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Keegan Thompson expected to start for the Cubs on Saturday vs. Royals

Thompson hasn’t allowed a run in four starts at Triple-A Iowa.

Cubs pitcher Keegan Thompson will likely start Saturday’s game against the Royals.
Cubs pitcher Keegan Thompson will likely start Saturday’s game against the Royals.
Alex Gallardo/AP

CINCINNATI — The Cubs have gone to a youth movement in their starting rotation as the team looks toward the future with right-hander Adbert Alzolay and left-hander Justin Steele. Right-hander Keegan Thompson has been getting stretched out at Triple-A Iowa, preparing to join Alzolay and Steele in the rotation.

It sounds like Thompson will be making his return to Chicago this weekend. The Cubs have not officially named a starter for Saturday’s game against the Royals, but all signs point to Thompson making the start. Manager David Ross referred to Thompson as being “Plan A” for that start.

“That would be ideal,” Ross said before Wednesday’s 7-1 victory against the Reds.

Thompson had success pitching in a multi-inning role for the Cubs this season, going 3-2 with a 2.21 ERA in 27 games. The right-hander has dominated in his time in Triple-A since returning to a starting role and has not allowed a run over his four outings in Iowa.

Alzolay throws light bullpen session

Alzolay threw a light bullpen session before Wednesday’s game as he continues to progress from the left hamstring strain he suffered Friday. Alzolay, who went on the 10-day injured list on last Saturday, is eligible to return Tuesday and the team is hoping his stint on the shelf is a short one.

“I’m hopeful it doesn’t linger too long. We’ll have to just wait and see,” Ross said. “But when you’ve got injuries like we’ve had all year, we try to be as cautious as possible. And I think we’re in a spot where he would love to be back. We’d love to have him back. But we’re gonna do what’s right and make sure he’s healthy.”

Sampson gets nod against the Reds

The Cubs selected the contract of right-hander Adrian Sampson from Triple-A Iowa. Sampson has a 4.96 ERA over 16 games (14 starts) in the minors this season. He has pitched in parts of three seasons with the Mariners and the Rangers.

Sampson pitched well in his first start for the Cubs, allowing just one run on five hits over four innings against the Reds. He struck out two without allowing a walk.

“The last month, six weeks or so starting down in Iowa, things have been going really well for me,” Sampson said after his first major-league start since June 23, 2019. “My pitches feel good and I’m going deep into games down there. So that was the goal as soon as I got up here.”

The team designated outfielder Johneshwy Fargas for assignment to make room on the active roster.

Cubs announce 2022 spring schedule

The Cubs announced their tentative 2022 spring-training schedule, which begins on Saturday, Feb. 26 at Sloan Park against the Dodgers and concludes against the White Sox at Sloan Park on Tuesday, March 29.

The club’s tentative 34-game schedule includes 18 games at Sloan Park and 16 Cactus League road games. The league could add games at a later date.

The Cubs and White Sox will play four times next spring on March 9, 28 and 29 in Mesa and March 18 in Glendale.