The Cubs activated right fielder Jason Heyward from the 10-day injured list before their 4-1 loss Sunday to the Marlins in Miami. Heyward, who went 1-for-4 in his return, had been on the IL since Aug. 6 with inflammation in his left index finger.
The Cubs will be relying on Heyward’s leadership down the stretch with a young, inexperienced group of players at the big-league level.
To make room for Heyward on the roster, the Cubs optioned outfielder Greg Deichmann to Triple-A Iowa. Deichmann was the first position player among the Cubs’ acquisitions at the trade deadline to play for them. They got him in the trade that sent left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin to the Athletics.
Deichmann, 27, was 4-for-23 in his first stint with the Cubs. While he had a calm approach at the plate, he still has room for growth before he returns to the big leagues.
‘‘He just needs to get more at-bats under his belt,’’ manager David Ross said before the game. ‘‘It looked like his at-bats got better as they went on. He had a real knack for simplifying things when he got behind in the count. Just trying to touch the baseball.
‘‘Playing outfield at Wrigley Field can be a little tricky, and I thought he made some nice plays. But continuing to work on his defense and his all-around game. He’s still gotta get some seasoning and get his at-bats, but there’s no doubt we’ll see him again.’’
Mills continues strong stretch
You could make the argument that right-hander Alec Mills has been the Cubs’ second-best starting pitcher after Kyle Hendricks, and he has responded well since being slotted into the rotation.
Mills was solid again Sunday against the Marlins. He mixed his pitches well and kept them off-balance, allowing one run and four hits in the first five innings before running into some trouble in the sixth.
Jazz Chisholm Jr. led off the sixth by crushing a 435-foot home run against Mills to give the Marlins a 2-1 lead. Mills then allowed back-to-back singles and a walk to load the bases with two outs before left-hander Adam Morgan got a strikeout to end the threat.
In all, Mills allowed two runs and seven hits, struck out four and walked one in 52⁄3 innings. He became the first Cubs pitcher to allow three or fewer earned runs and two or fewer walks in 12 consecutive starts since Hippo Vaughn in 1919.
‘‘Ever since he’s been back in the rotation, he’s picked up right where he left off last year,’’ Ross said of Mills. ‘‘A four-pitch mix that plays to righties and lefties with a sinker that guys don’t see. There’s real deception in there, and I really liked his last couple of outings.
‘‘The fastball command has really played. [In] Colorado it stood out to me, and today it also stood out. When that fastball is locked in, he’s really difficult to hit.’’