Wrigley Field gets to 60% capacity, but Cubs still aren’t 85% vaccinated
Most teams are at or will soon cross the threshold of vaccinated players and staff, but the Cubs are among about a third of teams who are not there yet.
On Friday, fan capacity at Wrigley Field increased to 60% from 25%, reflecting the gradual return to normalcy that’s happening in society.
Seeing those extra fans in the stands has been a boost for the players.
“It was a lot of fun to play in that environment when you look out and you see a lot of people enjoying themselves,” Ian Happ said of the Cubs’ recent series in St. Louis, where fan capacity is at 64%. “We’re just hoping as a baseball community that we can continue to safely work together and hope that some of these protocols will reflect what the rest of the public is seeing, as well.”
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Most teams are at or soon will cross the 85% threshold of vaccinated players and staff. But the Cubs are among about a third of teams who are not there yet.
Cubs manager David Ross and general manager Jed Hoyer have said that they are not very optimistic about the team getting to 85%, and Happ doesn’t plan to prod anyone.
“I respect my teammates a lot, and I obviously wouldn’t push anybody to do anything that they’re not comfortable with,” he said.
Happ was one of the first on the team to get his shot; his was during spring training in Arizona.
There haven’t been talks between the league and the players’ union about loosening restrictions for individual players who are vaccinated, but like other players around the league, Happ hopes that might happen.
For instance, if a fully vaccinated player tests positive, he still would have to miss time under the current protocols. Happ and others would like to see that change. If they’re fully vaccinated and asymptomatic, they’d like to be allowed to keep playing.
“As someone who is vaccinated, if I were to test positive, I would be very happy to be able to continue playing and not have to watch the games — that would be a tough one,” Happ said.
The Cubs are 18-7 in May, and they have won eight one-run games this month, thanks largely to their pitching.
The bullpen pitched 38⅓ scoreless innings between May 15 and the sixth inning Saturday. The starting staff had a 3.31 ERA in May going into the game. The offense has stepped up since April, too, but the hitters are giving all praise to the pitchers.
“I think what our pitching staff has done, both starting and the bullpen, has been massive for us,” Happ said. “To be able to hold on to a couple of tight leads and really feel like all we have to do is get ahead, I think that is a massive confidence-builder for this offense.”
After hitting .216 in April, the Cubs are at .265 this month.
“At some point this year, we’re going to have to support the pitching staff and the bullpen. But right now they’re carrying us, and we really appreciate that,” Happ said.
Alec Mills pitched a rehab start at Triple-A Iowa on Friday and is slated for another in five days. He has been on the 10-day injured list since May 16 with a strained lower back. Mills is 2-0 with a 5.96 ERA and one save in 12 games, including one start. He has struck out 13 and walked eight in 22⅔ innings.