OF Souza se­ri­ous about pre­cau­tions

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY RUS­SELL DORSEY, STAFF RE­PORTER rdorsey@sun­times.com | @Russ_Dorsey1

CINCIN­NATI — The coro­n­avirus out­break among the Mar­lins and the sub­se­quent post­pone­ments have been felt around the sports world this week. With the Cubs spend­ing the week on the road, the sit­u­a­tion hit home for out­fielder Steven Souza Jr.

He has been keep­ing his eyes and ears open on the topic for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons — not only as an ath­lete at­tempt­ing to play through a global pan­demic but also as some­one with a loved one try­ing to save lives. Souza’s sis­terin-law, Mor­gan Peck­man, works in the coro­n­avirus unit at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix.

“My sis­ter-in-law is on the front lines,’’ Souza said. ‘‘I mean, she’s on the COVID unit, and she’s a champ, hon­estly. I’ve talked to her al­most ev­ery other day. I’m just try­ing to en­cour­age her be­cause it’s a scary thing when you’re in the mid­dle of that, you know? Some of us don’t see what’s ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing.

“When you’re in the mid­dle of it, and you’re see­ing what’s be­ing im­pacted, it makes you take ev­ery­thing se­ri­ously be­cause she’s do­ing ev­ery­thing she can, and she’s right next to it. We don’t re­ally see what’s hap­pen­ing around us be­cause there’s a lot of peo­ple that are asymp­to­matic, but she’s seen the peo­ple that are symp­to­matic and how dan­ger­ous some of this stuff can be . . . . And so the least I can do and the least we can do is fol­low the safety pro­to­cols so that we can bring some peace of mind.”

Rea in, Maples out

The Cubs re­called right-han­der Colin Rea from al­ter­nate site South Bend on Thurs­day and op­tioned right-han­der Dil­lon Maples.

Maples strug­gled to find his com­mand in lim­ited ac­tion. He walked four bat­ters in Wed­nes­day’s 12-7 loss to the Reds. He al­lowed two earned runs and one hit with one strike­out in his two ap­pear­ances.

“There’s a lot of guys that can fig­ure some things out later,” man­ager David Ross said. “He owned it like a man and un­der­stood he had to get bet­ter, and you know that’s a pow­er­ful thing. When guys are mak­ing ex­cuses or blam­ing other peo­ple, then it’s tough, and you feel like they may not have a fu­ture. But when he’s own­ing it and un­der­stands he has to get bet­ter and im­prove, I think that’s a great place to start.”

It has been a long road for Maples, who has been with the or­ga­ni­za­tion since be­ing drafted in 2011. He has always had elec­tric stuff, but har­ness­ing it has been the thing that has kept him from be­com­ing a key mem­ber of the bullpen. De­spite the set­back, Ross isn’t ready to pull the plug just yet.

“It’s just about fig­ur­ing out what re­ally clicks for him,” Ross said. “It could be some­thing a player says, could be some­thing a coach says, could be some in­for­ma­tion that he finds on some of our technology or video.

‘‘But I’m not ready to give up on Dil­lon Maples. His stuff is real. I just think it may be tak­ing a lit­tle bit longer than some­times we want.”

KAMIL KRZACZYNSK­I/AP

Cubs out­fielder Steven Souza Jr.’s sis­ter-in-law works in the coro­n­avirus unit at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix.

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