Cubs first baseman Frank Schwindel was named the National League Rookie of the Month on Thursday for his red-hot August. He hit six home runs and eight doubles on his way to posting a 1.030 OPS last month.
Entering the game against the Pirates, Schwindel had homered in three consecutive games, including a three-run blast Wednesday that provided all of the scoring in the Cubs’ 3-0 victory against the Twins.
The Cubs claimed Schwindel, 29, off waivers from the Athletics on July 18 and recalled from Triple-A Iowa after trading Anthony Rizzo to the Yankees on July 30. Since then, Schwindel quickly has become a fan favorite with his performance at the plate and lighthearted personality.
Schwindel was hitting only .150 with the A’s when they designated him for assignment, and he batted .067 during a brief stint with the Royals in 2019. So it remains to be seen whether he will factor into the Cubs’ plans beyond this season.
This is the second time a Cubs rookie has been named Rookie of the Month this season. Third baseman Patrick Wisdom earned the honor in June, when he hit .260 with eight homers. Wisdom’s 25 homers this season are one behind Kris Bryant’s franchise rookie record.
Alzolay eyes rotation in 2022
Fresh off his first relief appearance of the season, right-hander Adbert Alzolay said he enjoyed pitching out of the bullpen but still sees himself as a starter in the long term.
Alzolay allowed one hit in four innings Wednesday against the Twins. He went on the 10-day injured list with a strained hamstring Aug. 14 and was moved to the bullpen when he was activated this week.
”My main reason [for going to the bullpen] right now is to be able to finish the year,” Alzolay said. ”It was either I’ve got two [or] three more starts and then I’ll be shut down, or I can come out of the bullpen and keep pitching through the whole month.”
The Cubs are trying to monitor Alzolay’s workload because he has thrown 110 1/3 innings this season, a few innings shy of his career high, including the minors.
Alzolay said he enjoyed the chance to help left-hander Justin Steele earn his first career victory as a starter Wednesday, but he still intends to be part of the Cubs’ rotation when spring training rolls around next year.
Manager David Ross left open the possibility that Alzolay might be called upon for a spot start in the next four weeks.
”If we need somebody to have a start or we need to flip somebody sometime, we’ve got that option,” Ross said. ”There’s no real set plan because we’ve got so many options with what he can do.”
Contreras close to returning
Ross said catcher Willson Contreras (sprained knee) will make one more rehab start Friday at Triple-A Iowa before being activated from the IL. Contreras has been out since Aug. 11.
Infielder David Bote (sprained ankle) was out of his walking boot, but Ross said things with him are status quo.
Infielder Nico Hoerner (strained oblique) took grounders and hit in the cage.
”All good signs,” Ross said of Hoerner. ”He’s starting to progress back to full-level baseball activity.”