Ian Happ sits; David Ross again denies Cubs intentionally hit Andrew McCutchen
“Nobody likes to get hit,” Ross said. “Whether you did it on the first pitch or the last pitch, I don’t know that it ever feels good or anybody’s happy with it.”
Cubs manager David Ross was asked to respond to comments from the Brewers’ Andrew McCutchen, who was hit in the hip/backside by reliever Keegan Thompson to spark the spirited eighth-inning gathering between home plate and first base Saturday.
McCutchen said he rather would have been hit on the first pitch rather than on a 2-1 count.
‘‘Nobody likes to get hit,’’ Ross said before the Cubs’ 5-4 loss Sunday. ‘‘Whether you did it on the first pitch or the last pitch, I don’t know that it ever feels good or anybody’s happy with it.’’
Ross again denied Thompson hit McCutchen intentionally.
‘‘That kind of disarmed a lot of things when you go slider [on the] first pitch and get a strike,’’ Ross said. ‘‘That was my argument to the umpires. He had a strike on the guy. Everybody’s working on stuff. A two-seamer hit him in the [hip/backside]. If you’re going to get hit, it’s better than square in the back like Willson [Contreras] or in the kneecap like Ian [Happ] or up and in like [Nick] Madrigal.’’
Happ was held out of the game Sunday. Ross said Happ could have started, but he thought it made sense to rest him, especially with another day off Monday.
‘‘When he’s locked in, he’s one of the better at-bats in the league,’’ Ross said. ‘‘He’ll walk, he’s got power, he hits to all fields. He’s a pretty spectacular player. He gets out of rhythm at times, as we all do, and I think he’s on a mission to be as consistent as possible this year.’’
To dive or not to dive
The Cubs’ last real chance to score Sunday came with two outs and Nico Hoerner at third base in the seventh inning. Jonathan Villar hit a chopper in front of second and dived into first in an effort to beat shortstop Willy Adames’ throw, but he was called out. The call was upheld after review.
Ross would have preferred Villar to run through the base instead of diving, but he liked the effort.
‘‘I don’t know if I ever want to come down on somebody, to try to tell them not to hustle and give it their all,’’ Ross said. ‘‘That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I think guys know to run hard through the base is the fastest way to get there. Sometimes you want it so bad, it’s hard not to reach for that thing.’’
Villar said he had no regrets.
‘‘I think if you continue to run, it’s more out,’’ Villar said. ‘‘In that situation, for me, I’m always sliding into the base because I think we’ve got more [of a] chance to make it safe.’’
Gomes gives Contreras a rest
Starting behind the plate in place of Contreras for right-hander Marcus Stroman’s debut with the Cubs, Yan Gomes went 1-for-4 with a double.
‘‘We’ve got 28 guys on the roster, [and] we’ve got to get everybody some playing time,’’ Ross said. ‘‘If you guys want a story about personal catchers, there’s not one yet.’’
Gomes gives the Cubs a luxury they didn’t have last season: a reliable second option behind Contreras. Last season with the Nationals and Athletics, Gomes hit 14 homers and threw out more than 30% of would-be base-stealers.