Work­ing out for the week­end

Cubs play 5-in­ning sim­u­lated game to main­tain sharp­ness

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - RUS­SELL DORSEY rdorsey@sun­times.com | @Russ_Dorsey1

The Cubs held their first of two work­outs at Wrigley Field on Sun­day, play­ing a five-in­ning sim­u­lated game to get play­ers some ad­di­tional work. The team had to switch gears af­ter its week­end se­ries in St. Louis was post­poned be­cause of the Car­di­nals’ re­cent COVID-19 out­break.

The un­ex­pected days off pro­vide the Cubs with some ad­di­tional rest, but they’re mak­ing sure they stay sharp ahead of their quick two-game se­ries in Cleve­land. Man­ager David Ross is keep­ing things light while also mak­ing sure his team is ready to go when it restarts Tues­day.

“I think the fun part is that we get to come to work to­gether where we all feel su­per-safe in this en­vi­ron­ment,” Ross said. ‘‘So that’s a nice pos­i­tive for us. Re­ally good en­ergy at our work­out to­day. It would be re­ally easy to not fo­cus on a day like to­day. It was hot out there, and I think you get over an in­trasquad at­mos­phere re­ally fast with no noise, and we didn’t have the crowd noise and no fans. Guys gave great en­ergy. It was fun.

“We’re all hold­ing up fine. I think the tricky part is off-the-field stuff. I think these guys have been hanging out a lot to­gether and do­ing things to­gether and things that they can do in en­vi­ron­ments that they can con­trol. I think all of that is a pos­i­tive.”

Happ pleased with MLB re­sponse

Fac­ing a team with a re­cent coro­n­avirus out­break might be an iffy propo­si­tion for play­ers these days, and hav­ing the con­fi­dence that the health and safety pro­to­cols are fol­lowed to a T is the only way to en­sure that.

While the se­ries with the Car­di­nals never ma­te­ri­al­ized, the Cubs were pre­pared for any sce­nario, in­clud­ing play

ing all three games de­spite the grow­ing un­cer­tainty.

“We talked about it as a team, and we trusted the process of the league,” cen­ter fielder Ian Happ said. “We trusted that the test­ing they were do­ing, as shown, would pick up any pos­i­tives and that they would do a good job mak­ing sure that we were safe. And they did. We were com­pletely pre­pared to play. We were ready to go and get those three games in, but ob­vi­ously the test­ing pro­to­cols worked. They did a great job of pick­ing ev­ery­thing up and mak­ing sure that the process was taken care of when it per­tains to the di­rect con­tacts, and mak­ing sure that they took the right amount of time.”

Cubs ad­just ro­ta­tion

The post­poned se­ries al­lows the Cubs to re­align their ro­ta­tion be­fore the se­ries against the In­di­ans.

Jon Lester and Kyle Hen­dricks will start Tues­day and Wednes­day, re­spec­tively. Yu Darvish, Tyler Chat­wood and Alec Mills will face the Brew­ers on Thurs­day, Fri­day and Sat­ur­day. Mills pitched five in­nings in Sun­day’s sim game, throw­ing 58 pitches.

“I think the fac­tors just came down to how many days off,” Ross said. “Be­ing able to get [Mills], just where he fell in from his last start, to get him that sim game to­day just lined up for giv­ing each guy the least amount of days off as we pos­si­bly could.”

GETTY IM­AGES

Ian Happ (left, with Al­bert Almora and Ja­son Hey­ward) gave MLB ku­dos for how it han­dled the Car­di­nals se­ries, which was post­poned.

NUCCIO DINUZZO/GETTY IM­AGES

Left-han­der Jon Lester will pitch the se­ries opener Tues­day against the In­di­ans.

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