By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The recent stretch of winning at an .800 percentage clip caught up to the Cubs on Monday. Three players were injured in Sunday’s win against the Braves, and two of them have now been placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Starting right fielder Jorge Soler strained his left oblique on a throw Sunday and could miss up to a month, the Cubs said. An MRI also confirmed that right-handed reliever Jason Motte has a right shoulder strain, which happened while he was warming up in the bullpen Sunday.
The Cubs had less concern about shortstop Addison Russell’s groin strain. Russell came out of Sunday’s contest with a minor strain and is listed as day-to-day.
“I don’t think it’s going to be long at all,” manager Joe Maddon said of Russell. “He is possibly available today, tomorrow for sure. I had been looking to give the guy a rest anyway. Maybe this little sign means back off. This is the stuff you talk about, being proactive (in resting people) at your own volition as opposed to being forced into a DL spot. Let’s be very careful. He is an important part of what we are doing right now. So this little rest may be good for him and us.”
The Cubs recalled lefty reliever Zac Rosscup and infielder Tommy La Stella on Monday. Adding La Stella moves Chris Coghlan back to the outfield against right-handed pitching. He will share time with Chris Denorfia in Soler’s right field spot.
Maddon was somewhat remorseful about the injury to Motte, one of three Cubs relievers who’s on pace for 75 or so appearances this season. The team’s starting pitchers have put Maddon in tough spot. Over their last nine outings, Cubs starters have only gone more than six innings twice, and five times they haven’t finished the fifth inning. That has created tremendous stress on the bullpen.
Motte has a 3.91 ERA in 57 appearances this season.
“I really don’t like when bullpen guys get hurt,” Maddon said. “I always reflect on what I have done (in handling appearances). The past several years, I spent a lot of time thinking about the pen on a daily basis, even more than the lineup. I will research it a little further. The last thing you want to do is hurt somebody out of the bullpen. We have put a lot on them, and we are really guarding so they get rest in between their next appearances.”
Motte had elbow ligament surgery two years ago. He was more understanding of the injury and the role of the bullpen man in this era of baseball.
“This was the first time I had felt anything like that,” Motte said of his shoulder strain. “It was a little funky. You go out there now, you never feel 100 percent after spring training. This was different. I brought it up to them. They said, ‘Let’s get it looked at.'”
Despite the roster turnover, there’s no immediate plan in the works to bring infielder Javier Baez up, though Maddon said the feedback on the 22-year-old’s performance at Triple-A Iowa has been good.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.