other at the plate after leading off Saturday’s game with a pair of singles, eventually scoring on Willson Contreras’ double.

DENVER – Ben Zobrist went on the disabled list Saturday. Ian Happ returned to the lineup after some remedial batting cage work – but not anywhere near the leadoff spot.

And now maybe – just maybe – the Cubs are ready to clear the runway for this new-era Daily Double of Albert Almora Jr. and Javy Baez atop the lineup?

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They both reached again leading off Saturday’s game against the Rockies, this time on back-to-back singles. But hang onto those “Free Almora” hashtags.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon isn’t changing anything about the way he looks at his lineup rotations.

“You’re going to see everybody play,” he said. “I hate to disappoint people, but everybody’s going to play. And they’re all going to play well, I promise.”

Whether Almora and Baez change Maddon’s mind over the next week or so, they should at least get an opportunity to make their case, with Zobrist now assured of being sidelined through Friday because of his ongoing back stiffness.

Zobrist, who hasn’t played since April 14, didn’t suffer a setback.

“It’s just not healing as quickly as I wanted it to do,” said the veteran switch-hitter, whose 10-day DL move was backdated the maximum three days allowed. That makes him eligible to return Saturday at home against the Brewers. “While I felt I could do some things, I didn’t feel I could do it at 100 percent.

“Basically, it was a choice of do I want to try to push it through this weather or make sure I’m 100 percent healthy next weekend?”

Happ, the Cubs’ strikeout-prone leadoff man against right-handers the first two weeks of the season, has sat out the last two games working with Chili Davis – in particular on the switch-hitter’s left-handed hitting mechanics.

He was back in the lineup at No. 6 on Saturday against a left-hander.


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