SS Javy Baez latest Cub felled by flu bug still making way through clubhouse
He was the second regular scratched from the lineup in as many days as the Cubs try to survive a long road trip.
PHILADELPHIA — A flulike bug, which might have contributed to the Cubs’ loss Wednesday, knocked out shortstop Javy Baez for at least a game Thursday as the Cubs were swept by the Phillies in devastating fashion. Baez’s backup, David Bote, committed a key error in the Phillies’ ninth-inning rally Thursday.
“It’s weird. It just pops up; it doesn’t last long, but it definitely knocks guys down for a couple of days,” manager Joe Maddon said of a bug that has affected “six or seven” players the last three weeks.
That included starter Cole Hamels, who was struck just before his three-inning start last week in Cincinnati and was still dealing with lingering effects when he couldn’t get an out in the third inning Wednesday.
“I thought we would have been done with it by now,” Maddon said. “But Cole was the most recent. And now Javy. It just seems to be hanging in there somehow.”
Baez was the second Cubs regular scratched in as many days.
Outfielder Jason Heyward missed the game Wednesday with a sore left knee that locked up on him at one point early Wednesday morning, causing a “sharp pain,” but he came on in the ninth inning to play right field in the series finale.
He was expected to return to the lineup Friday for the series opener against the Pirates.
Ben Zobrist began the Class AAA portion of his comeback effort in Memphis.
He started at second base for Iowa in the game against the Cardinals’ affiliate and went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
The Cubs’ 2016 World Series MVP has been on personal leave for family issues related to his pending divorce since early May. He’s expected to return from the restricted list at the end of the month.
In six combined games for Class A South Bend and advanced-A Myrtle Beach the last two weeks, Zobrist went 4-for-19 with two home runs and three walks, batting twice as a designated hitter and playing second base in four games.
Right-hander Brandon Kintzler, the steadiest reliever in the bullpen (2.33 ERA), said he’ll be ready to return from a pectoral injury on his first eligible day, Friday in Pittsburgh.
Until then, the Cubs recalled right-hander James Norwood for emergency depth after Alec Mills, who was optioned to Iowa, was needed for six innings of relief (three runs) in the loss Wednesday.
Closer Craig Kimbrel (knee) and setup man Steve Cishek (hip) reported upbeat results after bullpen sessions.
Kimbrel is to be evaluated Friday to determine whether he needs a minor-league game or is ready to rejoin the bullpen this weekend.
Cishek is on track to be activated from the injured list when eligible on Tuesday at home.
When he homered over the center-field fence in the fifth inning, Kyle Schwarber not only tied Baez for the Cubs’ home-run lead this season (28), but he also reached 100 in his career, in only 453 games — the fewest for any player hitting 100 with the Cubs (teammate Kris Bryant did it in 487 games).
Even before Thursday, Schwarber was on a 16-game run that started soon after moving down from the every-day leadoff role: 12-for-40 (.300) with five homers, eight walks and a 1.140 OPS.