Tyler Colvin, the kid outfielder who hit 20 homers as a part-time rookie a year ago, gets an unexpected start at first base today with veteran Carlos Pena nursing a jammed thumb.
The start of something big for Colvin if he goes 4-for-4 with a bunch of home runs?
“Actually, I hope he does,” Pena said. “Not that I want him to Wally Pipp me, but I hope he hits four home runs, and I get healthy, and I come and join him. That’s really what I want to happen.”
Of course, Wally Pipp never had a $10 million contract. And nobody has yet to confuse Colvin with Lou Gehrig.
But Colvin’s first professional regular-season game as a first baseman could be significant for the Cubs, if only to get an early sense of how versatile their roster might be.
“I like him out there,” said Pena, a gold glove first baseman. “He does a very good job. We talked about it all spring and worked together. Even though I think he just naturally does a pretty good job there, there’s a couple things that we discussed that hopefully helped him out a little bit. He’ll be fine.”
As for Pena and his thumb, he says he’s ready to pinch-hit this afternoon and expects to be ready to start Wednesday, despite the imposing look of the wrap that covered most of his hand an hour before the game.
And this despite the fact Thursday’s off day gives the Cubs the chance to let that thumb recover for three full days before Friday’s series opener in Milwaukee.
But Pena said he doesn’t look at it that way. And manager Mike Quade is keeping Wednesday open as an option.
“I’m still looking forward to playing tomorrow. I thought I was going to be able to play today,” said Pena, who undertook aggressive treatment starting soon after Monday’s game. “But we’re trying to be cautious. I always probably push myself too much at ties. So maybe it wasn’t really rational for me to think I’d be able to start today.
“But I feel tomorrow there’s a pretty good chance. And I told Q if he needs me to hit today, I will.”
Pena hurt the thumb when he fielded a ball to his right late in Monday’s game and fell as he threw to first, breaking his fall with his glove hand.