How Braves’ Jesse Chavez impacted Ethan Roberts in brief Cubs reunion

Chavez appeared in three games for the Cubs this year before they traded him to Atlanta last week for left-hander Sean Newcomb.

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The Cubs traded Jesse Chavez to the Braves less than a week before facing Atlanta in a three-game series.

The Cubs traded Jesse Chavez to the Braves less than a week before facing Atlanta in a three-game series. File photo.

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ATLANTA — Braves reliever Jesse Chavez greeted Cubs rookie Ethan Roberts with a “How you doing kiddo?” before the Cubs’ 3-1 loss Tuesday at Truist Park.

Chavez’s 2022 reunion with the Cubs had been short-lived. He appeared in three games, allowing four runs in 5⅔ innings, before he was traded last week for left-hander Sean Newcomb and cash. 

During that short time, the veteran reliever made an impact on Roberts. 

“I sat and talked in the bullpen with Chavy this week for a total of two hours probably,” Roberts said last week, “just picking his brain and stuff like that.” 

The biggest piece of advice Chavez gave him, Roberts said, was to breathe. 

“If you think you’ve got a big pitch to make, you’ve got to breathe deeper than you think you need to breathe,” Roberts recounted. 

Chavez told Roberts that in Colorado, after Roberts walked in a run in the fifth inning of an eventual Cubs win.

“It’s a learning experience,” Roberts said with a smile. “I’m young, I’m gonna make mistakes. But I’m going to learn from my mistakes and not make them again.”

On Tuesday, Roberts replaced starter Marcus Stroman for the seventh inning and struck out the side in order.

Ring in the series

A pair of Cubs pitchers stood on a circle of red carpet up the first-base line before the game as the public-address announcer’s voice boomed over the loudspeakers: “Please welcome back to Braves country, world champion pitchers Drew Smyly and Chris Martin.” 

The crowd gave each an ovation to kick off a brief World Series ring ceremony for the former Braves who signed with the Cubs this spring. They donned their diamond-encrusted rings and held them out to be displayed on the imposing video board over center field.

During the Braves’ title run last year, Martin allowed one run in five playoff appearances, and Smyly earned the win in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series before appearing in two World Series games. 

Simmons slowed

Cubs shortstop Andrelton Simmons (right shoulder inflammation) experienced a minor setback in his rehab in Arizona. Simmons is still throwing but is taking a break from hitting live after experiencing shoulder soreness. 

He’s expected to resume live batting practice next week. 

“I think the challenge is, you’ve got an elite defender that we’re missing, right?” manager David Ross said. “I think guys [have] been doing really well, we’ve mixed and matched the group as best we could.”

Without Simmons, versatile infielder Jonathan Villar, whom the team envisioned as primarily a third baseman, has been serving as the backup shortstop. 

“I think the main thing is just knowing he’s a big part of our success,” Ross said of Villar, who has committed four errors but entered Tuesday hitting .341 with eight RBI. “He’s swinging the bat well. Some guy[s] may be playing great defense but not hitting — we’ve all got areas in our game that we can improve. And he’s working.”

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