Cubs’ Ian Happ, Adbert Alzolay report to spring training with injuries
The injury news isn’t necessarily over as the Cubs continue gauging players’ fitness levels coming out of a 99-day lockout.
MESA, Ariz. — Since Major League Baseball lifted the lockout last week, the Cubs have been gathering information on their players’ offseason work. Not all of it has been good news.
Outfielder Ian Happ had elbow surgery in February, and right-hander Adbert Alzolay (shoulder) is expected to start the season on the injured list, president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer announced Monday.
Hoyer said Happ’s procedure was to clean up loose bodies in his throwing elbow.
“He’s very confident he’ll be ready by Opening Day,” Hoyer said. “But certainly, he may not be in the field quite as much as usual right at the beginning.”
Happ played catch on the agility field at the Cubs’ spring-training complex Saturday under the supervision of trainer PJ Mainville. Hoyer said Happ has been hitting without pain.
Alzolay’s recovery is expected to stretch further into the season.
“He has had some shoulder tightness,” Hoyer said. “We’re still trying to figure out the extent of it. . . . I don’t think it’s going to be a minimum [IL] stint.”
The loss of Alzolay to start the season deals a blow to the back end of the Cubs’ rotation and, by extension, to their options for multi-inning relievers.
Kyle Hendricks, Marcus Stroman and Wade Miley — not necessarily in that order — are safe bets to lead the rotation. With Alzolay out, Justin Steele, Alec Mills and Keegan Thompson are obvious choices to compete for the last two rotation spots.
“What [Alzolay] did last year, I was excited for the year he was going to have,” Hendricks said. “But he’s such a hard worker, and he’s had something similar in the past. So hopefully he can come back quick. I know whenever he’s healthy and he’s back, he’ll be himself again.”
The injury news isn’t necessarily over as the Cubs continue with the intake process, gauging players’ fitness levels coming out of a 99-day lockout. During the lockout, team personnel were barred from communicating with players on the 40-man roster.
Hoyer characterized the Happ and Alzolay issues as the two unreported “known injuries.”
Reliever Codi Heuer had Tommy John surgery last Monday and will miss the season. Heading into the lockout, it was clear that David Bote (shoulder surgery) and Miguel Amaya (elbow surgery) would be delayed by injury. Amaya has been around the Sloan Park complex since reporting on Friday.
Regarding Bote’s injury timeline, Hoyer said, “You won’t see him, certainly, in April. And then beyond that, we’ll see.”
Spring training in action
With the first day of official workouts Monday came the first day of live batting practice. Hendricks and Steele were among the pitchers who threw to batters.
“It felt really good,” Hendricks said. “Felt under control, mentally not moving too quick. Trying to focus down in the zone. Last year, I felt like I was so flat, everything was up over the plate. I’ve made a huge focus on [getting] back to getting angle, down in the zone, fastball command, just back to my staples.”
They each threw an inning, Hendricks facing five batters and Steele six. Hendricks said he liked what he saw from his young teammate.
“It’s aggressive,” Hendricks said. “It’s electric, coming at guys. And I know the work he put in this offseason.”
Stro’ show scheduled
Stroman announced on Twitter that he’s taking the mound Friday in Scottsdale. The Cubs are scheduled to play the Giants in their first nine-inning game of spring training. On Thursday, they face the White Sox in a seven-inning split-squad doubleheader to kick off Cactus League play.