Willson Contreras getting opportunity to be Cubs’ new leadoff hitter
“I think he’s done a nice job having professional at-bats,” manager David Ross said before the game Saturday.
PHOENIX — The Cubs are looking for a new leadoff hitter. Outfielder Joc Pederson had taken over the role, for the most part, but his trade Thursday to the Braves opened the spot again.
Catcher Willson Contreras, who has the most at-bats out of the leadoff spot on the roster and normally leads off against left-handed pitching, has gotten the first opportunity to take over as the catalyst.
Manager David Ross said he hopes Contreras’ approach brings some stability to the spot.
‘‘Willson’s done a really nice job for us against left-handers when he’s in there,’’ Ross said before a 4-2 victory Saturday against the Diamondbacks in which Contreras went 3-for-4 with a tiebreaking two-run home run in the ninth inning. ‘‘I just want to keep some kind of continuity to this year. We’ll see how it goes. I talked to him a little bit about that [Friday]. He’s good with it. I think he’s done a nice job having professional at-bats.
‘‘He’s facing righties, too, so I don’t think it dictates too much. It reorganizes the lineup a little bit differently, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing, either. . . . If I see a problem that I don’t like, we’ll adjust.’’
Wick begins rehab assignment
It has been a long time since right-hander Rowan Wick has been on the mound in a game. But 10 months after going on the injured list last September, he finally is working his way back. Wick began a rehab assignment Saturday at High-A South Bend, striking out three in a scoreless inning.
Wick was one of the Cubs’ most productive bullpen arms last season before going down with an injury to his rib muscles. Since 2019, he is 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA in 50 appearances.
After so much time off, Wick’s road back to the Cubs is going to take some time. Getting to a point where he’s able to pitch in back-to-back games will be a big step for him.
In other injury news, right-hander Dillon Maples (strained right triceps) is close to making his return from the IL. He has made six appearances at Triple-A Iowa.
‘‘Dylan should be close,’’ Ross said. ‘‘I think he’s probably less than a week out.’’
Rizzo reaches a milestone
First baseman Anthony Rizzo continues to move up in the Cubs’ record books.
Rizzo’s homer in the Cubs’ 5-1 victory Friday was his 239th with the team, tying him with Aramis Ramirez for the sixth-most in franchise history. It also was his 533rd extra-base hit with the Cubs, surpassing Phil Cavarretta for 10th place in franchise history.