By Bruce Levine —
CHICAGO (CBS) — Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was recalled from Triple-A Iowa on Sunday, and he’ll serve as bench fortification as the start of a six-game road trip awaits in San Francisco on Monday.
La Stella gives manager Joe Maddon some infield depth with shortstop Addison Russell on the 10-day disabled list with a foot strain. La Stella can serve as a left-handed pinch-hitter late in games as well as play second and third base.
In a corresponding move, left-hander Rob Zastryany was optioned back to Iowa.
Russell making progress
Russell is on track to come off the DL on Aug. 13. The last time he played was Wednesday, after which the team decided to take a cautious approach.
“The pain started five or six days ago,” Russell said Sunday. “It is something I feel I could have tried to play through. We felt to be safe, we would take this time to be safe and make sure it doesn’t get worse than it is. We are taking precautions and doing the treatments now. Hopefully, by the time the 10-day DL is over with, I will be ready to play.”
Russell had shoulder trouble earlier this season that forced him out of the lineup from time to time. Until the last few weeks, Russell’s offense and defense have been less consistent than his All-Star season of 2016. He’s hitting .241 with 10 homers, 36 RBIs and a .722 OPS. He had 21 homers, 95 RBIs and a .738 OPS in 2016.
“There is no pain limp right now,” Russell said. “We are just strengthening the foot now. For me, it’s about getting that muscle strong again. The weakness just gradually occurred throughout the course of the week.”
Davis working harder
Cubs closer Wade Davis has had some pitch count issues during his past two outing, hitting the 30-pitch mark in each. He took a loss Thursday against the Diamondbacks then recorded a tough save Saturday.
Davis has converted all 23 of his save chances this season, and that number of consecutive saves is a Cubs single-season record.
Trouble with his command has been the reason for Davis’ extended appearances lately.
“He seems to be trying to be a little too fine early in the count,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “For me, it is a lot of cutter-related balls. His fast command seems fine. For a while, the curveball was missing. Now it appears the cutter is missing. The fastball is outstanding. From watching from the side, he appears to be a little too fine early in the count. He can throw a strike whenever he wants to.”
Maddon reiterated he has the utmost confidence in Davis, as you’d expect.
“I have always felt that way about Wade,” Maddon said. “The stuff is the same. He had gotten up to 96-97 mph yesterday when he wanted it. When that cutter starts to go where he wants it, he will start cutting guys up in 10 to 15 pitches. I have a lot of faith in him — he will work through this.”
The Cubs are the first defending champion to have a division lead on Aug. 1 since the 2011 Giants … Three runs or fewer have decided eight of the Cubs’ last nine games … A save has been recorded in the Cubs’ last eight games — four by them and four by foes … Carl Edwards Jr. has the lowest batting average against for a reliever in the National League at .132.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.